How to stay warm in winter? Here are survival tips to keep your home warm without the need for electric power.
In this article:
- Winter Preparedness
- Initial Design and Layout
- Stay Warm with Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
- Stay Warm with the Power of the Environment
- Solar Heaters
- Staying Warm in a Nighttime Power Outage
- Staying Warm in a Daytime Power Outage
6 Survival Life Tips on How to Stay Warm In Winter
Preparedness is crucial especially in winter, so you have to be ready for the possibility of not being able to utilize your air heaters. Some houses can cope with different weather conditions, but the cold can be too much to handle. It’s essential to learn other ways to stay warm in the winter in case there’s no electricity, or much worse, at an extended period of time.
When staying warm or at least maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home, there are a number of things you can do without power from the grid. First is the initial design and layout of the home, the immediate actions when the power goes out, and the survival actions when the power outage drags on.
Always consider the worst possible scenario and know what how to remedy the situation. The most important thing for your home in winter is to have a manageable temperature for your body to get through the cold season.
Initial Design and Layout
Homes designed for warmth have the majority of windows facing south. Some home builders back up the north side of the house in a slope to prevent heat loss and increase connection with the earth. Study old photos or paintings of Northern Europe during the Renaissance Period. Notice how they dressed, how their buildings were furnished including the heavy fabric murals, and how thick the doors and walls were.
It shows how early pioneers constructed a shelter out of naturally-occurring material such as wood logs, strips of thick sod, and adobe bricks. You can use almost anything to create a warm dwelling – even ice. The homes of the early settlers were usually comfortable in both summer and winter. They knew how to construct and use their dwellings to enhance human comfort. So can you.
Stay Warm with Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
In Upper Canada or the rural areas of the U.S. north, most people use a fireplace or wood stove to heat their homes and stay warm. Eighty years ago, our parents and grandparents burned coal in furnaces. Today, many people use electric furnaces — risky if power is prone to be lost. Just ask the thousands of people in North Carolina who suffered greatly when their electrical power went out for weeks last winter.
Fireplace inserts are the rage in the Upper Midwest. Wood is still plentiful in many areas and the use of FP inserts is worth investigating. A few logs in one of these stoves can keep a room quite comfortable and let you stay warm all night. Intelligent use of slow-speed fans can move warm air into areas that are still too cool (or cold) for comfort.
You can install a wood burning stove to back up your furnace. If you use a natural gas or kerosene stove, remember that these must be vented properly to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Stay Warm with the Power of the Environment
The key is to use the environment around you – including daylight. Use the sun wherever and whenever you can. It’s a great resource. Use sunlight shining in windows and doors to warm rooms and patios. If you can, use the sun to generate solar power that can operate electric heaters. And don’t forget the smart use of emergency portable generators — gas, propane, or solar.
Passive solar heating works. Check this out, too. I recall a blog poster describing framed boxes with black tar paper (black asphalt roofing paper) inside and plexiglass on the face being mounted on the south walls of cottages on the East Coast. Vents were cut through the top and bottom of the cottage walls to allow air flow from the thermal box into the cottage.
Water heated by the sun can also generate warm heat. Solar heaters work. Allowing the sun to heat water in the dark piping can heat the liquid to bath temperatures or hotter. The water from this solar collector can then be pumped through convection radiators that emit heat out into rooms and into hot water tanks for showers and baths.
Some people close off rooms in their home every winter, reducing their living space to less cubic feet of air to heat. I met an Amish family who did this every winter. They used quilts to cover doors to rooms they wouldn’t be using during the cold weather. This worked quite well.
Other homeowners install storm windows and storm doors for keeping warm and the cold out. And they upgrade the insulation in their attics and walls. I don’t think you can ever over-insulate.
Staying Warm in a Nighttime Power Outage
If the power goes out and your furnace shuts down on a cold night, act quickly to retain as much heat as you can. Insulate and isolate. These actions could include:
- Close all window coverings (drapes, blinds, shades, etc.).
- Shut doors to all rooms that are not being used or needed.
- Create a zone within a zone. Cover your sleeping area with insulated fabric.
- Place draft stoppers at the base of all exterior doors.
- Start a backup heat source (fireplace, kerosene or propane heater, etc.).
- Layer up to keep your body warm as the house cools.
- Staple emergency solar blankets to drafty doors and windows (shiny side in)
- Activate a solar heater.
Staying Warm in a Daytime Power Outage
If the power goes out during the day isolate and insulates as above, but open drapes covering windows bathed in sunlight so you can capture the solar heat. I read about a blog poster who placed black plastic on the floor below the window and let the sun heat the plastic to add warm air to the room.
Some rooms have dark tile or cement floors that absorb heat, then releasing it after the sun goes down. Sunlight on this dark surface causes the material to absorb energy and heat up. Once the sun goes down, the stored heat radiates up off the floor. You can also close insulated drapes to keep this heat inside.
Watch this video by the Home Depot about getting your fireplace ready for the winter:
These are the different approach for you to remember to winterize your home. But still, no matter how winter-proof your house is, always prepare yourself as things can easily get out of hand in winter and it may force you to outlast a survival situation.
What other ways do you know to stay warm in the winter? Share them with us in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.