My basement feels colder than my cellar.

Cellar is 57 deg, basement is 58. The basement feels distinctly colder. I am guessing it is due to humidity but I suppose I need to check the calibration of the HVAC and CellarPro thermostats. The cellar is on a south facing wall with about three feet of it above grade, but it has a thick wall and is well insulated. The cooling unit is still coming on.

Has anyone here experienced something like this before?

Yes! Same here. I have a CP split system, a below grade cellar on north side of house that is very well insulated and CP claims it is 58 in there but I swear it feels warmer than mybasement

Yup, same here. My wine cellar was about 57, and the reg cellar was at 56. But the humidity was 60% in the wine cellar vs. 35% in the regular cellar. Felt alot colder in the regular cellar.

I will still check the calibration but it is good to know it is not just me.

BTW Eric, I will hopefully be opening the Brunellos this weekend, and definitely the Steel Reserve. I had planned on the SR this past weekend but Belgians kept getting in the way.

I’d throw my lot in with the humidity difference as the explaning variable as well.

It’s a common sensation that one perceives higher temperatures with higher humidity levels and vice versa.

Just think of a dry sauna. As soon as you add some water onto the lava rocks the humidity spikes and your perception of the temperature does the same.

With a well insulated wine cellar, which hopefully also bears a proper vapour barrier, you should be able to keep a higher humidity level compared to the basement which is exposed to regular air changes the house endures. During winter time the cold outside air contains little humidity which results to very low humidity levels at room temperatures. Hence the sensation.

Maybe someone who really knows the science will chime in. Yes high humidity levels in hot temps makes one feel warmer. But high humidity in cooler temps makes one feel colder. Is there some sort of break even point?

Wait, I sent brunellos?! lol

Anyways, let me know what you think of the differences between the two!!

No scientist here.

But I imagine that it would have to do with the higher thermal conductivity of the more humid air in colder temperatures which results in slightly quicker cooling effect on our bodies.

At higher temperatures and higher humidity levels the evaporation rate of our sweat is reduced and lowers our ability to cool off.

Nearly all refrigeration systems are most efficient when there is or they remove humidity. 90 degrees at 80 percent humidity is stifling. 90 degrees at 10 percent humidity is warm. Arizona is a good example. When I lived there in the early 60’s, 104 was hot but tolerable and 90 was comfortable. But on the flip side in the winter, 40 degrees when I was banding newspapers was freezing cold. Refrigerators have a tendency to ice over in hot weather, not cold weather. Humidity seems to be the key.

Basement=cellar, so they should feel the same. [cheers.gif]

There are various factors that affect how cold you feel in a room. They include the actual air temperature, the humidity, and the temperature of the walls (often much different than the air temperature of the room). Most of us have experienced that the same temperature on a thermostat can feel much warmer in the summer than in the winter.


Refrigerators have a tendency to ice over in hot weather, not cold weather. Humidity seems to be the key

My experience is that most freeze ups on evaporative coils are related to either low refrigerant levels or lack of air flow.

Humidity is one reason. The other is that they don’t cycle nearly as much when the exterior temperature is lower.

That’s surely a geographical observation.


The theories about humidity don’t make sense to me, because it would lead to greater body heat loss and make your cellar feel colder, if indeed the cellar has now moisture than the basement.

My theory is that your cellar walls are better insulated from the outside, frigid ground, and so those cellar walls are warmer than your basement walls. If you’re running a cooler, then I’m guessing your cellar is above ground, in which case the walls are definitely going to be warmer than the basement walls. What you’re feeling is increased radiative heat loss

Isn’t it the ambient air temperature that determines how cold you feel? Why would the wall temperature matter unless you’re leaning against the wall?

Humidity affects evaporation of sweat, which in turn affects how cold you feel. Lower humidity, more evaporation, more cooling. At least when it’s hot and you’re sweating. Not sure if that has any effect when it’s cold if you’re not sweating.

Think about how you feel when the sun comes out from behind a cloud on a cool day. You instantly feel warmer even though the air temperature hasn’t changed.

Another example is facing a fireplace in a cold house. You feel hot on the side facing the fire, cold on the other side, but the air temperature is essentially the same on both sides.Turn around, and the sensations immediately reverse.

Heat is transferred by conduction (heating from the air or other material next to your skin), convection (temperature gradients causing flow of the air so it can be next to you), and radiation (heat that is transferred to you from a warm object some distance away that will heat you more effectively than the air which is largely transparent to the electromagnetic radiation you absorb and convert to heat, and would heat you even in the absence of the air).

Humidity affects you by suppressing cooling by evaporation of moisture from your skin. It probably also has an effect on the conduction between you and the air.

Through radiant heat transfer, you’re exchanging heat with the walls or other objects in the room. The colder the walls, the more the balance shifts to you transferring more energy to the walls than they transfer back to you.


Hi David,

There are to my recollection 4 ways of heat transfer: conduction, convection, evaporation, and radiation.

The only opportunity for conductive heat loss would be from one’s feet, and if you’re wearing shoes, those should be enough insulation to be negligible. Plus, I think Paul would be able to tell if it were his feet that were making him feel cold. Convection is also not a factor for the reasons I mentioned before.

Evaporation could be a factor, but I doubt that anyone would be sweating in the wintertime at 57F.

Radiation is heat transfer between us and any objects around us even if they don’t physically touch us. Crazy, right? It’s why we feel much colder in the wintertime than the summertime, even when the air temperature in your home is the same, because the walls are colder. There’s a fairly concise wikipedia article that explains more here: Effect of radiation on perceived temperature - Wikipedia

EDIT: Al explained it better.