The fall and winter months can be tough on your wallet. It’s the time of year when families stay inside more often to escape the frosty weather, and the kids are out of school during winter break. Not to mention, the holidays bring in numerous guests, and delicious Thanksgiving and Christmas meals mean more oven time. Everyone likes to feel warm and cozy, so you turn on the heat. Unfortunately, running the heater makes your electricity bill skyrocket. Luckily, there are several ways to warm up your home without spending an arm and a leg.
Does A DIY Heater Actually Work?
I’d seen a few ideas for a homemade space heater floating around Pinterest and Facebook. But, I heard mixed reviews from various people, and I wanted to find out if they actually worked.
So, I tried a few different methods and options. The slow cooker method did not work well for me, and using just one terra cotta pot was a fail also.
I decided to combine various strategies, and I found a way to make a homemade space heater that worked!
Now don’t get too crazy excited – this little homemade space heater isn’t going to heat your whole house or even your entire master bedroom. But it will increase the temperature a few degrees in a small room – which would be awesome during a winter power outage.
The idea came from a youtube video, although I discovered that method warmed the area up faster if I used a cake pan with the pot tilted.
How to make a Homemade Space Heater:
Things you’ll need:
I lit five tea lights and placed them in an 8 in cake pan. The cheapest place to get them is Ikea, but if there isn’t one near you, try Amazon with free Prime shipping.
Next, I placed a 6-inch terra cotta pot over the tealights at an angle. By tilting the pot, the candles get enough oxygen to burn but don’t lose too much heat out of the bottom. I also put an empty tea light holder over the hole in the pot.
Then I put another 8-inch terra cotta pot over the first smaller one.
I closed the door and waited, and it took about 3-5 minutes before warm air began flowing out of the top of the pot. It took another 20-30 minutes for the inside of the room to feel more heated than the outside. In total, it felt significantly warmer in about an hour. However, the bathroom that I put the DIY heater in wasn’t really big. But it DID warm it up! In fact, after three hours (and changing out the tea lights once), the room was quite toasty.
I was thrilled! I bought a 2nd set of pots, and if my family is ever faced with a power outage during the winter, we will use two of these homemade space heaters in our smallest bedroom where we would all sleep.
It takes about 40 tealights per day to keep both rooms warm all day (except for the night time when we couldn’t monitor it). I plan to store one 6 gallon bucket’s worth of candles just in case, and that will last for about 40 days. What a simple and inexpensive way to heat a room!
Note: The pan and the inside of the pot gets VERY hot. Keep a protective pad nearby so you can change out the tea lights every few hours.
If you don’t like the hot pot or you want to create a more permanent heater that looks nice, check out this video!
UPDATE: I had to use this homemade space heater a few months after posting this when our furnace stopped working for a few days. I used three DIY heater pots and was able to keep our living room above 60 degrees when it was 20 degrees outside. However, the rest of the house was approximately 50 degrees.
But, MAKE SURE you watch them! I let them burn for hours and eventually, all of the candles in one of the pots created one big flame. Oops! I grabbed the baking soda, and all was well, but be careful!
Additional DIY Heater Options
I tried the tealight homemade space heater method, and it worked great. However, there are other do-it-yourself techniques you can try. You might find that you like one more than the other, so I thought I’d give you the alternative options as well.
Homemade Ceramic Heater
This particular technique is great for warming up a medium-sized room. Ceramic has thermal properties and this method utilizes it to create heat. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Four to five bricks
- A tray for candles
- A small fan
- Ceramic bowl or stoneware
- Pick a spot in the room you want to warm up, and put it in an area where there’s not a lot of foot traffic. Also, be sure to place the heater on a table or stand that’s not flammable, like a metal table.
- Put the candles on the stand and place two bricks beside the tray.
- Light the candles and place the ceramic bowl over the tray by laying its edge on the bricks.
- Lastly, put two or three bricks behind the bowl and set the fan on top of the bricks.
All you have to do is turn on the fan and the wind will blow warm air. The heat absorbancy from the bowl makes this homemade heater work wonders, and it doesn’t take long to heat up.
This method is perfect to use in emergency situations. It allows you to cook and keep your area warm in case of an outage. Here are the products you’ll need:
- Metal cans (like paint or soup cans)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Rolls of toilet paper
1. Put the roll of tissue in the can.
2. Pour enough alcohol over the toilet paper so that it’s drenched.
3. Ignite it with a lighter or match.
This technique is a bit riskier, but it’s safe as long as you’re careful. Again, this might not be an everyday method, but it will surely come in handy if need be.
DIY Solar Heater
If you’re someone who likes to use natural energy, this heating method is for you. This solar heater is made from lots of aluminum cans, so if you recycle, it’s a good way to use your old cans. You’ll spend a lot more time doing this one, but I think it’s worth it. Not only that but it’s a cost-effective method that provides long-term heating solutions. Here’s what it requires:
- 240 aluminum cans
- 4 ft x 8 ft x ½ -inch plywood
- 4ft x 8 ft Plexiglas
- High-temperature silicon
- Heat-resistant black spray paint
- Plastic tube
- Drill machine with wide drill bits
- An air blower that works via solar power
- Wood for the 4 ft x 8 ft x 3.5-inch frame
- Create a 4 feet* 8 feet * 3.5-inch wooden frame with the wood sheet. Next, nail the plywood sheet that’s the same size to the back of the frame.
- Drill two holes into the frame; one at the top and the other at the bottom.
- Drill large holes in each side of the cans, but only drill16 of the cans at the top only. They will be used for the bottom row.
- Place them on top of one another and seal the joint area with silicons. Create 16 columns of cans, each containing 15 cans.
- Give the silicone time to cure and spray the black paint on them and on the frame.
- Place the columns into the frame and cover them up with Plexiglas.
- Carve two holes into the area of the house where the heat is needed. One hole should be at the bottom of the wall above the floor level. The other hole needs to be at the top of the wall.
- Mount the frame on the outer wall or any area where is lots of sunlight.
- Combine both holes of the frame with the holes of the room through the plastic tube, and insulate them as much as possible.
- Install the blower at the top pipe or the low pipe to make the air flow more efficiently.
The solar panel draws the cool air in from the bottom tube and pulls in towards the heat-resistant panel. Please note that this DIY heater won’t warm your room as much as an electric furnace, but it does well considering it uses only solar power.
Should You Use A Portable Heater?
When you’re trying to save money on your electricity bill, your first thought may be to use a space heater instead. And although this article is about creating a DIY heater, I understand that some of you stay in really cold cities. When the temperature drops below freezing, tea light candles might not do the trick. With that said, here are some safety precautions you should take if you decide to use a portable heater:
- Make sure the heater is in good condition. If you notice tears in the cord or any other discrepancy, it’s best to buy another one.
- Keep it away from the busy area of your home. You don’t want to expedite wear and tear, or cause someone to hurt themselves
- Sit it on a firm and even floor. Don’t put it on the carpet, countertop, or furniture.
- Don’t leave the space heater unattended. Turn if off when your not using it or buy one that has a timer.
- Keep it away from flammable liquids and items, such as fuel, paint, couches, blankets, and curtains.
- Don’t use it to dry clothes, cook food, or thaw and items.
More Cost-Effective Ways to Save On Your Heating Bill
It’s hard to sleep when you’re shivering and shaking on a cold winter’s night. But if even you’re trying to save a few bucks, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to keep warm.
- Light The Fireplace
Nothing feels better than sitting in front of a fireplace, drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate. Not only does a fire provide a serene feeling, but it’s the perfect time to bring the family together and enjoy each other’s company.
- Turn Down Your Thermostat
You’ll learn lots of heating alternatives after reading this article, so it’s okay to turn your heater down. Your heater won’t run all night long if you put in one a lower temperature, and it’ll save you money.
- Seal The Leaks In Your Home
Cold air seeps in and heat goes out through the cracks and openings in your house. Check around your doors and window to make sure they’re sealed completely. Also, fill in gaps around pipes, vents, and other openings with caulk or weather stripping.
- Close The Door
The best way to heat a room is by trapping it in. If you’re using a space heater or DIY heater, keep the door shut to maintain the temperature in the room.
5. Use A Fan
Believe it or not, turning on a ceiling fan helps keep the room warm. Put your ceiling fan on a low setting to help push the air upward. The circulation will make the warm air rise and flow downward.
The Beauty of Heated Blankets
If you don’t have any heated blankets in your home, get some! A cozy electric blanket is another low-cost alternative for getting warm during cold months. What’s best about heated covers is that you don’t have to watch them. I mentioned earlier after letting the candles burn for hours, they turned into one huge flame. Well, that’s not a concern with heated blankets. And I don’t want to discourage you from using a homemade space heater, but I want to give you options. An electric blanket great to use while you’re sleeping, and many of them have auto-off settings. You might have heard a few stories about electric blankets not being safe, but they are. The only time you really need to use caution is when the blanket is over 10 years old. However, if you feel a bit nervous using them, here are some safety procedures you can follow:
- Use The Proper Bed
Don’t use an electric blanket on a water bed, pull-out couch or recliner. Also, make sure you don’t use it in conjunction with a heating pad because it might overheat.
- Read The Product Label
Check to see if the blanket is certified by a national testing lab. Additionally, you can look up the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that it hasn’t been recalled.
- Get A Blanket With Auto-Shutoff
Automatic shutoff is your best bet against accidents. Simply set the timer, and let the blanket do the rest.
Final Thoughts On Using A DIY Heater
Isn’t it cool that there are so many creative ways to keep your household warm? As long as the methods you’re using to heat your home are safe, I say have at it! More importantly, you now know how to warm your house in case of an outage. Honestly, we never know when electricity will fail us and we can’t prevent a bad storm from coming through and knocking out the power lines. But we can be prepared, and that’s what really matters. You need more than one way to keep your family afloat in case of an emergency. Plus, your wallet will appreciate the less expensive bills. I hope this information was helpful to you. Let me know what DIY heating methods you’ve tried!
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