kerosene heater?

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I'm interested in max cost savings for heating. Why is it that hardly nobody seems to be using kerosene heaters anymore? Is it just because of inconvenience? Would I save a lot, especially if the commodities speculators go crazy again soon and drive up the cost of my heating oil?
I have a fairly small house, live alone and keep the thermostat low all winter. Could I just put a kerosene heater on the cellar's concrete floor and let the heat rise upstairs? The kerosene would be auxiliary to the main oil-fired steam boiler.
Thanks.
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Last time I looked a few years ago, kerosene was selling at HD for $35.00 for a 5 gallon can.
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A local service station sells it bulk, and it was about $6.00 a gallon last winter. That's why those once very popular in the 1990's kero heaters are now at garage sales for a couple buxks. No one can afford to feed them anymore. I used to use one in my garage in winter. Now I use propane.
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Like their hardwood, HD's price on Kerosene is obscene. Ditto a lot of hardware stores. I heated my garage shop with kerosene until this past year when I changed to a radiant natural gas heater. I could buy kerosene from a few local co-ops or oil companies for slightly more than diesel fuel.
While the heater did a good job in the garage, I would not use one in the house. My shop had garage doors that allowed some air exchange. Even at that it did begin to smell when the fuel ran low; and during the startup and shut down process. Besides that, it is an un-vented device and running it full time could be dangerous.
RonB
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On 10/29/2010 8:13 PM RonB spake thus:

I used to get my kerosene at a Rotten Robbie station in Hayward (San Francisco Bay Area East Bay), from a self-serve pump relatively cheap.
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On 10/27/2010 3:35 PM, Tom wrote:

Not sure you would save any money. Suspect kerosene costs as much as oil.
Personally I don't want to breathe unvented combustion products even if there are safeguards in place to shut the heater down if it emits carbon monoxide or oxygen level dips. I also suspect you will generate an off smell from kerosene.
My rich/el cheapo neighbors use an electric blanket and let house temp drop to 50 at night. Also have a supplemental wood burner built into home system and gets all the wood he needs from his three acres. Tank of oil probably lasts several years.
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On 10/27/2010 3:50 PM, Frank wrote:

thanks for both replies. I was afraid that kerosene prices would be a problem, except I wondered if greater efficiency (no heat goes up the chimney) could be a saving factor. Looks like it's me and my own electric blanket again this year.
So a followup: does it really save much fuel to drop the temp overnight? I'll likely have the thermostat set to 55 all day anyway. If I let the temp drop to 50 overnight, then it can take a long, long time (45 minutes?) just to raise it from 50 to 55 in the morning. I also had kinda figured that long continuous stress on the old boiler might be a bad thing, rather than have it come on for maybe 10 minutes at a time if I keep the thermostat steady.
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I've got a couple kero heaters for working in my unheated garage when I have to. Would use them in the house only in an emergency. Like a broken furnace when it's below zero, to keep pipes from freezing. K1 is pretty expensive, so it's not cost efficient for home heating, besides the smell, soot, etc. If you buy K1 be careful. Wide variances in price. Think I paid about 15 bucks for 5-gallon jugs at Menards. Other sources wanted 30-40 for the same.
You always save fuel costs by having the heat down. There's no significant "stress" on your boiler by running it for long lengths of time, unless you have a bad component that can overheat.
A good thing to remember about heating is that the bigger the differential in heat from where it's warm to where it's cold, the faster you'll lose heat. Non-linear I think the smart guys say. Seems obvious, but my wife still doesn't get it (-:
--Vic
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Vic Smith wrote:

I'd expect you'd stress the unit more by cycling it on and off, particularly the ignition components.
Jeff
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On Thu, 28 Oct 2010 16:34:41 -0400, jeff_wisnia

That's my view. I like a wide lag in the t-stat, maybe 4 degrees. The last couple I put in only adjusted to 2-3 degrees lag. Which is okay, because the wife likes 1 degree, which is the default. Somehow the furnace cycling is more tolerable to me than her complaining. Besides that, what happens with a wider lag is she'll ultimately jack up the temp to a higher average. Some kind of skinny person "conditioning" reflex. With a 1 degree lag she'll settle in at 71. Funny how what you think is a disadvantage works out in the end. There's something to the 1 degree default I guess.
--Vic
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On Thu, 28 Oct 2010 18:03:26 -0500, Vic Smith wrote:

It's 45F outside. Been under 50F all day and windy 10 - 20 mph west. I have three regular size oil lamps in the living room where the thermostat is. Thermostat is set to 70F. Furnace has not come on all day :)
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Andy comments:
It may not use a chimney, but the CO and CO2 combustion products have to go somewhere since they are poisonous. That means, to be safe, you have to have good circulation thru your house and a path for the gases to get to the outside.
A portable kerosene heater is great for places that don't have any other sourct of heat, but the price of fuel isn't competitive with other methods if you have access to gas or electricity.
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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On 10/27/2010 4:31 PM, Tom wrote:

better. Cost of heat depends on where you live.
Programmed thermostat might be good for you. There should be data available on percent energy saving for every degree drop in temperature. You will save money.
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Since I almost died from a unvented heater in a camp tent I am very cautious about CO emissions and would never use a unvented heater again. ww

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On 10/27/2010 4:31 PM, Tom wrote:

The heart of this is that you want to save and yet be warm.
Insulation, Insulation, Insulation.
Is there any in the walls? Is there any under the floor? How well sealed is your house?
Most houses that are older than 20 years or so are woefully inadequate. Just having insulation in the attic is not enough, far from it.
I noticed a huge difference after I blew cellulose in the walls, and again after adding underfloor insulation. My friends who didn't, all have high heat and cooling bills, and are not as comfortable.
My neighbor across the street with a similarly constructed house, heats with a kero and added no insulation. My bills are a third of his and my house is warm as opposed to his which is downright chilly. Well it isn't always chilly, in the summer it is a sweat farm. Two different strategies.
Another note. Even though no heat goes up the chimney with a kero heater, it consumes air. That air must be drawn into the house from the cold outside air. It really is beter if not only for the combustion products are vented outdoors but if the heater gets it's air not from your living space which must by necessity be drawn from outdoors.
Jeff

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Tom,
You only save fuel when your furnace is actually running at the lower setback temperature. You lose less heat when the temperature difference between the outdoors and indoors is less, so you don't have to use as much fuel to replace the lost BTU's.
However, if your house never reaches the setback temperature and runs the furnace, there is no savings. In my case I keep the house at 68F when it is occupied and we're awake. If I set the temperature to 50F during the night, and the house never reaches that temperature, it takes the same amount of fuel to return to 68F in the morning as it does to maintain it at 68F all night. So if your setback is too deep, you won't save anything. When it does hit 50F and the furnace starts running again, that's when you start saving. Took me a long time to understand that and I live in Minnesota.
In your case you are the poster child for low cost heating. Keeping it at 55F most of the time saves you a ton of money. Dropping it to 50F only makes sense when it actually reaches that temperature in your house and the furnace runs. For maximum savings and comfort you would adjust the setback according to the outside temperature. Even if you don't save anything during the night, it won't cost you any more to bring the temperature back to 55F. The long run on the boiler is probably better for it and more efficient than frequent on and off cycles.
The only problem with your heating scheme is that it makes it difficult to cost-justify any improvements because your heating bill is so low. However, adding insulation and plugging leaks may give you a payback if you can do it cheaply enough. I admire your pioneer spirit, my wife would leave me if I tried to keep the house at 55F and then I'd lose my "night heater".
Keep up the good work. I agree with most of the others about not using kerosene.
dss
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wrote:

Incorrect.
If your temperature AVERAGE is lower over time, you will save fuel.
On-off cycles mean essentially nothing in the calculation.
All that matters is the average temp. Lower the average and you save.
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On 10/28/2010 9:13 AM, dss wrote:

Thanks for saying that, dss -- plus thanks for the valuable practical advice from you and others.
I've thought of the word "pioneer" many times through the years, especially these last two. Heck, I don't even throw the chicken out just because it's been in the refrigerator for 5 days. Sometimes, when walking with a girl on a trail in winter, I lay in the snow for a half-minute or so with no shirt on -- just because.
For now, I let it get as low as it goes without the boiler running -- 48 or so in the mornings. In winter, I'll set things to 55F, except on really frigid nights when the heat loss to the outside is at a greater rate... I can stand a little lower. It's all about 50% warm clothing, 50% use of an electric pad at times, and the other 90% is mental :) (to paraphrase a philosopher).
Greetings to Minnesota.
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Down comforters work almost as well as an electric blanket and are much cheaper to operate.
That, and snuggling.
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On Wed, 27 Oct 2010 15:35:24 -0400, Tom wrote:

K1 around here is 3 bucks a gallon. Back when it was half that or even less I did compliment my home heating with a large convection kero heater. But fuel costs prohibit that these days for me. And I used to buy it by the 55 gallon drum. Can't justify the expense now. I tried it last season and lost.
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