What to Do When the Heat Goes Out

woman sitting on couch next to fireplace

Even though Atlanta is firmly nestled in the south, nights can dip below freezing in the wintertime. That’s plenty cold enough to need a working heater in your home. What do you do when your heating suddenly stops working? Whether from a power outage or a faulty furnace, prepare yourself to stay warm without heat.

How to Stay Warm Without Heat

It gets so hot in the summer that we sometimes forget how chilly winter nights can be, especially without heat. Here’s how to stay warm when the power goes out, or your heater isn’t working:

  • Bundle up. It may seem obvious, but layering does help keep you warm. Pile on extra sweaters before you feel freezing; it’s much harder to warm up than it is to stay warm. Try to stick to wool or cotton fabrics, and don’t forget socks and gloves.
  • Close and insulate all your windows. Windows and doors are the easiest places for your home to lose heat. Shut and latch all windows unless it’s warmer outside than in. Stuff shirts or towels in front of cracks or close the curtains over them.
  • Maximize sunshine. Let the sun into your home by insulating windows that receive natural light with translucent material, such as plastic sheeting or a cheap shower curtain.
  • Minimize room usage. It’s time to close the doors to guest bedrooms, extra bathrooms, and other unused rooms. You want the most heat in the fewest number of rooms possible.
  • Invest in a space heater. If you still have electricity, use a space heater to take the chill out of particularly cold rooms. Read the manufacturer’s safety instructions to see if there’s a maximum time your heat can run safely.
  • Throw down a blanket. If you have wood or tile flooring, put blankets or towels on the floor to stop the chill from seeping up into the room. Ideally, it would be best to put down a rug or carpeting, but other fabric can also insulate your home.
  • Get baking. If you’ve been putting off learning to make bread, now’s the time. Cooking and baking can add heat to your kitchen and dry out the air, making the room feel warmer. NEVER use the stove or oven only as a heat source. When you finish cooking, turn the oven off.
  • Go indoor camping together. If your family is outdoorsy or you know someone with a tent on hand, sleep cozily with your family. Sleeping together in a tent with blankets on the walls and roof helps insulate everyone if the temperatures are going to drop dangerously. Leave some air vents uncovered to prevent carbon dioxide buildup in the tent.
  • Spend time somewhere else. When all else fails, spend as much time as possible somewhere heated. Stay with friends or rent a hotel room. If you can only be gone during the daytime, try heading to the library, restaurants, or a community center to warm up.

Can a Generator Run a Heater?

Yes! You can use both whole-home and portable generators to power a furnace or a space heater in case of a power outage, as long as the wattage is high enough. Check your space heater and generator for watt ratings. A whole-home generator is the better bet for running your furnace.

Related Content: All of Your Home Heating Options, Explained

Watch Out for Signs of Furnace Problems

Spot the signs that you need furnace repairs before things get drastic. Be on the lookout for:

  1. The heater blowing cold air
  2. Total or partial loss of heat to your home
  3. Odd smells from the furnace, especially the smell of fuel or burning
  4. A malfunctioning pilot light
  5. Furnace alert lights or error codes (on newer furnaces)
  6. Poor air quality
  7. Abnormally loud or persistent noises
  8. An alert from your carbon monoxide detector

Fix Your Furnace with Heating Repair in Atlanta, GA, and Beyond

If your heat isn’t working, we’re here to help. Cunningham offers furnace repair in Atlanta, so you can stay cozy during chilly winter months. Get your furnace up and running again with help from the professionals -- just call (770) 343-7565 or request an estimate online.
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