Appologies in advance - I am a total clueless newbie. I did try a google search of the archieve, but no luck.
Last year, I bought a cottage in the Muskokas in Central Ontario. The cottage was built in 1993, is well insulated and is lived in all year round by the previous owners until I bought it. The primary heating source is an efficient wood stove, but there are base-board electric heaters. The cottage has post and beam construction, and there is 5-6 feet under the cottage, with a dirt floor (what I call the crawlspace). The walls of the crawlspace are cinderblock, but are insulated. The "roof" of the crawlspace (which is also the floor of the cottage) is not insulated - it is bare wood covered in carpet upstairs. The cottage has heated lines bringing the water from the lake, and the pipes run in the crawlspace (with the water heater etc.)
Last year, my first year with the cottage, I left the heaters on at about 15 degrees C when I wasn't there, but the pipes froze on me when the weather hit - 20 or 30. The previous owner never had a problem with the pipes freezing, but then living there year round, the place was always warm (and presumably some heat went through the floor and kept the crawlspeace warm) and the water was being used. The copper pipes are insulated with that grey foam stuff.
My initial thought was to use something like this http://www.heatline.com/palprod.htm , but I was advised that if the power went out (which it does from time to time), the heat would dissipate quickly and things would freeze. So I might be better to insulate the ceiling of the crawlspace and put a heat source down there.
I am looking for any suggestions overall, but if the advice to heat the crawlspace is right, what type of heating can/should I use, given that it is going to be on a dirt floor (or maybe a sheet of metal or something on a dirt floor) and will be left alone for a few weeks at a time.
Is there a heater with a themostat that I can use in this application? If so, presumably I would then insulate the ceiling of the crawlspace.
Sorry for the long question.