Winterizing the Traveling Homestead

winter homestead

the traveling homestead in winter

Temperatures are dropping in Colorado and winterizing is happening. So far, last year’s supplies are adequate, but since we will be spending most of the winter here this year, I want to do a much better job. Yet it still has to be easy enough to break down and pack up for midwinter trips.
Here is what we’ve done so far:
– hooked the propane up to the 100# tank, to avoid having to constantly refill the 25# tanks.
big propane tank

big boy propane tank

– Heat taped and insulated the water hose.
water line insulation

water line with heat tapes covered by sleeve

– Put reflective foam board skirting around the holding tanks.
– Put heat lamps under the holding tanks

minimal foam board skirting

– Salt water solution in the holding tanks
We have had to use a separate outlet for the heat tapes, engine block heater and heat lamps, because our breakers kept blowing. We also have a radiant space heater in addition to our central heater. We are sucking up a lot of electricity.
The convenience of the larger propane tank means that we only have to fill up about once a month, instead of weekly. 200 square feet heats with a lot less propane than 1000 square feet. The water hose has a black insulation sleeve that seems to be holding the heat from the heat tapes. Haven’t had the water freeze since we put that on.
The salt water solution seems to be at the right percentage, we are dumping the tanks twice a week with no problem yet. The lights and skirting are helping there. I am keeping a jug of the same percentage of salt water in the shade, so far it gets slushy, but not frozen solid. We expect to have plenty of 20+ below zero nights, however, so there are several upgrades I will be making to this system. I priced concrete blankets and they seemed pretty reasonable, but after studying how they were made, I decided I would try making a few myself. I also couldn’t find the style I wanted, so I can customize my homemade ones. The blankets only give an r (insulation) value of r3-5, so I will end up getting extra foam board either way. My concrete blankets will be made with plain blue tarps, to which I will sew 3 layers of bubble wrap – the same stuff they use in the commercially made ones! Then I will spray paint the outer tarp black to attract the sun’s rays. I will first fasten the tarps to the trailer with sticky Velcro, so it is easily removable without putting screws and holes in my siding. If that doesn’t work, I will try something else. At least a foot of the tarp will lay on the ground, held down with whatever weights are handy. Inside the tarp, under the trailer, will go 2”x2’ foam, r value of r5 per inch, and inside that will go ½” reflective foam board, to concentrate the heat of the heat lamps to keeping the tanks and underbelly of the trailer from freezing. This will all come away and roll into the tarps when we need to move and at the end of the season. All can be easily stored in the trailer basement or the back of the truck.
After this major project, I will be installing window insulation kits on all the windows and the screen door. With bubble wrap in between. The bubble wrap is really supposed to help, so I’m going to try it. Finally, I have 3 vents to make removeable foam covers for and 1 skylight. 2 in the bathroom, the stove vent and my “bedroom”.
We should have a warm, cozy winter with all this, and hopefully save some on the electricity and propane, too.
I will be posting more on each project as I complete it, as well as videos on my youtube channel. Stay tuned.


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