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How to Heat Your Home without HVAC

As the holiday season approaches, as does the cold of the winter. This time of year, your home’s heating system will need to work around the clock to keep you and your home warm. But what do you do if your heater doesn’t work, or if your home doesn’t have an internal heating system?

If you don’t have a heating system or if yours isn’t working, this article will be a worthwhile read. Here we’ll go over how heaters work, and what you can do to heat your home in the absence of a working heater. Additionally, we’ll discuss some troubleshooting you can perform if your heating system isn’t working.

How Does a Heater Work?

In your home, you most likely have a central heating system. These systems use a heating appliance like a furnace which usually resides in your garage or basement. When you turn on the heat in your home, a process will occur in your heater. First, gases are combusted by the burners of the furnace and pass through the heat exchanger.

Once the heat exchanger is hot, air from your HVAC system will blow past it and be warmed. Then, your central air conditioning will spread this warm air throughout the space. This is the most common and effective way to heat your home, and it’s being used by billions of homes around the world.

It essentially produces the opposite effect of air conditioning, utilizing the central air conditioning system to emit heat from the vents instead of cool air. Central heating systems can use various different fuels for heat. Some use electric rods to produce heat, others use natural gas.

Some systems use steam as a source of heat, others use hot water. There are even heat pumps that transfer heat from a source to your home. No matter what kind of heater you have, the appliance has no doubt made your home comfortable every winter. But what if you don’t have one?

How Can I Heat My Home without a Heater?

If you don’t have a heating system in your home, or if yours doesn’t work, there are still many alternatives for heating your home. Here is a list of some common alternatives for heating your home.

Fireplaces: The oldest solution for heating your home is starting a fire in your fireplace, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Get some fire logs or gather your own tinder to make a cozy fire in your living room. If you’ve never used your fireplace before, make sure nothing is blocking the smoke from traveling up and out of the chimney. Most modern homes with fireplaces have a mechanism that blocks the chimney when the fireplace isn’t being used to prevent debris, rain, or animals from getting inside through the chimney.

Space Heaters: Space heaters are common and inexpensive ways to heat certain spaces in your home. Space heaters generate heat either using electricity or oil as an energy source. Radiator models will radiate heat, making the area around the heater warm. Convection units have fans built into them that pushes warm air around its environment. These are great if you’re looking to keep a small house or apartment warm, or if you’re prioritizing one or two rooms in your home at a time.

Seal Heat Exits: Heat will escape from your home through any openings it can find. Doors and windows are likely allowing heat to escape from your home, leaving you in the cold. To prevent heat from escaping from your doors, install door sweeps. These are either made of rubber or nylon and attach to the bottom edge of your door’s interior side. These are fairly common and are very effective for storing heat. Next, there’s the windows. Openable windows always have little creases from which air can flow. While this is nice in the spring and summer, in the winter, this can drain a lot of heat from your home. Take a closer look at your windows and consider sealing them temporarily. There are many putty-like products you can use to seal your windows in the winter, and remove the seals in the spring easily.

Take Advantage of Sunlight: During the day, you should allow as much sunlight to enter your home as possible. Sunlight may not seem very significant of a heat source in the freezing winter, but over the course of an entire day, it adds up. Allow as much sunlight into your home as possible.

Turn on the Oven: Everyone has forgotten to turn off the oven at some point in their lives. As long as your oven isn’t gas powered, leaving the oven on isn’t immediately life-threatening, but it isn’t recommended. Instead, turn the oven on while you're at home to increase the temperature of your home. As long as you remember to turn the oven off before bed, this is a perfectly safe and effective way to warm up your home without a heater.

What Should I Do If My Heater is Broken?

If your heater isn’t working, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot. We’ll run through a brief list of easy fixes that might work. First, and most obviously, make sure the thermostat is on the “heat” setting. We all make this mistake from time to time.

Check the filter. Furnace filters get dirty and can get clogged with debris. This can make the heating system work less efficiently and drive up your utility bills at best, and make your heater stop functioning at worst. Make sure that the filter is clean and clear of debris. If not, it’s time to get a replacement furnace filter.

Check the fuel source. Some heaters use energy sources other than electricity to produce heat. Some use natural gas, oil, or water. Make sure that the fuel tank is full if your heating system is turning on but not producing heat.

Check for blocked ducts. Blocked air ducts will act as a bottleneck for the warm air produced by heaters. If you can access your air ducts, make sure that none of them are exposed or obstructed. Also, check the exhaust vents if your system has them. These are vent openings located outside of your house that take air from the outdoors. If these vents are obstructed, your old air is being recirculated which is potentially dangerous.

If you do have HVAC, Filter King’s got your air filter needs covered! Check out our online store to find your size and appropriate MERV level!