How Long Will a House Stay Warm Without Power?

Young couple in home wearing a jacket and covered with blanket sitting on floor beside radiator with dog and trying to warm up

You may have faced a situation where you have been without power for several hours or maybe even an entire day or two. Although this can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and costly (replacing the food in your refrigerator) during the warmer months of the year, it can be more dangerous when the weather turns colder. As winter storms become more intense and unpredictable, you may be wondering, “how long will my house stay warm without power?”

The average home will stay warm for 8-12 hours after the power goes out. After the first 8-12 hours, most homes will experience a gradual cooling over the course of the next couple of days. These figures will vary based on factors including the temperature outdoors, the configuration and construction of your home, and even how many people currently reside in the house!

Homeowners can help preserve the temperature of their home during a power outage by investing in home upgrades in advance of the winter storm season and taking practical steps to conserve heat.

How to Keep a House Warm During a Power Outage

Your power goes out in the middle of the night during a blustery February storm—what do you do?

  • Insulate your house: Keep doors and windows closed and use towels to block drafts around them. Keep curtains shut unless the window brings in warm sunlight during the day.
  • Conserve body heat: Without power, look to your own body as a reliable heat source. To keep your body temperature up, wear extra layers of clothing and bundle up in blankets, hats, and gloves. Add layers in advance of dropping temperatures, but avoid sweating, which may make you feel colder long term.
  • Move to a smaller space: Try to keep all your family activities in one area of your home and close the doors to any rooms that are not being used.
  • Use your wood-burning fireplace: If you have a fireplace, make sure it’s ready to use. Make sure it’s cleaned and regularly serviced and have a supply of dry wood, kindling, newspaper, and matches or lighters available to use if the power goes out.

Related Topic: How a Smart Thermostat Can Save You Money

What Not to Do During a Power Outage

There are just as many things, or more, that you should not do to warm your home.

Stay safe and avoid the following mistakes, several of them potentially fatal:

  • Don’t run your car inside your garage. The heater inside your vehicle may be tempting to use, but running the car in an unventilated garage is a fatal mistake that may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t try to warm your house with camp stoves, chimineas, gas-fired patio heaters, or charcoal grills. These portable stoves, heaters, and grills produce heat but all release deadly carbon monoxide. NEVER operate a portable gas-, charcoal-, or wood-fired appliance indoors. These combustion appliances are only safe to use outside in the open air. The same applies to gas-fired portable generators.
  • Don’t run your propane gas oven to warm your house. While your oven is safe for cooking, used improperly for ambient heating, your stove may become a fire hazard or source of carbon monoxide.
  • Don’t wait to get help. Reach out to friends and family who live outside the power outage zone or contact emergency personnel to locate safe shelter. This is especially important for households with young or elderly family members.

Updates Designed to Keep Your House Warm Without Electricity

While storms that may cause power outages are out of your control, how you prepare for them is in your control. Homeowners can implement the following upgrades in their homes to mitigate the effects of long-term power outages during the cold months.

  • Improve insulation.
  • Improve ventilation (to help regulate airflow and humidity).
  • Consider installing a whole house generator
  • Consider installing a backup battery and/or a rooftop solar array to power your furnace or heater with your own electricity.

Related Topic: Carbon Monoxide Safety Checklist

How to Prepare for Power Outage in Winter

Most outages only last a few hours, but some can last a week or more. According to the American Red Cross, you should have enough non-perishable food and water supplies for at least two weeks. While it’s likely you will not need two weeks of supplies (or even two days), having extra on hand means peace of mind, and, that you can assist friends or neighbors in need.

Next, move on to updating your emergency or first-aid kits and make sure all the medication for family members is available and in supply. Have enough flashlights, candles, and batteries to last for at least two weeks and keep everything together in an easy-to-access bin.

Finally, plan to bundle up. Store blankets, warm clothing, extra window coverings, and supplies for your wood-burning fire (if applicable) in a place that is easily accessed.

Prepared for Any HVAC Emergency

Winter storms can be unpredictable and intense. If you lose power, staying warm during extremely cold weather is critical the safety of you and your family. If such a situation arises, it is vital that you follow the instructions of local officials.

Once power has been restored, it’s important to make sure your furnace is operating properly. Your local Aire Serv pros are available and ready to assist you with your post-storm HVAC needs and to ensure your system continues to work efficiently throughout the year. To schedule maintenance or service, call us at or request an estimate online.

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