Heating Our Home In A Power Outage is part two of my After Action Report from last week after our power went out for a day. I was able to put some of our preps to use and work on an after-action report. I wanted to make ‘heating our home in a power outage‘ a separate article.
Here we go…
I live in Michigan, and we have a natural gas furnace. It’s only two years old and works great when there’s electricity but when the power goes out, so does our home furnace.
I know, there’s a way to run our furnace, basically the fan motor, using a generator. Sure, but I want a little more prep than that.
We also have a gas fireplace that’s broken. I haven’t had it repaired for two reasons – it’s very expensive, and I want a wood-burning insert. Until then, we prep on.
Two Is One, One Is None
I have two main home-heating preps so far, an indoor kerosene heater and an indoor propane heater. Later on, I want a wood-burning stove, and then, along with a wood-burning insert, I’ll feel much more prepared. For now, I’ll talk a little about what I have and what I know.
Note: There are many other alternative home heating options, and you should find which works best for you – including the fuel source. I write about what I know, so I’m covering propane and kerosene for now.
An Indoor Kerosene Heater
Color me impressed. Seriously, this little $200 prep has me so impressed. This kerosene heater (Affiliate Link – Same heater – different brand) is not only safe to use inside, but it’s also more heat than we needed for a large living room area (18′ x 32′).
Other than a little odor when I first started the heater, there were no fumes or smells at all.
It was actually a warmer day than usual for December in Michigan, but this heater ran most of the day on a single container (one gallon) of kerosene. I would have needed to refill the tank if the power hadn’t come back on by the time we went to bed.
Honestly, just between you and me, I would have had a tough time sleeping while running a kerosene heater. I’m just not there yet as far as comfort level, but it’s a little new to me still. Maybe after more use, I’ll begin to trust it more.
I’m not referring to carbon monoxide, we’re in good shape with detectors. It’s just the amount of heat this can generate.
Like I mentioned, the kerosene heater was more than enough heat for us. I had to run it on low and had even turned it off several times during the day because I wanted to keep my clothes on. 😉
Safety Note: I do keep two extra carbon monoxide and smoke detectors with my portable heaters and I recommend you do so as well. It’s the safe thing to do as well as offer a piece of mind when it comes time to use those heaters in a real power outage.
The last thing I want to mention about this particular model/design of kerosene heater (Affiliate Link) is I was able to heat food (soup) on the top of the wireframe. I couldn’t quite get the pot of soup (or water later on) to a boil but it was SO close. I wish I had checked the temp but didn’t think about it at the time.
Storing Kerosene Fuel
I want to be careful here. I am not a professional at anything other than being myself so do your own due diligence and research. Every municipality and situation is different, and I don’t want to misguide anyone.
First, kerosene is flammable. It can burn your house down if ignited, or, make a house fire even worse if it’s stored within your home. I recommend storing kerosene in a proper container in a safe building away from your home. For more, I recommend this KnifeUp post: Storing Kerosene for Emergency Purposes.
Storing Your Kerosene Heater
Again, I’m not an expert but here’s what I do. I empty the tank of kerosene and then run it dry in my garage. By that I mean, once I’ve emptied the tank, I turn the heater on until it shuts off from lack of fuel.
At this point, I’ve seen where people have cleaned the wick with a brush, but I haven’t had to do that myself.
Then I remove the batteries (mine has two C-cell batteries) so they don’t corrode inside the battery compartment. I put those two loose batteries in a Ziploc bag and hang it on the frame for next time.
Now I just put the heater in the corner of my gear room/office (or garage) covered with an old air conditioner cover.
Our Big Buddy Propane Heater
The second tool in heating our home preps is a Big Buddy propane heater. Big Buddy has a big reputation for a reason – they’re safe, reliable, and not that expensive.
As I mentioned above, our propane heater covers the ‘Two Is One, One Is None‘ concept in a couple of ways. First, it’s a second tool that can help heat our home.
Second, the Big Buddy uses an alternative fuel source – propane rather than kerosene. Having more than a single source of fuel to prep seems like more work, but the way I look at it, if kerosene gets hard to find, maybe propane will be a little more available, Or if propane gets tough to find, maybe I can find kerosene.
The Big Buddy Can Help In Heating Our Home In A Power Outage
This is another tool that impressed me a little. First, it holds two propane tanks perfectly, and they last a long time.
Starting the propane heater was a breeze and it burns clean. No smells or smoke.
There are three settings, low, medium, and high. Heating up our bedroom took only the medium setting. Once the room was warm, I lowered the setting to low and kept it there all day. It would need to be pretty cold to use the high setting.
I purchased the older model (Affiliate Link) in order to have the fan. The fan operates on four D-batteries or an optional power cord (Affiliate Link). I have the power cord in case I’m running a generator or solar setup.
Tip: If I didn’t have the older model with the fan, I’d probably buy a Wood Stove Fan (Affiliate Link) which needs no external power. It gets its electricity from the heat coming from the heater. Here’s a video that explains the process.
Refill Adapter For 1lb Propane Bottles
The Big Buddy propane heater holds two one-pound propane bottles. I normally have between two and three dozen of these small propane tanks on hand, but I also have half a dozen 20-pound propane tanks that I use for my two-burner Camp Chef stove (Affiliate Link – More on this gear later).
With this re-fill adaptor, I can re-fill my one-pound tanks with the 20-pound tanks and this propane should last quite a while.
Using Twenty-Pound Propane Tanks With Your Big Buddy Heater
I don’t recommend using a twenty-pound adaptor to run your Big Buddy because the twenty-pound tanks are too big for indoor use. I do, however, have an adaptor hose (Affiliate Link), so I can use the larger propane tanks outside or in an absolute emergency situation.
Finally, Just Be Safe
Heating our home in a power outage doesn’t have to be dangerous. Get prepared now, before the stuff hits the fan, and understand exactly how everything works and what you need to stay safe.
Here’s a short video by the state of Indiana on alternative heating safety.
Wrapping Up Heating Our Home In A Power Outage
We’re all different, in different locations, weather, and situations. Find a couple of emergency methods of heating your home, (or at least a couple of rooms) and put together a solid plan to acquire those preps.
Ideally, for my situation, I’d have a wood heat option along with my kerosene and propane heaters and I eventually will. For now, I feel better that I at least have two backup methods of heating our home in a power outage emergency situation.
While it’s not a long-term emergency home heating solution, for around five hundred dollars you can have two different indoor heaters and enough fuel for each to easily carry you through most power outages of a few days.
Note About Doomsday Scenarios: I say this all the time, but I don’t prep for the end of the world as we know it situation – because you can’t. You can, and should, be prepared to live a normal life when things go sideways – because they will. There may be an EMP someday, but there will almost certainly be a weeklong power outage at some point. Don’t skip the common sense preps for the less likely extreme SHTF events.
Think about it, three days in a hotel, if there are rooms available, staying with the in-laws, or having the equipment and fuel to carry you for a short-term power outage? I’ll take the gear please – every single time.
One last thing, we ain’t done. This just keeps us warm for a little while until, hopefully, the power comes back on. For example, it’s not keeping our water pipes from freezing. Also, what do we do when the fuel runs out. So I think we’ll revisit this topic again very soon.
See part one of this post, Our Power Was Out. Here’s What We Learned – After Action Report (AAR)
Call To Action / Next Step
Next Steps: An Emergency Generator – Building A Blackout Kit – Part 1
Building A Blackout Kit – Part 2
Stay safe. Stay prepared.
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