Prepare to Live in a Cold Home

Get Ready for Extreme Weather: Week 7

Living in a Cold Home

car in snow

If you have another housing option, seriously consider leaving your home and returning when the heat is back on. But it is possible to live in a cold home – in fact, our ancestors did it for centuries before there was central heating. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you are using an alternate heating source, make sure it is properly vented and in good working order. Do not open a gas stove and use it to heat your home. There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. (Be sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in the house, with backup batteries.)
  • Candles should be in holders or on non-flammable surfaces to prevent fires.
  • If you have a space heater, be sure to keep it a minimum of 3 feet from curtains and bedding.
  • Maximize heat from the sun. Open shades and curtains during the day and close them at night.
  • Live in just part of your home and close off other rooms. Close doors or hang blankets over doorways to keep heat in one room.
  • Consider pitching a tent inside the house so your body heat can be used to heat a much smaller space. A pop-up tent on top of your bed can be a warm place to sleep!
  • Drink warm beverages. You can warm food over a candle or outside over a larger fire or camp stove.
  • Keep some chemical hand warmers in the car in case you are stranded. Bring them into the house for this occasion if you really need to warm hands.
  • Sleep with pets or family members to share heat.
  • Wear more clothing to bed, including a hat and socks.

Now Give It a Try!

You don’t have to go to the extreme of draining all your plumbing, but it could be helpful to try living in a colder house for 24 hours. Turn the thermostat down to 50 degrees and see if you have what you need to live warm in a cool space.

Don’t go overboard, though. Be aware of the signs that your body is too cold. In adults, hypothermia symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, confusion, fumbling, slurred speech, and unusual drowsiness. In infants, symptoms include bright red skin on the face, cold hands and feet, and very low energy. If your body temperature falls below 95°, it’s a medical emergency! Seek help immediately.


This email series is brought to you by neighborhood volunteers at Transition Longfellow. It is designed to help you become more prepared for extreme weather emergencies. Transition Longfellow does not endorse or recommend any of the products mentioned in this email series. Neither Transition Longfellow nor Transition Twin Cities receives any compensation for products mentioned on their websites. Products are mentioned for illustration purposes only.