How Do I Keep My Shipping Container Building Warm?

Posted in How To

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You may have seen our previous post about strategies to keep your shipping container home cool during the summer. Now we will look at how to heat your shipping container home during the winter. Although shipping container homes are seriously awesome, they aren’t magical. During the winter, just like any other building, they can get cold.  Here are some strategies to ensure your container home will be warm during the colder months. Together these approaches will help you keep your container comfortable all year round.

Open Your Curtains

Even on a cold day, there is still some warmth to be received from the sun. Most people think they should keep their curtains closed all the time to keep the heat in, but they are missing out on the warmth provided by the sun coming in the windows.

Close Your Curtains

Don’t forget to close the curtains once the sun has set for the night and lose any heat built up during the day. If you are in a very cold location, invest in some winter curtains. These are insulated so you have a additional buffer between your warm air inside and the cold air outside.

What About Those Wooden Floors?

Sometimes certain things can just make you feel cold and wooden floors are certainly one of those things.

Many shipping container homes have wooden flooring because they are easy to clean and very long lasting. But, in the winter they don’t provide any warmth.

Cover the wood floors with a lovely thick rug during the winter. Not only are rugs nicer to feel under your feet, they will also help retain some of the heat.

Reposition Your Furniture

It’s surprising how many people have their sofa next to a drafty window. Simply rearranging your furniture can provide a massive heat boost. Any furniture which you sit on for long periods of time, such as your dining room chairs or the sofa in your living room should be positioned away from external openings and placed closer to heat sources.

Wear Warm Clothes

Quite often people focus more on heating their homes up than they do on heating themselves. It’s much easier and quicker to warm yourself by wearing long sleeves, socks, or a sweater. Wearing additional layers is the cheapest way to stay warm during the winter and it’s also really snugly. Other simple things like eating hot foods such as soups or casseroles can warm you from the inside. Don’t forget to have hot drinks like coffee or hot chocolate!

Get a Wood Burner

Wood burners can provide an incredible amount of heat in a very short amount of time. Just a few minutes after lighting they can be generating more than enough heat to keep your living room warm. Not only do they heat up quickly, they are inexpensive to operate, especially if you are using wood which you gathered yourself! Wood stoves aren’t very good at heating your entire house, though. You can however slightly mitigate this by closing the doors to the rooms you don’t want to heat.

Open Your Oven Door

Obviously we wouldn’t recommend turning your oven on full heat and leaving the door open as a viable, cost effective, way to heat your home. However, a great little trick is, once you’ve finished cooking and turned your oven off, leave the oven door open so the heat can escape and spread throughout the kitchen.

Close That Door

There is nothing worse than heating up a room which nobody is using. It’s quite easy to walk out of a room and forget to close the door behind you. However, this is a sure fire way to keep the overall temperature in your container home steady. Make sure the heat in your house only spreads to the rooms you are actually using. Just before bedtime, open the bedroom doors to allow the heat to enter so that your bedroom will warm up.

Double Glazing

If you’re in the process of constructing your shipping container home, consider using double glazed windows. Although they are more expensive, it will reduce the amount of heat lost through your windows and also provide a sound buffer to unwanted noise outside.

Seal All Leaks

Make sure that you seal any gaps which let air escape your building. These are most commonly found around your external doors and windows. Using silicone caulk to seal these areas is a quite straight forward DIY job.

Get A Portable Heater

A last resort is to use a portable heater to give you some extra warmth. These only heat a very small area and so aren’t ideal for heating a whole building. They are a fire hazard and cannot be left on overnight.

We hope that these ideas will help keep you and your shipping container home warm throughout the winter!

If you have any other great tips about ways to keep your container warm, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

  1. Dave

    Hey Tom a couple of ideas you might want to add for ways to stay warm in your container home hey that rhymes.
    Wear warm clothes inside. So many people could lower their heat bill if they would wear warmer clothes in their homes.
    Cheap Solar system saw this work in MN on a zero degree day we got 80 degree heat.
    Used an old dryer motor built a couple of solar boxes used old windows and spray paint the whole thing black you can make them out of any wood but thicker is better to allow some mass effect heating. connect as many boxes as you want together using either insulated dryer vent or large diameter PVC 4″ minimum. Pick up a cheap thermostat and set it in the box. We pumped this through a garage but it would work better directly in the house. Put the blower in the house when the tstat hits your desired temp you pull the warm air from your solar boxes and you get free heat as long as the sun is out. Make sure you put a way in your heat distributor to insure heat won’t flow backward through the system. Using spare parts and stuff you find this could be built for less than $100.00

  2. Kaye

    We are working on a quest container-home and are wondering about insulation and condensation? We live in Michigan where it’s often just 10 degrees – 30 degrees in winter and significant moisture too. We don’t know about using batted insulation (inside) and with a vapor barrier (Plastic) facing inside after installing the batted insulation or leaving the paperface toward the inside and then plywood/drywall, whatever we decide to use. Also have considered spray foam and didn’t know if that should be inside or externally on the unit. Externally will NOT be pretty to finish off but. . . what are the choices here?

  3. Ole Andersen

    Hi, interesting. But i think the most important thing one can do regarding keeping livingspace warm is isolation ect. What should you expect to do regarding siding/isolation if you live in a colder climate like Canada or Scandinavia. Is it possible/reasonable at all?

    • Discover Containers

      Hi Ole,

      Absolutely, insulation is an absolute must in areas like this. Insulation is particularly important in these colder areas not just for keeping you warm, but also for controlling interior condensation. We’d recommend checking out our two-part article on container condensation for more discussion and recommendations on this issue: