People who live in Ontario have dealt with weather-related issues regarding basement insulation as long as there have been homes in the area. No one needs to tell them that in the extremely cold region they live in, basements that have no insulation let far too much cold air into their homes and allow heat to escape.
In the southwestern part of Ontario it is estimated that the average ground temperature is 55 degrees F (12 degrees C). This is far too cold to leave your basement un-insulated, but many people have found the cost of insulation to be out of their price range. Unfortunately, this just raises heating bills on the other end.
The sad fact is that without full-height insulation, the floors upstairs will be extremely cold no matter how much heat you pump into your home. In northern areas of Ontario, about 20-25% of the heat you lose from your home goes out through the basement, usually around the sill plate where the basement wall meets the first floor. This means that you’re basically pumping heat into the outdoors instead of into your home which is nothing but a huge waste of your money.
Due to a limited budget, many people try to take the least expensive option in these cases, which is to add batt insulation between the floor boards in the basement ceiling. This may work to an extent, but eventually the insulation will trap moisture that will rot floor boards and lead to more major damage. Full-height insulation is a necessity in Ontario, and it needs to be at least R-12 for homes heated with oil or gas and R-19 in homes with electric heat. Although the costs can usually be recouped in 1-5 years, insulating can be very expensive which is prohibitive for many homeowners.
To help mitigate this problem, the federal Canadian government along with the provincial government in Ontario offers rebates to homeowners who add insulation to their basements and bring them up to local building codes. For example, homeowners who cover 100% of their exterior basement walls with at least R-23 insulation can receive a rebate of up to $2000.