With all the crazy super cold weather this winter, some people need to be concerned about not just lowering their heat bills, but emergency heat if they loose power. We heat with all electric so its particularly an issue for us. Now we have two fireplaces, so we aren't going to freeze if our power goes out, but others particularly those who live in apartments, don't have that option.
1) If you loose heat take steps to immediately keep all your heat in your house. The fastest way you loose heat is it radiating out your windows. To keep heat in your house seal them up! You can use blankets, quilts, or boxes and newspapers. One very effective way is to staple an opened cardboard box or old quilt across the window frame and then stuff to space between the glass and the covering with crumpled newspapers. This temporarily insulates the space until you get your power back on, and is an easily disposed of after the emergency is over. So cover any windows you don't need for light and seal in that heat!
2) Use black garbage bags or dark colored cloth on south and east facing windows to absorb heat and warm you home. I talked about how black absorbs heat in other articles:
Save Money on Heating Bills with a Heat Catcher
(think dark car seats in the summer sun...Ouch!!) and can be used to raise temperatures in your home. So hang the black garbage bags in those sun facing windows and heat your home while the sun shines. To help seal those heat producing windows against heat loss at night cover them with blankets, quilts, or cardboard, and take the cover down at dawn when the light comes back. You can produce an amazing amount of heat with these heat catchers. On a sunny day in mid winter when it was below freezing outside, the temperature in space along the sun side of these "heat catchers" was 90 degrees F. All that nice warm air was floating into the room to heat it.
3) Make sure you have backup source of heat for emergencies. There are small emergency propane heaters on the market. Make sure you get one with Carbon Monoxide detectors on it. Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas produced when you burn anything. Normally these type of gases go up the chimney, but when using these emergency heaters its best to get one with an automatic detection if the gas is building up.
4) Wrap up! Wrap up in layers like people did in the bad old days before central heat!
5) Keep everyone in one small area. Body heat from several people can keep a room above freezing.
Good Luck and Stay warm until the power gets back on!
Note: All rights belong to author Lili Pintea-Reed