Tiny homes, measuring just a fraction of the size of the standard family home, are all the rage as Americans seek simplicity, minimalism and affordable housing in tough economic times. Turning to a tiny house means sacrificing space, but also comes with some surprising benefits, such as heating bills as low as $10 a month in some regions. While tiny homes can provide all the normal comforts of a larger space -- including heating, cooling and running water -- these systems require a bit of extra planning to make sure they will work in your new dwelling. When it comes to keeping toasty, consider these 4 options for heating your tiny home, as well as one heating option to avoid at all costs.
Wood stoves are the perfect option for tiny house owners. They can be used on both mobile and stationary homes, and are even suitable for those planning to settle off-the-grid. Even better, finding a wood stove to suit your space isn't exactly difficult; sure, there are miniature wood stoves designed just for tiny homes, but you can also pick a marine wood stove, which is specially designed to meet the confined space in a boat or other mini dwelling. If you choose a wood stove, choose a unit with a sealed combustion chamber and don't skimp on a proper flue to expel unwanted smoke from your home.
Propane heaters represent another solid option for tiny house owners. They allow you to heat your home using a simple propane tank attached to the heater, which is easy to replace and refill. Like wood stoves, propane stoves used in tiny homes should have sealed combustion chambers and a professionally-installed exhaust system to the outdoors. Look for heaters made for boats and RV's to minimize wasted space.
If you plan to live in a tiny home in a warmer climate zone, your heating needs may be minimal. This could allow you to heat via passive solar design. This means orienting windows for maximum sun exposure and insulating well to prevent heat energy from escaping. Tiny house owners may consider using structural insulated panels, or SIPS, which combine insulation and structural framing into a single component for higher efficiency.
Electric heat is extremely easy and convenient for tiny homes. If you plan to settle in one space, you can hookup your home to a standard electric supply. If not, you can live off-the-grid and generate electricity via wind, solar, or hydro power. You can also use a propane or gas generator to power a battery pack, which can later be used for electric heat. Once you have power in place, choose a standard electric space heater, or pick options that work well in tiny homes. This may include toe kick heaters under the furniture, radiant panels on the walls or ceilings, electric radiant mats under the floor, or simple cove heaters installed along the ceiling.
Avoid Unvented Appliances
When heating a tiny house, never settle for an unvented or vent-free stove or heater. These gas, propane or wood stoves or heaters use air from inside the home for combustion, and lack a vent to the outdoors. While they are cheaper than vented appliances, they also degrade the air quality and pose threats to your health. The U.S. Department of Energy warns against using any unvented appliances inside the home, including vent-free heaters.
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