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I, for one, am not the biggest fan of electricity. In fact, I try to avoid it if possible. But with winter on its way, and the likely power outages (anyone remember Snowmageddon where most of Washington DC was out of power for a couple weeks?) you’ll want to know how to stay warm in winter without heat so if you lose power, you have a plan.
Being cold sucks (unless you’re one of those people who craves cold. I’m not. I want to stay warm all the time), so during power outages you will need to look for alternative ways to make sure that your house is sufficiently heated.
These are my genius hacks (tried and true) for how to stay warm in winter without heat, and if you’re camping or go hunting this winter, then you can adapt these tips to figure out how to stay warm in a tent, too.
Drinking a Warm Beverage
Tea, coffee, whatever. If you don’t have power, then brew thyself a warm beverage to stay warm in winter. The beverage will raise your body temperature, and you’ll feel it down to your toes (this is also good for animals if they’re cold, too). Just don’t burn yourself.
Staying Under Extra Blankets During the Day
During the super cold days (the ones where my hands are freezing), I pretty much stay under several quilts all day. Those blankets help retain the heat your body lets off and you can even practice a bit if Danish Hygge with your cozy self.
Sheep don’t get cold for a reason (ok, they do but fleece is still a winter staple for cold wussies like me who need to stay warm in winter). Pants, socks, even a fleece shirt are all winning ideas.
I keep a couple fleece tops in my winter emergency survival kit in the car in case I find myself stranded (during Snowmageddon, there were several people who froze because their cars got stuck and they didn’t keep a winter emergency survival kit in their vehicles.
Wearing a Hat
Your mama always told you to wear a hat, and that’s because you lose most of your body heat through your head. So, be a trooper and wear a hat, preferably with fleece, so the cold has minimal spaces to get into your body.
Your mama taught you right. Now go call her and thank her.
Using a South-Facing Sun Room with Good Insulation
Southern exposures get the most sunlight during the day, so any room facing South will be warmer (also, Southern winds are warmer than northern winds, so Northern facing rooms will be colder simply because that’s how weather works).
Also be sure the room has good insulation so heat that gets into the room does not escape easily. There’s no use in trying to stay warm if you aren’t taking that extra step to RETAIN the warmth.
Using a Wood Stove (or a Rocket Stove)
While it’s not the most economical because you have to buy the stove and pipes and possibly the wood, this is probably the easiest way to stay warm in winter without power. (This is the stove we use – I HIGHLY recommend it).
Just be sure that the chimney leads outside so you don’t inhale smoke. Most commercial wood stoves are created to have sufficient draw, so your part is just installing it correctly so you can stay warm without accidentally hurting yourself.
And yes, you should use a commercial stove – don’t be that guy that builds his own and burns his house down or dies in the middle of the night because of smoke inhalation. Yes, those people do exist. Usually they’re my neighbors.
You can learn how to install a wood stove here.
Only Heating the Rooms You Most Frequently Use
This won’t really help you heat your house, but it’ll help you lower the cost and possibly the stress of having to figure out how to heat a bunch of rooms.
For example, we don’t worry too much about heating our kitchen, as long as the temperatures aren’t below 20 (if it is, then we have to worry about pipes freezing, and yes, we’ve woken up to our fair share of broken pipes).
The food will stay fresh and we won’t have to worry about paying to run the fridge. Pretty win/win.
Using a Gas Generator
A gas generator can also be an easy way to stay warm in winter during a power outage as long as you don’t mind paying for the gas and listening to the noise. You just need to keep the generator outside the house so that the fumes produced do not hurt you.
(An alternative is a solar generator like this. Supposedly, this gadget can power several appliances. It ain’t cheap, but you’re worth the investment.)
Making Sure the Rooms Are Free Of Drafts
This is also helpful to stay warm because the drafts can allow heat to escape. You just need to take a few minutes to ensure there are no drafts.
Putting Heavy Blankets Over Doors and Windows
We do this every winter because it’s fast and effective. By keeping the heavy blankets over the doors and windows you will be ensuring that heat does not escape. This will also prevent more cold air from getting into the house.
Opening Curtains During the Day
When your curtains are opened during the day, the sun’s rays can get into the house. Particularly if your windows face south and there’s no drafts in the room, this will help heat the air inside your house.
Placing Clear Plastic Over Windows
This is one of our favorite ways to stay warm in winter, especially if the wind is really blowing. Our farmhouse is old, and the insulation is minimal. Clear plastic keeps the chill out while at the same time allowing light to get in and significantly helps to preserve heat.
Putting Blankets On the Ceiling and On the Floor
Especially if there isn’t much insulation on your floor, you’ll want to put blankets down to stay warm. We’ve used this method to help insulate the house, keeping it relatively toasty even when it’s close to zero outside. Just keep the blankets away from your wood stove or generator.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.