Baby It’s Cold Outside

Many of our friends and family have asked whether we are warm enough on “Old Nick”. The answer is a resounding YES and a combination of good insulation, an efficient heater and radiators in every room, ensures we are “as snug as bugs in a rug”.

When we first imagined our dream narrowboat back in 2017, we definitely wanted a solid fuel stove, as we had romantic visions of winter nights cuddled up by the stove with a mug of cocoa. However, once we decided to “Go Electric” and create a more environmentally friendly boat, it only took a suggestion from Caroline at Ortomarine, to make us reconsider our requirements.

Whilst there is no doubt that a solid fuel stove provides more than ample heat and an attractive focal point, they also take up a lot of space, generate mess, create storage issues and are not good for the environment. It was a leap of faith, but in conjunction with going gas free, we decided it was best to say goodbye to the stove.

We knew that there was a chance that we might live to regret that decision, but we are delighted to report that the Eberspacher heater has been great and even with this Winter’s snow and ice, things inside were very pleasant.

With the heater in the engine room and our bedroom in the bow, it is always the last room to warm up, but that is fine by us, as we dislike sleeping in a hot room. We do however have a heated over blanket, which is great for warming the bed before bedtime. We take it off when we go to bed, though.

We have had the heating on during the day, when it has been below freezing outside, but it does not take long for the central heating to get up to temperature and we often find we have to knock the thermostat down when we get too hot!

Which brings us nicely to how the central heating (and water heating) is controlled. When we were living in our house (seems a lifetime ago) we had a Hive controller that let us setup the heating schedule, remotely control the heating (when away from the house) and quickly turn on a boost program when necessary. The great news is that with Ortomarine’s unique Ortomate™️ system, we get all of these features and more.

From the colour touch screen controller, our iPhones or computers we can easily check the status of the heating and configure all of the settings. What is more, we can use the Easy Access app to do all of this when we are off the boat as well. We use the timer function to ensure that we get up to a lovely, toasty boat and it works a treat.

For anyone considering a new build narrowboat, we can confidently state that there is no need to be worrying about being cold, even when living aboard in the depths of winter on a frozen canal. A good diesel heater, will keep the boat very warm and cost around £16 per week (average) between December and March.

13 Replies to “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

  1. Loving these blogs – keep em coming! Yes I did wonder if it would be warm enough but sounds like you have it all sorted. As you say, solid fuel is a romantic option but less practical – and the easy access app sounds brill! I love all these top end solutions, whilst being eco friendly! X

    1. Thanks Cons – we can go out for days as from 29th March, which is beyond exciting. Fir some reason we are not allowed to stay out overnight- which is odd as you are very self-contained on a narrowboat. But we’ve obeyed all the rules so far – not about to be breaking them now! X

    1. Well the decision was quite strongly influenced by the space saved in the saloon – not only from the stove itself but also the logs/coal. And with a dozen solar panels on the roof, it would have been difficult to find a place to store the fuel outside. And then there’s the mess and the chimney (tar). It all stacked up in favour of not having one. The amount of fuel used by a diesel heater is quite low. It’s not as green a solution as we’d like, but if you’ve ever seen the pall of smoke from solid fuel stoves over a Marina in the winter, it seems like it’s got to be a better bet? Plus we are not running it all day every day. It is much more controllable too.

  2. If plans work out, in a few years we may be able to spend 6 mo/year on the canals, so it’d be late spring thru early fall. We’d need heat, of course, but it’s nice to know we could just as easily be all diesel/radiator without a stove eating up space we’d otherwise use. I was hoping this’d be data you’d have a chance to share. Thanks so much!

    1. We are already finding that – as the weather warms up – we are using the heater for shorter periods. By summer, I reckon it’ll just be the odd time we use it. Time will tell!

  3. We have a build slot with Rob & Caroline for early 2023 and we have been trying to decide if we should go multifuel or diesel stove. We now have an option of no stove at all. So many decisions to be made.

    1. That exactly how we felt. Decision after decision. And it will ramp up as you near your build slot. Caroline and Rob make the process very easy, though, and it’s all so exciting. We simply could not fault the Eberspacher. Quiet, clean and very warm. I would not have anything else. I would also recommend one of these – just to take the chill off the bed. It makes me smile is I get into bed.

      Dreamcatcher Deluxe Luxurious Faux Fur Electric Heated Throw 160 x 130cm Ash Grey Soft Cosy Plush Faux Fur, Heated Electric Blanket, Large Overblanket with Timer and 9 Control Heat Settings (Grey)

  4. we are considering having a boat built and are thinking of all electric or hybrid ,and no gas underfloor heating might be a good idea considering the coldest part of the boat is in the water, and could be zoned for different parts of the boat, and have less radiators, did you consider this, we are thinking of a wide beam

    1. Hi Clive
      We did consider underfloor heating but our budget was already overstretched and it we felt it was a luxury we could probably do without. We have just been through an unusually cold winter and have been fine. The bedroom is carpeted, which is about the only place we’d be barefoot in the winter. I guess if money had been no object we’d maybe have gone for it? But we have no regrets.

    1. Hi Kate, the latest generation of these Eberspacher heaters are very quiet and we are very happy with ours. Inside the only real noise is the bubbling of the coolant tank which on our boat is in a cupboard in the galley. I have heard older units that are louder from the outside but nowhere near that of a generator.

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