Heater Saga: what to do immediately

This is part two of my continuing saga on when our heating system failed in the middle of winter.

Did I mention I cooked a ton of bread while our heating system was dead? Bread for us, bread for friends, bread for everyone basically, and pies! Using my oven a bunch helped heat the house. But back to what to do immediately…

So our gas has been turned off. $500 in the bank, most of that meant for our business taxes to be honest. It has been a rough year. But now what? If you are in this situation these are things I suggest you do as soon as possible. For us that was as soon as the natural gas company and fire department left and the gas vented.

Close up your whole house.

Shut the windows. Tack blankets over them if you don’t have thermal curtains like we do. Close the doors on the rooms you are not using that do not have plumbing. Trap as much heat as you can inside. We are fortunate to have a very well insulated home because of early improvements we made. If you are reading this because your heat is out, I pray you also have good insulation, but if not, still, get everything closed up.

Fix all those gaps you have been procrastinating on.

That new weather stripping for your front door that has been sitting around for a year? Now is the time to get it installed. They say that the unfilled gap around your door is the equivalent of having a baseball sized hole in the side of your house. Yikes! I also made a draft stopper for the front and back doors, I filled mine with cherry pits since it is what I had. I would caution again using rice though, if it gets wet, it will mold. Also mice love it. If sewing is not your strong point, sacrifice a sturdy pair of leggings or tights, fill them with some kind of weight (cherry pits, dirt, sand, whatever) tie the ends shut and push it against the door. No sew and good enough!

If the sun is out during the day, use it to your advantage for extra heat.

The sun was out for several days of the next couple weeks. We do not have a lot of trees near our home, and all our windows are East/West facing. So in the morning I got up with the sun and opened all the east facing curtains, as soon as the sun moved on I closed the curtains. Once the sun hit the west windows, same deal over again. Close them as the sun starts to get low. You would be amazed at how much heat this can trap in an insulated home. Even when it was below freezing I managed to keep my home between 59F to 69F on sunny days. Considering when I had heat I kept it as a cool 68F, that is not terrible, it kept the pipes from freezing at least. If you do have North/South windows keep the north ones closed all the time, they don’t get sun. But do open your south facing ones.

If it is below freezing, keep your faucet trickling.

This is especially important for any faucets that you have where the pipes are on or in the exterior wall of your home. For us that is only our kitchen faucet. Even the smallest trickle can keep the pipes from freezing and bursting. Also open the cupboard doors under your sinks so warmer air can circulate.

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Start using your oven to cook.

I touched on this at the beginning of the post, but even if you can’t cook worth a damn, buying take and bake pizzas, pie or bread rolls from the frozen food section. Use your oven, and once you are done cooking turn it off but leave the door open. My eldest and I love baking and it was right before the Yule season, so we made cookies, bread, pie, lasagna, roasts, baked potatoes, casseroles. Do watch how much stuff you boil on your stove though. I noticed that the humidity in my house got a bit on the high side when we were without heat, and it is not like I could open the windows to vent it because then I lost heat. Eventually I had to buy a dehumidifier to deal with this so I didn’t get mold.

That is what you can do right away. Simple, inexpensive until you get down to the oven perhaps, depends on what type you have as far as your electrical bill goes, but we do what we do to keep our kids from freezing right?

Something else you might want to consider if you are in the very beginning stages of having your own heater disaster and are low income, is to check to see if you have local services available to you. Here in Spokane we have SNAP. They help low income people with energy bill as they have funds, but also have a separate aspect of the organization that helps with home repairs among other things. Unfortunately for us, they don’t help with gas systems like ours, but still, if you have something like them in your area, they are worth checking out.

Next up is going to be some extra things you can purchase to help fight the cold.


If you want to read the rest in this series, this was Part 2.
Part 1: when the heater fails
Part 3:more ways to stay warm
Part 4: what we bought

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