Editor’s Note: Originally published Jan 6, 2014. Links have been updated.
We’re snowed in today, at least until we can get the driveway plowed and get the vehicles out. We had a beautiful, dangerous blizzard yesterday. Today and tomorrow we are under a wind-chill warning. It’s good to be inside and I am grateful to have electricity and an internet connection. (And a working boiler.)
While doing a bit of research, I came across several plans for inexpensive or low cost home heating. I haven’t tried any of these, but I’m considering it. You’ll have to make your own judgements about the safety and effectiveness of these. If anyone has tried these or something similar, it would be wonderful if you would share your experience in the comments.
1) Build a Solar Air Heating Collector from Soda-Pop Cans:
This is not only inexpensive – you use empty soda cans as well as old double paned windows and other found materials – but it looks much nicer than would be expected. It is somewhat labor intensive as you will need to drill or cut out the ends of each and every pop can.
2) Mother Earth News – Solar Heat Grabber
This one claims to cost $32.18 to build, but keep in mind that the article is older so prices are likely higher now. The unit fits next to a window and is not exactly attractive. The article has very good information about how to place the unit and what angles and placements are most effective.
3) Tea Light and Flowerpot Room Heater
No, this is not a joke. The author claims that this heater will heat a room for the cost of 4 tea lights for about 5 hours.
This one seems like it could be a bit dangerous if you have small children, pets, or if you are a bit clumsy. It uses small candle flames to create a convection heater.
4) Electric Heater with a Battery and Ceramic Plate
This one takes some electric wiring knowledge, but that fact that it uses a 1.5v dry cell battery fascinated me. If you could find a rechargeable battery, this could be a good emergency or portable source of heat. I don’t know how safe it may be – best to check with the electrician in the family. Plus it looks like it could be a fire hazard if left unattended!
5) Solar Heat Panel
Another Mother Earth News article about building a solar panel – this one was designed to add heat to a garage or work shop.
The designer of this unit is an engineer that wanted to heat his outdoor workshop.
There you are. 5 Ideas for creating low cost home heating from the sun, a battery, or a candle. If you try any of them, please let us know how it worked and how much it cost.
I have one more idea for staying warm when then temperature outside is -15 degrees F. Wear thermal sock liners. They are worn underneath your regular socks.
I bought a pair from Amazon.com to give to my son this Christmas, but when they arrived, they were sparkly silver, thin, and knee-high. Seeing no way he would wear them, I kept them for myself. Wow! They are so effective that I am completely warm and comfortable which is a big change for me. Don’t tell my son … he may want them after all!
photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net and marin