Envi heater

Savoring the Tiny House

Tiny House & Hammock A year ago I decided to rent a tiny house. We moved Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow to Portland at the end of September last year, just before I started my first quarter studying urban planning at Portland State University. I figured it would be an economically-savvy and environmentally-friendly housing choice for my first year of graduate school. Living in a tiny house would enable me to decide whether I could realistically live in less than 200 square feet. Furthermore, it would inform my design choices if I decided to build a tiny house of my own.

We’ll be moving Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow back to Olympia this Saturday. So this week I’m savoring the tiny house. I’m enjoying the dappled light through the lilac trees while I’m curled up with my kindle on the window seat, I’m appreciating the tiny, efficient kitchen while cooking meals, and I’m relishing the view of the stars from the skylight of the sleeping loft.

I’m also reminding myself what I will do differently in my own tiny house now that I’m convinced I want to build a tiny house of my own. The top three changes I would make are these:

1)   I’ll design my tiny house with a larger porch (see Shrinky-Dink Porch for an explanation).

2)   I’ll spring for an on-demand propane water heater. (Since I had to wait 20 minutes for the 4-gallon tank to heat up once I flipped the switch I often ran out of time to actually do the dishes, which meant I’d wasted that energy.)

3)   I’ll use the Envi wall-mounted electric heater instead of an oil radiator or a propane boat heater.  (See Top 10 Reasons to Pick Envi Heater Over Propane Marine Heater)

Ten months of tiny house living have also convinced me that a wee abode perfectly suited to me can be even smaller than 121 square feet. My latest design for my own tiny house is a gypsy wagon (also known as a vardo) built on a 14-foot long trailer. I think about it every day as I go about my daily activities in this tiny house. I’m looking forward to scouting for materials this year and building my tiny house next summer. Meanwhile, I will use everything I’ve learned about simple living in my future housing arrangements. For the rest of the summer I’ll be living in a garden cottage (also known as an Accessory Dwelling Unit) on the same block as Cully Grove, where I’m building tiny houses. For next school year I’m considering a more urban version of the Little Life with a studio apartment in a more walkable neighborhood and a shorter commute to campus.

I’m extremely grateful I had the opportunity to test out the Little Life before committing to it. Once we get the tiny house back to Olympia Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow will be available for rental by the night, weekend, or week so that other people can test out tiny house living. There don’t seem to be many other opportunities to rent a tiny house, so if you’re interested, please do get in touch with Brittany. Her reservation calendar is filling up quickly!

Top 10 Reasons to Pick Envi Heater Over Propane Marine Heater

Envi electric heater After a recent tiny house workshop in Portland, one of the participants followed up to ask why I prefer my Envi electric heater over a Dickinson Propane Marine Fireplace. I gave him my top 10 list and realized I should share it here, too.

1) Electric heater is silent. Propane heater fan makes lots of noise and it doesn't seem to heat well without the fan on. 2) Electric heater is so slim and unobtrusive most people don't even notice it. Propane heater takes up considerably more room and requires clearances. 3). Electric heater can be installed in moments and packed away for the off-season (though I probably won't bother). Propane heater is mounted there permanently, even during the off-season. 4) Electric heater requires a nearby outlet but no other pre-planning. Propane heater requires a gas line run to the spot and planning during the design for proper clearances. 5) Electric heater requires no venting or penetrations of the house's thermal envelope. Propane heater requires penetrations through the roof. 6) Electric heater uses 475 watts of electricity and in the Pacific northwest most electricity comes from renewable sources (dams have their own issues, but still...) Propane heater requires fossil fuel.

Dickinson Propane Boat Heater

7) Electric heater does not exacerbate my slight pyrophobia. Propane heater is sometimes tricky to light so flame makes me kinda nervous. 8) Electric heater is cool or warm to touch but not hot. (I do occasionally hang a towel on a hook above it to pre-warm the towel.) Propane heater gets hot so I can't set things on top of it, but there's a nice little flat top on it so it's very tempting to set things down there! 9) Electric heater can be plugged into a timer. Propane heater cannot be plugged into a timer. Electric heater can also be left on when I'm not home or need to run an errand so that the house is warm when I get back. Propane heater can't be left on when I'm away. 10) Electric heater retails at $130. Propane heater retails at $1119.

The main advantage of the propane heater over the electric heater is ambiance. The flickering flame is cool! So I run the electric heater and light candles for ambiance.