Heating Our Tiny Home in a Colorado Winter

As a follow up to our post on Tiny House Cold Climate Prep, we’re going to explain our tiny house heating system, suitable for wintering in the Rocky Mountains. We did a lot of research and trial and error before deciding on these systems. Hopefully it’s helpful for all you hard core tiny housers!

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First of all, it’s important to have more than one type of heat source in any home, especially in cold climates. For our tiny house heating, we use electric heat and a wood burning stove. This way, if one of our heat sources breaks, we have a back up.

Tiny House Heating

Tiny House Heating – Electrical – The Envi Heater

The Envi heater is a popular choice for tiny house heating, and here’s why –

  • Efficiency – Uses only 450 watts and is rated to heat 130 square feet. For extremely cold climates, two units may be necessary.
  • Compact Footprint – It’s wall mounted, 2 inches thick and weighs only 10 pounds.
  • Affordable – Retails for $139.95
  • Easy to install – Just plug it in!
  • Silent
  • Built in Thermostat

THGJ Envi Heater - 0002

Guillaume and I mounted the Envi heater in our bathroom because our wood stove is located on the other side of our trailer. This helps distribute the heat evenly when we run both heaters at the same time. If you are only going to be using the Envi to heat your tiny home, I would suggest mounting it in a central location.

In the Rocky Mountains, we sometimes see temperature low of -15F.  We like to leave our Envi running 24/7, while using our wood stove as a secondary heat source in the evening and early morning.

Tiny House HeatingTiny House Heating – Wood Burning – Kimberly Wood Stove

The Kimberly is an incredible heat source for tiny homes in extremely cold climates. It’s arguably the best wood stove for tiny houses, and here’s why –

  • Efficiency – Long lasting burn on a single load of fuel (dry seasoned hard wood or compressed saw dust)
  • Clean Burning – Produces just 3.2 grams/hour, less than half the allowed EPA emissions
  • Compact Footprint – For a wood stove, the Kimberly is tiny and weighs only 56 pounds. Our flue is only 3 inches from the wall, which isn’t to code, but it’s also not an issue.
  • Compact Flue – Many wood stoves require a 6 inch flue, where as the Kimberly requires only a 3 inch double wall pellet stove flue. This means the flue will be less expensive and it will save you space.
  • Free Fuel Source – If you have access to wood, you can heat your home for free!
  • Off-grid Capabilities – No power necessary
  • Dehumidifier – Condensation can be a problem when heating a tiny space. The Kimberly produces dry heat that will dehumidify.
  • Pulls oxygen from vent in floor. This is HUGE. Many wood stoves pull oxygen from the interior of your house, and in a tiny house that can be dangerous.
  • Cook Top Surface
  • The only wood stove certified to be placed in a RVIA certified RV. Our tiny home is not certified, but this still gives us peace of mind.
  • Ambience & Awesome Factor

Is there anything better than sitting in front of a fire on a cold evening?

We adore our Kimberly because it gives us the flexibility to be off-grid and, of course, it’s gorgeous! The Kimberly/Envi combo has kept our house toasty at 72 degrees when the temperature outside is in the single (or negative) digits.

Ever wondered how hot the top of the #kimberlystove gets? Well, easily hot enough to boil some water! You can see that the fire is suffocating until I open the stove door to add wood. Fresh enters the main chamber and re-ignites the wood already in there. When I close the stove, the fire suffocates again, but it's so hot in there that the wood still burns, just slowly. The temperature difference in the chamber and flue creates a draft sucking all the unburnt smoke up into the upper chamber where the it re-ignites, making this stove virtually smoke free, long lasting and very clean. We just came back from the holidays with a truck load of hardwood so we'll be pushing the capability of this little piece of art. Stay tuned! #woodstove #kimberlywoodstove #unforgettablefire #unforgettablefirellc #doublecombustion #efficientstove #stoveporn #tinyhousestove #tinyhousegiantjourney #stainlesssteel #stainlessstove #stainlesssteelstove #johnneeman #johnneemantools @johnneemantools #woodstoveporn

A video posted by Jenna Spesard (@tinyhousegiantjourney) on

The Kimberly retails for $3,995, not including the chimney pipe and floor pad. This is a huge investment, but we believe it is worth it for the energy savings and off-grid capabilities.

Interested on how to use the Kimberly in a tiny home? Watch this detailed video.

Tiny House Heating for ALL Temperatures

Having multiple heat sources, with varying power, gives us flexibility. We use the Envi heater on days when the average daily temperature is 32 degrees or warmer. When the average daily temperature drops below 32 degrees, we like to use the Kimberly wood stove at night. If it gets too hot, the thermostat in the Envi will shut the appliance off. By doing this, our tiny home maintains 60-75 degrees inside.

THGJ Heat Backup

We also have a third heat source – a small, cheap space heater. We don’t like to use this heater because it’s not energy efficient, but sometimes it’s easier to use the space heater and Envi together rather than chop wood and start a fire. That being said, when we are running on solar, the space heater would pull too much power. More on our solar package later. 

Other Things to Consider for Tiny House Heating:

  • Insulation: Start with a high R-value
  • Trailer Skirt: Like insulation, a skirt will keep heat from escaping
  • Foam for Windows: We are placing foam boards over our skylights and a few windows to reduce heat escaping.
  • Human heaters: Each person puts off 100W of heat (and a bunch of moisture).
  • Pets put off heat as well (and moisture)
  • Cooking puts off heat (and moisture)
  • Heat rises: Your loft is the hottest part of your house; your floor is the coldest. Purchase slippers!

26 thoughts on “Heating Our Tiny Home in a Colorado Winter”

  1. The stove is beautiful! I totally agree with importance of more types of heating sources, for several reasons. As a back up, most importantly. But also for example with the wood stove – it takes some time to prepare the fire and wait until it warms the entire space, so it can come in very handy to have another heating system, which can heat up much faster in the meantime.

    I (big supporter and designer of tiny houses) wrote an article about what other options of heating there are in tiny houses, if anyone is interested, I always appreciate feedback: http://www.pinuphouses.com/tiny-houses-heating/

  2. Do you know anything about ductless mini splits? I am in the process of designing my tiny home and will be placing it in New England, I have read some good things, and I have used a heat pump in warmer climates but not sure how good they might work in colder ones. I will also have a wood stove for back up during power outages but don’t want to have to run it all the time. Thank you in advance!

  3. Screw that. If I’m going to have a tiny house in cold climate I’ll make one that only requires ~2 watts per square foot and heat it with the incandescent lights I’d use. Or, one tiny electric space heater.

  4. thanks for the post on the Kimberly. I really love the look,size and efficiency of the stove but was a bit concerned over the cost. I think being warm on a cold winters night is worth it. Hope I get to use it this winter and many more.

  5. Just wondering. Is it warming enough that it keeps the floors at a comfortable temp? we’re investigating radiant floor options, but we didn’t know if we should try 2 big heating investments.

  6. i love this post – we have a kimberly in our tiny house (almost finished) in vermont. we’ve been wondering about a hybrid solution and this really strikes me as the most balanced and efficient way to do so. thanks for providing salient points and great detail. cheers

  7. Thanks so much for your review of the Envi. Ours arrived today and I installed it myself! (On our boat) Its working very well in the few hours it has been installed. Thanks again your a wealth of information and I appreciate it.

  8. I like the backing of the electric heater with galvanized steel–I did the same with the wood stove in my sauna. Note; this trick also will work for your wood stove. I can’t tell what’s behind it, but if you’re concerned that things might get out of hand, it’s a wonderful way of preventing whatever’s behind from suffering from the heat. In my sauna, the metal gets untouchably hot while the sheetrock behind is still cool.

    1. Yeah, we like the metal, it reflects the heat pretty well. For our stove, it’s just the wood there. We’ve ran our stove as hot as we could and the wood was always just slightly warm to touch, definitely not untouchable!

  9. Thank you for sharing your journey. I would love a tiny home off grid but dont see that happening too soon. So for now i will keep dreaming and planning so if and when I get to i am a bit more prepared. Also what do you think about putting a tiny home over a basement?

  10. Thanks guys very helpfull. I am pretty sure we are going with the hobbit stove. The price on the Kimberly just to much. We will be consdering the electric though in addition. I was thinking we might want gas backup but that is expensive to. We do plan/envision being off the grid quite a bit. Love to chop wood ,so I am not worried about that. Not to mention prestoe logs from 7/11.

  11. Long time follower first time “reply-er” (?) : ]

    I have not seen the Envi heater before, but it looks like a great solution. I am really excited by the efficiency. I am kind of interested in knowing more about the electric heater from a user.

    We are in Colorado as well, although probably lower than you guys, we are just east of Castle Rock. This is our first winter in our tiny home (an older RV for now), and our first time navigating heating solutions. We ended up going with a space heater (1500 watts) and our on board propane heater for backup (wildly inefficient). The electric works for us this year as we have relatively free power.

    My question is, around what outside temp do you find the Envi doesn’t keep up? Our electric has a hard time keeping up when it is in the 20’s. We usually keep the inside temp around 67f.

    Thanks a lot for all the good TH info.

    1. Glad you like what we share! Usually the Envi does fine above freezing temperatures. It depends if our house is in the sun or not too. We can be in the mid-20’s with envi heater during the day and while moving around in the house, but at night it’d be too cold for it to be able to keep up.

  12. I’d like to note that efficiency for electric resistance heaters is the same regardless of size or type. The only efficiency gains over another product is from distribution of the heat. The space heater consumes at the same rate as the Envi, but may be less effective at moving the heat where you want it.

    1. The efficiency is the same but the amount of energy being converted to heat is different. 400 watts vs. 1500 watts. It just uses less power (and produces less heat)

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