Emergency Home Heating on the Cheap
With winter fast approaching, those of us who live in the temperate or boreal climates are already starting to feel the cold setting in.
One thing that had always worried me (before I got a wood stove) was the regular blackouts that happen here in the Northeast and not being able to heat my home. Up until the time I got the wood stove, I was able to figure out a method that easily met my needs in an emergency.
In this article, I want to share with you this low-cost method that can be used whether you live in an apartment, a rental home or your own home and don’t have the option of some of the other more permanent off-grid heating options such as wood/coal or solar heating.
Emergency Home Heating on the Cheap
A couple years back, I had purchased the Mr. Heater Big Buddy portable propane stove (you may have seen the review here) and since that review I’ve had two instances where the power went out for a day or two forcing me to use it (in combination with the method I’ll be sharing next) to keep us toasty warm.
Basically, if you didn’t get the chance to read the review, it is a small, portable propane heater that can either be used with two propane “camping” bottles or attached to one or two normal 20 lb propane grill tanks and easily last for a week per 20 lb tank under normal use:
Creating the “Hot” Room
Note: this technique is particularly appropriate if you live in a place larger than 500 square feet. If your home/apartment is 500 sq feet or less, then the Big Buddy will be just fine by itself.
This method is very simple…
In terms of heating your home in an emergency, you need to start thinking of actually heating a smaller, cordoned off area where it is a lot more economical instead of feeling you need to heat the entire home.
For emergencies, the thing you want to do is basically cordon off a room or dedicated area in your home that will become your heating and living space for your daily activities. For my home, we used the living room for this purpose.
Some things that you can use as partitions are a large thick blanket, a plastic tarp, even a large mattress that is big enough to shut off and partition a section of your home.
Here’s an example of a big blanket that I used to cordon off the living room in my house:
I used wood clamps to attach the blanket to the entryway framing:
Then, using a portable heater that can be used indoors (like the Big Buddy), heat that room exclusively and use that room for your daily activities (and possible sleep area).
Since the Big Buddy is portable, we were able to bring the heater into our bedroom (as well as the kids) and with a window cracked a small amount, heat the room while sleeping.
A note on carbon monoxide:
Although this heater is rated to be used indoors without venting, I would still recommend cracking a window to allow for sufficient air exchange. Since I placed the 20 lb bottle outside and ran the hose inside through the window, it created a crack in the window just large enough for a good air exchange without losing too much heat:
If the crack in your window is too large for your liking and it’s venting too much cold air, stuffing a bit of insulation (old t-shirts, foam, or commercial insulation) will cut down the amount of cold air drafting in.
Note: The heater does have a low O2 sensor that automatically shuts off the heater if oxygen reaches a low enough point where carbon monoxide starts to be produced but I like to err on the side of caution.
How well does this method work?
Well, in a 450 sq foot living room, with the temperature into the teens outside, I was able to keep my room at a comfortable temp around 70°F with the heater running at medium (turning it to low or off if the temp rose during the day).
With my two 20 lb propane tanks, I had enough fuel to last me around 2 weeks with regular use.
As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Let me know what ways you use to heat your home in the winter that doesn’t depend on the grid.
- Posted in Winter Survival