My simple cheap heat solution

behaviorkeltonDecember 4, 2007

When I am in the house, I frankly don't move to much at all. I basically sit, watch TV, and surf the net. (just being honest)

So it occurred to me that I don't need to heat the entire house when I really only occupy a few square feet of it.

Ok, so I considered space heaters. But here was the challenge:

1. Space heaters only heat a small area of your's hard to get warm all over.

2. Most space heaters use 1500 watts and the "low" settings aren't much lower....and even then, the heat tends to drift all over the cold room rather than remain with 'you'.

3. I wanted a space heater without any super hot spots or glowing bits and pieces... minimal fire hazard.

I ended up buying one of those oil filled electric radiators. I place it between my living room recliners...which are only 1.5' apart. Then, I take a king size quilt and sort of place it over both chairs (like over the 'lap' area of the chairs.

I turn the radiator on low: only 600watts.

In this way, my girl and I stay VERY warm. In fact, even when it's in the low 50's *in* the house, we are often throwing the quilt off of ourselves due to too much warmth!

This way of "tenting" the heat is totally effective. In chilly weather, it is wonderful to be able to place myself in a place that is so, so toasty. Even in a heated home, one usually can't experience this kind of warmth. If you ARE getting this kind of warmth throughout your home, the energy usage must be huge!

I am sure that this sounds like a fire hazard, but I don't see it. I can touch this heater at this setting. It's a closed system, and I can't quite see a way to make a fire even if I wanted to. The fabric only touches the very top of the heater.

My older home is not insulated at all.... it is bad news on the colder days and I just can't stand to run the whole house heater.

My $30 space heater idea has been working wonderfully. Last year was the first time I tried it.

So it's cheap, easy, not messy, and environmentally friendly... no need to mess with exotic pellet ovens or whatever (not for me anyway)

perhaps it seems a bit dangerous.

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I guess it really isn't a fire hazard but I'd go crazy having to stay under the balket all day to stay warm. I'd rather set the space heater's thermostat to a desired temp and let it heat the entire room since this sounds like a small space. What size room is this?

Electric space heaters are very energy efficient when used in your manner. Way to go.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:50PM
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The living room is sort of large (even though the house is small... and again, not well insulated... with big windows.

I live in Knoxville, Tn.. so the winters are *not* brutal at all. It's not like I have to go weeks in a row of icey weather.

We seem to get a few days of uncomfortable coldness followed by a nice break.... and repeat. On those colder days, I don't mind hunkering down: I get myself into a "fighting" mode where I like to see how far I can take it with losing the battle and turning on the heat.

If I didn't have a girlfriend, I think I could go all winter with the space heater trick.

I'd love to know the energy savings of the 600watt space heater compared to the central heat in this kind of house.
I mean, is it greater than a 50% energy reduction? more??

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 5:19PM
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I have a Kill-A-Watt meter that measures electricity usage. It's one of the best $25 I've spent. It measures wattage, amps, and most importantly kwatt hours, which is a necessity to measure thngs that cycle on and off like your heater.

I couldn't guess your savings but with your relatively mild winters, you're potentially savings quite a bit. I guess you could always compare your electric bill from the previous month you didn't have the heater running.

Say your 600W heater is used 8hrs a day and cycles on/off 50% of the time. Then that would be 600W x 8hr x .5 x 30 days divided by 1000 = 72kwhr used per month. At $.015 per kwhr, that would be $10.80 per month.

We use a heated mattress pad that has allowed us to reduce the thermostat 6-8 degrees lower than before. Another thing to consider is an electric throw blanket, they are great too.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 9:35PM
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my cheap heating solution is to light the fireplace. i get my wood for free, so the only thing it costs me is the electricity to run teh blower motor onthe insert. i can heat the entire front of our house with it. as a matter of a fact, the new heat pump only runs for about 30 minutes to bring the house up to temp while i get the fire going, then it pretty much shuts off for the day. it also runs about 30 minutes inthe morning so that my daughter can eat breakfast before school, and shuts off around the time they leave each morning.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 11:04AM
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Do you have a link to a good supplier of those kinds of fireplaces? I have a fireplace, but as for making heat, it sucks!.... I have looked into one of those gas fireplace inserts designed for actually making strong heat, but I'm not so sure it would be any more efficient than the central heat.

Maybe a wood burning options would be better.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 6:29PM
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ask over inthe fireplace forum, mine came with teh house. it is nice too, once the fire heats it up the blower comes and it blows heat at the speed you set it. our den is 15x19 with a 12' vaulted ceiling and it heats it up in just a few minutes. the little squirrel cage fan only draws a hundred watts at HIGH speed, if even that. i usually turn it most of the way down and it still keeps the room toasty.

if i just want a fire without the heat, i turn the blower off and build a small fire, with the doors closed onthe insert i get the ambience of a fire, without heating the room too much.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 10:28AM
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Behaviorkelton look into fireplace inserts which are basically woodburning stoves which go into the fireplace openings. Depending on the size of your fireplace and the space you need to heat there are lots of options. If you install one you will probably need to re-line your chimney. I have thrown a link below to a pretty good deal for an insert, shipping and stainless liner.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fireplace insert & liner

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 6:46AM
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Do a web-search for "kotatsu" - it operates on the same principle, but no fabric contacts any "heated element" at all.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 3:25PM
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Try this DIY solar heater made from soda cans.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heat Your House With Soda Pop Cans

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 8:53PM
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