There are things that aren’t normally in my knowledge base. Yet, years ago I realized it was time to find a way to reduce my winter heating bill. Then I remembered that about 24 years ago my ex and I had a kerosene heater in an apartment where we didn’t need one since heat was covered. I’m not sure what happened to it during a move to our house a couple of years later, 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.

kerosene heater

Then some time in 2014 when neither of us were home most of the winter, as we both traveled a lot for work, we had to leave the heat on at least 63° to keep the pipes safe. Even at that temperature we had bills around $535 each for a 2-month period, and $450 in the other month, when supposedly it had started getting warmer.

That wasn’t going to do once I was home more often. The prospect of what could be $600 monthly bills (without knowing that the price of natural gas was going to decline some) was scary. I started to reconsider our ban on kerosene heaters, thinking that the technology had to have improved some over the last 11 years or so.

So I bought a kerosene heater, learned how to use it properly, and I’ve never looked back on that decision. I bought it because it looked like it would be easy to use. Trust me, I needed easy. lol

Turns out running it is very easy. Mine needs 2 C batteries for its electric ignition (though you could light it with a match, which I’d prefer not to do if I don’t have to). You fill it up with the kerosene, wait an hour for the wick to soak up some of the kerosene (only the first time), then push the lever (depending on where it is and what type, you’ll either push a lever, step on a lever or turn it on some other way), wait for it to light up, and adjust from there as necessary.

At this point I’ve been a long time user of kerosene heaters, which means I can speak on the efficiency and cost savings of using one… or many. I’ll say this up front; best decision I ever made across the board for staying warm and saving money on heating bills.

First, I now have 3 kerosene heaters. I didn’t initially buy them all for myself, but I’m the only one left in the house. I have one in my bedroom, one in my office, and one in the living room that also covers the dining room and, when necessary, the kitchen. Since the other 3 bedrooms aren’t being used, along with the second bathroom, those doors are closed almost all the time.

Second, I don’t need the kerosene’s to run full time, ever. There’s little insulation for my office and bedroom, but what I do is turn the kerosene heaters on in those rooms for short bursts only when I’m in those rooms (I spend most of my day in my office), let it get to a certain temperature where I’m comfortable (a little warmer than necessary) that I also know will last a while so I don’t have to turn them back on constantly.

The living room, et al, is a large space, but I’m only in that area when I’m walking my in-home course (walking is my main exercise). Thus, I only turn it on when I first get in there, and when it’s warm enough to sustain itself for a while I turn it back off.

Let’s look at the numbers for this past winter. The biggest monthly bill I had was just under $220, when we had many days in the single digits and below zero. My most recent heating bill was just under $195. I keep the temperature in the house at 70°F, which makes is slightly more comfortable in the living and dining rooms, though it barely touches my bedroom and office. Still, it’s enough so that I don’t have to consistently run the heaters, thank goodness. I think that’s pretty good for keeping the inside of the house comfortable.

The next part to cover is the cost of the kerosene. As gas prices went up this year, so did kerosene. At the beginning of the season the cost was $3.99 a gallon; the last time I had to fill up my 5-gallon container it was at $3.25. I have two kerosene containers, but I only filled both of them at the beginning of the season and refilled one of them twice more. Since I actually only put 4 1/2 gallons in each container (since it’s hard getting 100% of what’s in the container out), I spent around $67 for kerosene the entire winter, or about $13.50 a month. That means my average monthly hearing costs were somewhere around $@15 a month; I’m not mad at that!

The last thing to talk about is safety. Kerosene isn’t combustible (well, it’s considered by some as being combustible, but it won’t explode), which many people believe. It does produce a small amount of carbon monoxide, but not enough to come close to setting off a monitor or being dangerous to breathe in except for people with chronic respiratory or circulatory health problems.

If it’s smoking a lot that’s a different matter. Either take it to hardware or some other place that offers maintenance or buy a new one and you’ll be fine. I’ve been using them so long that the only time I smell anything is when it first ignites. Like anything else, if taken care of and used properly, you’ll be totally safe using one.

That’s my take on the subject. At the very least it’s worth considering when you’re trying to find other ways to save money on heating bills.