There are things that aren’t in my knowledge base. Thus, when I realized it was time to find a way to reduce my winter heating bill, I had a hard time coming up with something. Then I remembered that about 15 years ago my wife and I had a kerosene heater. I’m not sure what happened to it during a move to our house at the time, but we bought another one in 2003 that failed miserably. We got it started, but it smoked up outside the day we tried it and never lost the smoke. Thus it seemed like a lost cause.

DuraHeat Convection
Kerosene Heater

Then last year neither of us were home most of the winter, as we both travel a lot for work. However, it was the year of multiple polar vortexes, and even though we weren’t home, we had to leave the heat on at least 63° to keep the pipes safe. This led to bills around $535 for a 2-month period, and $450 in the other month, when supposedly it had started getting warmer.

That just wouldn’t do, especially since I’m back home this winter. The prospect of what could be $600 bills (without knowing that the price of natural gas was going to decline some) was scary. I started to reconsider this ban on kerosene heaters, thinking that the technology had to have improved some over the last 11 years.

I bought the one in the picture to the right (if you click on the image it’ll take you to an affiliate link for purchase). It doesn’t matter what brand your heater is, but that’s the one I bought because it looked like it would be easy to use. Trust me, I needed easy.”

Suffice it to say, running it is very easy; getting it out of the box wasn’t. Still, I got it out of the box and followed the directions in getting started, except for putting all that metal stuff around it. I know it’s for your protection but I found it noisy and since I have no kids or pets I figured I could go without it. All I had to do was put the batteries in (it takes 2 C batteries for its electric ignition), fill it up with the kerosene, wait an hour for the wick to soak up some of the kerosene, then push down on the lever, wait for it to light up, and adjust from there.

Now some data. I have kept the temperature in the house at 63°; the experiment wouldn’t work without doing that. The initial space I had to warm up was about 400 square feet. I turned the kerosene heater on and within an hour it had brought the temperature in that space up to 78°; nice! Actually that’s a bit too hot on an ongoing basis, but I wanted to see what would happen. That covers my office, the master bedroom and my bathroom.

Next I tried it in a much larger space, about 850 square feet. This covers my living room, the dining room and the kitchen (the furthest space other than the laundry room).

Initially we didn’t have a barrier up for the back bedrooms and offices, so the figure is slightly skewed. Still, within 60 minutes the temperature in the living room and dining room was around 74°, the kitchen was around 68°, and main thermostat showed 72° as well. Since the thermostat is around the back bedrooms, though those doors were closed, it shows how well the heat spread. Once we put a barrier up, the living room and dining room got up around 76°, the kitchen around 72°.

The utility bill for November was around $285; that’s pretty amazing, although there were some warm days during the month. I figured the real test would be when my wife and I were both home for two weeks during the holidays, which included a party and much colder weather. I just received the bill and it’s only $330, way down from last year. Since my wife has left again that means electricity usage, which went up while she was here, will decrease, and it’s possible that my bill for January will be much lower, even if it gets colder.

The part I haven’t covered yet is the cost of the kerosene. I purchased a 5-gallon plastic tank for that, and initially when I started it was $3.99 a gallon. Now it’s down to $3.25, and since I only purchase 4 1/2 gallons at a time, and when I’m home by myself I only have to fill it up once a week (since I now shut it down when the temperature gets to 74°), that means it’s costing me less than $65 a month for kerosene.

Thus, for December, with my wife home, staying warm and running everything else cost less than $400. That’s not bad as far as savings go compared to last year, around $150. Who couldn’t find another use for $150 during the cold months?

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