Surviving the Winter without Heat or Electricity
But what if your house is not outfitted with a wood burning fireplace or wood stove and you do not have a source of firewood?
At this point, you might be tempted to try and build a fire inside your home. Don't! Unless you are creating the fire in a properly enclosed area that is vented to the outdoors, you may end up killing your entire family. Unvented fires lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and uncontained fires could burn your home down.
You need an alternative plan!
If we are without natural gas, but still have electricity, space heaters can be used. You can bake to increase the heat in your home, use electric blankets, etc.
The following plan is for the situation where there is no natural gas, no firewood, and no electricity.
If we are without natural gas and electricity, then chances are good that the world is in pretty bad shape. In this situation, the prime goal is survival. Comfort would be nice but may not be possible.
Recommendation #1 - Maximize the Heat you Have
Close up all but one room in your house and set up a tent in the middle of that room. This will be where everyone in your family sleeps. Tents are designed to keep heat in and weather out. By sleeping inside the tent, you will trap your family's body heat and create an area within your home that may stay warm enough to make it through the winter.
Of course, if you have mummy bags, lots of warm blankets and appropriately warm clothing, you'll be able to stay a lot warmer.
Open any south facing windows during the day and shut all the drapes in the evening to take advantage of the sun's heat.
During the day, wear winter gear in the house and keep the doors closed as much as possible. You may even cover windows and doors to further insulate them.
*Be sure you turn off your water and bleed your pipes so you don't have water pipes breaking and flowing into your home (even if the city water is shut off).
Recommendation #2 - Be sure everyone has appropriate winter gear -in the right sizes.
Make sure everyone has boots, scarves, hats, gloves, snow pants, boot socks, and a winter ski jacket. If there are children in your house, be sure you have something that will fit them as they grow bigger. Keep at least one size larger in storage so everyone will have adequate coverage at all times.
Recommendation #3 - Bring neighbors, family, and friends into your home.
Bodies generate heat. The more bodies in your home, the warmer your home will be. Banding together has a number of benefits beyond heat, but of course, this also means more food needs, more waste generated and a host of social problems. If you have women or children in your family be very careful who you invite into your home.
These are basic suggestions and you may be able to rig some sort of indoor fire or may mess around with increasing thermal mass or try to create some sort of solar heater. Assuming the world has gone mad max and the power is going to be out for...... years, then your goal is to survive the first winter.
Chances are good that most people will not survive. Some will band together and stay warm enough to survive. Some of those same people will kill each other or starve to death.
By the time spring starts to thaw, You will have 3 months or warm weather to prepare to do better than survive in year 2.
You will need to spend time accumulating food for the 2nd year, but this is also the time to improve your heating situation. If you can move, you may want to relocate to a home/cabin that has a wood stove and ample firewood, perhaps a lake for fishing and woods for hunting.
If you are going to stay put, now is the time to scavenge for supplies. This is when you should gather materials to create a solar heating system. They are actually pretty simple to create (maybe not so simple without electric tools) and empty homes will be full of useful supplies (wood, glass, paint, cans, pipes).
Maybe you will find enough supplies to build your own rocket stove, and will be able to accumulate fire wood for the next winter.
In the 2nd and subsequent winters, you are trying to thrive and rebuild society, not just survive. You will need to figure out who else has survived and whether or not you want to band together or how you will work together going forward.
While the world is still spinning, you may want to take this opportunity to read up on Haiti. Haiti is the perfect example of what you do not want our country to become. If we have mad max, then people will do anything they can to survive. They will hunt. They will kill. They will burn anything to stay warm. It's understandable but it's destructive.
Our country is beautiful and productive, but it can easily be turned to Haiti if everyone is killing, burning, and destroying. When we rebuild, we want to work with nature and keep preservation in mind. We want to leave a better world for our children, even if we were thrust into something horrible.
Let's hope it doesn't come to this, but if it does, be prepared to stay warm and start over.