When You Lose Power For A Week And Temps Are Below Freezing
If you live in a climate where winter temperatures readily fall below freezing, you have special concerns (or at least you should) about what you would do if you lost power for a week.
Your biggest concern will probably (rapidly) become HEAT, more specifically the lack thereof…
What will you do?
The foremost obvious answer is to fire up your wood stove. The problem is, most of you probably do not have one. If you do, you can stop reading here… ;) (just kidding – lets hear your opinion anyway)
Related article: Best Wood Stove For Preparedness?
If you have a pellet stove, you’re SOL because most of them require electricity to function.
Your oil fired furnace? Fuhgeddaboudit…
Your outdoor LP (propane) tank and accompanying furnace? No worky…
Electric heat? LOL…
Other than those of you who have electric heat, you will be able to keep your furnace running by firing up a generator. The generator does not have to be a ‘whole house’ beast, it only has to be big enough to power your critical systems – the primary of which (in the winter) is your heat (and your well pump if that applies to you). The rest is bonus… keeping the fridge and freezer going… some lights on in the house…
I will not get into ‘how’ to integrate a generator into these critical systems, but know this – it can be done. Either do-it-yourself (if you’re qualified) or hire an electrician to do it. Some methods cost more than others, but if you’re serious about a week-long (or longer) blackout during the winter months, then you better ‘get-r-done’…
For those of you who have only electric heat (there were a lot of homes built this way when energy was cheap years ago), even a beast of a home generator will probably not keep up with the demand without shelling out BIG bucks for 20kW system (for example). Bear in mind though, that even a moderate size generator will be able to run one or two portable electric heaters (better than nothing) but that won’t keep your whole house from eventually freezing.
Awhile ago I discussed portable heating in the following article,
“‘Mr. Heater Buddy’ for Winter Survival Preparedness”.
This is one reason that I am integrating a solar PV system (and battery bank) to keep the critical systems in my house ‘up and running’. Plus, it doesn’t require gasoline and it runs completely silent.
If the power goes out during the winter, and you believe that it might last a week, some of your decisions will be steered by the current weather and forecast. For example if you do not have a method to keep the house heated, and if the temperatures during the day are above freezing while only dipping below at night, your whole house although getting colder may itself stay above freezing – therefore saving your water pipes from bursting… On the other hand, if below freezing temperatures are significantly outweighing above freezing temps, you might consider draining the water from your pipes. Do some advanced research (prior to having to do this for real) and discover the lowest water spigot or drain-plug in your house – which you could theoretically open up during a cold weather emergency (after having shut off the ‘main’ water to the house) to drain the water from the pipes (open all faucets to assist in the draining process).
A home that is very well insulated and ‘tight’ will do a remarkable job keeping any heat ‘in’ while keeping cold ‘out’. In homes like these, several portable type heaters will likely keep the house adequately heated. Wearing layers of winter clothes will obviously help ;)
Related article: The Warmest Survival Blanket – Wool Or Polar Fleece?
Lets hear from you… What are your ideas regarding ‘what to do’ or staying warm when you’ve lost power and the temperatures are below freezing – while potentially facing a week?
Realizing that I live in a cold climate area I invested in a wood stove 16 years ago and it is still one of the best purchases my wife and I ever made. Just this year we bought another one for our detached garage/man cave. Nothing beats the kind of heat put off by a wood stove and wood is plentiful near me. There is a product that can be found on-line, Wal Mart and other outdoor stores, called the Mr Buddy indoor propane heater. I know several people who keep these for emergencies. They run off the small camping propane bottles. I wouldn’t want to count on it long term but if I didn’t have a wood stove I would surely get one of these.
Ken, read the article again and realized you mentioned the Mr Buddy heater. I will just add my two cents that they are a good product but not meant for long term heating. However, I highly recommend people getting one if they don’t have a back up way to heat their house in an emergency.
Two is one and one is looking for a disaster. Nothing beats a wood stove except for the ashes.
@ Who Knows
And what of those that have none? “Sheeple”.
the ashes come in handy if you have an outhouse :)
okay, silly question…
but wondering if ashes are better for outhouse/compost toilet than would shavings?
(know someone who is not too happy with the wood shavings bit..)
Lime was product used in outhouse where I grew up…Just can remember GM telling “boys” to put lime in it…
I use sawdust in my composting toilet. During the winter I use all my ash in the toilet as well, except for a few pans for the chickens dust baths.
I prefer the ash to the sawdust personally. It seems to keep the toilet contents dryer and prevents all odors
We bought a little buddy heater last year. It does put off great heat, the down side….. a (1 pound) can of propane will only burn about 1 1/2 hrs. We also have a fireplace that we use a lot. We bought the heater to give the fireplace a cool time at night during an ice storm. Glad we have it, just wish is did not burn propane so fast
Get the kit to hook up to a 5gal. tank. Much much cheaper to fill and lasts 20 times longer.
Look into kerosene heaters. A 10K BTU will run about 12 hours on about 1 gallon of kerosene. Kerosene stores very well. For decades, people vented wood stoves through windows (before we all got so smart). If you do that, you must remember that some materials actually burn. Don’t use those to block off the window opening.
If Being without power and having limited alternate power sources, having an accurate thermometer reading outside may allow you to store perisable food outside if you have a secure means of protecting it from wild creatures. This would free up the limited energy sources to be used during the much colder hours at night. Opening up the window blinds or curtains on the sunny side of your dwelling during the daylight hours to allow the sun to help warm the interior. Of course properly preparing for the winter by having ample supply of split wood for a wood burning stove or fireplace is always good!! Just remember to allow just enough fresh air in to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning. Having enough warm blankets and thermal underwear, and dry chemical hand warmers in an emergency can be useful.
I can remember being told by my grandmother of the method of heating bricks in front of the firplace and then wrapping them in bath towels to keep warm while sleeping was a common practice ever since she was child can still be a good idea!! You might consider practicing with an older bath towel first to get the heat time right! In the extremes, having wool socks and silk thermals with down exterior jackets are must haves. Please don’t forget to stock up on chap stick and lotion for dry skin conditioning.
If you are limited to a small generator and/or small solar unit these ideas may come in handy on cloudy days as well as help conserve gasolene
Hope all have a warm and safe winter!!
I wonder if putting bricks (painted black?) in a solar oven and then put in the bed at night would provide any heat. Anyone tried to use a solar oven for this?
In frigid temps, who needs to keep a refrigerator running? You can freeze water jugs and containers out side and bring them in for the warmer 38 degree part of a fridge. A freezer can be emptied into a cooler and kept outside in freezing temps in the shade.
I have a Canadian snow machine suit, boots, hood, and a 3 layered mitt set for below 0 temps. I tested it by laying down in 30 below weather and almost fell asleep it was so warm and cozy, it is like living inside a marshmallow. I had snow suits when I used to be a musher, and nothing but a space suit compares to a snow machine suit, because not only on a machine are you exposed to 40 below temps, but wind chills of 90 below zero. It cost over a grand for this suit, part of the expense of living way up north.
We planned on heating with wood using two wood burners when we reconstructed the farm house we live in. It has worked out very well for 6 years now. We also wanted to be able to cook on them if needed. With no electric for a week or two, there will be other issues to concern ourselves with. I wanted to cover the “heating” and “eating” areas first as we are lacking in the alternative power sources. No solar set up yet. Do have a Mr. Heater Buddy sitting on the shelf.
Ok, I’m going to play Doom & Gloom here first than add a real story.
If the electricity goes off for a week OR if it goes off for long term (think EMP) it matter not at all. Once the body temp falls below (???? help me out here) you’re toast. There are literally hundreds of people that freeze to death each year. DO NOT BE ONE OF THEM. Personally I do not like to be cold, so I have a 4 stage backup to heat. In floor Hot Water Heat, 2 furnaces, 2 wood stoves (8+ cords of wood), and the Mr. Buddy type kerosene heaters, plus a 50,000BTU Propane blast-furnace of a heater I also have a “small” Gen-Set for powering only the In-Floor and Furnaces if needed. Winters here in the Four Corners are not too extreme (think -15f at worst), BUT, they can still “kill” you if your not ready.
True Story; A good friend lives in Sturgis SD. Last year he and extended family lost power for a full 3 weeks. They all ended up moving into one large room and dang near “did not make it”, his words not mine. They were totally unprepared, no gen-set, no alt-power, no way to even cook food or get water from the frozen pipes. The only thing he had, wait till you hear this, is the “Brew Stand” for making beer I had built him 3 years before. It was Propane and uses no power. It has 3 100,000BTU burners on it. So twice a day/night he would run everyone out of the house for an hour and turn this thing on full blast and heat up the house. Quickly air it out and move everyone back in. He also used it for cooking food and warming what little water they had hauled from town. He told me later that there was over $18,000 worth of damage due to frozen pipes. Can you just imagine all the problems they had?
He now has a wood stove and a Gen-Set ready. Also getting “a few things in the house”. I just quietly shake my head and wonder what would happen to these type of people when the SHTF??????
It really does not take a LOT to be ready for winter and a minor emergency, so why don’t people prepare?
You don’t just have to worry about supply lines freezing. Drain traps hold water. Aquire some RV antifreeze for these.
“Necessity is the mother of invention” shepple will have to learn the hard way so when it is in your face you realize a “Kodak moment” is reality
Wood fire for warmth is wonderful – short term. During my 4 week SHTF trial, I did not burn wood that was already chain saw cut and stacked. I only used an ax to cut wood to simulate a long term event and keeping enough wood cut to cook and heat water was a very hard & nearly a full time effort, even in the summer. Here in Texas we do not really get cold weather, but for my fellow preppers who live in really cold climates(sub freezing) keeping a stock of firewood with ax only will suffer greatly. Chain saw gas & oil will quickly not be available and the ax is the fall back tool. However, fire wood is just about the only fall back source of heat. This is getting a jump on my writing. Keep your powder and fire wood dry.
@ No Joke
I for one am interested in the “article” you/Ken are working on. Seriously, I have read a lot of “want a be” SHTF’ers, but most don’t really know what the h#ll they are talking about. As you know I do a weekend trial-run once a month or so and usually are testing only 3-5 things. So your experience will be interesting to read, Thanks in advance.
@ No Joke. Not asking to let the cat out of the bag on your story but was wondering about procuring wood if chainsaw and or fuel is not available. You indicated you used an axe to cut firewood. From what I experienced, isn’t it easier to use a bucksaw to cut dead wood and an axe for green wood? When I use an axe to cut dead oak and cherry, it rattles me from head to toe. The bucksaw was smooth and methodical. Lots of work but not as brutal. Just wondering if the wood makes a difference? Thanks
I used to chop firewood for my uncles when I was a kid so I know how it can get tedious very quick. This makes me glad that I am able to heat my very small cabin with just a small cooking rocket stove. I have several of them, not as backups, but so I can cook with more than one pot or pan at a time. However if it comes down to it I guess they could also be seen as backups. Anyway, they basically run on just small sticks, twigs or even a few pieces of charcoal. Sticks are much easier to come by but when I do use actual firewood I have to cut it up into extra small stick size bits to fit in the stove. Luckily it doesn’t get very cold down here in the south.
One thing I recommend for those that live up north, other than getting some kind of wood heat system, at least make sure you have a quality sub zero sleeping bag for everyone In the house even if you don’t ever go camping. Saving the house is one thing but if you don’t save yourself then there’s no point is there.
Oh and here’s a tip for keeping warm in a sleeping bag: Eat something right before going to sleep. Digestion will raise your body temperature.
Grits, we have two 0° sleeping bags like you suggest and we’re in KY.
I don’t fear of starving as much as freezing.
With a 20oF sleeping bag (I use Western Mountaineering- Ultralight & Megalight) one should have the silk vapor barrier bag. The most important thing not mentioned is the use of a Gore-Tex Bivy bag. For those not in the know, it is a water proof bag that slips over the sleeping bag, The Vapor Barrier Bag goes inside the sleeping bag. This system is good down to 0oF.
Also, with no heat in the house, set up a tent inside the house and sleep in it. It will contain your heat……
21Bravo Great input, I use the MILITARY GORETEX 4 PIECE SLEEPING BAG MODULAR SLEEP SYSTEM US MSS which for around 100 dollars is a steal, in addition I purchase a 3 dollar Mylar survival sleeping bag to use as a protective cover to keep the whole system clean and debris free.
Agreed Grits. Winter camping for me was a challenge, so I offer two more suggestions (or you will find out the hard way). Don’t drink anything 3 hours before you retire in the sleeping bag. Holding your bladder until morning makes you feel colder if you do, and once you leave the bag in the middle of night to relieve yourself, it will be colder getting back in and you will shiver for a long time, interrupting your sleep pattern. I suggested a snow machine suit above, you don’t leave your “warmth” as bad.
@Stardust, I agree with that sentiment. Personally learned that the hard way years ago during winter survival training at Fort Carson. :) Haven’t thought much about it since then till you brought it up. I guess it just automatically became one of those things you don’t have to think about cuz you just never do it again.
Yeah, I know the routine of heating a wood stove with no stacked/split wood. I used a hand saw when I first got my stove. 40 strokes for one cut on a 2 ft saw for a 4 inch thick dead oak limb, and spent all morning sawing wood for the rest of the day and night. It did keep me warm in 20 below weather, that is, the sawing work heated up my body!
Did it for a few weeks until I could afford a new chain saw. Then I hand split larger dead chunks, and had to dry it close to the stove before it would burn. I learned to keep cutting wood into the summer so I didn’t have to wear myself out by noon every day in winter. Being a sole supporter living alone, I started buying my wood after the first year so I didn’t wear myself out to an early grave or disability. It is a lot of hard work.
Living in the deep DEEP South (hard up against Mexico), I am at a loss for giving advice. Instead, I have a question – how do you keep your water pipes from bursting during deep freezes – drain them every time there is a threat of long term freeze ?
@ j.r. guerra in s. tx.
Most homes built in the “cold” areas are built with piping only on the interior walls or super insulated from the outside. Underground pipes are buried deep enough to not freeze. UNLESS, the house itself freezes and then you have HUGE problems. If you know the house is going to freeze, than yes, you have to drain them. BUT most people don’t know how, or the house is not built correctly to do so, so many people try to “blow” out the water with air, unfortunately this only works 25% of the time because of a low spot in the pipe WILL freeze and break.
Hence the problem of keeping a house from freezing.
Several years ago we had a stretch where it was -20f every night. We lost the power for a couple days due to freezing fog on the power lines. With just the wood stove our house remained 70+ in the living room and about 55 f in outlying rooms. The basement where the water lines/hot water tank are never went below 40. Like NRP said the houses built in cold climates generally have the pipes running interior walls. My house is 100+ years old but has new windows and siding on it that helps tremendously.
The builder and the county schmucks probably installed your water meter as shallow as possible to make meter reading easier. My meter is barely below the lid.
You can either turn the water off and drain the lines or keep the water taps dropping. Moving water is a lot harder to freeze in pipes.
Usually with enough snowfall the water pipes are insulated deep in the ground and are buried lower than the frost line for the area. That said, we had a very, very long frigid cold spell in Iowa a couple of years back and with hardly any snow there were a lot of water lines that froze solid. We had a slight problem with our storm sewer since it froze up near the street where there was usually a big pile of snow from the road. That year the snow was non existent. There were some people who had their main water line into the house freeze and were stuck without any water until it warmed up. Their house was warm but the intake line outside was frozen solid and the water company couldn’t do anything about it.
Then there is the other problem of the pipes freezing inside the house if the heat goes out. Had that happen to a family member and it was a mess to clean up. Dripping faucet water is the key to keep the water from freezing and the cats don’t mind the extra entertainment…
Much obliged for the answers – explanations below. I knew about the dripping hose bibb / faucet, I didn’t think it was enough for when freezing is around the clock for days at a time.
Raised and living down South, I am ignorant of many of the trials you ‘Yankees’ (said with affection :^) have to go through. Snow tires / chains – snow blowers – icy roads – experiences totally foreign to me. Thanks again.
not sure if “dripping” or “steady trickle” is the key, but I have known folks where it worked for weeks.
@j.r. guerra in s. tx.
I’m from that area,(Pearsall) but have been in Colorado 28 years at 8600′. Yes, we battle frozen pipes, snow, no electricity, endless firewood and heat issues, But, we don’t battle Fire Ants and Rattlesnakes.
I’m going off topic a bit here, but I drove into town today and noticed that all up and down the road there were tons of fire ant mounds in everyone’s lawns. There were so many of them they were impossible not to notice. One lawn had so many at first I thought they were piles of leaves until I looked closer. The other weird thing is that the majority of them were close to the road. I guess it’s their time of year.
If you want to have some fun with them, us an earthworm harvester on the mounds. Be ready with some potent “medicine” for them. You won’t believe how many ants are in one mound.
With electricity, I use heat tape “exposed” pipe from the well under my home (slab and block foundation). I have extra bags of leaves I would stuff around the well pipe coming into the house if power went out. Most of my pipes are insulated under the house, but there were times they froze up so to prevent future freeze up, I piled my leaves next to my foundation. Some people use straw, but leaves are free around here.
If you still have running water and want to keep it from freezing, opening taps just enough to allow a slow drip may work. That’s what a fellow RVer does when she’s in freezing weather but doesn’t want to winterize her rig yet.
It can get to minus 40 here and I am worried. I can’t afford a wood stove (I would need not only the stove, but the chimney, etc.) and I have no place in my small house to put one.
However, I have a vented gas radiant wall heater 30,000 btu that works well to keep my upstairs warm when the power goes out. (Last time it was minus 15 for 5 hours and it was very toasty upstairs.) The gas company tells me that they can keep the gas going for up to 2 months even if there is no electricity.
And I have a Mr. Buddy and a couple dozen 1 lb propane tanks. I have a one-burner propane stove, a Kelly Kettle, a charcoal grill outside with a few bags of charcoal, a couple of Kandle Heeters with 4 cases of liquid paraffin 50-hour candles. I have a folding stove and some Sterno, a couple of hot water bottles, and some of those instant heat packs. I also have several gallons of denatures alcohol, (but I had to return the alcohol stove I bought because it was defective.) I printed out directions for making a homemade alcohol stove.
I keep looking for new options for heating. What I have probably wouldn’t last the winter and if the power was out for more than a year, I would be in trouble, but I am good for a several months.
But no Carbon Monoxide Detector…. They are around $30. Place it about a foot off the floor in the hallway near where you sleep.
I have 3 CO2 detectors — 2 are battery operated. And of course, I have lots of extra batteries.
Some people above mentioned problems I hadn’t thought of before, such as the sewers freezing. I had thought about my indoor pipes, so I had printed out instructions for draining the water out of them.
I do not know where you live or your circumstances so I will be honest and blunt. Minus 40 degrees is a death sentence so if you can not bring the heat to yourself you Must go to the heat. Please, just pull up roots and move. My advice is move to Texas, Lousiana or Mississippi. Sell your place and go! Best wishes.
I am in northern Wyoming. I have a daughter and grandson in Louisiana. I hate it there. Selling my house and moving is out of the question — I can’t sell it for enough to buy another and I am too old to do all the packing and moving. The Weatherization program put R-50 in my attic, and my wall heater keeps the house very warm. After that there will be a problem, but I think it will be warmer in my basement. I can camp out there with my dog and 2 cats and all the other heat sources I mentioned to keep me warm. In this small town, I think they will figure out a way to provide water and warmth for us senior citizens.
up above, Grits says
“This makes me glad that I am able to heat my very small cabin with just a small cooking rocket stove. ”
maybe your place is small enough to heat like this, or at least a room?
also, he had good suggestion re the sub zero sleeping bag.
if you go to
and have a look, they have lots of info on rocket stoves/mass heaters.
might be interesting to have a look.
Also, pick a room and temporarily wallpaper it with space blankets. They work very well in conjunction with any type of radiant heat, including body heat. If the room with your heat source is too big you can even use space blankets to partition the room and make it smaller. The smaller the room is the warmer it will be and use less fuel.
Tape each blanket using painter’s tape and you don’t even hurt your paint.
Yes, I had thought of that. I have extra cloth blankets and over a dozen space blankets to partition a small space. I have double pane windows and most of the windows have storm windows besides. I have several of those 3M window insulator kits to further insulate those 2 double pane windows that don’t also have storm windows. (also extras in case of a broken window sometime)
You might consider taking a look at the small camping wood burning stoves offered at Cabelas.com. I have one that cost well under $300 two years ago that would provide plenty of heat for a small cabin plus it has a very secure flat top for cooking and hot enough to percolate coffee. It comes with the vent pipe as well. The only additional piece you would need is top cap to prevent water/snow from entering outside. Then only issue left for you is a local source for split wood to barter for! Cabelas offers free shipping occasionally from Neb. Sounds like you’re a tough Gal that’s been there and done that, But the older we get, the more options we have might make make all the difference with the times getting more uncertain.
Almost forgot, if you choose to go with the small wood stove, the stove piping should be seasoned thru a couple of fires of the stove before being placed indoors. The interior and exterior have galvanizing that need exposure to high heat before bringing it indoors or the smell might make you sick, not a big deal! Also its not necessary to route the exhaust thru a chimney. Just add a couple of 90 degree elbows and route the exhaust thru a window by replacing one pane of glass with a pc of sheet metal that has a ceramic sleeve that the pipe will fit thru and glass wool between the sheet metal and the stove exhaust pipe, 90 degree up once outside to clear the eve overhang of the roof. Securing each section of pipe joint by using sheet metal screws and aluminum tape. Secure the pipe outside by attaching it to the facial board of the edge of the roof eve, just use an insulating agent between the pipe and facial board. I would also make sure that the exhaust pipe outside at its lowest point is above the highest point that you have ever seen the snow level reach and not the side of the house that snow drifts tend to accumulate.
As a former wood stove dealer and installer, your post made me cringe.
Epic, Let me guess–you recommend YOUR installation services.
He said “former”
Real stove pipe is not galvanized. Heat duct is galvanized, and thinner. People have vented wood stoves through windows every winter for decades, and they lived long enough to sire all of us. I don’t recommend tape because of the glue. All stove pipe joints should be secured with at least 3 screws. A magnetic stovepipe thermometer is a good idea, and pretty cheap.
When heated high enough, galvanized metal gives off poison gas (phosgene, I think). Stovepipes easily get hot enough to offgas. Phosgene was used in WWI.
Thanks for that info. I’ll be sure to pass it on the Cabelas!!!
Good idea. There is a Cabelas 130 miles north of me in Billings. Is the small stove something I can transport in my compact car? Is it light enough for me to lift?
I would go the extra mile and order the stove online first to make sure it is at the store before going that far. The Cabelas stove I have is made from 12″ pipe with a hinged door w/sliding adjustable vent near the bottom of the door. the four legs fit into welded inserts, has 1/4″ thick flat top for cooking and the exhaust is at the top end opposite end from the door. It has grate inside to allow ash to drop thru to allow thorough burning of wood. The first section of stove pipe has a damper disc/valve to adjust the exhaust flow. If you unpack the parts from the interior first, the body of the stove weighs about 35lbs. This stove was pictured being used with very large canvas tents in the Cabelas catalog and online. Because things are starting to get more unstable and possible collapse soon, I bought another set of stove pipe/ducting at Lowes along with a chimney sweep brush because they may not be availiable in the future. I’ve used my stove at the deer camp for two seasons now with temps in the low 20s to teens and been very comfortable without without propane or kerosene, using solar goal zero for lights and a small refrig.
I also save the brown paper centers from toilet paper and paper towels to place as a fire starter with a cotton ball saturated with petroleum jelly.
placing this on the underside of the grating with small pieces of wood on top of the grating has never failed to start everytime!
if you decide to get something from Cabella’s, check and see if they might have free delivery over certain purchase amount. They might bring it right to your door for free.
FWIW, there is no such thing as a Mr. Buddy heater. The name of the company is Mr. Heater and they sell many different types of heaters including the Buddy and Big Buddy models.
We have a Big Buddy LPG heater, two kerosene torpedo type heaters, a non-powered kerosene heater as well as four generators and a stock pile of fuel to operate our forced air furnace.
Even with all our options, we are only prepared for a temporary outage. If a long term or permanently outage occurs, I don’t know what we would do. I doubt it matters as our home would probably be unlivable. Water systems will quit, sewer systems will quit, and the natural gas supply will end, eventually making the modern home unlivable.
Some people have learned the hard way that you don’t want a home at the bottom of a hill. Your uphill neighbor’s sewage will enter through your drains. At least our home is at the top of a hill.
Twice in the almost twenty years we’ve lived here in East Texas we’ve had winter storms that knocked out power for almost a week. We can keep the house warm enough with a Dyna Glo kerosene heater. Granted, the temps didn’t get much below freezing. But, it works for us.
Side note: After only two days we were the only ones left in the neighborhood except for two other houses with generators. Everyone else fled to family or hotels.
Where I live now, winters can get cold, but generally are on the mild side, esp. compared to most of the rest of the states. However, a power outage during the winter that lasts a week or more can kill even in the deep south. We have an electric heat pump, not ideal, but when we purchased the home, we were not as aware of our need to be prepared. Next house, no heat pump. We have the Buddy propane heater for emergency heat and lots of small bottles of propane, 20 lb tank, and the hose required to use the 20 lb tank. We also have 2 propane cook stoves, camping style.
Last time our power was out for a week in the winter, winter storm, we were a little further north. We had a wood burning fireplace and a non-electric radiant propane heater. We managed to stay warm, cook in the fireplace and heat water on the propane heater. This was over Christmas one year when our kids were little. We had no central heat at the time, so anytime during the winter we were going to be away overnight, we drained our water pipes. Just kept the wrench for the water shut-off in the car.
We bought this house in 2003 from a retired farmer. He had the house built with 2×8 construction, a double layer of insulation on the walls and the best windows available at that time. He heated the house with a small wood stove in the basement even though he had an oil furnace. When we moved in we discovered that he had taken the wood stove with him. So we put a wood stove on our wish list.
A few years ago, we had a direct vent propane fireplace installed in the living room instead of the wood stove. A few weeks after it was installed, a traffic accident took out a few of the poles and we lost power. It was in the middle of a snow storm with a temp of -25. We stayed toasty warm. The basement was cool but not enough to freeze the pipes.
Then we finally got our wood stove. Its a hybrid type that has a real cooktop on it. We don’t have enough wood for an extended outage but what we have is being moved into our double garage. There’s a staircase from the garage down into our basement. Going to get a sheet of plywood to use as a ramp and let gravity take the wood downstairs.
So we’re set for a week long outage. Long term outages are another story.
This is one area I don’t have to worry about (lucky me).
I worked on Historical houses with my Dad when I was a kid up in New England. Mostly from the 1700’s. The Historians at the houses would tell us how the people lived back then. They had one room on the first floor that the family would live and sleep in during the winter. It would have a big fireplace with smaller areas on each side for cooking pots and dutch ovens. The ceiling was low in the room about 6 foot or so and it could be sealed off from the rest of the house in winter. It was fairly easy to keep it warm then. They had no insulation in the houses like we do now .What was really neat was the house had wood gutters and copper downspouts going into wood barrels.
I read an article a few years back written by a man from Canada who weathered a bad storm and power outage for weeks.
Seems that they could only use electric heat in his area. Gas heaters and wood stoves are outlawed in his area (GLOBAL WARMING DON’T YA KNOW!!_).
After a couple days of this freezing weather and no help on the horizon he took the battery out of his car. He hooked up a 12 volt light to it so he could soften his frozen butter and bread enough so he and his Dad could eat it. They wore multi layers of clothes and huddled together to stay alive. Many people froze to death in their apartments.
Their liberal/socialist moonbat agenda is to not let any one burn wood, coal, gas to stay warm.They are doing their best to regulate it all out of existence.
PC BS killed those people in Canada.(most were probably old so that’s ok!)
I see Liberals and their ideology as a direct immediate threat to my family and their well being. It’s sad that I have members of my own family that I don’t trust and see as a threat to the rest of the family tribe. Lucky most don’t live close so they are on their own…
I hear you. News flash to liberals, plants breathe carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen!!! Plants outnumber animals and people. If there is not enough carbon dioxide plants will die and less oxygen will be created. Catch 22?
Thor right on, read last week that San Francisco just passed a law for all new homes banning any installation of wood burning anything. Another example of Gov Moonbeam and his intelligence crowd in the cereal state (nuts, fruits and now the flakes state) These Sheeple are not going to make it!
Environmentalists need to consider that wood rotting on the forest floor also releases CO2. Why not burn it in a wood stove instead to displace electricity consumption from a power plant, and the resulting pollution there?
Here in N. Georgia, we had a blizzard in 1993 and the power was out for a full week. We heated and cooked on our wood stove. Lots of soups, chili, and a stewed chicken-YUM! Only problem was the house was a little too warm! After this we invested in a transfer switch for the generator.
Your right about the wood rotting on the forest floor releasing CO2. Many years ago, some scientist did a study and discovered that wood releases the same exact amount of CO2 whether it rots naturally or is burned.
In USA, the EPA is chipping away at getting rid of wood stoves. If you can stick weld, one is easily fabricated. An old water heater tank is often a starting point. I’ve heard people say the newer EPA certified wood stoves suck canal water.
Lost power for 3 days once during an ice storm. Had a fire place and kept it going. It was a ranch style house and kept it fairly warm, also had a kerosene heater but you have to ventilate due to fumes. I remember hearing about a boy scout leader who ran one of those in a tent and killed everyone in it. The house also had its own propane system so cooking was not an issue. I let the water dripping and opened the cabinet doors so heat could get to the pipes. I didn’t have a generator at that time but something called a power source. Its a battery charging system that can be charged from an outlet or a car plug. 12v system with self contained light. It came in handy as my Mother was visiting and I had a 12v TV so she could watch her soap opera. Life saving lol.? Bought a generator after that.
For me lack of heat due to an electrical outage is more of a nuisance than a problem. In my area temperatures are always below freezing in winter, and I have had instances where I have been without power and therefore heat for days (my house is on an oil furnace).
The main nuisance for me in such instances is making sure the pipes don’t freeze. I have found that if you leave them dripping they do fine even if the temperature is well below freezing, although a few times I have contemplated draining the system. You do have to pay attention to things like water storage systems if you live in a cold area. I drain out most of my water storage when temperatures start dipping below freezing in the fall.
I got rid of my wood stove. It’s not much good without the wood, and I wasn’t willing to maintain a wood pile. I don’t want to chop down the trees on my property (I only have about 3/4 of an acre), and I certainly am not going to pay for it.
I camp out year round, including winter. In fact, winter is my mountaineering and ice climbing season. I haven’t had much of a problem spending a week in way-below-freezing temperatures climbing, so doing the same at home has never really been too much of a bother. I think once one gets a good system going for managing tasks in the cold, it’s not much of an issue.
I’ve thought about installing a transfer switch for a generator to power the furnace because the wife doesn’t like dealing with the cold, but haven’t gotten around to it ($$).
Through out the country power companies routinely trim trees along power line right of ways on private property. And here in the south, much of these power lines cross land with hardwood timber which is the best for firewood. You might consider asking the property owners of this land about the limbs that are cut. By offering to cut it and haul it away you have firewood and they have a much better access to their timer land on each side of the power line!! The only expense is your time and exercise!! If you have a contact at the power company, you might be able to get advance notice of where to tree trimming is taking place. Another point on this is that most of the limbs cut in this case are too small to split but large enough to burn in a wood burning stove.
We just picked up a truck load of wood by a friends house. He called me and said that the electric company had been through trimming the trees. They are working our area now, so we hope to get plenty of free wood. Some of it is green, so it will be seasoned for next year.
Glad to read that I wasn’t the only one that had discovered this easy way of aquiring firewood. We just had the power company trim the trees along a mile long power line at the deer camp about six months ago, that resulted in three cords for this winter. Oak and pecan!! A good portion of the pecan will be used to smoke cure the back straps of the deer we harvest. The first will be served Thanksgiving weekend with left over turkey in a gumbo cooked in a dutch oven and served with garlic bread. Might even splurge with a bottle of Merlot to wash it down!! Opps gotta watch that, got off the subject!! LOL!!!
@ Being Watched & Peanut Gallery
I agree with y-all totally, Firewood cost me absolutely nada, zilch, noooo-thing. I’m always looking out for “pallets” when I’m out and about, no before anyone says “but those are a lot of work, nope, I set up a band saw and it makes quick work of them. Most pallets are either Oak, Hickory, Popular, or some soft woods. It ALL burns just fine :-) I also hit up the local construction sites for their “scraps” 99% of the time they are happy to have someone haul it away. Sometimes it cost me a 6-pack of beer, cheep heat. FYI Propane is at $1.34 here, and I still HATE to buy it… HAHAHA Also found Kerosene at $3.54, not bad I guess??
GREAT Idea on the power companies clearing the lines.
Another thought, remember to open the cabinet doors below the sinks and any other areas where water pipes can be exposed to the inside temps. In the upper midwest we had minus 10 to 20 below as the norm, my dad heated our outside wellhouse with a 60 watt lightbulb 24/7 never had any freezing except when the bulb burned out. Those folks who want to make their own wood burner, try using old water heater cores they make a fantastic wood stove for the winter not to mention BBQ cookers in the warm weather. Used to be they were free, but now they are getting harder to find. There are some utube videos on how to convert.
If you plan to use a heater that consumes fuel inside you will need to watch CO2. I have run a propane heater in the fireplace. Use the fireplace chute for venting.
Not CO2, just CO (carbon monoxide). CO2 is the atmospheric trace element the greenie fags are crying is going to kill us all. Earth’s atmosphere is about 78% nitrogen and about 21% oxygen. Doesn’t leave much room for anything else, does it?
We live in an all electric house. We do have a fireplace. We have yet to have the power go out long enough when its freezing here, so its bound to happen. We need to be better prepared for that.
I got nothin,,,,
Coldest it gets here is 30s at night one or two nights a year during the coldest months,,,
Have a Regency wood stove though!
We live in a brick ranch and have a wood stove and have a winter’s supply of wood. We sometimes have gotten the living room up to 90°. We have a propane stove to cook, May not be able to bake though. We would be good for a winter but might struggle long term.
You can bake biscuits on top of the stove in a covered pan…skillet/dutch oven etc..no problem. glass lid helps, to keep observation on product.
We call that “fried biscuits” mmmm mmmm
Hint: Cooking with a Dutch oven can scorch your biscuits, cobblers, etc. unless you use a spacer on the bottom or small round grill with a pie pan over the grill or spacer. Then it acts like an oven…no oven puts your food directly on the burner, and you need air circulation under the pan. I learned this from watching guys at our camps burn everything “baked” in their Dutch ovens, and when I suggested my ideas by putting a few pebbles on the bottom with a pie pan over it for baking, they got crowds wanting their “perfect” biscuits, cakes and cobblers.
Star: do you mean inside the DO the pie pan is suspended from the bottom or that the DO is not directly over the coals?
I like to use my wood stove as a slow cooker with dutch oven as the main cooking pot for my soups etc and things seem to taste better…..also reheating items in alum foil, it saves giving the electric companies the money for my cooking and baking efforts. I heat the house with the wood stove and have the shoebox size Lasko little electric heaters for a backup when I am gone for extended times. They can be set on low heat setting (800 watts) and they have their own thermostat to maintain a 50 to 60 degree temps in my home, my shop and even in the 26′ toyhauler. I also added a plug in timer to let them run only twice a day for about 2hrs each…it has been a great addition to the house and my heating needs.
We have a wood burning furnace….plenty of forest, hundreds of gallons of fuel for the chain saws. Also have back up generators (one for water well and shop, others for freezers and fridges. Hurricane lamps to read by. LOL I sometimes WISH there was no electricity…I might be forced to slow down a bit!
stove tops are gas, so light them up and we are good to go. Have solar ovens if I have to bake….or use generator power.
If cold enough outside…would move freezer and fridge stuff to workshop or stalls in coolers with frozen water jugs as ice blocks. Have done that before and truly, works very well! And, the bears are usually down for the count that time of year and they are our worst nuisance.
Finished the “water room” earlier this summer. 1100 gallons protected from freezing gravity fed to house line or can be pumped with hand pump or generator if in a hurry or need a good bit of pressure. We tested that system this summer….like taking a combat shower, but sufficient to pressurize the hot water heater!
We typically have a couple weeks of zero or sub zero in January, but otherwise stays reasonable 20-30 most of winter.
Since we always sleep with a window open year round, I keep several layers on all the beds. Everyone is used to the extra weight and the cool mornings.
The only power loss here was in 2009 and we used the propane heaters with 2 tanks to stay warm. IIRC, one tank lasted almost 3 days for us heating one room daytime, and 2 rooms nighttime with sheets covering the openings to those WIDE doorless rooms…open concept..don’t ya love it??? NOT!!!
NOW, the next week I hooked up to propane with the 500 gallon tank, but still keep those little tanks full in the shed!!! :-) One never knows–it might save a neighbor’s child from freezing.
We even have a military camp stove in the attic–husband said before we freeze, we’ll stick the piping out the window somehow without jeopardizing our safety..
Gotta do what ja gotta do to stay alive.
Both our neighbors since we moved here removed the propane tanks in their yards…say what????
And just this past summer, one neighbor said her husband had looked into the 100 gallon tank(for emergency) for their mantle/heater that’s in all the houses in this area.
When we built our house 28 years ago, we built it with a fireplace. It was more sentimental for me as I remember my mother having to cook Thanksgiving dinner in our fireplace because of a power outage that lasted several days around Thanksgiving. After about 5 years I realized it wasn’t the most economical solution for keeping the house warm, so we installed a wood burning insert. The only drawback is that is has a fan that pushes the heat out into the room. We have already figured that we could hook up a manual bellows system to do the same thing.
Our wood stove insert is in the living room which happens to be on the north side of the house. The kitchen is next to it. So both are kept comfortable. Then there is a long hallway with all the bedrooms at the end. Heat does work its way down there but not as much as the living room and kitchen, which is okay as we like it a little cooler when trying to sleep. The only place we can’t get the heat to go to is the basement where my Son, Daughter-in-Law, and Grandson live. So we have a Mr. Heater Buddy for them. Long term they can just come up stairs with us. It does take some time to cool off downstairs though, because of the insulating factor of the earth on the basement walls.
Then we also have wool socks, silk long johns,(well mine are silk), sweaters, and even -20 rated sleeping bags. We have used all at various times with the exception of the sleeping bags. It just never gets cold enough in here even with an extended power outage.
I forgot to mention that when we built the house we did a large portion of the work ourselves. My job was insulation. I even insulated all the water pipes as I remembered my parents dealing with burst pipes every winter. When we have large family gatherings in the winter, we actually have to turn back the heat as all of the extra bodies have been known to raise the temperature in the house by several degrees. I remember that a few times we even had to open the doors to let some heat out.
We always store a years worth of wood. We also have all the tools needed to cut and split our own if needed. I think keeping warm is the least of our concerns. That is one area where I think we have back-ups to cover everything.
Gotta have a woodstove! Have found that cotton balls covered in petroleum are the best fire starters.
Dryer Lint mixed with Vaseline is cheaper…..
Kind of rare for it to freeze where I live. We heat with an oil heater and a woodstove. I’d like to get a better stove but this one is adequate. If I recall pellet stoves use an auger to move pellets into the fire box. If I had a pellet stove I’d be looking for a way to mount a handcrank on that auger.
I recently re-plumbed my house with PEX tubing and shark bite fittings and one of the things I heard about the PEX is it doesn’t break if it freezes. Anyone know otherwise?
If I was going to build a house it would have a large fireplace in the center of the house with a built in water tank, think thermal mass. Ability to cook on the stove would certainly be a plus. As it is I have more wood on my property than I could possibly burn in the rest of my life. I do like the idea of 8 inch studs, funny my wife says she does to, wonder what she means, she doesn’t know anything about carpentry.
After my wife watched Ted Koppel she looked at me and said we need a bigger propane tank for the generator. And maybe you should get that hand pump installed.
Me: Please consider switching out from a pellet stove. Tried them for about 2 seasons they are costly and a fad which has run its time. My opinion of course but the cost of the pellets and temperament of the stove was enough for me to say adios. My neighbors who hate to admit their mistakes decided to switch back to a wood stove and were offering the pellet stove to anyone who wanted to haul it away. Last thought, unless you are going to stock up on pellets in a “crunch” you are going to be SOL while the wood burners will be able to secure fuel.
I don’t have a pellet stove and wouldn’t install one. I only asked if pellet stoves had an auger to feed the pellets in and if the auger could be hand cranked. Would a pellet stove work with wood chips? Could you keep one going from a wood chipper? For those not familiar with them they are used to convert tree limbs into small pieces of wood that can be easily biodegraded. The movie Fargo showed one being used to convert the other kind of limbs into smaller pieces also.
@me. I think the large fireplace in the center of the house is called a Masonry Heater. I had read that the house should be built around the heater. I guess it is one of the most efficient ways to heat a house. You burn a huge fire in it once a day. The heat is stored in the masonry mass and slowly radiates it into your house over a 24 hour period, so your not feeding a fire every few hours. I had read about it several years after we built our house. If I were to build again, that is how I would do it.
@ Peanut Gallery
Exactly right on the masonry heater or centrally located chimney stack. I grew up in a home with one and it worked exactly like you described. It was a fireplace though and not quite as efficient until the glass doors were installed. In our house, the chimney is a centrally located masonry stack with holes in two separate flues for wood burners. It saves so much wood when it is fired for hours and then left to “radiate” heat from the thermal mass long after the fire is out. A tough conversion to make on an existing house but well worth designing into new construction. We had -27°F on Feb. 20th, 2014 and several other minus °F days last year but a pleasant 75°F in the house heating with the wood burners. Also to note was both stacks I referenced were constructed with real stone, not cultured stone. Not sure if cultured stone retains heat like real stone. The real stone is very heavy and dense.
When I was a kid we heated the entire house with a wood burning furnace (It was really a coal burning furnace but we couldn’t afford coal very often). My brother and I cut all the wood with a buck saw and split anything too big for the furnace. It was a all summer job, some days work for a few hours and some days no cutting but it is a lot of work. If we had to use an axe to cut it to size I’m not sure we could have done it.
We lived in a cold climate with -20 degrees not uncommon and we had a full basement down to six feet below ground level. The basement was 60 degrees more or less in the hottest summer and 50 degrees more or less in the coldest winter. No frozen pipes ever.
I got a big buddy several years ago and use it as my main heat in the winter. My house has cadet wall heaters that don’t do a very good job and get expensive to run. I”m in Oregon in a normally moderate climate and a 20lb tank costs about $12.00 to fill and lasts just about a month. My house is small and the front room where the heater is, is on the low setting and in a couple of hours I either turn it off or focus on letting let the heat waft down the hall to the rest of the house. I’ve been very happy with it.
I have an all electric house in the Puget Sound area. It very seldom gets to freezing here but every once in a while we will get an artic blast out of Canada and the temperatures will plunge.
The turning point for me was when we had a storm blow thru. The power lines here are above ground so falling branches were taking them left and right. We had a couple inches of snow and freezing temps. Luckily for me, the wife and kids had just gone out of state to visit relatives. I spent the night in a sleeping bag but kept waking up cold. All the hotel rooms for miles around were full and charging outrageous prices per night. Luckily, it began to warm up a day later. My pipes did freeze but no damage and everything thawed okay.
That summer, I sold some guns/borrowed money/worked OT and had a pellet stove ($1,300) installed. It does require a small amount of electricity to run to power the auger and fan but puts out some good heat. I then bought a Generac 3200 watt generator ($400). The wife was quite upset over the amount of money I spent because things were very tight but I was really worried that we would have a repeat with our young children here. We had a couple of very angry arguments over that money that summer.
Sure enough, that winter we had another artic blast come down. Tree branches fell like confetti (pine trees have very brittle branches)and the temperatures fell to around 24 degrees. Large areas of Puget Sound was dark and the power company was bringing in crews from all over the country.
I fired up the generator outside our garage and ran extension cords into the house. I closed the garage door on top of the cords for security but had to leave the door into the house ajar. My garage was uninsulated at the time so that allowed some cold air in. I ran one cord to the refrigerator in the kitchen. I ran another cord to the pellet stove.
We were without power for 8 days. I kept that pellet stove running constantly. Luckily I had stockpiled a good supply of pellets ($5/40 lb bag). One bag would last about 14 hours.
The generator only stopped long enough to be refueled. Fortunately, there were gas stations open within a short drive so fuel was not an issue.
We heated water for hot drinks and sponge baths in our coffee maker. We cooked meals on my Coleman stove outside. Being in the Army Reserve at the time, we did eat a few MREs too.
Except for the coffee maker, we otherwise had enough power for the pellet stove, a couple of lamps, a fan, the refrigerator, TV and VCR (to keep the kids busy). Even the cable was out.
Oh, we also kept all faucets at a trickle to keep the pipes from freezing. Periodically I would turn the tap on full and just let the water run. There were a couple of times the water stayed at a trickle but eventually began to speed up. No pipes completely froze. When we finally got our power back, everyone was so excited at taking a hot shower.
The good news here is that it changed my wife’s mind towards prepping. After those 8 days, buying that generator and the pellet stove was absolutely brilliant! The MREs in the storage room? Brilliant!
Now, money is not quite as tight but we still have to be careful. I now have a larger generator. I had a Gen-Trans box installed. Instead of running extension cords all over, I just plug one big cable from the generator to the Gen-Trans box and flip a switch. The outlets in the house supply power and life seems normal. It’s still not enough power to run our electric furnace but we still have the pellet stove and a pile of pellets.
Maintaining a supply of fuel continues to be something I think about. I also really have no backup if the pellet stove fails. It just never ends.
We have a Lopi wood stove and used it as our only heat source in our home last winter. We have it going right now. Our previous heat source was an electric furnace. Plan on doing the same this winter. Our home is about 1700 square feet on one level. We were comfortable during our Nebraska panhandle winter. We used elm wood as our fuel and will have the same fuel supply source this year. We also gathered wood pallets as a back up wood supply source.
We just installed a 1200 watt solar panel hot water heat system and have disconnected the electricity to our hot water tanks. The solar panels heat a 60 gallon water tank. The system is a direct connect with no batteries. So far no complaints and I enjoy extended hot water showers.
We have a wood stove on the back porch, but I’m planning on buying another one if I can find one. I’m thinking it might come in handy for just in case. I’ve read where Obama is trying to outlaw wood Burning Stove’s. Went to Wally world today and man has the food price’s really sky-rocketed, I could not believe the price of Butter, and eggs and just about everything had a increase in price…….might be a good time to go on a diet, and grow a winter garden, Turnips and greens…………
We live remote in a cool climate so this may not be for everyone. We heat our house cook our food and heat our water all with the same stick. We have an Amish made wood cook stove made by Margin. Our model is a Margin Gem. It has a large firebox that can hold fire all night. It has good controls for the temperature. There is an eight-gallon water reservoir on the side we can dip our dishwater from and it has a water jacket that fits in the box in place of firebricks to heat our house hot water if we choose. Not that it matters much, but it has more chrome than a 52 Cadillac. We love cooking on it. Once you get accustomed to it you will never go back to gas or electric. The drawback is summer. When it is warm out you don’t want to heat your house to make coffee. For those days we have a propane range. We don’t have many warm days here so it is good for us. Also we are retired so we are seldom in a hurry. For us the hearth fire is the center of our home and our day.
We second the motion for an Ecofan. They produce their own electricity from the heat of your stove and circulate the warm air through out your home. They hold up for years and decades churning away silently night and day.
Warm wishes to all this winter.
I have a wood stove at my BOL but LNG at my primary home and I thought about this extensively after we had a big week long outage and snow-storm just a few years ago. Thankfully I was on a beach in Mexico when the storm hit, but as I read about many family and friends still back home and without power…or heat I thought about what I would do.
Yes, you could wire a genie in but the question is would you have fuel enough to last you till power was restored? And if yes…do your really want to use this fuel of the presumption that the power will be resolved sooner rather than latter?
In general I think you should always PLAN on being on your own for longer than you planned for!
If you have gas for your generator that means you have gas for your car which will be both warm and useful if you need to abandon your home for a location that was more viable long term.
A propane heater is a great idea. We all have tanks of propane around the house and if not its readily available. However, if you do use a propane heater here are few other thoughts.
Use that heat efficiently, consider insulating the walls, doors, floor and ceiling in one room with paper, blankets, at tent, etc. Think about a cocoon or a widerness survial shelter and turn one room into this type of survival pod.
If you are not going to have heat in every part of your house remember to shut off and drain the water out of your pipes, lest you have a pipe burst in the midst of this hardship.
If you do have a generator, or even better a solar battery system, think about heating pads. They are localized heat sources that can safetly and quickly warm up your cocoon!
If push comes to shove, if you have access to wood, set a fire…outdoors. Heat up rocks, metal pans, you name it, and bring these heat absorbing material into your cocoon, or even your sleeping bag. Think cave man style bed warmers.
I really wanted to write something here but was thinking I would have to write book on staying warm in the winter. I heat with wood and only wood. I have back up heaters but never take them out as the wood burner does a great job. I live in the north Midwest. It gets cold and lots of snow here. I have backup gens and battery with solar power. The best way to be ready for a winter outage is talk to the people who live in the cold and learn from them. Most northerners have learned a lot about the cold and how to stay warm. After reading a lot of the remarks I think a lot of people have some good ideas but lots of them need to learn more about staying warm. People let me start by saying this layer your clothes, two blankets. Warm one room not the whole house. I could go on and on but I would only put everyone to sleep. Stay warm as the white stuff is coming around the corner.
We had no electricity during and after a blizzard about 7 years ago. I still have no idea how half of the homes in my community made it because the temps were around 0-degrees and there were no fireplaces or woodstoves (no chimneys). No one could get out due to the 4 feet of snow so everyone was pretty much ‘stuck in place.’
We had no real worries with heating or cooking. We heat with a wood stove and use our heat pump as our secondary heat source. We also have a wood cook-stove, the propane stovetop and oven, a rocket stove, a Coleman 2-burner camp stove. The propane stovetop worked but with the electric ignitor, I’d have to manually light the flames for each burner needed. The oven didn’t work. No worries…we had meals from home-canned jars of food.
We always have a supply of wood stacked near the house, and then every year we cut at least 2-3 cords of wood. I gather twigs throughout the warmer seasons and bundle them with twine for use as kindling and they are stored away from rain/snowfall.
We used a genny to run a few fans to circulate the heat, and to power our freezer and fridge. We keep enough fuel and propane to keep us going strong for quite a while.
We have a big buddy for heat, plastic to cover the windows, and then curtains
batts. for lights.
We’re still in apt so only concern is when things start to thaw out busted pipes.
Enough food an water stored.
Camp stove and we just bought a chef stove with oven.
If the sun is out have two solar panels to charge batts.
Plenty of blankets.
We live out in the country and have frequent ice storms loosing power for weeks on end. Loosing power is the normal here. There is a fireplace with wood stove insert in the middle of the house with the flue is all inside but the 3 feet out the roof. the thermal mass will stay warm for days even with no fire.. We keep 15 to 30 cords cut and in a shed year round. There is central propane heat as back up with kerosene heater and lamps with 55 gal of fuel. Also have a generator with 1000 gal of fuel. We would like to have solar when we can afford it
If things get as bad as some say it will, those with chain saws might consider looking into manual two man saws for downing trees and steel wedges/sledge hammers for spliting wood. Also some of the county farm equipment Co-Ops or the older hardware stores have replacement handles for axes and garden tools. Hardwood timber may become a much more valuble commodity in the future. We might need to consider a balance between planting a garden, friut trees, hardwood trees and space for livestock grazing for the long term survival of a community of like minded people.
The natural gas supply would not be, and never has been, affected by a power outage or weather of any type. It’s biggest predator is a backhoe. Any natural gas appliance will function during a power outage, but a pump, fan, or blower might be essential, or helpful, for operation.
A gas fiueled-water heater, a space heater (but not its’ fan), a kitchen stove/oven, will all be okay. A hot water boiler will still work except for the circulating pump, a forced air furnace would need the blower.
Nearly as important as keeping yourself warm is being able to heat water for laundry, bathing, cooking, and coffee-making.
When a deepfreeze threatens waterlines, periodically take the temperature as it comes out of a tap that is the closest to the source. If it gets below 40d (Fahrenheit) run the water in a stream about as thick as a pencil. Use more water and add water-softener salt to the toilet occasionally when you flush.
Correction: If it gets below 35d (Fahrenheit) ..
I’ve been prepping since Y2K; lost power for 8 days during SANDY, so I may have something to contribute here. I retired to the Pocono Mtns in 1999; first thing I bought was three 330 gal. oil tanks and had them mounted inside my poured-concrete basement. I interconnected them and so have almost 1,000 gal. of fuel on board. Installed new oil-fired furnace for everyday use (requires electric) and a gravity-fed “Alaska” oil-fired stove (does not use electric – for emergencies). Both share the same chimney (not at the same time)and both share the 970 gal. oil tanks. When I lose electricity in the Winter, I go to the basement and first, crack two windows an inch or two for cross-ventilation; then I fire up my two-headed catalytic heater, powered by a 20 lb. propane tank. (Now I don’t need to rush to keep the basement warm – note that I turn this off as soon as the Alaska stove starts to make serious heat). Next, I turn on a couple of battery-powered LED camp lanterns so I can see to fire up the Alaska stove (rather complicated procedure). Once the Alaska stove is running, I am in fat city, because it uses 1 gallon of fuel oil per 10 hrs, and I let it run 24/7. With my 970 gallons, that takes me some 300 days and nights of continuous heat. On top of the Alaska stove (a flat surface on which you can cook) I place a large water tank (to make hot water) and a neat little heat-driven propeller fan that distributes the heat all around the basement. Leave the door at the top if the basement stairs open, and the whole house is warm 24/7 all winter!
Some may not have thought of this- when I lived in Pa I had a 3700 sq ft log home in the mountains, and we had a customer appreciation party before Christmas. The fireplace was lit with a small warm fire but we had to keep the rest of the home at 50 degrees before they came when it was 15 degrees or lower outside. Why? By the time 60 people came, we had to put out the fire, and open all the 17 windows. The heat people put out was so hot, we put up a tent outside for cold cuts, beer, wine and cheese where everyone rushed to get cooled off!
To this day I keep my bedroom a cool 55 degrees in the winter until my 4 120+ lb dogs pile in it for sleep time. Last night their bodies heated up the room so fast I had to turn on the window fan to bring in a 38 degree breeze to keep it comfortable.
The average human and 120 – 140 lb dogs puts out about 300 – 380 BTUs of heat an hour each (based on not active) Having 5 of us in a room, that means on the low side, me and my dogs put out about 1500 BTU’s of heat an hour in a 200 sq ft room. The Christmas party at my log home emitted 18,000 BTU’s from 60 people inside and really a lot more of hot air I might add.
(ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals has a 22.7 lb. dog emitting heat at a basal rate at 68.64 BTU’s an hr.
lucky to have a woodstove that heats our house here in NH, but with all the new federal and state regulations regarding the global warming B.S., I half expect I will be told pretty soon that I can no longer keep my woodstove for heat…I might be allowed to keep it outdoors for a planter or somethin’.For cooking I have a 40lb propane tank and fill it every 3 to 4 months. Electric water heater, but can heat up water on the stoves quickly enough. Lots of oil lamps for night time light. and oh yeah…wool blankets and a warm bed.
If you are really, truly, deeply concerned about it, there’s always the option of preparing for it by MOVING SOUTH!
There is plenty, and I mean Plenty, of inexpensive rural property in the deep south. Pick a southern state. Inexpensive property taxes, long growing season, little heavy clothing required, etc., etc. All together, easier and cheaper living.
We have a main fireplace, but we also set up a room downstairs as a “hot box.” In the event of, start a fire in the wood stove and it is capable of heating most of the house. Without additional (mechanical) assistance it heats the rooms around it and the room above, keeping the whole house above freezing. With minimal assistance (furnace fan) it pumps hot air through the whole house.
We lost power for a week last year when an ice storm hit, and it was below zero. It was definitely cold, but we blocked off all unnecessary rooms and did just fine with the fireplace and generator.
Our biggest issue was keeping the stock tanks broken up and critters watered because it was so cold. So I spent a lot of time heating water, which fortunately we had plenty of.
Passive solar home with lots of southern glass.
Centrally located airtight wood stove with a 2+ year supply of “bio bricks”.
Chest freezers with large water (ice) bottles, which can be refrozen outdoors if necessary.
Generator with enough fuel to run 6 hrs/day for a month or more. (enough to keep the fridge/freezers alive, run the well pump, charge batteries, etc)
500Ah, 12 volt subsystem to power LED lighting throughout the house and the ham shack (except the vintage tube gear, of course)
A Half barrel of really good beer in the kegerator, plenty of single malt scotch, good cigars…. oh… and some food.
At the mountain retreat / eventual retirement location:
Wood stove with lots of bio-bricks and dozens of acres of woodlot… mostly maple (mmmm… syrup!)
Solar for all electric… completely off-grid.
Plenty of single malt, cigars…. oh… and some food.
Okay Whoppo, you mention some booze you’d have on hand as the world outside your door dissolves; single malt? You’ve spendy tastes. Makes me wonder what everyone else would stock. I’d be happy with cases of Leinenkugel beer, brandy and peach-flavored schnapps. I’m not much of a wine guy outside of Sunday dinner, so some cabernet and chardonnay would do.
Life’s too short for cheap booze or machine rolled cigars…
I have so few vices that I have to budget appropriately to do them right :)
Kerosene heater – they have been around since as far back as the 9th century.
Well? “Its dangerous!” No – you treat any fire with respect… and, open a window… I have kerosene lanterns, and a 23,000 btu heater. I need one more for the basement so the pipes won’t freeze. The water is gravity fed, and the lines are in the cellar – so, a heater down there, and one in the main living area (when the power is out) is sufficient. 10k btu’s is fine for smaller homes/living areas. Kerosene as mentioned by others in this thread – stores VERY well for a VERY LONG TIME. – If you burn a kerosene heater, don’t shut it off – you will build up creosote – that – will make the heater function improperly. If you let the kero burn out the whole way, refilling the tank is the best way. “Dry burn” they call it – yes, it gets chilly when its going out, but, its better than having to rip apart the heater, and cleaning it you have to let it cool down to do that, so, why not just run it out? If you think you’re not going to need it for the full 12 hours (Or 1 gallon) just fill it part way. a quart is approx 3 to 4 hours of heat… You can stretch your time, if you are home – and add a quart, let it die out, during the sunny part of the day (Open curtains) and let the sun warm up your living area (If possible).
Not everyone can have a fire place, or a wood/coal furnace.
If you have forced heat without an electric blower motor – you will most likely be in luck – natural gas doesn’t “stop” very often. It takes major problems for this resource to cease for long periods of time.
Natural gas has been around for a very long time as well… Sadly – most natural gas furnaces need electric to run the blower, and if you have an 80 or 90% efficient heater, well, if the power goes out – you don’t have heat.
That said – Generators… There are kits out there to convert gasoline heaters to natural gas or propane. There are companies out there that simply make natural gas generators too….
When I bought the ole house – a kerosene heater was one of the first things I bought for my preps. I know the power will go out… For one hour, or one day, or one week, or longer… I know i can stay warm, and thrive.
If you have not looked into alternate heat – look on craigslist or local classifieds to see if you can find a nice used one for maybe half the price of a new one. Most of the time the seller will state “only used once or twice” Good luck on your kerosene heater hunt. Learn as much as you can if you do not know anything about them. and… you can light them with a match, you do not need batteries — that is just a little glow plug of sort.
Preparing is a life style. I lived in a realitively warm climate state but a couple years ago I moved to a state that has more severe winters. Because of my life style and priorities I choose to put my fiat currency to work in tangible assets that make a difference. First a wood stove and cords of fire wood my first winter. This gave me a long term viable source of heat for my family. This year I invested in a whole house generator. Now I have a short term power source that will sustain my family for weeks in a short term crisis. It boggles my mind that people that have lived here for years and expierence outages every winter prioritize their lives. Instead of investing in assets that will provide in their time of need they by the latest sports car or designer clothing.
Know how to insulate, most utilities will offer free use of a tool to find leaks.
As a young man, I had the task of keeping a front country ranger station open during the first snows of the season for several seasons. The station was a wood structure that had a wood burning stove sitting on a concrete pad. Since this is a preppers website, I can say that my primary job at the time was to be on standby to rescue people who were stranded in the backcountry. I now refer to those times as : “The Herding of the Sheeple” from the backcountry to the safety of their automobiles in the parking lots at the trail heads.
“Noah Prepared for the flood before the rains began” : We had cords of wood stacked up outside the station that we had been stacking and splitting all summer long. They were covered with cheap blue tarps from big box stores. When the station got snowed in, Snow survey parties would snowmobile in and use the wood stove and propane lanterns. Water was drained from the pipes or antifreeze was added at end of season. Food was stored in steel 50 gallon drums and traps were set for mice and rats.
For about a week the station was busy enough that we sometimes slept there in order to keep the heat going for the steady trickle of unprepared people wandering up to the station in various stages of hypothermia. Californians are generally not used to sub-freezing temperatures and you cannot find adequate clothing in Southern California stores to bring up to the snowline. All of this may have changed after the children’s movie: “Frozen” came out.
My clothing for those conditions, other than my class A uniform, were lots of fleece and goretex outer layer with long underwear tops and bottoms. Wool socks with Sorel pac- boots. Several sets of gloves in my pack but mostly leather work gloves since I was still working a lot. (tire chain installation, wood stove management etc.)
I changed gloves so I always had a dry pair available. (Neoprene gloves are also very nice to have for this work) Fleece watch caps and sunglasses and Scott snow/ski goggles. When it was at 10 degrees or colder, I liked having down filled garments. I like down shirts rather than jackets because they are easier to layer and are made with good freedom of movement. Lastly, I had at least 1 headlamp with me as it got dark early and a headlamp was the way to go so you could have both hands free to do tasks.
Potty Management: We used the Outhouse and the one nice touch I did was to cover the plastic seat with a styrofoam cutout to place between my butt-cheeks and the seat itself. (obtained from a big Box store in the flatlands) That outhouse seat gets mighty cold. As a government employee, I learned to protect my delicate butt.
Well, interesting.. wish I had room and the money for a good wood stove w/ecofan. loaded with firewood here….
I do have several propane sunflower heaters (doubles) that we use in waterfowl hunting pits. Not really suppose to use indoors without venting some.. Have 3 generators – extra gas, plenty of extension cords and electrical purtenances. Have a couple of registers that can be plugged in to generator lines. Have 220 so can hook up stove. I can freeze the jugs of water or use generators to keep freez/fridge up. have a small hot water heater that can be hooked directly to a movable shower head.
Best defense is a good offense, so stay prepared people… practice different survival skills. I can survive with a gun, knife, and a few essentials, but cold weather survival takes creation and knowledge.
Agree with all the others suggestions. Another way to retain heat in a building is to insulate the windows after the sun goes down. Lowes has reflective bubble-style insulation, 4 ft x 25 ft, ($40) that you can cut to fit in each window, or just the windows on the north side of the house. This stuff (double layered) allowed me to camp in -30F in Alaska in my RV. I’m heating the 32 foot Class A right now with a small electric heater and double layers of Reflectix in each window (currently in Southern Colorado with night temps 20’s). This keeps the furnace from cycling and blowing through propane at night, and, during the day when the sun shines, it traps the heat in the rig.
I also use a 2 foot by 6 foot section of inch thick blue board in front of the metal door on the RV to limit the heat loss/cold transfer through the metal door. When U use these extra insulations be sure you have lots of light sources because it is going to be cave-dark in your abode.
I use two wood stoves as “inserts” in my masonry fireplaces, one upstairs and one in the basement. They significantly increase the efficiency of a plain fireplace for producing heat and are a real treat to use. They work great for simply taking the chill out on a cool fall evening to really heating the place up and, of course, for a little cooking too.
Now, for those concerned about the cost of wood stoves…2nd hand/used stoves can be found cheap and in great shape too at garage, estate sales, or advertised on Craigslist.
Also, it is crucial that you educate yourself on them before buying one. You will want to know what to look for ahead of time as there are many brands top to bottom, sizes, etc among several other variables to concern yourself with. You can learn much online and by stopping in wood stove shops or the like.
Have a safe and warm indoor winter :)
is it safe to put a wood stove inside a fireplace and burn in it?
I thought the stove had to be physically vented / piped to the outside?
Yes, it is safe, in fact, it is actually a firebox within a firebox – a steel or cast wood burner sitting on the hearth of the masonry plumbed firebox (fireplace) thru the outside masonry chimney. Above, I referred to these units that I have as “inserts” although they can be stand alone units requiring their own plumbing ventilation etc.
Take measurements and allow for comfortable spacing when shopping for a unit to fit well. Also, I recommend the units with windows as they are so much better than the solid door type for several reasons the least of which is that you can directly see into the firebox to gauge immediately the condition of your fire without having to swing open a heavy door, plus they provide visual pleasure of the experience as it provides warmth.
So, placing the wood burner to utilize the masonry ventilation for each fireplace hearth and chimney, it actually increases the safety plus the effectiveness or efficiency of the heat you are generating without most of it whistling up the traditional fireplace as it would do otherwise.
sorry if you explained this (I did read it) and I didn’t understand
doesn’t the stove you set inside the fireplace have to have a “chimney” that goes all the way out the actual fireplace chimney?
(CO concerns etc?)
99% of the time the “insert” will have a separate “flue pipe” running inside the fireplace chimney. I would not “trust” the chimney to draft well enough for a wood stove. Even more so if the wood stove sits in front of the existing fireplace (stand alone) and has a flue pipe running back to the fireplace.
thank you. that was my concern.
Yes, NRP, that’s the idea on most wood burners used this way and even the ones that are used that sit out in front of their fireplace hearths. Mine do sit completely within and on the hearth at both locations. I don’t run a “flue pipe” all the way up because my masonry constructed fireplace is not a fake or faux type like many new el-cheapo constructed wooden framed fireplaces with facade stone or tile on top of drywall with 2×4 wood framed chased chimneys as many “99%” are made today.
BTW, living near Amish country I have learned much from them on a variety of subjects of what has worked for our forefathers and what STILL works for them today. They haven’t changed much since the 1800’s…and every Amish worth his salt has a wood burner or combo coal burner set up this way or independently with it’s own double lined flue through a roof top where a real and well constructed fireplace does not exist. And if you are wondering, yes, they have fireplaces in their country kitchens for a reason as did many of our forefathers…they work great… :)
I should mention too that depending on the exhaust port on the unit where most are 6 inch, you will need to match up a similar sized pipe to reach into the masonry chimney of the fireplace…it’s common sense really. BTW, they also sell kits that you can install to replace the old fireplace vent opening so the transition from the wood stove thru the existing chimney is well done and you can use masonry cement to seal that area up around the pipe too but, do your own research on it, that will go a long way. Hope that helps :)