Fact: Vermont is cold. 

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.

Baby it’s cold outside…

well it was cold. now spring is here and it’s warming up. this was pretty a mild winter but march was unseasonably cold. the tiny house side of my brain was grateful because it was easier to settle into little lou when the temperature was above zero and the ground was bare. although, i would have liked to use snow to skirt my trailer instead of hay bales. the snowboarding side of my brain was really disappointed. regardless, i’m feeling grateful for the sunshine and warmer days ahead.

i’ve talked before about how much thought went into insulation for little lou. making sure the house would be warm enough for full time, year round living was the highest priority. so along with proper insulation, the house also needed a good source of heat. first i had to decide propane (scary, danger) or electric (expensive, grid tied). ultimately, propane appliances were the right choice for little lou.


then i had to select the best heater. like so many other tiny house builders, i love the dickson marine stove. it’s simple, functional and beautiful. but it probably wouldn’t be sufficient. i relied heavily on ethan over at the tinyhouse.net as a resource for tiny house living in vermont. his blog post on choosing the right heater is awesome.


the mini franklin was tempting because of it’s size and, well honestly, it’s pretty cute.but again, probably not sufficient in the depths of winter. i had no intentions of relying on a supplemental heater. one heat source had to do the trick.


based on thetinyhouse.net and some independent research, the williams direct vent heater proved to be the winner. it has enough btu’s to keep little lou toasty, is reasonably small and the price was right. the heater was converted from natural gas to propane by a professional who also installed the unity. installing propane is scary stuff so i leave it to the pros.

this winter, paranoia set in and i used a space heater a few times in the bathroom to prevent frozen pipes. it was overkill and expensive. the bathroom is the furthest point from the heater (which may have been poor planning) so i keep a thermometer in there to monitor the temp. it’s never more than a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house. i probably won’t do this again next year, except on the coldest nights – like 20 below kinda cold. to keep the kitchen pipes from freezing, the cabinet doors are left open at night and when i’m at work. this step would be necessary regardless of which heater was installed.

there is a small deck over the hitch that hold several 30 pound propane tanks which supply gas to the heater, instant water heater and stove. when it’s cold a 30 pound tank lasts about a week and a half. when it’s warm, a 30 pound tank will last at least 3 weeks but probably more. heating the house in winter can be expensive, but i live in the northeast. heat in the winter will always be expensive. however, high costs in the winter will be offset by minimal costs in the summer.

overall, this heater is great. but who knows- maybe next february i’ll be updating from a tiny house igloo about how this heater isn’t sufficient at -20 degrees.