Can it really be November? Can we really be drinking hot cocoa and warming our toes by the fireplace? Is Daylight Savings about to take place? Will our short-sleeve t-shirts be packed away and our sweaters again see the light of day? With Autumn comes the very real notion of Winter and as much as we would probably all enjoy toasting Santa Claus underneath the shade of a palm tree, it just isn’t the reality for us all. Winter means freezing temperatures, black ice, and snow. Winter as a tiny houser means thinking about how to insulate water pipes, keep propane tanks filled and warm, fighting the wind off from beneath your home, and quite a bit more. The following tips though will help you winterize your tiny house and stay warm, safe, and dry, until the thawing of Spring.
KEEP OUT THE COLDNESS
It seems logical enough, doesn’t it? The temperature is cold outside. It is warm inside. You don’t want the two to mix or, even worse, the cold to conquer. Try purchasing and adding window insulation film from a hardware store or even online. The inexpensive kits usually include plastic shrink film that is applied to the indoor window frame with double-stick tape, then heated with a hair dryer to shrink the film and remove any wrinkles. Affordable but highly effective.
CHECK YOUR INSULATION
Whether your tiny house is in mid-Florida or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the right insulation is essential. If you purchased your house already-built you will want to check your purchase order or review your correspondence with the builder to confirm the type of insulation your tiny house has. Traditionally, batt insulation is the insulation of choice for floors, walls, and ceilings. To review, batting is a piece of felted material used for lining or insulating. Ideally, ceiling spaces should be insulated with batts of R-30 or R-38. Exterior walls should use R-13 to R-21. To clarify, the R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material. The higher the R-value the greater the resistance. In the past few years though, spray foam has become more commonly used due to its expansive nature, which allows for a tight seal in all the nooks and crannies of your rental. If your tiny house has spray foam it will perform better keeping warm air in and cold air out!
PUT ON A SKIRT
Let’s first define skirting. Skirting is insulating material tucked around the bottom of your trailer, reducing the amount of cold air flowing under the trailer, while also protecting exposed utilities (water drain pipe, wire conduit, etc) and increasing heat efficiency. There are 4 affordable and proven methods of skirting you will want to consider.
- Engineered Canvas. Canvas skirting panels are typically made of heavyweight fabric that resists wind wear and UV. They can also be easily installed by one or two people depending on the size of the panel. Canvas skirting can be purchased through most RV supply stores or specialty websites.
- Concrete Panels. Concrete Panels are engineered panels that are reinforced with galvanized wire and concrete fiber with a high-strength concrete mixture designed to prevent warping in extreme weather. They also resist freeze/thaw conditions allowing for a long lasting skirting solution for your tiny house rental. To further explore this option you should contact a local mobile home retailer or technician.
- Rigid Foam: Rigid foam acts more as a windbreak in this capacity and is a very easy DIY solution for colder weather. You will want to buy full sheets of rigid foam from your local hardware supply store. Line them up along your trailer allowing them to close the gap between the ground and the bottom of your trailer. Seal the joints by using a product like 3M All Weather Flashing Tape.
- Straw Bales: Straw bales are the absolute easiest way to stop the cold weather and wind from getting up under your tiny house rental. Head to your local feed ‘n seed store or garden center, purchase the number of bales you need, stack them around the opening between the ground and your trailer, and instantly create a cold weather insulator!
NO ICE, PLEASE
The most obvious way to combat your fresh water from freezing in colder months is to use a holding tank that is inside your tiny house. This way your water hold stays the same temperature as your home and doesn’t freeze up despite the temperatures outside. If you don’t have an internal water holding tank, you should consider heating and insulating your fresh water hook-up (the hose leading from your garden spigot and into your tiny house). This requires the purchase of a heated drinking water hose, which requires constant electricity (in the form of a standard, exterior 120V plug) and will replace your standard water hose during the cold season. To further the cause you can insulate your water spigot by wrapping it with foam insulation.
PROTECT YOUR LP
If your tiny house has a tankless water heater that uses liquid propane you cannot afford to let the lines freeze. If they do you will likely have to replace them at a cost of several hundred dollars. To avoid this you will want to consider a propane tank heating blanket. Like the aforementioned water hose, the LP tank heating blanket needs to be plugged into work. Keeping your LP tanks warm is important as it’s difficult for propane tanks to maintain optimal pressure when the temperature drops. Low pressure prevents the gas from vaporizing, which in turn makes your tanks unusable.
No one likes to think about the cold, wintry air. But it is best to give consideration now before you have a guest experience it first hand through drafty walls, frozen water, and no heat!
What are you preparing to do this winter to make sure your tiny house stays frost free and warm? Tell us in the comments below or visit our page on Facebook to weigh in! And make sure you subscribe to our blog so we can continue to make your tiny house rental experience an amazing one.