Are you feeling the chill but reluctant to turn to conventionally powered heating? If you work in a small room or office, or even a shed or greenhouse, there is a simple and cheap way to take the edge off cold conditions without the need for gas or mains-powered heating. A plant pot heater is quick to set up, extremely cheap to run and a green alternative which delivers great results!
To make a plant pot heater, you’ll need:
1 metal loaf tin
2 terracotta plant pots, 1 small, 1 large
a supply of tea lights (tip- each tea light will burn for around 4 hours, so buy in bulk- it will work out cheaper!)
Place the loaf tin on a solid surface where it won’t be disturbed, but central enough to deliver heat to the rest of the room. A desk or end table works well. You may want to place a wad of newspaper underneath to protect any furniture.
Light 4 tea lights and place them in the bottom of the tin.
Block the hole in the bottom of the smaller plant pot, using a coin, the metal base of a used tea light or even some scrunched up tin foil. Place the smaller plant pot carefully on top of the tin, covering the candles.
Place the larger plant pot over the smaller one, making sure it is balanced evenly.
How does it work?
The plant pot heater works by allowing the inner pot to act as a hot core, heating up to high temperatures by allowing the heat from the candles to flow into it and around it. This in turn heats the air inside the larger plant pot, allowing it to also warm up. Heat rises up through the hole in the top of the plant pot, as well as out of the sides of the heater, helping it to circulate evenly. The efficient circulation of the heat from the candles makes the heater feel warmer than if 4 tea lights were simply lit and left on their own.
A plant pot heater can become very hot. Take care not to touch either plant pot during or after use. You may want to keep a pair of oven gloves on hand if you need to lift the pots to replace the tea lights inside.
This method works best in a small room, which will fill with warm air more quickly. Make sure, however, that the room is well ventilated. Burning paraffin for hours at a time can have toxic effects if it is allowed to build up in a small space.
How green is this technique?
A plant pot heater is a great way to stay warm without having to resort to electric fan heaters, gas heaters or central heating. If used for 8 hours a day, it should average out as costing around 8 pence, making it a thrifty alternative to more conventional heating. Burning tea lights means you only use the fuel that you need, reducing waste, however it should be noted that paraffin, used in most tea lights, is a fossil fuel. Exactly how green this technique is is up to you- try experimenting with candles made from beeswax, soy wax or coconut oil. These are a far greener choice. They may work out more expensive, but force you to consider how much fuel you use.
Image sourced: Andrew Smithsontagscheap heatinggreen livingplant pot heaterthrifty heating