A thermometer superimposed in front of the Sun

More than one billion people live without electricity, which raises many questions about what they do in extreme heat and cold. For example, how do they stay warm in the colder months?

Whether you are currently living without electricity or just looking for thrifty ways to save on your bill this winter, there are a few methods for staying warm without electricity or fires. 

This article will explore these ways to create and preserve your heat. Keep reading to learn how you can save money and stay alive during the bitter winter months! 

How To Make Heat Without Electricity or Fire

Here’s six techniques to create heat in the absence of electricity or fire:

  1. Insulate your body.
  2. Insulate your environment. 
  3. Keep moving. 
  4. Light a candle.
  5. Use a gas stove.
  6. Take advantage of the sun. 

Now that you got the rundown, let’s look at each of these techniques in in detail.

1.) Insulate Your Body

Insulation is the most essential variable for staying alive and comfortable in colder conditions. You need to dress appropriately in layers for cold conditions. 

A stack of winter clothes on the floor

Basics of layering for cold weather include:

  • A base layer of long underwear made from wool or synthetic materials 
  • An insulating mid-layer such as a fleece vest, jacket, or sweater
  • A weather-resistant outer shell, including coat and pants 
  • Thick socks, mittens, and a hood or beanie hat 

Dressing in layers will help you to regulate your body temperature by adding or subtracting layers without removing too much at a time. 

Heat packs are another way to keep your body warm, especially your extremities like toes and fingers. 

You can stock up on heat packs like these Happy Day Hand Warmers. They come in a 30-count pack, and each warmer works instantly for up to 16 hours. 

2.) Insulate Your Environment

No matter your accommodations, insulation is the best way to preserve heat and save energy.

Close your windows and doors when the temperatures start to drop. Closing the blinds and curtains will trap heat inside. Hang blankets in the windows to insulate even more. 

In dangerously cold conditions, it is best to stay in a small room in your home. Gather all blankets, bedding, housemates, and pets into one room with closed and insulated windows. 

Choose the smallest room possible for your warm room. The innermost bedroom or bathroom in your home will have the best insulation, but a small living room can work. Rooms with carpets, rugs, or wood floors will warm easier than rooms with concrete or tile floors.  

Once you are gathered and settled into your chosen space, close all of the doors and keep yourself and each other warm under layers of blankets and bedding. Stay up off of the ground if possible. Avoid leaving the room or opening the door unless it is essential. 

Your body heat and the body heat of your pets and family will help to heat the room within a few hours. A well-insulated environment is a key to staying alive and comfortable.

3.) Keep Moving

Although you should avoid opening the door of your warm room, you should keep your body moving as much as possible. If you don’t have electricity, keeping busy will also help you bust boredom. 

A man jogging in place in his home to generate heat in the winter

Here are some ways you can keep your body moving and stay warm without needing much space: 

  • Walking around the room
  • Yoga
  • Push-ups, squats, and crunches
  • Jumping jacks or jump rope
  • Dancing
  • Moving legs under the blankets

If it is too cold to come out of the blankets, you can still generate heat by hanging out with your roommates. Talking, singing, and laughing will all help produce heat in the room. If you are alone, try reading a book or singing out loud.

4.) Light a Candle

If you have access to matches or a lighter but cannot have a fire in your home, lighting a candle may also help you keep warm. Having just one candle in your room can raise the room temperature by as much as a whole degree. 

Choose a candle or candles that are unscented or mildly scented. Too many scented candles will put chemicals in the air and likely give you and your housemates a headache. 

If you’re feeling thrifty, you can even create your own space heater. You will need one or more candles, a ceramic clay flower pot, and a heat-safe dish or bowl. 

A DIY space heater on a tabletop
Courtesy of Mom Prepares

To create your own space heater, follow these steps: 

  1. Light the candles and place them on the heat-safe dish. 
  2. Next, invert the clay flower pot so that the wide opening sits over the candle.
  3. Balance the flower pot on the rim of the dish, so there are gaps of air for the candle. If your flower pot is smaller than the dish, you can balance it on rocks to create an opening. 

The candle will need to have enough airflow to stay lit. As the candle burns, the heat will rise and warm the clay pot above it. The light and heat energy from the candle is converted into convection heat in the clay pot. 

The heat from the clay pot will radiate better than it would from a candle alone. It may not be enough to warm up your whole home, but you can keep yourself warm by staying near the heater. This makeshift space heater can save your life (and your toes!) in an emergency. 

Keep in mind that candles will burn available oxygen in your room. Burning many candles at once may warm the room faster, but too many candles can lead to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. 

5.) Use a Gas Stove

If you have access to a propane stove, you can use it to heat your home in a few ways. 

Please note that you should never use a gas stove in an enclosed area for a prolonged time. Excess carbon monoxide will build up quickly and cause health problems or even death. 

To warm an indoor space, transfer the gas stove’s heat energy into a safe form. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Boil water on the stove.
  2. Pour the hot water into water bottles or containers (make sure it is cool enough not to melt the bottles). 
  3. Arrange the hot bottles around your insulated room or place them in your bed or sleeping bag. 
  4. Pour the water back into the boiling pot or kettle to reheat when needed. 

If you can safely boil your water inside, you’ll receive the bonus advantage of humidifying your room. A humid room is easier to warm than a dry room. 

A boiling kettle on a stove generates heat and steam

If you do not have water bottles or heat-safe containers, you can also use stones to retain heat from your gas stove by following these steps:

  1. Collect several large, strong rocks. Brittle stones may crack under heat. 
  2. Place the rocks as close as possible to your gas stove or drop them into a pot of boiling water. 
  3. Then, carefully remove them when they are hot. 
  4. Arrange the hot stones around your insulated room or wrap them in some melt-proof material before placing them in your bed or sleeping bag. 

Rocks may take a long time to absorb heat from the stove. You can keep a rotation of stones changing out every few hours to avoid prolonged periods without heat. 

6.) Take Advantage of the Sun

Some places, like the desert, are scorching and sunny during the day. Still, temperatures can dip below freezing at night. If you live in an area that is warm during the day but frigid at night, you can take advantage of the sun to warm your home. 

To warm the inside of your home as much as possible, open your windows during the warmest part of the day. South-facing windows will best collect light and heat from the sun. 

As soon as temperatures start to drop, close the windows and blinds to retain as much sunlight heat as possible. Open blinds allow the heat in your home to escape against cold windows more easily. 

Another method is to warm water bottles or stones in the sun during the day. Lay them out where they can absorb the most sunlight, then bring them in at night. Placing the hot rocks or bottles in your bed or sleeping bag will help you raise your body temperature at night. 

If you have any tools like a magnifying glass or mirror, you can use sunlight to start a fire or light a candle!

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re living in a rural cabin or just trying to save money this winter, keeping warm without electricity or fire can be difficult. 

Luckily, humans have survived this way for thousands of years, and many still do. So if you can follow some of the tips mentioned above, have no fear. 

Preserving heat by insulating your body and environment is crucial to staying comfortable. If you can, take advantage of the sunlight and any candles or gas stoves at your disposal. Of course, a worst-case winter scenario isn’t so bad if you’ve got pets or housemates to huddle for warmth. 


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