Do Container Homes Get Cold In Winter?

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Container homes being made of metal will naturally get cold if uninsulated. Consult a building professional on the type of insulation appropriate to your building and climate. Other ways of warming up the home are ensuring your home is airtight in construction and making smart use of the heat sources, fabrics and furniture in your home.

Metal is a great conductor of heat, meaning it accepts a lot of heat transfer and absorption. This is not a desirable quality for your home, which will either get hot quickly during summer or freezing in winter. (1)

This is the reason you’ll hear many want “good insulation” for their home. This helps regulate the indoor temperature and lessen that heat transfer from outdoors to indoors. To combat this problem, well-insulated floors, ceilings, paneling and wallboards must be integrated into your container home.

“The U.S. Department of Energy reports that nearly half of all annual energy dollars are spent on heating and cooling, and depending on where you live, it could be more than half. But you can drastically improve the energy efficiency of nearly any structure with proper insulation. With the right type and thickness of insulation, you can significantly reduce the amount of time your AC and heating systems in a shipping container have to run, minimizing power consumption – and your utility bill.” (2)

Heat loss occurs mainly in your roof and windows. The more windows you have, the more heat is lost or enters the home. Lessening these openings will also better regulate the heat transfer from inside to outside and vice versa. (3)

Like all building elements, the type of insulation you need for your container home will depend on your site’s local climate.

The three basic insulation choices are styrofoam, rolled batt and spray foam insulation.

Image from Top 10 Best Ways To Insulate Your Shipping Container Home – Sulex International

Consult your home dealer and a local building professional with what insulation method is best to use for your home (that also fits your budget). For a detailed overview on what your insulation options are, check this out: How to Insulate a Shipping Container from Heat and Cold (falconstructures.com)

A building professional will also match the insulation type to your climate. For example, cooler climates that want the sun to heat the home, insulation will be targeted toward containing that naturally generated heat. This would be paired with a non-reflective material for the exteriors for more heat absorption.

Natural Sources of Insulation

Depending on your situation (climate, budget, available resources!), your container home can be insulated on the exterior or interior walls. Note that if you treat the exterior, you may lose that corrugated look. If you treat the interior, your usable floor area might lessen. (4, 5)

Spray Foam

Easy to obtain and fastest way to insulate your home. You spray the insulation onto your walls, inside and outside. Try opting for CFC free spray foams, which are less toxic to your health.

Wool

Natural, eco-friendly material from sheep’s wool. It gives a high-performance rating and R-Value, meaning its insulating capacity is stronger. Also, sheep wool naturally has a flame retardant (lanolin), ridding the need for chemical fire retardants that often have high contents of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Cotton-Based Insulation

Made of recycled, reused cotton and denim clothing, making it an environmentally friendly option. It has the same R-Value rating as fiberglass insulation (an expensive insulating material) and has boric acid, another fire retardant. Do note this insulation material requires a vapor barrier installed to protect it from getting wet, losing its ability to insulate.

Cork

Another naturally occurring and biodegradable material, which is sourced from tree bark. It is eco-friendly, cost effective and also aids in treating noise insulation for both exterior and interior metal walls.

Home Tips to Keep Your Container Home Warm

Here are a few home remedies you can get on yourself for a warmer winter. (4, 5)

  • Double Glazed Windows: These are a costly upgrade but give great energy efficiency. Heat will not enter nor escape your home, regulating indoor temperatures.
  • Seal Doors and Windows: Often thermal bridges occur at doors and windows. The connection points may have some gaps that cause heat to escape. Inspect and seal with a silicone caulk any gaps you may find.
  •  Wood Burner: This can heat up your home quickly — in minutes! It also uses a relatively cheap fuel of wood, keeping operation costs low.
  • Portable Heater: As an alternative to the wood burner for smaller rooms.
  • Close Doors Where you Can: When you have the heater on, it’s working to heat up all the volume it has access to. If your living room is left open but unused, your heater is working to heat double the volume of unused space. Close the doors to spaces you aren’t using then open those when you need it like your bedroom at night.
  • Cook at Home: Using your stove, oven and other kitchen appliances naturally generates heat. The heat in the kitchen can gradually warm up the adjacent areas.
  • Use your Curtains and Rugs: Use your fabric and upholstery to help absorb and contain heat. In the daytime, let the sun heat your interiors and close the curtains at night to trap the heat in. Winter curtains are specially designed and insulated to perform this better. The standard finish of wooden floors can grow cold in the cooler months. Use thick rugs on top to help with the heat absorption.
  • Zone your Furniture: Maybe in summer you move your favorite sitting chair near the window while in winter, those seating areas can be nearer your sources of heat.

If you’re experiencing the opposite and are insanely heating up in your container home, check out this piece by container home hub. Are Shipping Container Homes Hot? | 3 Best Ways To Keep Your Shipping Container Home Cool | Container Home Hub

Image from HO4 SHIPPING CONTAINER HOME | Container Home Hub

References

  1. Attainable Home. (2021, December 10). Are Container Homes Sustainable? we weigh the considerations. Attainable Home. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.attainablehome.com/are-container-homes-sustainable/
  2. Morin, M. (2022, June 8). How to insulate a shipping container from heat and cold. Custom Shipping Containers for Business. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.falconstructures.com/blog/how-to-insulate-a-shipping-container
  3. Off Grid World. (2022, July 22). 8 factors to keep in mind when insulating a shipping container home. Off Grid World. Retrieved August 2022, from https://offgridworld.com/8-factors-to-keep-in-mind-when-insulating-a-shipping-container-home/
  4. Bray , T. (2020, December 11). 10 tips for keeping your shipping container home warm during winter: Sigma Container Corporation. New & Used Shipping Containers. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.sigmacontainer.ca/blog/10-tips-for-keeping-your-shipping-container-home-warm-during-winter/
  5. Containers, D. (2019, August 23). How do I keep my container home warm? Discover Containers. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.discovercontainers.com/how-do-i-keep-my-shipping-container-home-warm/