Knowing that I wanted to live in my tiny house for a good long while, and that Vermont gets very cold, my house had to stand up to long harsh winters. I’ve previously talked about which heater I chose for my tiny house. Since I’ve lived in the house for a year (!) now I thought an updated review of the heater and some other thoughts on tiny house winters might be in order.
Overall, the heater has been great. Like many other tiny house dwellers, I often find that the loft is way too warm while the rest of the house is on the chilly side. But with some mindfulness (aka turning down the thermostat before bed) the house is comfortable. I keep the ceiling fan on reverse to circulate warm air down and have another fan at the edge of the loft pointing into the main space. This other fan draws warm air out of the loft and sends the air back into the main space where it is pushed down by the ceiling fan.
I use propane to power the heater, water heater and stove/oven. I have four 30 lb propane tanks on a little deck on the front of the house. This past fall, I built a little shed to hide them from view (I may or may not have put the siding on upside down). In the winter, a 30 lb propane tank, which holds approximately 6 gallons of propane, lasts me about a week and a half. A gallon of propane runs around $3.50 a gallon. I pay around $60 a month for propane in the winter (November-March). From April-October, I used just 2 20 lb tanks of propane at about $15 a tank or $30 total. Overall, I pay less than $350 a year for fuel.
Last winter I skirted the tiny house using hay bales wrapped in plastic bags. They did a great job helping to keep the floors warm and I was hoping to use them again this year. but…I did something dumb. I stored them in the plastic, underneath the eaves of the shed next to my house. Over the summer, moisture got into the bags and all the bales started to rot. I ended up having to compost all the bales.
This year I planned to skirt using snow (which I had also planned to do last year) and again don’t have enough snow to do it. At least three times, I’ve shoveled piles of snow up against the house only to have it all melt a few days later. I might have to retract my previous statement about how cold Vermont is.
I’m a bit worried about not having a skirt but its been alright so far. I put rugs down over just about every square inch of flooring in the house. I’ve also added insulated shades to the large kitchen window (for warmth and so I can have privacy when I walk around the house with no pants). This helps to keep more of the warm air in.