Like most of you, I enjoy being warm. I live in southeast Idaho where its common to have 6 months of snowfall so staying warm is not always easy. As a dutiful Prepper, I am constantly on the lookout for affordable secondary heat sources (my first source is central heating). Below are five off-grid options that I have used over the years and are worth considering.
1. Candle Heater
A candle heater or terracotta heater is an inexpensive way to add some warmth to a cold day. The first time I tried this heater was on a windy day that was just below 60°F. Since the bathroom is the smallest room in my house and has the least amount of combustibles, I experimented there to see if I would notice a difference. The temperature in the room did not increase. The pots got too hot to touch and I could only keep my hand over the terracotta hole for 5 seconds. However, it was just a wonderful hand warmer but that’s about it. I tried the candle heater again when the temperature outside was a calm 65°F, there was a noticeable difference in the room temperature. I had a light jacket on and removed it after being near the heater for 30 minutes. Both times the Ikea tea light candles needed to be replaced after four hours. It would not be my first choice as an emergency heat source but it would be better than nothing.
For this DIY project I used:
- large terracotta pot
- small terracotta pot
- two very small terracotta saucers
- larger terracotta saucer
- five tea light candles
Click here to view different ways to construct a candle heater.
Kotatsu is a short wooden table traditionally used in Japan. Below the table is a source of heat (burning charcoal or an electric heater). Draped over the table is heavy blanket or futon to trap the heat. You won’t find central heating in most Japanese homes so this is an area in the home that provides warmth for the family. Click here to see a picture of one being used; here or here to view step-by-step instructions on how to build a Kotatsu.
3. Heating Rocks
When I was a child, my parents would heat stones on our fireplace and then tuck one into bed with me. There are a couple of creative ways to use rocks as a source of heat. The one I just mentioned is the most common. Another way is to make a quick sauna, click here to see how. If you plan on camping, click here to see how to use rocks to stay warm all night long.
4. Indoor Propane Heater
This Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is an indoor approved propane heater that produces 4,000-9,000 BTU (The Big Buddy is 4,000-18,000 BTU!). It is equipped with a low-oxygen shut-off pilot system and accidental tip-over shutoff which means it is safe to use indoors. I use this heater for camping (it is really nice for warming up the tent), cold outdoor activities, or the lazy nights when we run out of wood for our fireplace and don’t feel like going to the woodshed. Usage – (1) 1 lb. Cylinder: 1.5 to 6 hrs. [Big Buddy] Usage – (2) 20 lb. Cylinders: 50 to 220 hrs. Click here to watch a youtube review.
A wood burning fireplace insert is one of the best purchases my husband & I have made. It has saved us quite a bit on our electric bill each month, based on prior electricity usage our insert paid for itself in just two Idaho winters. It produces about 65,000 BTU. We loved having an open stone fireplace but wanted it to be more efficient. Fireplace inserts have an efficiency rating of 60% to 80%; open face fireplaces have about a 15% efficiency rate.
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