What is a tiny house on wheels?
A tiny house on wheels is a small home built on top of a trailer.
Usually measuring less than 400 square feet (37 square meters), or commonly around 236 square feet (22 square meters) for tiny houses in Scandinavia, these tiny dwellings are designed for efficiency in terms of space and energy usage.
Many who choose a tiny lifestyle consider themselves to be reasonably minimalistic.
The benefits of living tiny include a push towards minimalism, away from consumer culture, and, often, a decreased environmental impact.
Tiny homes are designed to maximize the usability of minimal space, with multi-purpose areas within the home, such as dining tables that double as office desks or couches that double as guest beds!
While tiny homes are designed to be towed, and some tiny homeowners enjoy a nomadic lifestyle, most tiny homeowners choose to keep their homes stationary.
How is living in a tiny house in Scandinavia different than other parts of the world?
One of the most blatant differences between living in a tiny home in Norway, Sweden, or Denmark and living in other countries in the world – is the harsh winter climate.
Scandinavia is renowned for its frozen temperatures throughout the winter and copious amounts of snow.
This can be pretty challenging for tiny home residents who haven’t done their homework to prepare for these bitterly cold winters.
Keeping a Tiny House Warm and Cozy in Winter
Keeping your tiny house warm isn’t just important for your own comfort but also to keep your home running smoothly, notably your water system and any underfloor heating that could freeze.
Some of the most effective heating solutions for a tiny home include:
This type of heating is especially energy efficient and does a phenomenal job of heating a tiny house, however for the coldest months of the year – I’d recommend adding on an additional heat source as I’ve found that underfloor heating alone doesn’t quite cut it.
Wood Burning Stoves
Not only are these heaters low-cost and sustainable to run, but they also add a charming aesthetic to any tiny home.
Electrical Space Heater
An electrical heater can provide either a cheap solution or an incredibly energy-efficient one. We opted to spend more for the highly efficient Dyson heater/cooler combo.
This heater, in conjunction with our underfloor heating, keeps our home comfortable and toasty!
Split System – AC + Heat Pump
If you’re looking for a built-in solution that won’t take up precious floor space and can not only heat your little house in winter but also keep it cool during the summer – this might be the perfect solution for you!
A gas-powered heater can be an excellent solution for the off-grid tiny living enthusiast and a smart backup for power outages. Of course, with gas-powered heating solutions, it’s incredibly important to have carbon monoxide monitors.
Will a Tiny House Get Buried Under The Snow?
A valid concern, but nope – thanks to the slanted roof and warmer internal temperature – any snow that settles onto your roof will slowly fall before it can build up too much!
How Much Daylight is There in Scandinavia During Winter?
To be honest, it depends entirely on whereabouts you are; for example, Denmark gets around 7 hours of sunlight on winter days.
Southern Norway receives an average of 6-8 hours.
And the island of Svalbard gets a whopping zero hours of daylight, with the polar night coming to visit from mid-November to late January.
The benefits of living in a tiny home in Scandinavia over winter
I know some people won’t believe me… but there are more things than I can fit in this post, so I’ll cover some of my top reasons!
Not only is the initial cost of a tiny home far more affordable than a traditional brick-and-mortar home, but the ongoing running costs are also significantly reduced.
From the electricity savings associated with having a smaller home to heat, there’s also the added benefit of being more considerate with your purchasing – given the limited storage space available.
In essence, you’re living in all of the space you’re heating, not just heating rooms for the heck of it, and you’re only making purchases that you truly need and can justify bringing into your tiny home. Talk about a win-win!
Everything You Need
We’ve all heard the phrase “Bigger is better” thousands of times, but does this ring true? In my opinion, it most certainly does not.
A tiny home provides you with everything you need in a home; it might not provide you with absolutely everything your heart desires – but let’s be honest, true happiness doesn’t come from the size of your home or the number of possessions that you own.
Environmentally Aware Lifestyle
A tiny home is built using far fewer materials than a traditional dwelling.
Many Scandinavian tiny home builders also take their environmental impact very seriously, opting to source local and sustainable materials wherever possible.
Having water tanks also makes you very considerate of your water usage and absolutely snaps you out of any water-wasting habits.
The community aspect of tiny living is often overlooked. However, I’m happy to report that I’ve made great friends with tiny house dwellers throughout Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
And I look forward to planning the very first Tiny Living Scandinavia meetup in Oslo this winter season!
Is it cheaper to heat a tiny home in winter?
Generally speaking, yes.
A tiny home holds less air than a traditional home, and because of this, heating a smaller amount of air not only requires less energy but it’s also far quicker.
With the current electricity prices in Europe – reduced electricity bills are a big tick for the tiny lifestyle.
The exact cost of your heating will vary depending on the solution you opt for, what the climate is like in your corner of Scandinavia, the size and thickness of your windows, and the quality of insulation used in your home build.
While tiny homes are usually cheaper to heat than a traditional home, they may use more energy per square foot, so it’s important to consider the overall energy efficiency.
Are tiny homes as well insulated as traditional homes?
The volume of insulation used in tiny homes varies from house to house.
Some tiny homes may be incredibly well insulated, whereas others can be poorly insulated; with that said – it’s important for a year-round tiny house to have top-quality insulation as it helps to keep the home warm during the cold months and cool during the hot months.
When done properly, insulation can increase the overall efficiency of the house, so when you’re crunching the numbers when shopping for insulation – make sure you take into account the money you could be saving in the long run.
There are several options when deciding which insulation to use in your home, including Sheep’s wool, rock wool, and insulation boards.
If you’re planning on buying a home from a tiny housebuilder in Scandinavia, this is a conversation to have with them.
Or, if you’re planning on building your own tiny home on wheels, ensure that you research the best insulation for your area.
For example, where we live in Norway, the winters can be frigidly cold, but the summers can be sweltering and a little humid – and all of this impacts your insulation decisions!
Are there special preparations needed for winter?
Yes, in order to prepare for life in a tiny house anywhere in Scandinavia during the colder months, you need to put in the legwork.
Having a reliable heating system ready for when winter hits is essential.
When deciding on the heating solution for your home, consider which will be the most suitable for your specific build.
Also, while a woodstove might be a phenomenal option that throws off heat and providing a cozy ambiance, if that’s your only heat source and you work from an office – arriving home from work and having to start a fire in a freezing cold home won’t be the most enjoyable experience.
When you live in a Scandinavian tiny home, the likelihood is that you live somewhere in the countryside.
It’s not unheard of to get snowed in out here or for the driving conditions to be slippery enough for you not to want to venture away from home.
Having a small stock of the necessities, such as food, firewood, a first aid kit, and a propane stove, all help to protect you from those days of being snowed in, or, worse yet – dealing with a power outage.
Winterize Your Tiny Home!
Wondering how to take the steps necessary to protect your tiny home’s exterior from the blustery weather and ensure the longevity of your home?
There are two main tasks that you’ll want to get done.
- Skirting Your Tiny House Trailer
Putting a skirt around the base of your trailer made from insulated panels and sealed with foam sealer will help keep the heat inside of your home.
You can also add a trellis or lightweight wooden boards around the edge of this for a more cabin-esque style.
An uncovered trailer invites cold gusts of wind to cool down your house through the floor up, and if you happen to have underfloor heating, this also knocks down the effectiveness of that heating system.
We’ve lived in our house on wheels, both without a skirt and with a skirt – and can confidently say that the skirting makes a huge difference.
- Keep Your Tiny House Water From Freezing
Much of Scandinavia lives in below-freezing temperatures for a good deal of the year but provided that you put some work in – you can ensure a pretty consistent water supply!
- To keep our water supply flowing year-round, we started by coiling a heated cable around the entirety of our water hose that connects our home to the nearest water supply.
- Secondly, we wrapped the entire length of the coil-covered hose in insulated foam tubes that comes with adhesive edges and sealed them up.
- Finally, we put all that foam-covered, coil-wrapped hose into a thick plastic pipe for added insulation and waterproofing.
And hey presto, that has helped our water supply to stay pretty constant down to temperatures of -20C or -4F.
Do I need special insurance for a tiny home in Scandinavia for the Winter?
As with any home, you should absolutely be sure to have insurance no matter what.
This should be a year-round policy and shouldn’t require any additional coverage for different seasons.
The specific coverage that you opt for is entirely up to you, but here are a few things you should take into consideration.
- Not all insurance companies insure tiny homes.
- You often need add-on insurance if you plan on towing your home anywhere.
- Your coverage needs to be higher if you’re renting out your tiny home on Airbnb etc.
- It is possible to insure a tiny home as a caravan but check for annual occupancy limits.
- Don’t forget to shop around, not just for a price but for the best policy available.
- And finally, read the fine print; I know it’s boring, but trust me, it’s worth it!
Will the water freeze in a tiny house in Scandinavia?
Yep, it can happen.
As we mentioned before, much of Scandinavia is plunged into below-freezing temperatures for several months, and while insulating your water pipe system is a great step – it’s not a guaranteed solution.
Where is it Freezing?
Often when a tiny home’s water supply has frozen, it has happened either at the source of the water, or at the water inlet on the outside of the tiny house.
While I don’t recommend it on the outside of your home, it is possible to use a heat gun on the pipe that you’ve been given water access from in order to melt the blockage.
Empty the Tanks
Keeping your home warm inside is absolutely vital, and if you do plan on packing up for a vacation to sunnier climes and leaving your tiny home empty – make sure to drain your water tank and pipes to ensure that you don’t return home to burst pipes.
Even if you tick all of the boxes, it’s best to be prepared for the occasional period of no water; notably, you should always keep some bottled drinking water on hand.
Will the power go out in my tiny house in winter?
The harsh weather in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark is nothing new; therefore, the infrastructure has been built with the freezing temperatures in mind.
However, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that extreme weather conditions, equipment failures, or accidents – can shut down the power grid in your area at some point.
Making a plan in advance to stay warm, fed, and watered during a power outage is always a good idea.
Here are a few items you might want to add to your tiny home emergency prep shopping list.
- Battery-powered lights
- A propane stove
- Drinking water (that doesn’t require an electric water pump)
- Emergency camping meals
- Hot water bottles
- Battery-powered or wind-up radio
- Woolen blankets
Is it more likely to get cabin fever living in a tiny house during winter?
It’s possible that living in a tiny house over winter could be more likely to cause cabin fever, but this depends on each individual.
Cabin fever usually occurs when people are cooped up indoors for long periods, ultimately leading to boredom, frustration, and restlessness.
There are proactive steps you can take to minimize your likelihood of developing cabin fever:
- Get fresh air and spend time outdoors
- Get plenty of exercise
- Take time to socialize
It’s essential to be mindful of your mental health during the darkest months of November through February and seek support if needed.
Where do you store winter clothes in a tiny house?
Tiny homes boast a large amount of storage space, and with some add-on smart storage solutions, there are plenty of options for keeping your warm clothes easily accessible during the snow season.
- Built-in couch storage: Most tiny homes on wheels have limited closet space, especially for bulkier items like woolen sweaters. But many have room for a storage couch with ample room and easy access to your warm gear.
- Utilize wall space: making the most of wall space can be a great way to utilize unused real estate. Some popular storage solutions are – hanging shelves, adding a storage loft over the couch, or adding coat hooks to the entrance wall.
- Invest in multi-purpose furniture: Every tiny house dweller knows the real game changer is having furniture with multiple purposes. A staircase that doubles as storage cupboards, a couch that doubles as a guest bed, or a privacy wall that doubles as storage drawers – what’s not to love?!
- Add hanging organizers: Most tiny homes have two doors, one entrance door, and one bathroom door – but do you know how much space you’d waste if you didn’t have a hanging organizer or hooks on the back of your door? These could also be added to the sides of furniture as a neatly tucked-away storage solution for hats, gloves, etc.
Are tiny homes good in the winter?
Tiny homes are great year-round, so long as your home is adequately insulated, you have skirted around the trailer, and you have a heated water solution to prevent freezing.
How do I keep my tiny house warm in the winter?
There are multiple options, with some of the most popular being a woodburning stove, an electric heater, underfloor heating, and propane heaters.
Other helpful items you can purchase to keep your home warm include draft stoppers, hot water bottles, woolen blankets, thermal curtains, and finally – throw open the curtains when it’s sunny to make the most of that free solar heating!
How to tackle winter like a Scandinavian?
Ah, Scandinavia, a region of people born to thrive in every kind of weather. There’s a common phrase over here “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing” and that’s the can-do attitude you need to work on to take you smiling through to the other side of the cold and dark months.
What is the lifespan of a tiny house?
This depends on many factors, including the quality of the materials used, the experience of the builders, and the frequency of upkeep.
The lifespan of a tiny house on wheels may be shorter than that of a traditional house due to the additional stress placed on the structure from being moved.
However, a tiny house on wheels can still boast a long lifespan with proper maintenance and care.
Tiny living is a great lifestyle in Scandinavia, even during the winter.
It’s important to have sufficient insulation and heating, plus an emergency heat source for power outages.
A tiny house can be far more affordable to heat over winter as it uses less electricity than a traditional home.
You need to winterize a tiny home to keep your water flowing and your home draft-free.
All in all, a tiny home in winter can be an incredibly cozy place to live throughout the year, and there’s something about the festive season that feels all the more magical in a tiny cottage on wheels!
Keep Living Tiny xx