Heating your home without electricity can seem crazy when everything is under normal conditions! The main reason we seek shelter and build homes is to have a comfortable, safe place for our families where we are protected from the elements. Especially the cold. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause a dangerous loss of body heat and bring on Hypothermia, which is one of nature’s fastest killers.
We heat our homes to make them more comfortable when the temperatures drop. But most heating methods require electricity to provide heat, distribute it or control our systems. So when the power goes out we also lose our heating systems.
Even if our homes lose heat due to a power outage we’re no doubt better of then being out in the elements. But it can be very uncomfortable, especially in colder climates and during the winter months. An alternative way to heat our home, and the supplies to fuel it, are an important part of survival preparedness.
A Home Fireplace
The earliest home heating method Fireplaces have been used for hundreds of years. If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your home you’re a step ahead. If your home doesn’t have a fireplace you can add one but it can be a bit of a task.
The main problem with standard fireplaces is that they just aren’t very efficient. A lot of the heat they produce goes right up the chimney and out into the air. You can minimize this by adding an insert designed to keep more heat in the room. Do consider that some inserts use electricity to power internal fans but you can purchase a convection type of insert that draws in cold air, heats it, then returns it back into the room without the need for electricity.
You also need to consider the kind of wood you choose to burn in to heat your home. You may have a source for fire woods on your own property. But if you have to purchase firewood keep in mind that hardwoods cost more than softwoods. However, they do burn longer and give off more heat making them a better investment overall
Wood Burning Stoves
Wood burning stoves are designed to be more efficient versions of the home fireplace. Usually made of cast iron, the stoves themselves heat up and then radiate that heat into the room. Some heat is still lost through the chimney but much more of it is kept in the home.
Unlike a home fireplace, a wood burning stove can be retrofitted more easily into an existing home. You’ll just need to locate a safe place for the chimney. Most modern chimney designs are triple walled to keep the external wall of the chimney cool. This type of chimney can be built to run up through nearly any space without the risk of causing a fire.
While not ideal, in an emergency, a wood burning stove can be installed temporarily. The must be placed on a heatproof, inflammable surface such as brick, metal or stone with the chimney routed out a window. Simply remove an upper pane of glass and fill the remaining space with a piece of metal or plywood.
If you have a source of kerosene on hand this type of heater can be an excellent method of heating without electricity. They can put off a bit of an odor but they are clean burning. However, kerosene would be almost impossible to purchase once an emergency situation strikes so you will need to make sure you have adequate stock ahead of time.
Kerosene heaters also radiate heat from all sides, just like a wood burning stove, which increase their efficiency. But unlike fireplaces or wood burning stoves they don’t require chimneys, just fresh air. So be sure to locate your kerosene heater in a room where there is adequate ventilation.
Also known as catalytic heaters, this method of heating without electricity is ideal if you already have a source of propane available at home. The propane fuel is jetted into a perforated ceramic element where it creates heat as it burns. As with kerosene heaters, the heating element is located behind a wire grate to prevent accidental burns.
The biggest benefit of propane heaters is they are very efficient and keep providing heat as long there is fuel available in the tank. If you’re going to rely on this alternative home heating method remember to keep your tank closer to filled than empty. You never know when an emergency situation will arise.
Obviously, it isn’t as convenient or comfortable to move your entire family into one or two rooms of your home for any length of time, short or long. But unless you have an abundance of fuel and/or more than one heater, or type of heater, it makes the most sense to heat just one room.
Anyone of these four alternative home heating methods will work when you need to heat your home without electricity. The most important thing to remember when you’re heating without electricity is to make sure you keep an adequate supply of alternative fuel. Consider the maximum number of days you may be without power and how much fuel your chosen method uses on a daily basis. This will help you calculate the amount of fuel you need to keep in your emergency stockpile.