It's mid April and I finally feel ready to recap our winter. The short story: We made it! barely.
The long story: Winter 2015 was very mild. Very little snow and only a few days below freezing. We bought our bus in March of 2016 and felt confident that we could endure a PNW like the one we had just had. Let's just say Winter 2016/17 was a little different. I've heard it was the worst winter we've had in over 20 years, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's true.
During our very first stretch of freezing weather, our pipes froze. We thought our water heater was completely destroyed, but it ended up coming back to life. We researched ways to insulate the heater (it's mounted outside) and hose and pipes and water filter and pretty quickly realized it was probably impossible and would be much too expensive. Instead, we decided we'd turn off our water and drain the water heater each time the weather got below freezing. We spent weeks without running water. Somedays, we'd be able to turn it on for a few hours during the day but then off again at night. We brought water in in big camping jugs and showered and did laundry elsewhere.
The first time it got really cold, we were cold. It never got unbearable, but it definitely was not warm inside. We had two space heaters running, one in the kids' room and one in the main living area. We have no other source of heat (we removed the propane heater when we redid the bus). They couldn't quite keep it warm enough for us. We tried to decide if we should skirt the bottom of the bus or try something else first. I stumbled across these nifty little heaters and decided to try a couple of them before anything else. A problem that we run into is using too much power. We have 50 amps available and each regular space heater uses 12.5 amps. You can see that getting another regular space heater wasn't really a possibility. These wall heaters use only 2 amps each and have done a wonderful job of supplementing our big heaters! We noticed a difference a couple days after plugging them in, they helped us keep it nice and toasty in the bus all winter!
We also put plastic over all of our windows and that seemed to make a difference as well. We're just now peeling it off, one window at a time. We used to be able to see the curtains flutter when it was really windy, but that seemed to die down after we got the plastic up.
We also tacked a big thick blanket up over our doorway to help with some of the poor insulation there. I hated feeling trapped, but it helped keep the warmth in when the kids were in and out al day to play in the snow.
One morning we woke up to the nasty surprise of an ice storm. I've never seen anything like it. The ice was so thick we could barely open the door. Every time the wind blew, chunks of ice would fall from the branches onto the roof. After the power went out and we had several large branches fall on the roof, we threw in the towel and camped out at my parents' house for a couple nights.
All in all, we survived. I can't think about next winter yet, I'm not ready to imagine what it will be like to be in these situations but with an added newborn....We're already hoping and praying for a mild winter!