9 Ways to Heat Your House When the Power Goes Out

If your electricity is out for a while in the colder months, you need a safe, reliable way to heat your home. Here are some of the best and safest alternative ways to heat your house.

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kerosene heater tea pot kettle

Fire Up a Kerosene Heater

A key part of being prepared for winter weather is knowing what to do when things go wrong, like when the power goes out. When that happens, you’ll need to have a plan for how to heat your home in case you’re without electricity overnight or longer.

Kerosene is a traditional fuel used for heating for many years. And it can make a suitable alternative for emergency heating —but only with the right precautions. You will need to choose a smaller radiant heater designed for indoor spaces, preferably a “ventless” model that releases as few fumes as possible. Also it’s a good idea to position the heater next to a window and open the window slightly. This helps get rid of fumes and the powerful smell.

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Thick Clothing and Hand Warmers

When power goes out and you need heat, it’s always more efficient to heat the body than trying to heat a room. That’s why it’s important to start with the basics. And pile on thick, insulating clothing and blankets. Anything with natural down fill will be particularly adept at keeping you warm. Also, you should combine this with chemical hand warmers (you can keep them in pockets or tucked into the waist) to increase the heat closer to the body. This is a safe, effective way to keep your family warm.

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Warm room
Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Create a Designated Heated Room

Choose one room where everyone can easily gather, and make it your designated warm room. And cover vents, windows, and doors to other areas with blankets, and make sure the room is properly insulated. When you use heating sources, keep them in this room. Set up mattresses for sleeping here as well if necessary.

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wood burning stove

Set Up a Wood Stove by the Window

If you are out of heat for the long term but have plenty of wood to use as fuel, you can set up a portable wood stove in your home. And the key is to set it up by a window and construct a pipe chimney to channel all the smoke out. However, this takes time, but you’ll have a reliable source for heating andcooking.

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 candle heater
Photo: YouTube (Tiny House Listings)

Build a Candle Heater

Candles alone are not the best source of heat when looking for ways to heat your house in an emergency. They don’t produce a lot of warmth, and they introduce a fire hazard into the house. However, if you don’t have any other source of heat and you need some type of heater, you can build a simple candle heater with a couple of clay pots. And keep in mind that this heater still presents a fire danger, so keep it well out of the reach of kids, pets and clumsy adults.

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Use a Catalytic Gas Heater

Catalytic gas heaters heat up an element, which in turn radiates heat out into an area. And modern models are very efficient and can heat enclosed spaces, including RVs. However, it is still probably safer to position them next to a slightly open window. Note that these models typically require propane tanks for proper use, and like furnaces, they require proper maintenance.

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Keith Homan/Shutterstock

Cans of Biofuel

Fuel gel cans are nothing new, but these biofuel cans are far more eco-friendly, heat just as well. And are suitable for emergencies when it comes to minor heating tasks. The fumes produced are negligible, and you can use them to create an emergency heater.

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dfh9_shutterstock_363501530 soapstone
Modest Things/Shutterstock

Soapstone Heaters

Soapstone is a very reliable absorber of heat and it doesn’t easily overheat. So set up a portable soapstone block next to a heat source like a stove or heater, and they will quickly absorb the heat and then radiate it back outward for hours to come. And they make great bed warmers when looking for ways to heat your house, and are suitable for other satellite heating needs during emergencies, without the danger of fire.

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Diyana Dimitrova/Shutterstock

Small Wind Systems for Heating

If you have electricity that isn’t always reliable, consider investing in an alternative power source. And there’s not much solar energy available in winter, but there’s often wind. But a small wind electrical system can help you generate enough power for basic tasks like heating, and it can help you avoid the worry that comes with power outages. Plus, these wind systems are more eco-friendly than emergency generators, and they’re not reliant on external fuel sources.