What To Do When The Heat Goes Out

woman wearing winter coat in freezing home

Let’s be real, your HVAC system is never going to quit at a good time. Having your air-conditioner stop working in the summer is an inconvenience, but having your furnace go out in the winter can be downright dangerous—putting your family’s health at risk.

When the indoor temperature drops, you may be tempted to warm things up with some alternatives—like a generator, oven, or indoor heater that doesn’t require electricity. These options can be toxic and even deadly. Many of them generate carbon monoxide, often referred to as a “silent killer” due to its lack of odor and color.

If you use a generator indoors, only use a battery powered one. Sitting in the car with the heater on is risky, and possibly life threatening if it’s parked in the garage. Bottom line? The risks associated with these alternative heating methods are too high. 

Don’t worry, though. There are still plenty of options! Here are some safe ways to stay comfortable when the heat goes out:


A thermal or wool base layer under your clothes will help you retain body heat without adding too much uncomfortable bulk. Wearing a hat will keep your head warm, and gloves and warm socks will be a boon for your extremities. 


Bundle up and get busy around the house! If you have a laundry room, the heat generated by your washer and dryer will help keep that small space a few degrees warmer. Focus on getting your clothes washed, dried, and folded—and throw in a few calisthenics in between!


Doing laundry and jumping jacks indefinitely when your heat goes out isn’t very practical, so what else can you do to keep warm when the furnace breaks? Focus your heating efforts in one room that you can easily close off. Space heaters are your friends, and if you have a fireplace, you have a built-in heat source that will tide you over.


You might be surprised at how helpful closing drapes can be in blocking drafts. Pushing rolled-up towels along windowsills or under doors can also block cold air and keep the ambient temperature more comfortable.


Tuck heating pads into your bed before you go to sleep and throw extra blankets or a sleeping bag over the bed to seal the heat in as much as possible. However, if you do use heating pads, turn them off before falling asleep to avoid a fire hazard. 


This one is less about self-preservation and more about home care, but your pipes can be at risk of freezing if you don’t take proper steps!

Try running a strategically-placed space heater near your pipes, and be sure to open any under-sink cabinets so they can benefit from the warm air you generate. Turning on the water periodically will keep it on the move, making it tougher for it to freeze.

These are some emergency measures you can employ if you lose your heat, but there’s one thing you can do that’s superior to every one of these: prevent your furnace from going sideways in the first place. 

Taking care of your HVAC system with a regular maintenance schedule will keep it running well, and allow the professionals to catch issues with it before they cause major problems…at the worst times. 

A planned service agreement from Holtzople Heating & Air Conditioning helps avoid system failures and protects the life of your equipment. As a Holtzople Maintenance Agreement customer, you always receive priority service at the best possible rate–even during the coldest times and hottest seasons. We offer 24-hour emergency service, so you can rest assured that your heating and cooling needs will be met on your schedule.