Heating a Tiny Home for a Colorado Winter

Heating a Tiny Home for a Colorado Winter

As a follow-up to my blog post on Tiny House Cold Climate Prep, I’m going to explain my Tiny House heating,  which is suitable for wintering in the frigid Rocky Mountains. I did a lot of research and trial and error before deciding on these systems. I hope it’s helpful for all you Tiny House snowbirds!

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You may also want to check out my FULL TINY HOUSE MATERIALS LIST

It’s important to have more than one type of heat source in any home, especially in cold climates. For my Tiny House heating, I use electric heat and a wood burning stove. This way, if one of my heat sources breaks, I always have a backup. Below I’ve listed my chosen heating appliances.

Tiny House Heating

Tiny House Heating – The Envi Heater

The electric 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

**UPDATE: AFTER TWO YEARS MY ENVI DIED ON ME. LOOKING FOR A BETTER, LOW-PROFILE, ENERGY EFFICIENT WALL MOUNT OPTION. WILL UPDATE THIS WHEN I FIND ONE**

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I mounted the Envi heater in my bathroom because my wood stove is located on the other side of our trailer. This helps distribute the heat evenly when I 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, I sometimes see temperatures as low as -15F.  I like to leave the Envi running 24 hours a day, while using my wood stove as a secondary heat source in the evening and early morning.

Tiny House HeatingTiny House Heating – Kimberly Wood Stove

The Kimberly is arguably the best wood stove for Tiny Houses, and here’s why –

  • Efficiency – Long burn times 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.
  • 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 floor vent. 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 an RVIA certified RV
  • Ambiance & Awesome Factor

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

The Kimberly/Envi combo has kept my house toasty at 72 degrees when the temperature outside is in the single (or negative) digits.

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

Tiny House Heating for ALL Temperatures

I 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, I use the Kimberly wood stove at night. By doing this, my Tiny Home maintains 60-75 degrees inside.

THGJ Heat Backup

I also have a third heat source – a small, cheap space heater. I 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 I am on solar power, the space heater would pull too much electricity.

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!

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31 Comments

  1. Mark Wilhelm
    March 12, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    This is my current understanding of wood stoves: When a wood stove’s intake air is drawn from inside the house, it creates a vacuum, and is replaced by outside air that is drawn in through air gaps in the exterior (say the door jamb). This creates a loss in efficiency because it is sucking cold air into the house. When the intake is from the exterior, the stove has to heat less air inside the house (although you lose a bit of efficiency because the combustion air has to be heated more than if it were already at room temperature).

    So my question is, what is the perceived danger being averted by having combustion air drawn from the exterior given that any oxygen burnt in the stove is immediately replenished by air being drawn in through a crack somewhere? The only thing I can think of is if you damper the stove down too far, carbon dioxide could potentially be forced back through the intake and fill the room?

    • Michele Olson
      June 30, 2017 / 4:27 am

      Most modern homes, including tiny, are so air tight, sufficient oxygen is NOT easily replaced through building gaps. Also, as in large homes, where an air exchange system is required to keep proper air pressure in a home, so combustible gases can escape through vents, having a separate air intake for a wood burning stove is a must. Wood stoves burn up more oxygen than you might expect; in a tiny home, that could be critical. I hope this helps.

  2. Travis
    February 28, 2017 / 6:07 am

    I would suggest heating a thermal mass during the day to radiate its heat at night, Many ways to do this depending on time, effort, and money. Could be one or more dark stones in the sun that you move inside at dusk. Or, an insulated water tank where the water is solar heated during the day and the hot water circulated through an internal radiator at night.

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