Benefits of using kerosene heaters include heat quality, cost and efficiency. Kerosene heaters are also useful as a backup for electric heaters because they can be used during power outages.
Kerosene, a combustible oil that is an organic compound and a byproduct of petroleum, was developed in the 19th century. Kerosene heaters use heat produced by combustion to warm the surrounding environment through convection. Kerosene may be used outdoors, or indoors with proper ventilation.
Kerosene heaters are a very efficient heat source, producing more heat per gallon than propane, wood and coal. Kerosene provides 135,000 British Thermal Units, or BTUs, of heat per gallon. Propane, another fuel commonly used as a source of heat, produces just 91,800 British Thermal Units per gallon.
Kerosene is a relatively low-cost fuel. As of 2015, kerosene costs approximately $2.25 per gallon. Propane costs $3.00 per gallon. It is less expensive to generate heat by using kerosene than propane or electricity.
An added benefit of kerosene heaters is that they may be used to heat one room of a building without increasing the heat to all other rooms. This allows homeowners to reduce overall heating costs while conserving energy. This strategy is known as zoned heating.