How To Stop Drafts, Retain Heat And Stay Safe During A Power Outage

Posted on: 4 March 2016


Experiencing a power outage is uncomfortable in any weather. However, one that occurs during the winter can be deadly, especially if your heat relies on electricity to function. Factors such as the outside temperatures and the home's insulation R-value will contribute to the length of time it will take for the interior temperatures to fall to unsafe levels, once the heat stops working. The following tips will help you stop drafts, retain heat and remain safe until the power (and heat!) are restored.

Act Quickly and Choose Wisely

When the outside temperatures are especially frigid or very windy, interior temperatures will fall quickly, even in homes with adequate insulation. If your power goes out and the power company is unsure how long the outage will last, it is best to take action quickly to preserve interior temperatures as much as possible. To do this, move all family members into one interior room, preferably one with few windows and no exterior exit that could allow cold air to infiltrate the room.

Seal the Area

Once everyone is ensconced in this space, gather a few common household materials to further seal the area and prevent heat loss.

For each uncovered window, you will need:

  • a roll of duct tape
  • a small sheet or child's quilt just big enough to cover the window (if you have scraps of fabric, painter's canvas or rags that are large enough, they can also be used by cutting them to fit the window)

For each interior doorway, you will need:

  • thumbtacks or pushpins
  • a flat sheet, either twin- or full-sized and folded to doorway size if necessary
  • a large bath towel

To seal windows, use duct tape to carefully affix the rug, blanket or quilt to the frame of the window. To ensure the best seal and prevent drafts, tear pieces of duct tape approximately one foot in length, then fold it over, lengthwise, with the sticky side out to form a sort of double-faced tape. Secure this strip along the edge of the window frame and repeat the process until the entire perimeter is covered, with no gaps. Then, starting at the upper edge, position the fabric of the sheet or quilt and press it firmly onto the tape until the window opening is securely covered.

To seal each doorway, use thumbtacks or pushpins to hold the sheet or blanket to the top of the door frame, making sure there are no gaps and that the opening is completely covered. To hold the bottom edge in place, fold the bath towel lengthwise and use it to weigh down the bottom edge of the sheet, holding it securely against the floor.

Secure the remainder of the home

Once these preparations have been made, remember to help retain heat in the remainder of the home by pulling draperies closed and placing draft stoppers or folded bath towels at the bottom of exterior doors. It is also wise to turn faucets on slightly to help keep them from freezing.

Consider Proactive Changes

If you live in areas that experience power outages frequently due to winter weather, consider making proactive changes to your home, such as adding insulated draperies. These can be customized to fit each window, covering the entire glass portion to help reduce heat loss. A company like Shady Lady can provide more information. In addition, you may want to consider adding some type of supplemental heat source that does not require electricity to provide warmth for your home, such as a propane heater or gas fireplace.