Living in a tiny house can present challenges if you're planning to stay put in a cold, northern climate. At the minimum, you'd have to ensure that the home is properly insulated; some kind of ventilation system that would include bathroom fans and a heat recovery exchanger would be a good idea as well. Reliable heating can be found via the usual electric space heaters, wood stoves, or propane heaters, but a solar air heater is an option as well, as this tiny house in Quebec, Canada shows.
In this province where heating and hot water can account for more than 70 percent of an electricity bill, a typical winter heating bill might be at least a few hundred dollars per month or more if it's colder than usual. Homeowner Gabriel Parent-Leblanc of Habitations MicroÉvolution is using a solar air heater to cut down his heating bill to approximately $100 -- for the whole winter.
Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives visits Parent-Leblanc in this tour of his self-built tiny home (seen previously at Canada's first Tiny House Festival) that's now parked on his parents' backyard just outside of Montréal:
Parent-Leblanc says that he's been living in his tiny house for the last year and a half, and despite the frigid winters, he pays a pittance for heating, thanks to his use of a solar air heater, which is installed on one wall of the structure:
I decided to live in a tiny house really to prove a point that it was doable, in Quebec, in northern climates. One of the winters I lived in it was the 2014-2015 [winter]. It was one of the coldest winters we had since 100 years or so. It was really cold. And it only cost me $100 to heat up the whole place all winter. My temperatures were between 17 and 25 degrees Celsius (62 to 77 Fahrenheit) all the time. Really it was my solar heating that was giving me a lot of free energy and I only had to heat up at night with a small electric heater.
One can compare that with the $430 heating bill that one family in a Montreal suburb received for one month during the same winter -- it was indeed a very cold winter. The solar air heater that Parent-Leblanc has installed comes from EcoSolaris. The company writes:
Contrary to popular belief, winter sun is very powerful and allows to generate large quantities of heat. Solar air heaters take advantage of this potential with optimal output. Similar to solar hot water heating using anti-freeze piping, solar air heaters can produce up to 2000 watts of power to heat the space with forced air. The installation of solar air heaters is generally done on the south facing façade of a building. It’s most popular application is the direct heating of a defined space like a basement, garage, living room, kitchen etc. It is also possible to attach it to the existing ventilation system, forced air or heat exchanger.
The house has a cozy layout, with one long counter that acts as workspace and kitchen counter. The sitting area at one end of the house converts into a RV-style guest bed or dining area, with storage hidden in the seating. There is a composting toilet, shower, a sleeping loft that's accessible by a drop-down ladder, and an extra storage loft in the middle of the home. In addition, Parent-Leblanc runs his full-size refrigerator and water pumping system off his 750-watt rooftop solar panels, as well as lights and electrical outlets.
One of the big draws of living in a tiny home is the major reduction in utility bills. Instead of heating and cooling a 2,000-square-foot home, maintaining 300 or 200 square feet is a much easier, energy-efficient and cheaper affair. As in the case of this cold climate tiny home, heating using the power of the sun can make it even cheaper still. More over at Exploring Alternatives and Habitations MicroÉvolution.