How to Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater

Three Parts:Heating your House Without a HeaterStaying Warm in a Colder HousePreventive Measures

Whether you're a poor college student, low on funds or you're just frugal, living in a cold house isn't ideal for your health. Fortunately, there are some excellent ways to keep warm even though you lack a heater and in the process, you may even improve the efficiency of your home.

Part 1
Heating your House Without a Heater

  1. 1
    Close all of your windows properly. This includes making sure storm windows are installed and closed in place if you have them. Windows should be latched. Open them during the day if the outside temperature is higher than the inside temperature.
    • Keep your windows air-tight. You may want to purchase removable window caulk or plastic to better seal them. At a minimum, stuff a towel or shirt in front of any noticeable leaks.
  2. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 2
    Use cheap clear shower curtains over the windows that receive sunlight. This will keep the cold air out, and the warmth from the sun will heat your house without cold air coming in. You could also cover your windows with clear plastic sheets.
  3. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 3
    Put up curtains. A set of heavy curtains can block heavy drafts of air. Open them when the sun is shining and close them when it's not.
  4. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 4
    Seal your doors. Check around the door frame and also under the door. You may want to buy weather stripping or a door sweep. Again, at minimum, make a draft dodger or stuff a towel at the bottom of the door.
  5. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 5
    Let as much sun hit your house as possible. Check for obstructions (e.g. plants, sheds) that might keep the sun's rays from reaching your house. Remove items leaning against walls on the sunny side of your house. (Ideally, put them back again at night for additional insulation).
  6. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 6
    Close off any unused rooms. The closed door makes that room another barrier between you and the frigid outdoors. It also stops air from circulating as much, which reduces heat loss.
    • Home improvement stores sell magnetic register covers to 'shut off' forced air furnace registers in unused rooms. That way when the heater does click on, only the registers in the rooms you use will pump out heat. This makes for more efficient use of the heater.
    • Check that all heat registers are adjusted open, especially where plumbing pipes might freeze. Unblock cold air returns in heated rooms (they may be blocked with furniture or rug) so heat can circulate efficiently.
  7. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 7
    Put down a rug or carpet. Rugs and carpets help prevent heat loss through the floor. They are generally warmer to the touch than wood or stone, and so offer a warmer surface to walk on.
  8. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 8
    Add insulation in the attic and the crawl space. A lot of heat escapes through the attic, as warm air rises and cold air sinks. Make sure that your attic has enough insulation.
  9. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 9
    Cook. Cooking can help you to keep warm as an activity, through the oven's warmth and by eating something nice and warm after.
    • Bake cookies or a pie. Your oven will help to dry the air and heat the kitchen. The kitchen will be warm while you are cooking, and then you can have a great home cooked meal too!
    • After, leave the oven on and open the oven door to let some heat in the house. Only leave the oven on for 10 to 20 minutes, so you don't waste energy.
    • Limit cooking that gives off steam, as this will increase the humidity in the air and make your house damp. Lowering humidity in the wintertime helps you to feel warmer. Water vapor (humidity) has a greater heat capacity (ability to absorb heat) than dry air. As a result, humid air feels colder in winter than does dry air and it takes more heat to make damp air feel comfortable.
  10. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 10
    Light a candle. A candle/candles can produce a lot of heat, just be mindful of where they are placed and do not leave them unattended. A trip to most any grocery store or discount store can provide you with a number of candles cheap!
    • Use a candle heater. It doesn't create as much heat as a fireplace or real heater, but will create warmth very cheaply.
  11. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 11
    Turn on some incandescent lights. The average incandescent light bulb releases up to 95% of its energy as heat rather than light, making it an extremely efficient heat source.[1]
    • Compact Fluorescent and LED lights are not helpful in warming your room, so save them for warmer days and use the money you saved to pay the heat bill.

Part 2
Staying Warm in a Colder House

  1. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 12
    Drink warm beverages. Warm beverages will raise your core temperature. The process can be very relaxing and even stimulating. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Sip on some warm broth.
  2. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 13
    Dress warmly. A lot of people say you release most of your body's heat from your head but despite common belief, you release heat equally throughout your body. Either way, a hat is a good friend at a time like this. A turtleneck sweater or 'onesie' can also work wonders. Dress in layers, especially with wool or cotton clothing. Wear slippers or warm socks. When you are sitting still, wrap a thick pure wool blanket around you. You also may want to consider purchasing a thermal shirt as wearing one under your sweater makes for a comfy shirt and a great amount of warmth.
    • If you still get cold legs, you could buy a 2-pack of black tights from your local shop. Make sure they are opaques. Wear one or more pairs over each other under your clothes; this will provide your body with another layer of clothing to trap in warm air. Men can use long underwear in lieu of stockings.
  3. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 14
    Use smaller rooms. If, for example, you have a bedroom that is much smaller than your living room you could choose to use it as your bed-sitting room.
  4. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 15
    Exercise. 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can warm you up and keep you warm well after the exercise session. Plus, a healthy body is generally more tolerant of the cold.
    • Be active. Moving around produces body heat! The more active you are, the better your blood circulation will be. This means that warm blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm.
  5. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 16
    Find a friend or pet to snuggle with. The living body of any warm-blooded animal is a furnace unto itself. Snuggle with your cat or dog to keep each other warm.
  6. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 17
    Use a hair dryer. Quickly spot-heat parts of your body, or your cold shoes or clothes before donning. You might use it to warm your bed before you get in it. Never cover it! It could overheat and cause a fire.
  7. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 18
    Sit on a 50-watt heating pad. Rather than heating the whole house or room, sit on a low wattage heating pad. You can also make your own heating pads:
    • Use a hot water bottle. It's great for warming your hands and lap while sitting; also put it under the covers at the foot of the bed.
    • Microwave socks or small homemade "pillows" (also known as heat packs) filled with rice, dried corn, or beans for one minute in the microwave and use as a heating pad or bed-warmer.
  8. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 19
    Buy a thick bathrobe or dressing gown. Think of it as a big, fluffy blanket with sleeves. They are very warm and comfortable, and you can even sleep in them!
  9. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 20
    Go visiting/vacationing. Purposefully spend time in a location that is heated at no cost to you: library, church, a friend's house, etc.
  10. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 21
    Consider using an electric blanket. An electric blanket can keep you very warm and comfortable in the night and it is more economical that an inefficient and expensive old wall heater. Over-the-knee versions for sitting up are available, usually covered with a nice, fluffy and warm fabric.

Part 3
Preventive Measures

  1. Image titled Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater Step 22
    Consider how you got yourself into this position. If you are suffering a cold house due to an energy blackout, the above tips will help you get through this short term emergency. But if you are living with a non-working heater because you don't have enough money to pay for heat repairs, you will need to start saving money in the bank for exactly this type of emergency. Pay yourself first so that you can get through any and all emergencies as they arise. Don't leave yourself out in the cold.
  2. 2
    If you can not afford to heat your home, contact a few energy suppliers. They might work with you to find a payment plan you can afford. In addition to this, you may be eligible for federal assistance to help pay your bill.


  • Try putting a blanket over your head for a minute. Looks weird but your breath will heat you up in no time!
  • If the air is too cold when you're trying to sleep, consider rigging a makeshift cloth "tent" over your bed. Your own breathing will warm up the inside of the tent very quickly. There's a good reason those antique beds had roofs and curtains.
  • Add extra layers of bedding to your bed. Another quilt or duvet will keep your body heat in and the cold out.
  • Drink hot chocolate. It's got lots of carbohydrates that'll keep you going, and best of all, it's delicious!
  • Take a hot shower or bath and use oil or lotion on your skin when you get out. It's almost like putting on another thin layer of clothing.
  • If you have young kids ask a relative or friend if they can stay at their house until the heating is fixed as it can be dangerous for children to be in cold conditions.
  • Place short fans set to their lowest settings so that they blow across radiant style heaters to circulate the warm air away from the heater, allowing the heater to warm new air.
  • Wear a thermal hat to bed, especially if you're bald or have short hair. Your chest, head, and face are especially sensitive to changes in heat, making a warm hat or cap essential for a cold house.[2]
  • Have a guest come over. Your cold body will get warm, it can heat a room up.
  • Lay in a warm bed and cover up. Make sure there are no holes in the cover or on the cover.
  • Put on a onesie or snuggle up in or under a blanket.
  • Use a 50-watt heating pad. It's warm and low energy.
  • Have a warm bath have tea and snuggle and watch a film.
  • Curl up in bed and rub your legs quickly it looks a bit strange but it works!
  • Don't exercise too much. When you do, you will start to sweat and sweat cools down the body - not warm it.
  • Wear an under-layer or a hoodie on top.
  • Use a soft blanket that is not cotton. A wool blanket will absorb your heat better.
  • Put your hands and feet in warm water as hot as you can stand it without burning your skin this will raise your body heat and warm right up.
  • The difference between wearing long warm socks, as opposed to short warm socks is remarkable. Wearing long, knee high socks under your trousers also wards of the cold air that lies at low level in the room.
  • Wear socks!


  • Be aware that the more you seal off air circulation to the outside, you can increase the possibility of a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in the air. Be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector if you don't have one already. If you do, test it on a regular basis.
  • Heating methods that increase air moisture (bathtub, humidifier) might encourage mold growth and condensation damage. Regularly check behind furniture that's standing against outside-facing walls, and around windows.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Heating Cooling and Energy Efficiency