basement vents

We just moved into a 2 year old house in Colorado and there are two LARGE vents installed in the basement that are just open to the exterior. One terminates up near the ceiling and one down near the floor. Our realtor said something about "high/low" ventilation but I can't find any reference to this using google or anywhere else. Does anybody else have this thing and know why it's needed? I'm hoping to insulate the basement to save on heating costs but what's the point if I have two 8" holes in the side of my house letting cold air in? Thanks in advance for any advice!
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You can try contacting your local building department to see if they are some sort of code requirement for your area. Is your area known to have radon?

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Having built many a home in Colorado Springs, I can tell you what that is for...
Combustion air vents.
Required by code,and if you have oil or gas heat, do NOT close or obscure them.
If you have a heat pump (doubtful there) then you can indeed close them off.
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I hope to get a new oil burner soon, but don't manufacturers have a idea about piping air in without such heat loss?

off.
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If the unit has a fresh air intake you do not need a vent. But many furnaces rely on air around them. So do gas dryers. Where I live both require fresh air intakes.

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In my response, the last word was supposed to be "vents".

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Its not the maker of the unit that requires it...its your code.
IF you were using say, an electric water heater, and a 90% or better sealed combustion gas unit, you could do away with them.
Now, normally, these are in furnace rooms, and not in a living area. If they are in a living area, you can get them moved....
You would be amazed at the amount of air that a 100,000 or better BTU oil unit uses. That air is is going to be brought into the unit, either by way of the combustion air vents, or around every door, window and other opening in the home...better to be brought in close to the unit, and in an area that isnt used as living space.
And you dont really lose that much heat...the room simply never gains that much heat. What you feel in the area when the furnace is running, is what normally would be finding its way into the home anyway.....scary in a way.. Its now just in a smaller area, so its more noticeable..
Are you using hydronics with a oil burner, or forced air with an oil burner? If its forced, you might want to consider going to gas, and getting instead a good 90% or higher furnace with sealed combustion...it would be cheaper long term by far.

obscure
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