Yurt Questions Answered: The Hot and Cold of it

“How do you heat a yurt?”

“Aren’t they hot in the summer?”

These are some of the most common questions we hear when it comes to yurts. It makes sense: the idea of yurt living is new to many people and thus, the comfort of a yurt is a big unknown.

So, how DO you heat a yurt?

Keystone Adventure Tour Yurt

Most yurt dwellers use a wood stove, pellet stove or sometimes, a propane heater. We also know of customers who have used in-floor radiant heat in a concrete floor and others who use electric heaters. A lot will depend upon your climate, your power/energy source and the type of heat you are comfortable with. In all cases, the key is a good, consistent heat source that is sufficient to heat the size of yurt you have. It also helps to have roof and wall insulation.

Wood stove in our office yurt

Then, summer comes around, and you want to stay cool.

Summer Yurt

In many climates, a yurt in the shade that has a dome lifter, ceiling fan, plenty of windows and a roll-up wall for cross ventilation will stay very comfortable. We also recommend the use of window awnings on the sunny side of the yurt to shade the windows. The tinted bronze dome is available to reduce the UV rays coming through the top of your yurt, which can also help keep it comfortable.

If you find you need more than mother nature to cool your yurt, there are ways to do so.

Here in the arid west, we use swamp coolers. In our 20′ office yurt, we have a floor-standing unit that cools very efficiently.

In parts of the world where humidity is mixed with the heat, a swamp cooler would be miserable. In those climates, a window air conditioner can be fit into a second doorway or one of our operable windows. Or there are free standing a/c units available too.

In all cases, heat or cold, we recommend that you upgrade your yurt with the Astro-Shield insulation package. It is a reflective insulation that bounces your heat back to you in the winter and helps keep heat from coming inside in the summer.

Roof insulation

In most climates and situations, insulation with the heating and cooling solutions above, will make your yurt a comfortable, live-able space for all four seasons.

And to hammer home the hot and cold of it, here’s a few yurt/temperature factoids we thought you might enjoy:

The state of Delaware has a 30’ that they use for a reptile exhibit. It is heated with base board electric heat. Gotta keep those snakes comfy.

The yurts at Pearl Lake State Park near Steamboat Springs are also heated with electric heaters, of the sort you would see in a hotel room.

Yurt at Pearl Lake State Park, Colorado

In the tropics it’s well known that fans of all sorts—ceiling fans, floor fans, table top fans and window units— keep people cooler. CYC yurts in Belize have numerous fans that guest move around to suit their needs.

Yurt in the tropics

We can make water “boots” (or gaskets, or sleeves) to seal around your swamp cooler or air conditioner.

Some customers in extreme weather conditions, like Alaska or the Southwest desert have enhanced their insulation with batting (for recycled denim batting see bondedlogic.com) or rigid insulation. Our staff can help you figure out how it’s done.


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10 Responses to Yurt Questions Answered: The Hot and Cold of it

  1. Gail Edelen says:

    My husband and I are considering a 30′ yurt for a year round home in Durango, Colorado. We would like to use a wood stove to heat the yurt. I hae spent time in several yurts during the winter at Never Summer Nordic and are conderned about the yurt staying warm enough while we are sleeping or at work. Will they retain enough heat to keep pipes from freezing during a 9-10 hour work day with proper insulation? Also, will we need to get up every night to add wood to the stove?

    • ivy says:

      Gail, A yurt doesn’t have a high r-value. The insulation is a reflective type, where it requires a consistent heat source. So, yes- the fire would have to be burning all night or you’d need a back up heat source. I would not speculate on pipes freezing, but would guess you could insulate the pipes to help avoid that. I can ask some of our permanent yurt dwellers to chime in and share ideas on that.

  2. Marci says:

    I would imagine that electric heat tape would work around the pipe(s) you are concerned about.

  3. Julie Pagliaro says:

    What’s the best way to insulate the floor of a yurt? We are considering using styrofoam sheets. Has anyone tried this?

  4. Stephen Linturn says:

    My wife and I live in what we believe is the only yurt in North-west Indiana – this last winter was very cold and temperatures got down below 20 degrees. We went away for Christmas expecting temperatures to stay above freezing (according to the forecasts at that time) BIG mistake! Although a neighbor was keeping an eye out on our yurt they didn’t put on our back-up oil burning radiator (we normally use a wood-burning stove) when we got back we had busted pipes and manifolds and a big mess to sort out. So to answer your question – yes definitely insulate your pipes and I’d advise electric tape too. Ideally get in-floor heating installed and up and running too – that way you shouldn’t have any problems like we unfortunately did!

  5. Corina Rose says:

    I live in a 30′ yurt in Vermont and after two winters with the “winter package” and 6 burning cords wood I decided to use batting insulation and I am so glad I did
    A WORLD of difference. Now I dont worry about pipes freezing, come home to a warm house and now that it is warm outside its cool in the yurt.
    The reflectix insulation is not sufficient in the north east unless you want to burn a ton of wood and all the work that this involves including waking in the middle of the night to feed the stove.
    I wish yurt companies would not gloss over this. A prospective customer needs to know based on their location, daily living needs what is the best for their comfort.
    In the summer with 6 “real windows” open, both screen doors and two fans going I could keep the temps from climbing over 100 degrees. With Roxul insulation when I come in with no windows open it is cool. I feels is safer for my animals that are indoors.
    I love living in a yurt, dont get me wrong. Its the representation of the reflectix insulation as being adequate for all climates that I find really annoying. Its taken a lot of trial and error amongst those of us yurt dwellers living in the northeast to find what works.
    Best to all who venture down this path, it is my heaven (now).

  6. Kehl V. Murray says:

    If you built your yurt on a cloured concrete slab on grade, you could have hydronic heat in the foor with insulated shallow foundation technology and never worry about pipes freezing as all stubouts would come from under the slab. As for a yurt on a deck like foundation you could skirt the yurt with insulated skirting and utilize the space as a heat sink (with either rock or water storage) with either hydronic or solar heat.

  7. Gabrielle Zale says:

    I wanted to share information regarding heating a 30′ yurt in the winter. We live in Bennett, Co. where we are pretty high in altitude…over 6,000 ft. We finished our 30′ yurt and had a wood stove designed in Canada installed. We bought a mixture of wood so that it was easy to start and then add the harder woods to build the temperature.

    The occupants couldn’t stay warm because of leaving for work or sleeping at night. The Yurt would become too cold for them and the pipes. I ordered a wall unit propane heater which only cost $285.00 including shipping and tax. It is a Pro Com vent-free gas wall heater, Blue Flame Model, 30,000 BTU (this price also includes the price of the automatic/manual blower and the universal gas connection kit.

    This worked like a charm for the time when you cannot be building and maintaining a fire. Even in the coldest temperatures with a fire built in the late afternoon/early evening and with the constant use of the propane wall heater everything stayed at a comfortable temperature.

    I would highly suggest this type of heating for a 30′ Yurt. The heater can be ordered through Northern Tool and Equipment.

    We leased a 500 gallon propane tank which does well with cost for the propane.

    Hope this helps with any ideas for heating a 30′ Yurt.

  8. George Miller says:

    I insulated my floor with a sip (structurally insulated panel) which I ordered in a 20′ circle then attached the sip to the deck joists and installed a bender board to the outside and attached the yurt. This is an easy efficient way to insulate the floor. g

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