30 Ways to Stay Warm Without Power

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The Texas Freeze of 2021 was a wake-up call in my household. As prepared as we thought we were, those days and nights of temperatures in the teens and 20s were something to behold. With the power out and our house getting colder by the minute, we looked around for every way possible to stay warm without power.

We started at the skin level and dressed as though we were headed out into the Yukon for some hardcore tent camping. The more you’re prepared at the skin/body level for cold temperatures, the less you’ll have to rely on other measures.

To get you started to stay warm without power, here are my best tips.

image: woman in a house looking at thermostat while wearing parka and blowing on hands to stay warm without power

Use Low-tech Equipment

  1. Set up a tent in a room that connects with a bathroom and spend time/sleep inside the tent. No tent? Drape blankets over a table for a similar effect.
  2. Make a Buddy Burner for light and a small amount of heat. Be sure to vent the room to allow fumes to escape to the outside and not accumulate inside your home.
  3. Keep hand and feet warmers inside pockets, gloves, and/or shoes. Read this post for some high-tech ideas to help hands and feet stay warm.
  4. Use an indoor-safe portable stove for cooking small meals. Hot food helps boost morale.
  5. If you have a fireplace, maintain a good-sized fire throughout the day and night. If you can’t use your fireplace, be sure the damper is closed tightly to block cold air from entering your home. Also, invest in a carbon monoxide detector with battery backup.
  6. Make an alcohol stove from an Altoids tin to keep hands warm.
  7. Wrap yourself in one or more blankets. To help you stay warm while moving about, wrap fleece blankets around your waist or under your arms and pin them. Blanket scarves are also good options for this technique. Just don’t overload to the point you excessively sweat because that actually pulls heat AWAY from the body.
  8. If you have a gas range, boil/heat water and then pour it into a hot water bottle. (Learn how to start your gas range’s pilot light.)
  9. Make an Apple Box Stove to cook food and as an off-grid method for staying warm without electricity.
  10. Spend the day inside the warmest sleeping bag you own.
  11. Put bricks or large rocks in your fireplace, heat them, remove safely using tongs, and then wrap them in blankets to warm beds and bodies.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

  1. Wear fleece-lined pants and/or fleece-lined tights. It’s amazing how this one strategy will help you stay warm without electricity. These are the pants I own and love.
  2. Wear wool socks and a wool cap throughout the day and night.
  3. Wear layers of clothes, including long underwear. Learn more about my own clothing layers during our camping trip in Iceland.
  4. Wear socks and shoes in the house, and never stand or rest your feet on a bare floor (tile, concrete, etc.) Either wear socks or place your feet on a rug or blanket. This minimizes conductive cooling. If you have bare floors and not enough rugs, put blankets or even towels on the floor in areas where you’ll be walking and spending time.
  5. Shop now for cold-weather clothing in second-hand clothing stores as well as from outdoors/sporting goods stores and, of course, online.

Keep your house warm without power

  1. Cover uninsulated vinyl or hardwood floors with throw rugs or blankets. The estimated heat loss through floors is about 10%.
  2. Hang heavy blankets over windows and exterior doors, especially glass sliding doors.
  3. Spend most of the day and night inside the warmest room, closed off to the rest of the house. Learn how to live in just one room here.
  4. Cover windows with bubble wrap as an insulator.
  5. Block drafts under doors by cutting the legs off of a pair of tights and stuffing socks into it. Lay at the base of any door you feel cold air coming through. Or plan ahead and order them.
  6. Avoid pipe freezes by wrapping vulnerable pipes with a heating cable.
  7. Heat rises. If possible, spend most of your time upstairs as long as it’s also well-insulated.
  8. Invest in an indoor safe radiant propane heater like Mr. Heater Big Buddy Portable Heater, which has an Oxygen Depletion Sensor and accidental tip-over safety shut-off. Add propane and a carbon monoxide detector.

Change Locations

  1. Sit in your car with the heater on. NOTE: This is a short-term solution and should only be done with your car parked in a well-ventilated garage or in an otherwise open area. This also allows you time to charge your phones and electronics.
  2. In a dire emergency, check with your town/city to see if any public warming sites are available.

Other Ways to Stay Warm Without Power

  1. Cuddle up with your cats and/or dogs.
  2. Keep babies and toddlers warm with your body heat by carrying them in a sling or other baby carrier.
  3. Do a moderate workout to a YouTube video or make up your own routine to increase body heat but not to the point of sweating a lot, which is counterproductive.
  4. Prepare a hot beverage or a cup of soup stew using your off-grid cooking method. It will warm you from within.

How to Plan and Prepare for Seasonal Power Outages

During the 2021 Texas deep freeze, North Texas spent 139 hours below freezing. 139 hours.

That’s almost 6 days.

Don’t let the next power outage catch you off-guard. My guide, The Family Power Outage Survival Handbook, prepares you and your family for surviving without electricity whether the next outage happens in summer or winter weather.

What are your favorite ways to stay warm without electricity?

13 thoughts on “30 Ways to Stay Warm Without Power”

  1. This is great! 2 comments
    A woman and her child just died from carbon monoxide trying to warm up in their car so be careful of this one.
    The power company said not to use fireplace and close the flew because what heat you have will be drafted out. However, if you have NO heat this is ridiculous. Also, we have glass doors on ours if necessary. Plus, what did people due for ALL of history for crying out loud!

    1. The Survival Mom

      That’s a good clarification on the car and heat. I’m in Texas during this near-apocalyptic winter weather and information/advice from the authorities hasn’t been all that good.

  2. Thank you for your information. I am in the DFW area and just coming off of 56 hours without power during this record breaking winter weather. Your blog and others have inspired me and a tent was one of the first things I set up when we woke up Monday to no power. I have really learned a lot this last emergency and will continue to use your blog as inspiration to be better prepared.

    1. I’m so glad you found me, Amy! I live NE of Houston, and we dealt with those same temps, along with water and power outages. We didn’t get the same amount of snow that you did, though.

  3. Right now, start buying up wool sweaters, blankets, scarves, etc. Wool is a very good insulator to keep you warm. If your budget is small, check out the thrift stores. They often have these items. Flannel is also an excellent fabric to wear next to your skin. It’s soft and retains heat well. But be sure to dress in layers.
    Warm up with teas, soups, etc. Not only will they warm you up from the inside, they will provide the hydration you need.
    Have lots of oil lamps. They provide light and also add a bit of heat to a room. Just be careful and keep them away from children and pets.
    As far a bedding, flannel is a must for cold climates.

    1. Survival Mom, the link you gave for heat tape showed an electric heat tape that needs electricity to work. I use the foam which is slit on one side to slip over the pipe then wrap it with tape. It keeps my outdoor pipes from freezing and is no tech solution.
      We used the tent idea in our living room and found that the body heat of several people made it toasty warm. no candles allowed in the tent, battery lanterns only.

    2. I was doing some light reading tonight and after reading some of the comments I thought I’d share a bit of knowledge I came across this year. It really came at the best time too, but the good Lord is always on time. You take a large can of Crisco, a wick from an oil lamp and a ceramic bowl.
      Place/push wick into the center i of the Crisco and then light. It will burn for approximately 76 hours straight. You can put a ceramic bowl over it and it will produce some heat. This is a very thrifty and cost efficient way to have light as well as a small amount of heat. Gotta love that old timer knowledge.

  4. Arrange 4 prayer candles in square..east south north west…put chicken noodle(or water) in a small pan….place pan over lit candle(I used a 3″ candle from walmart)in center of prayer candles….
    note: place inside box or other to prevent candle wax or other spills
    Time to heat soup?? 25 minutes for edible..more for really hot soup.
    More candles/more flame/faster heat but need bigger pan..

  5. Good information. Thank you for sharing.
    I use “Real Flame” gel fuel. They are on Amazon. Ventless. I just put it in a big stock pot and place in an area that is cleared as you do the candles. Set the pot on bricks or empty cans to keep pot off floor/ table. Lasts about 2.5-3 hours. No fumes or smoke. If the room is big, use 2 cans. My room I use is 12×12 feet. These have saved my pets and me several times during blackouts from weather. I order them at different times thruout the year. I use several candles in my big pot, too. I use a wire baking rack on top of pot to heat or Cook food. I use a can of water or pot to get moisture in the air. This holds heat in the area longer. It’s an amazing hack. Hope this helps. Stay warm 🙂

  6. I am in the frigid north and was stunned at the price to fill my propane tank 2 months ago. I worry about not being able to afford my next fill. So I made some interior storm windows using 1 x 2’s and acrylic sheets (very expensive!). Tried covering the 1 x 2’s with the cheap window film, and that works just as well. I leave a 1″ air gap between window and storm. Then I used an electric knife to cut out a piece to fit in the window from a 2″ foam board. I have enough room to leave another 1″ air gap between the storm and the foam board insert. I sewed a cover from an old sheet to cover it. I sewed loops of fabric at the bottom so I could easily pull out the insert. Around the 2″ sides, I make an extra pinch of fabric sewn in, to better fill any small air gaps. If you are a sewer, it’s kind of a crude piping. This helps an incredible amount to keep a house warm. This might be helpful to prepare for a room you are going to use as a ‘shelter-in-place” room during a power outage. I use the inserts every night when it’s cold and take them out during the daylight hours.

    I bought my first solar panel kit and battery this summer (plus a hand truck to make it more portable). Next step is to research how big an inverter I would need to keep my (gas) stove’s oven running when power is down. It has an electronic display, and therefore needs some electricity to run. Ugh – wish I had made a better choice there, but selection was limited at the time of purchase. My plan is to wheel over the battery and inverter (on the hand truck), plug the oven into the inverter, and use the oven occasionally.

  7. If you use bubble wrap on your windows, remove it at the first hint of spring. Condensation on your windows will create black mold.

    I prefer to use an emergency blanket taped near, but not on, the glass. Follow with sheet styrofoam and top it off with either sheet polyurethane taped down with duct tape or storebought plastic storm window kits. You may use roller shades and insulating curtains over this if you have them.

    This will keep your home cooler in summer and cut air conditioning costs as well.

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