It seems that we are going to have a real winter in the Netherlands after all. A stream of cold air will be creating temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius, from this weekend onwards. This ice cold air from Siberia is being called the Russian Bear. During the daytime, the temperatures won’t even get above freezing point. Since I now know what to expect, I have taken precautions. It’s good to be prepared! A few Tiny House owners are experiencing their first winter in an off-grid Tiny House in the Netherlands, so perhaps I can offer some words of advice.
Insulate the water pipes and pump
Last winter I learned the hard way: don’t take the issue of insulation lightly! Even though I insulated the parts of my water pipe above ground with foam rubber, straw and a tarp, it still froze up. Due to circumstances, I haven’t fixed it yet for this year. I’ve just accepted that my water pipe might freeze (and funnily enough, once you accept a thing like this you suddenly seem perfectly able to live with it). I’m absolutely sure that at some point this week I won’t have running water. My water pipe is made from tylene so I’m pretty positive it won’t break when frozen, but I will need to be extra careful with my water pump. It’s in a box that’s lined with Styrofoam, so it can handle a little chill. For the upcoming weekend I filled up the cracks with extra bubble wrap. You really don’t want your water pump to freeze and break, so pack it up tightly! Turn it off at night and then drain the faucet until there’s no water left.
Get some extra water
Maybe you’ll do fine and nothing will freeze, but better safe than sorry. It’s just really uncomfortable without any water in the house. So make sure you have some extra (drinking) water ready for an upcoming frost period like this one. I filled a 20 liter jerrycan with water and put it in my tub. I’ve also got a bucket with water, my Berkey water filter is loaded and even my kettle is filled with filtered water. Bring on the cold! I won’t be able to shower, but heating up a kettle with water will be fine.
Make sure you have enough fuel. When you have a gas heater, make sure your tanks are filled. If you have a wood burner, have plenty of wood or briquettes, kindling and if possible also night briquettes. Are you going away for the day and do you have pets? Get a sitter to keep the fire going.
Luckily, winters are never that bad in the Netherlands and cold periods never last for long. We’ll survive ;) Off-grid living can have its challenges, especially in the first year when you’re finding out what works and what doesn’t. In a way it’s refreshing when you can’t predict every outcome. And when you have to spend time and energy on things that others take for granted, you’ll learn to appreciate those things so much more. And for me, that’s added value to off-grid living the DIY way.
For all first year off-grid Tiny Houses, good luck over the next few days! And enjoy yourself; it’s going to be a beautiful world and it will deliver a lot of great photos. Because the nights will be freezing and clear and that means the days will be really sunny. My solar panels will work like a charm! ;)