How to stay warm without electricity.
  • Category:
    Disaster Preparedness
  • Published:
    October 5, 2023

How to Stay Warm Without Electricity

Your comfort and safety depend on knowing how to heat a house without electricity. How to keep warm without power during winter is an important part of knowing what to do when the power goes out.

8 Alternative Heat Sources that Do Not Require Electricity

Having a heater without electricity is a necessity if you live in a cold area. A reliable alternative heat source can prevent a power outage from turning into an emergency situation.

Alternative heat sources without electricity.

1. Backup Generator

A backup generator produces electricity by burning gasoline or propane. Less common are units that connect to solar panels. A backup generator kicks in when the power goes out to keep your important appliances operating.

It is the most reliable alternative heat source, and when properly installed and used, is also one of the safest. Invest in an energy-efficient generator for a longer run time. Ultimately, however, when you run out of fuel, you run out of electricity.

2. Indoor Kerosene Heater

Burning kerosene indoors was common in the days before electricity. It is not, however, entirely safe and isn’t good for your long term health. Portable kerosene heaters are helpful for a limited time if used with great care.

Keep them at least three feet away from anything flammable. Only use them if you have battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Don’t use them overnight. Make sure you ventilate the area to ensure you are getting enough oxygen. Be mindful of spilling when refueling. Have a fire extinguisher nearby.

3. Indoor Propane Heater

Propane heaters are a popular alternative heat source without electricity. Like kerosene heaters, they are not entirely safe. Select a unit that is designed for using indoors. Keep them well away from anything flammable. Never leave it unattended and don’t use it when sleeping. While propane burns cleaner than kerosene, you still don’t want to be breathing fumes long term.

You also must be very careful to prevent an explosion. Burning propane creates moist air which can leave you feeling clammy. Vent your area well and use battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Having a fire extinguisher on hand is a must.

4. Wood Pellet Stove

A wood pellet stove is a cozy and efficient way to stay warm. These stoves burn wood pellets of compressed wood waste and recycled materials. They burn dry and hot to create less ash and emit fewer pollutants. They are cleaner and more convenient than burning wood. One more advantage: You’ll be able to cook on one which is handy when your electric stove and oven stop working when the power is out.

5. Use Soapstone to Preserve Heat

Soapstone is a kind of rock that readily absorbs heat and slowly radiates it out over hours. You may warm a soapstone near a kerosene or propane heater, and then use it safely overnight to fend off the chill. It is a safe way to stay warm without electricity overnight, then you will have to reheat the soapstone in the morning. As a heater without electricity, soapstone is an intriguing option.

6. Biofuel Burner Can

Small portable devices that burn bioethanol add the ambiance of an indoor fire without having a flue. They are a potential tool for how to heat a house without electricity–or at least a small room.

They burn cleaner than propane or kerosene, but they still compete with you for available oxygen. Water vapor is a byproduct, too, so you will want to use them with ventilation. Use with a fire extinguisher, and battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

7. Catalytic Heaters

This device uses propane or natural gas for flameless heat. Instead, the gas reacts with a catalyst. The result is a chemical reaction that creates far-infrared waves that emit radiant heat.

When it comes to alternative heat sources without electricity, catalytic heaters are a relatively safe choice. However, you still need to worry about fire and carbon monoxide during use. As with other heating methods, you need ventilation, a fire extinguisher and battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on hand.

8. Passive Solar Heating System

In its simplest form, passive solar heating is using the heat of the sun to warm your living space. Simple high-mass collectors capture radiant heat from the sun and disperse it through your home using low-power fans.

Passive systems can be used to support traditional electric or gas furnaces. If the power goes out, your passive system will still work. You can even make one yourself inexpensively using soda cans. Their primary downsize is that they only produce heat when the sun is shining.

Additional Ways to Heat Your House Without Power

How to stay warm without power will greatly depend on how well your home is insulated and how well it uses the heat of the sun. It isn’t enough to produce emergency heat. You need a way to keep it in your house for as long as possible. While you weatherize your home for winter energy savings, you will also make it more comfortable during a power outage.


Good insulation will maintain the warmth in your house longer. You may not need much alternative heat to stay warm during a power outage if you have the right types of insulation and you have fixed gaps around windows, doors and pipes. Putting a stop to drafts and heat wasted through poor insulation will save you money and keep you comfortable when it really matters.


Consider the sun for how to keep warm without electricity. It takes no fuel, produces no fumes, and is safe. Use it all winter long and follow these tips that make your home more energy efficient in the winter and warmer when you need to figure out how to heat a house without electricity. Opening drapes in rooms while the sun is shining and closing them to retain heat after the sun moves away is a simple, yet highly effective option.

Learn More about Preparing Your Home for a Power Outage in Winter

Power outages in winter are rare, but it is a good idea to line up several alternative heat sources before a problem in winter happens. Making sure your home is energy efficient to conserve heat is just as important. These tips on how to prepare for a power outage in the winter are also great for how to keep warm without electricity.

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Comments ( 2 )

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Fred Lilienkamp - 12/18/2023

You left out wood stoves. Regular wood stoves. Not pellet stoves. Pellets are another commodity that you have no control over pricing. Also , most pellet stoves have a fan that distributes heat. No electricity, no distributed heat. Many of us out here in the country have access to firewood that is branches or trees that come down during wind,rain,snow, and ice events. Also the towns and electric companies are constantly taking down trees and branches that threaten power lines. Not to mention all the wood that is available on my property that I cut up and use. The cost is pennies per BTU of heat. Main cost is a chain saw and gas. I paid $450 for my Sthil saw MS311 25 yrs ago. Lets see – that cost me about 20$/yr plus gasoline and 2 -cycle oil at another 30$/yr. So for 50$/yr I get enough wood ( 5 cords), to heat our house all winter. Plus we cook a lot of food on our wood-fired cook stove. That saves electricity since we use the electric stove less. And don’t give me any ‘Save the environment” BS. By using our own firewood, I keep from burning 500 gallons of heating oil per year. Since I have been doing this for 40 yrs, that equates to not burning 20,000 gal of heating oil. Heating oil cost has varied over 40 yrs. Say, 2$/gal (a lot more than that now). So I have saved $40,000 burning wood. In my area, we lose power all the time.mostly during the winter. While others are freaking out, with no ability to heat their house or cook their food, we do just fine with our 3 wood stoves.

Joseph M Cunningham - 12/15/2023

Wood pellet stoves do require electricity to run the fans that feed pellets and blow heat into the room.

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