Staying warm & keeping the air quality up

We started our remodel at the end of Spring and finished in mid-December. Since it was cold, we decided to put off the install of a new air conditioner/heater combo until Spring. Our first trip with Mavis was to a moderate climate – Southport, North Carolina. Typically, it’s warmer than Atlanta and rarely dips below freezing. We’ve heard a lot of mixed opinions on whether or not the main air conditioner unit with the add-on of a heating element can even keep up in cold temperatures. We decided to save the money for now and get a small electric heater for the winter.

We tested three electric heaters in Atlanta before settling on one to take to Southport. The first one we tried was the PuraFlame Octavia. It was definitely the cutest heater out there with it’s retro styling and color choices. It had a realistic flame and was quiet and small. It also had the safety features of tip over and overheat protection. However, it just didn’t seem to keep up, even on a 50 degree day. It seemed to be able to get the trailer 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. I was heartbroken to send that cutie back. But I decided being warm was more important than having an attractive heater. 😉 Second, we tried the LifeSmart Large Room Infrared Heater. It was bigger, bulkier and louder. It too ran for hours without making much of a dent. Even standing right in front of the unit, we could barely feel the heat. My mom stepped in to save the day. She spent hours researching heaters for trailers and came up with the Vornado VMH500. The way it is able to circulate the air seems to have made all the difference. It heated up the trailer fast and keeps it heated. The only trouble we had was keeping the trailer warm on an unusually bitter cold night in the mid 20s. But we’ve had many nights in the 30s and the inside of the trailer stays around 68. It has a thermostat, remote, safety features and is a small, compact size. It fits perfectly underneath our desk area.

One thing we definitely didn’t anticipate is humidity. We woke up one morning a few days after we moved in and felt it. And by feel it I mean I thought I woke up in a swimming pool. We figured it must be a combination of no overhead unit cycling the air, three sets of lungs inside a tin can and our proximity to the ocean. That morning we bought a small dehumidifier to try to make a dent in our 90% humidity trailer. NINETY! It ran all day and got the humidity down to a liveable number. We are still trying to decide if it’s enough. It runs 24×7 and some days it can’t keep up. If it’s raining outside, the humidity is always up in the 80s. We’ve also learned to keep the bathroom door shut during and after showers. I assume this would be under control more if we had an overhead AC that was constantly cycling the air. But most days it feels great in here and stays around 50 – 60%.

UPDATE: We realized the small dehumidifier was better suited for the bathroom and have since purchased a larger one for the rest of the trailer.

I got sick a few days after we moved in. I assume it was climate change, humidity and learning how to keep the temperature under control. I then started wondering how the air quality was in here. I had a fancy air purifier I used in my old 150 year old office building. I decided to bring that back out with us and see how it did in the Airstream. It ran for almost a solid day and showed the air quality as poor. It still fluctuates but after a few days of non-stop running it stays in the good range most of the time. Maybe it’s overkill but I started getting creeped out thinking of how old the trailer is and how much stuff we must have stirred up during the remodel. Even if it’s just dust. This unit is huge but it’s very slim. We keep it against the front of the kitchen cabinets. I suppose we’ll keep it for a few weeks until I’m satisfied that the space is cleaned out enough.

One of the best little things I bought was this temperature and humidity monitor. It shows a history of the past 24 hours of highs and lows. Now we can tell how well we’re keeping the trailer warm overnight and how out of control the humidity is. It’s been a pretty consistent 68-72 degrees in here except when we have nice days and leave the heat off (that’s how we got that unintentional dip to 61 yesterday evening).

We have one too many gadgets in here for my liking but I know they’re vital to keeping the trailer comfortable. Eventually, after the install of the overhead unit I hope to do away with all of them. And maybe a dehumidifier is just par for the course no matter what you do. Especially in a coastal environment. We shall see!

Sheena is a free-spirited adventurer who designed and renovated a 1975 Airstream in 2016 and travels the US with her husband and mohawk-sportin’ poodle. She’s a business owner, self-taught carpenter, blogger, yogi, professional photographer and a lover of the outdoors and healthy living.