Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Anyone who know me knows I always have a backup plan. The same is true for home systems, such as water, waste, electricity, and heating. Many homesteaders rely solely on wood heat, especially if they are off-grid. While wood is wonderfully accessible on most homesteads, it is not always an easy or infinite source of heat. I have seen healthy homesteaders fall to an injury or illness and become unable to cut, or even bring inside, firewood when they need it. Sometimes all it takes is one really bad winter to cripple your wood supply.
Perhaps I have taken it to extremes but I have a quad fuel heating system in my cabin. Naturally, it has a stone fireplace in the living room; but I also installed an electric wall heater that can run off my solar-wind system or the dual fuel generator if absolutely necessary. I am also lucky to have a couple passive heating strategies that Mother Nature has provided on her own. I made some winterization items also. For instance, I have insulated interior shutters and curtains, a door draft dodger made from a pool noodle, and a soda-can solar box heater my daughter and I made years ago for our window if needed. Perhaps my best backup is a Pleasant Hearth propane hearth-style stove installed. I like this one in particular because it is compact but appealing, dual fuel, and has a thermostat built on, in addition to being pretty affordable. It seems to radiate enough so that an optional blower is not even needed.
In preparation for what the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold and wet winter, I am grateful for backup heating. In worst case scenarios, there are a few tips to keep warm, as well:
Bundle up – hats, glove, layers of clothing, wool socks, blankets – use whatever is handy and helpful.
Pitch a tent in one room and sleep inside; tents will help keep heat around you and hopefully you’ll benefit from some body heat off others in your tent.
Consume the warmth by eating cooked meals and drinking warm beverages. High carb meals, such as pasta, soups & stews with a side of warm bread, and hot sandwiches are great choices. Avoid alcohol as it can ultimately cause your body to become colder and lower your immune system.
Keep the cold air out. This is of utmost importance! Plug or seal any gaps, cracks,..where your heat may be escaping or cold air could be blowing inside. If you don’t have weather-stripping material on hand, you can use old towels, duct tape, plastic bags, bubble wrap, newspaper,…
Be ready. Stock up on things like candles and hand warmers from the dollar store. Or items such as hot water bottles and heating pads, thermal patches, and battery operated back/neck massagers with heat features could provide short-term warm-ups. If you have a clothes dryer, you could use it to warm up a blanket or sheet. My urbanite friends always tell me their electronics give off heat – from televisions to kitchen appliances, every little bit could help warm a room.
Last but not least, good ol’ body heat. Cuddle up with a loved one or even your dog. Saint Bernards were trained to warm avalanche or snow-stranded victims by laying with them, because it works.
Winter will be blanketing the northern regions soon enough so be proactive and stay warm my friends!