Cold Weather in our Yurts.

The mercury is dropping off as Hallowe’en approaches here. Last night was optimistically only six below, but that was recorded right against the yurt fabric, so likely the heat escaping from us helped to drive that a few degrees higher than what it really was.

While we have all been completely comfortable in our beds, we can likely attribute that to multiple quilts and blankets that we have been utilizing for a number of weeks already.

Getting out of bed during the night and early morning though, that has been a different story altogether.

The stove we have is not an air-tight model, so it really only burns an hour or two at a time before it goes out.

To my mind, the yurts are surprisingly difficult to heat. I understand that they have a poor chance at appearing and being well-insulated, at least with their stock wool felt, but it takes either a worrisomely hot fire, or many hours of decent wood burning, before they become comfortable. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this but it has been something I have been turning over in my head quite a bit now.

As a first experiment in keeping in some of our heat, I ordered more space/emergency blankets, similar to the one I used in my testing of their effectiveness at boosting the abilities of our coolers.

I have spent the past number of hours sliding them between the roof rafters and the felt. I suppose this will also act as a bit of a vapour barrier, but a poor one in the extreme, as they aren’t taped to the frame or one another, and I left the rafter spaces around the chimney cone open.

Donna has been all over the yurts with our new infra-red thermometer, calling out discouragingly cold temperatures from every nook and cranny. She thinks that perhaps the blankets are making a three degree difference. Sigh.

I have also put up a shrink-plastic cover over the domes, thinking that perhaps a single layer of plexiglass wasn’t the best insulator either.

Next up will likely be trying to retrofit some polystyrene type insulation behind the felt. Hopefully this will also help with the condensation issues we are beginning to notice as our humid air condenses on the canvas.

Send us warm thoughts and vibes!


2 thoughts on “Cold Weather in our Yurts.”

  1. Yurts are really easy to keep cool in the summer because of the high ceiling and top vent. They are difficult to heat (compared to a house) for several reasons:

    – More air infiltration

    – Less insulation

    – High ceiling

    – Less thermal mass

    You've tried the first two, now maybe try the others.

    You can sleep in a bunk/loft bed, closer to the ceiling, where it's warmer.

    Putting some firebricks on your stove. If you want to add a great deal of thermal mass, look at reinforcing the floor under the stove (with its own post & footing). Then add as much mass as you can manage.

    With thermal mass, you can burn the hottest fire (lots of small, dry wood) until the yurt is comfortable. The heat will last a long time.

    I've seen high mass stoves (online) ranging from 300lbs up to 21 tons.

    Be careful about river rocks, as they can explode if heated up.

  2. Thanks for the ideas Jay! The stove has a rather small top, which we already use for cooking, and have one of those circulating fans on – but we could possibly stack some brick between it and our reflector. Bunk beds would be cool – I'm not sure if I could sell that idea just yet, but perhaps with the thermometer we can see how much of a temperature difference there is from top to bottom. Then again, as I said, sleeping isn't bad, it's getting out of bed that is!
    Today we will try adding a layer of reflectix around the large yurt. This seems to be the most popular insulation for modern yurts in general, so hopefully combined with our felt, this will make a bit of a difference. Grandpa reported that the night in question was actually thirteen below, not six below, so that was a chilly one indeed. Of course, it's not February yet!


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