In Tennessee, where I live, we finally got our first cold front this week. Immediately, my mind turned to alternative heating.

On our farm, we have an outdoor wood-burning stove attached to our main house. However, we also have a double-wide mobile home that is heated with electricity. We wanted to have this ready for Y2K in the event of unexpected guests; however, we simply didn’t have the money to buy another wood stove. (If you’ve bought a wood-burning stove, you know that the stove itself is only part of the cost. The cost and labor of installing a proper chimney can run several hundred dollars.)

This week, I ran across the best low-cost alternative for heating that I have found yet. I wanted to share it with you: a kerosene space heater.

The National Kerosene Heater Association (yes, there is an association for everything) endorses three brands:

  • The KeroHeat or KeroMate Heater from Sngoku Works

  • The Kero-Sun Heater from Toyotomi USA, Inc.

  • The Corona Heater from Corona USA, Inc.

We picked up two 22,300 BTU KeroHeat units from Sam’s Wholesale Club for $114.00 each! Here are the benefits:

  • Heats approximately 1,000 square feet. You can get a smaller model if you want to heat less space or add additional units if you want to heat more space.

  • Is completely portable. This may come in handy if, for example, you want to heat your living area during the day and your bedroom at night.

  • Can be safely used indoors. It requires no venting, fuel lines, or electrical connections. Plus, it uses one of the safest fuels available. The flash point is from 340 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 572 degrees Fahrenheit. “Kerosene is relatively non volatile at normal typical ambient temperatures and can be transported, stored and transferred from canister to heater safely” (see this link for more safety information).

  • Is very efficient. Because the system is unvented, all of the heat remains in the house

  • Inexpensive to operate. The instruction manual with the KeroHeat Heater says that it burns a maximum of 0.167 gallons of kerosene per hour. Other people have told me that I can expect to burn about 1 gallon per day. (Obviously, I won’t be burning it at full throttle or for the entire 24-hour period.)

Make sure that you only use K-1 grade kerosene to keep from damaging the wick. As a safety precaution, I would also get a fire extinguisher and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector — just in case. A second wick is also a good idea.

Kerosene should be stored in a blue container. (Remember: red is for gasoline and yellow is for diesel.) Where I live it is currently selling for $1.30 per gallon. The easiest option is to buy a 55-gallon barrel of kerosene and then use a standard five-gallon container for transporting the fuel from your barrel to your heater. You will also need a pump for the barrel. (If you live in an apartment or condo, you may not be able to store a barrel. You may have to use multiple, five-gallon containers.)

Another excellent kerosene website is MSI Wicks and Heaters. This is the one I recommend in The Y2K Personal Survival Guide.

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