Blizzards can knock down electricity lines, often leading to power outages, leaving you without any heating system for hours.
Sitting in extremely cold temperatures indoors for prolonged periods is not only inconvenient but can also be dangerous to your health. The elderly and kids are especially vulnerable.
Fortunately, there are various methods to heat your house without electricity. Some involve DIY tasks, while others include setting up a simple non-electric heater. You can also check our guide on preparing for a winter power outage.
In this article, we’ll look at some alternative heat sources for power outages to keep your home habitable, even in freezing weather.
1. Indoor Kerosene Heater
Kerosene heaters can make great alternative heat sources during power outages. You can also use it if you are looking to cut down on bills.
When using a kerosene heater, following all the heating safety tips is crucial. To minimize the release of harmful fumes, opt for a ventless option. Put your kerosene heater by the window and open it slightly to be on the safe side. This will help reduce the accumulation of dangerous fumes inside your living space.
2. Opt for a Propane Heater
Propane heaters provide an effective way to heat a room without electricity; newer models even boast efficiency up to 99%. In addition, they are an affordable and convenient backup heating option. These heaters can quickly heat a medium to large space using liquid propane as fuel.
Whenever using propane heaters, be certain to take all the necessary safety precautions, such as proper storage of propane tanks and adequate ventilation when the heater is in use. Also, look for oxygen depletion and overheating features when purchasing a propane heater.
3. Use a Pellet Stove
The pellet stoves are efficient alternative heat sources for power outages. It runs on pellet-based fuel that is created from recycled sawdust or wood shavings. It comes in a variety of sizes and styles, allowing you to find the best option for your house.
When pellets are burned, they produce a good amount of heat without releasing harmful chemicals into the air. While pellet stoves are more expensive than an indoor fireplace or wood stove, their efficiency and usage of clean fuel are worth the cost.
4. Go for Catalytic Heaters
Catalytic heaters require natural gas or propane and a catalyst to work. The catalyst is typically an electrically charged, platinum-coated plate.
While these heaters do use fuel, they are a waste-free way of generating heat as they do not produce any gases. They only speed up the chemical process inside the heater rather than combusting the fuel.
Catalytic heaters are safe for indoor use as they generate heat without flame. For enhanced safety, you can put them by the half-open window.
When using catalytic heaters as alternative heat sources for power outages, keep in mind that they require regular maintenance just like any other heating equipment.
5. Soapstone Heaters
Soapstone may sound like an unconventional way to heat a room without electricity, but it actually works. Soapstone absorbs the heat quite readily and radiates it back to keep you warm. You can keep it near your heating source (like a wood stove), so it captures enough heat. When sleeping, you can turn off the heating source and use the soapstone blocks as a bed warmer.
6. DIY Your Heater
When you have run out of heating options, try to DIY your own heater. With materials that are found in most homes, you can easily create an indoor heater that doesn’t require electricity.
A DIY candle heater is a great way to add warmth to your room. It is one of the best emergency heat sources as well as effective. You will require some light candles and terracotta pots to create this heater. It works by trapping heat from the candles in the clay pot. As clay is porous, it dissipates the heat in the surrounding air, heating up your room.
An alcohol heater is another popular way to heat a room without electricity. It can also help to heat food items during an outage. You just need a metal can, rubbing alcohol, and a toilet paper roll. Put tissue roll in the can and then fill it with alcohol. Light the alcohol, and your DIY heater is ready!
7. Use Burner Can
Having a biofuel burner can come in handy during a power outage. You can use it to heat your wood or simply leave it on for some time to heat up your space. However, do follow all the safety precautions when using the burner can and keep it out of reach of kids and pets.
When using a fuel-based burner can, always go for biofuel as it is sourced from natural ingredients and does not produce harmful fumes. Also, choose refillable and reusable cans to reduce waste.
8. Utilize Rocks for Heating
You will require some outdoor space for building a small fire for this method. Take the wood sticks and light the fire. Gather some big stones and place them near the fire.
Once they are properly heated, bring them inside your room. Do not touch the heated rocks with bare hands; use gloves or a thick towel to avoid burn damage. The heated rocks will radiate heat in your room, keeping it warm.
9. Go for Wind Systems
The electric wind systems make a great alternative heat sources for power outages. Plus, it’s a perfect way to save on hefty heating costs and an eco-friendly way to generate energy.
A small wind electrical system works similarly to commercial ones. It is designed to capture wind energy and convert it to electricity. This electricity can then provide power to your electric heating appliances, household lights, and other devices.
10. Passive Solar Heating
Passive solar heating systems aim to capture the sun’s heat within the building’s elements. This heat can be used later on to keep your home warm when the sun is absent while maintaining a comfortable room temperature.
A south-facing large window and thermal mass such as concrete, brick, stone, or tile are primary elements of this heating system. Thermal mass absorbs the heat from sun rays.
Before using this method, keep in mind that you can only use this if your home gets adequate light in the winter months.
11. Make a Designated Heating Room
Create a designated space where everyone can gather in case of a power outage. Insulate the doors and windows with weatherstripping and add a thick rug to the floor to minimize heat loss.
After the insulation process, add your alternative heat sources, such as a wood stove or a gas heater, to keep yourself warm when there’s no electricity in your area. You can also add sofas and thick blankets for relaxation, as well as mattresses for sleeping if the need arises. Just make sure to turn off your heating equipment before dozing off.
12. Camping Cooking Bags
During power outages, you may not get warm meals without proper heating equipment. In this scenario, consider camping cooking bags. The heat packs can generate heat to boil water, which in turn will help cook food.
These cooking bags come with a heat pack and a tray to put your food, such as pasta or rice, inside. Place the heat pack inside your lunch box. Put water over it. Place the food tray on top of the heat pack and close the box’s lid. After 15 minutes, you will have a warm meal!
13. Focus on Home Insulation
Before choosing alternative heat sources for power outages, ensure your home is adequately insulated. It can be quite hard to retain heat during a power outage without insulation. Also, your backup heating options may not even work properly.
Use foam board insulation on the exterior walls to minimize heat loss. Find air leaks around your house and seal them with caulking. To prevent cold drafts, apply weatherstripping on your windows and doors. Also, place a draft stopper at the bottom of the door and between the window sash and frame. Use insulated shades and thick floor rugs to build a cozy environment.
14. Insulate Your Plumbing
It is not an alternative heat source but a way to protect your house when the electricity goes out in winter.
In colder months, the water supply pipes may freeze or even burst, flooding your home. Insulating water pipes is the key to avoiding this damage; pipe wrap insulation is commonly used. This type of insulation is available in many different materials, such as foam-and-foil pipe insulation, bubble wrap, and rubber pipe insulation.
Once the power is back, you can try using the freeze protection mode that some mini-split heat pumps offer. In this mode, your heat pump continuously blows out hot air without consuming much energy. This prevents the temperature from falling below the freezing point.
15. Cover Yourself in Layers
When there’s no proper heating system to heat your home, it’s always better to keep yourself warm by layering on thick clothes. Start with basic thermal wear, then put on a sweater and a jacket, depending on how cold it is.
You can also wrap yourself in warm blankets during a power outage. Opting for thick mittens and warm socks is also important as you lose most of the heat through your hands and feet. You can also use electrical hand warmers. Just hold them in your hands or put them in your pocket to transfer heat to your body for increased warmth.
Alternative heat sources can surely come in handy to help you stay warm and toasty during a heavy storm. When preparing for a power outage, you should go for at least two heating options. For instance, if you are using a propane heater, also opt for camping cooking bags to radiate warmth and to heat your food. You can always include more backups in case the power issue doesn’t get fixed for days. Also, remember to insulate your home and follow all the precautionary measures when heating your house without electricity.