How to Stay Warm Without Electricity

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Written by Bernie Carr

The cold season is upon us, and the having a power outage during a cold snap is always a possibility. What are some things you can do to stay warm without electricity?

Insulate your windows

There are a few ways to layer your windows to keep out the cold:

  • Use window film to insulate your windows. If you live in an apartment, I recommend you use clear window film to avoid issues with your landlord. If you own your place, then you have the option of using decorative window films.
  • Yes, the same stuff you pack delicate items with, bubble wrap works very well as window insulation. Just use clear, removable tape to secure the bubble wrap to your windows.
  • Trash bags work as short term window coverings; just make sure you take them down after the cold snap, or your landlord may have a word about your windows looking unsightly.

Layer your clothing

Layer your clothes for maximum warmth. Instead of just putting on just one heavy sweater, wear multiple layers of clothing. The air between each article of clothing acts as insulation for your body. You may look a bit bulky like the little brother in A Christmas Story, but you’ll keep the cold at bay.

Choose the right sheets

Instead of cooling materials use flannel sheets to keep your bed toasty.

Pile on the blankets

Just like layering your clothing, use layers on your bed. One year, we piled on blankets, jackets, and even old clothes on our bedding to trap the warmth.

Cover your floors and walls

In the middle ages, heavy tapestries were used to cover walls and keep drafty castles warm. They provide extra insulation. Hang decorative wall tapestries on outside facing walls to add a protective layer between your indoor space and cold walls.  If you prefer not to go through the expense of buying new wall decor, you can also hang quilts, blankets, or whatever you have around the house.

If you have tile or wood floors, use area rugs or carpets to keep heat from escaping. Cover your cold bathroom floors with bath mats or old towels.

Drink warm (non-alcoholic) drinks

If your gas stove is working, warm up some water and drink some hot tea or hot chocolate. Soup and broth work just as well. Although reaching for an alcoholic beverage is often depicted to be warmth inducing, the effect is actually the opposite. Drinking alcoholic beverages might make your skin feel warm temporarily, but it causes your body to lose core body heat.

Huddle in one room

Choose one room in the house where everyone can congregate. This is where you layer the walls and floor with whatever material you have. You can even set up a tent and pile on the sleeping bags to add extra warmth.

Propane heater

A small space propane heater may help, if you set it up in the room you are in.  If you are worried about heating when there is no power, a good possible choice is a propane heater such as Mr. Heater.  Make sure you choose a model that has automatic if tipped over, if pilot light goes out, or if detects low oxygen levels.

What about using a generator?

For apartment dwellers, I do not recommend gas generators as all the leases I’ve seen prohibit the use of gas generators.

A solar generator is a different story. Now that there are many solar generators available, you may be able to consider having one. You just need to make sure the unit you choose will power a small space heater. For example, the EcoFlow River Flo, which can power devices up to1800 watts, should be able to power a small space heater at 1500 watts.

Take precautions

When attempting to generate heat without power using any device, you must take precautions. Each year, a few people fall victim to carbon monoxide poisoning, especially when trying to stay warm without power. Keep these precautions in mind:

Never turn on a gas stove or barbecue indoors to stay warm.

Never run a gas generator indoors. Make sure you have proper ventilation when running a generator.

Besides having a fire alarm, get a carbon monoxide detector for your home.

Always check the long term forecast to keep track of winter storms or extreme weather coming your way. Before a cold snap hits, now is a good time to prepare your home for warmth in case you lose electricity.

About the author

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.






Image by Silvia from Pixabay

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  1. I enjoyed your article on staying warm without electricity. Texas 2021 deep freeze definitely was a lesson to plug some holes in my preps. At that particular moment we used candles and layers of blankets. Afterward invested in a Mr. Buddy Heater and prepped one small room for the family instead of the large living room. Plan to make use of the tent next time.

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