Once the power and the electricity go out, it can be an unwelcome shock and it may only be a matter of minutes until you begin to feel the cold.
As night creeps in during the winter months, it is best practice to have some precautions in place so you know how to heat your home at short notice when you really need it.
There are several heating sources that you can use during emergencies and some may surprise you. With just a bit of planning and at little expense, you can ensure you have options to stay warm when you really need them.
In this guide, we will look at five emergency heating sources including a wood-burning fireplace, propane, kerosene, and terracotta pot heaters as well as simple body heat.
Wood Burning Fireplace
For a stylish alternative to a portable propane or kerosene heater, install a wood-burning fireplace. This is an option that you could really get used to and it can even add value to your home as an aesthetic addition.
While you may not use it all year-round, it may be a nice, cozy addition to your living room and may even save you money during the winter when energy costs begin to mount up.
One wood-burning fireplace can provide as much as 65,000 BTU so may be the best option to heat an entire home but that may take some time.
This is also a highly efficient way to provide heat as many inserts come with an efficiency rating of between 60 to 80% which is far superior to the mere 15% that open-face fireplaces can provide.
If you are looking for a heat source that looks good too then a wood-burning fireplace is likely your best choice.
By producing between 4,000 to close to 20,000 BTU at a distance of up to 300 square feet, a propane heater is an effective emergency heat source. Just ensure that the heater you get is approved to be used indoors as it may prove dangerous otherwise.
A portable propane heater like Mr. Heater Big Buddy could be an ideal solution that provides effective heating. The model comes with an accidental tip-over shutoff so can be used in small spaces without the worry of it getting knocked over and causing a fire.
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy also comes with a low-oxygen pilot system that shuts off as another safety measure. This model should be considered a great option for clean burning and you may not even need it for emergency heating.
The propane heater is versatile enough for camping trips and it can accommodate two single-pound propane cylinders. If that is not enough, you can use an attachment hose to connect up to a 20-pound propane tank.
For decades before the extensive use of electricity, kerosene heaters were widely used as a traditional fuel to heat up a home, and you could use one in an emergency if you need it.
However, unlike propane heaters, you will need to take some extra safety precautions. That typically means finding a small enough model that is suitable to be used to heat an indoor space.
The kerosene heater also needs to be ventless to prevent as many fumes as possible from escaping while it keeps you warm.
This may not be an ideal heater in the cold, winter months as you may want to keep it next to an open window which seems counterproductive.
Those fumes can become overwhelming and the smell too powerful so you may only want the heater to be on for a short while at a time.
If this is the option that you desire then bear in mind that a model such as the Kero World Kerosene Heater can deliver a BTU of 23,000 in an area up to 1000 square feet.
The heater also comes with a matchless ignition system, is wrapped with a 360-degree protective grill, and is equipped with a 1.9-gallon tank that can keep going for up to 12 hours.
Terracotta Pot Heater
You only need a few candles or canned heat and a couple of pots to create a makeshift heater from a terracotta pot. This also proves to be a relatively affordable option to bring some warmth into your home when the temperature drops during an emergency.
The heat goes through the terracotta pots and provides a convection current for a localized, intimate heat. It might not heat an entire room like a more powerful propane or kerosene heater, but it may remove the more immediate chill.
Simply arrange the folding stove, and place the smaller terracotta pot upside down so it sits on top of the stove. To prevent the heat from seeping out, use something non-flammable like some aluminum foil to cover the hole.
Use another piece of foil to cover the hole on the larger pot which you can place on top. You can use a few tea lights or canned heat as fuel so light it up, huddle together and keep warm.
While this final option may seem simple enough, it can prove highly effective in an emergency. Of course, you are typically told to put on an extra layer of clothing when you leave the house, you can also apply that rule indoors.
Use the right combination of clothes and you can have an affordable and available means of keeping warm in an emergency situation.
You will want to trap your own body heat to keep the cold at bay and that may not even mean the same gear you would wear on a ski slope though you can use that too.
Your base layer should be of blended spandex which will effectively transfer the sweat away from your body.
That spandex will also hug your skin tightly to minimize airflow and limit the amount of cold air that gets in. By avoiding a build-up of moisture, you can avoid that cooling effect that sweat occasionally brings.
The spandex should provide overall coverage so opt for leggings, socks that are made from a mix of spandex and nylon, and a long-sleeved undershirt.
Blended Cotton Layer
On top of that blended spandex base layer should be blended cotton which acts as an insulator. While the base layer of spandex limits your airflow, the cotton actively uses thermal insulation to keep in your body heat.
This can be quite a casual-looking layer as you can use jeans, but also thermal long johns which are form-fitting and also comfortable while being effective at wicking away moisture.
You can even cover your socks with cotton ones for an extra cozy layer of warmth.
Blended Wool Layer
Another insulating layer will be blended wool which goes on top of the blended cotton and works with it for effective insulation. One of the most renowned features of wool is how effective it is to trap warm air, blocking the cold, and blocking the movement of air.
It can simply sit there and keep you warm, even if the fabric is wet. One of the fundamental reasons why it sits on top of the cotton is how itchy it can be so it works in tandem with the two layers below which look after your skin.
You may simply opt for a woolen sweater but you can also have a third layer on your feet with woolen socks.
If you are staying indoors then this further pair of socks can keep your toes toasty but it may prove difficult to fit your feet into boots (Also check out How To Wear A Boot Knife) for those moments when you need to head outside, perhaps for firewood.
If you do need to go outside then you may want to figure the laces on your boots so you can fit in your feet with three layers on them. This final layer of clothing is for outdoor protection so covers any of those body parts that may be exposed to the cold weather.
Obviously, if you are staying indoors then this can be disregarded yet if someone needs to head out for supplies then this layer should be under consideration.
Look to cover your hands, face, neck, and head especially which should mean opting for woolen insulated gloves, a balaclava, and a woolen hat. You should also opt for snow boots and a thick jacket.
It may also be an option to look into a waterproof and windproof jacket if the cold brings some wet weather too.
How To Prepare Your Home For Power Outage Emergencies
A properly prepared and insulated home is likely your best protection to keep warm during a power outage. These five heat sources can provide extra protection from the cold yet your home will provide the most.
A lot of utility companies can provide a home energy audit so you can find out where you need to invest to keep your home well-insulated.
These measures can be something simple like weather stripping around the doors and windows. Insulation in certain areas of your home, such as the exterior walls, attic, and basement are key areas to keep your home warm.
Energy-efficient blinds and curtains can provide stylish solutions, as well as insulate your home. Also, ensure that you continue to maintain and insulate any pipes that are continually exposed to cold weather, particularly in winter.
If you are worried about how much those aspects of home insulation can cost then look into rebates, grants, and even tax credits. This can reduce the financial hit and your home may even be worth more in the long run with certain steps that you can take.
Having an energy-efficient home is well worth investing in.
When the power does go out, you need to be confident that you can keep warm. Having options available to you such as propane or kerosene heaters can provide an instant boost for warmth.
However, a long-term solution is simply investing in your home to make it more energy efficient so that it traps more heat. Then there is the fun idea of playing dress-up and seeing how many layers you can fit to keep you warm.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Safest Source Of Heat In The Home?
While it may not prove to be effective during an emergency, heat from electricity will be the safest heat source available for the vast majority of the time.
These methods include electric furnaces, baseboard heaters, boilers, and radiators which can be controlled with a thermostat. Electric heat sources can also be incredibly precise and you can opt to have them on only when you need them.
What Can You Use As A Secondary Heat Source?
Your primary heating source will typically be from electricity and include your radiators, furnace, and boiler as part of a system throughout your home.
The secondary heat sources will include electric blankets, wood-burning stoves, and fireplaces. These sources can be situated in specific rooms, and in specific places, to target certain areas in your home as an alternative to turning up the thermostat.
This is an ideal situation if you simply want to keep warm in one room during the evening as the temperature drops.