Monday, January 23, 2012

Subzero Heating Tips

Cabin Sweet Cabin
Exhaust from our Stove coming from a small hole in the side of the cabin
Under the eaves the moisture collects...
Major heat loss collecting under neath the outside beam
Do you feel like you're in an ice cave yet?
Winter stalactites and stalagmites from a hole in the eaves where two roofs join
Our water supply with heat trace tape
Notice how well insulated the lowly outhouse is? It has no heat.
Someone asked how we heat our home in Winter up here.  It inspired me to post this blog.  It's a challenge to find ways to better insulate our cabin.  Even a pin sized hole lets in an amazing amount of cold.  When it is really cold, like minus 35 or 40F the locks and doorhandles will transfer frost through to the inside.  Little circles of frost come through on the screws of any electrical outlets located on outside walls.  The inside of our log cabin has thick sheets of blue Styrofoam with pine boards over the top.  There is also a small amount of insulation between every log as well. We don't need to decorate with spray snow in our windows because we get the real thing! 

We heat our cabin with a Toyo Stove which runs on a #1 grade diesel fuel oil delivered by the fuel truck once a month. We also heat with a plug in oil filled heater in the Kitchen and upstairs in the kids room. Our wintertime fuel bill is around $300 and our electric bill last month was $400.

We are always finding places to poke in more insulation and always have a can of spray foam handy.  The first winter I had frost on one of my inside cupboards in the kitchen that was on an outside wall.  Spray foam works great for those places that are hard to reach.  We recently added a dryer, praise God for that, I'll never take for granted being able to do laundry at home!  However, when we opened part of a wall in order to check the main electric wire from outside to inside, it was encased in an inch of frost inside the wall.  My husband wrapped it in insulation.  The cold travels right in on anything metal.  Even our dryer vent has to be plugged with insulation when it is not in use.  If a load gets done and I forget to take it out, it freezes. 

There are so many little things to think of in this cold weather.  Our water supply has to be heated and plumbed in through the middle of the ceiling and never an outside wall.  Even the bathtub drain line has to have heat tape wrapped around it.  Speaking of our drain line, that also is encased in spray foam.  Heat tape is described by my husband as, "an electrical current converted to heat energy encased in a rubber or metal housing.  Plug it into a 110 and it heats up!"

One last tip, never, never touch the outside door knob with a wet hand!


  1. Thanks for sharing this! Most remarkable living in the very cold. How are the Aurora lights now? I hear it is amazing right now!

    1. The Aurora lights are supposed to be incredible right now, but we haven't stayed up late enough to see them. If you click on the News-Miner link, which is the local newspaper, they have some amazing night photos posted. We've seen the lights before and they are so difficult to describe. They are misty, wave like movements that can swirl like steam from a coffee cup or they can be perfectly parallel lines brightly dancing. They come in so many colors and movements.