Alternative Lighting and Heat Sources

by Merissa on October 17, 2011

in Practical Food Storage

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In the case that you may be out of electricity and need to find an alternative heating or light source, what do you have ready?

Heating Sources:

Last year we installed a wood stove. Firewood can be easily found for free here so basically we only had the cost of the stove (which was less than $300) and we have free heat any time we need it to back up our electric heat. If you are going to look into getting a wood stove, don't forget about things you may need to consider purchasing with it. We also had the cost of the tile for the floor and the walls where the stove sits and you may have the cost of a blower(unless your stove comes with one). For our homestead this works great!

Not only will you have to heat your house, you will need to heat food also! And unless you plan on having a campfire cookout every time you don't have power (which may not be the most practical thing to do if it's blizzarding!) If you don't have one already you could look into a camping cookstove or if you are looking for something more heavy duty (to hold bigger cooking containers) like this outdoor patio stove.

If you are going to be unable to cook outdoors to use the propane stoves you could even consider a small, but effective source of heat, such as Sterno Cans. I think these are the most convenient and I keep a case on hand in my pantry all the time.


There are several different alternative light sources you can get and they are mostly inexpensive. Candles are always a good option if you just want something easy to stock up on. I like to buy the unscented candles that are on clearance after holidays. I store them in large plastic totes. I also hate to waste the leftover chunks of wax in from candles when the wick is gone. My solution on what to do with the leftover wax can be found here: Tea Cup Candles. And don't forget to stock up on matches and/or lighters!

If you want something that will provide a little more lighting you can try oil lamps. They are actually pretty inexpensive and they provide a decent amount of light.

Another option is crank powered lamps and flashlights. These are nice because you don't have to keep any batteries on hand to keep them going. We have a few of the flashlights on hand and one lantern, they work great for having to do outside chores in the dark!

If you are caught without power and without preparing with candles or lamps you can even make your own oil lamp with just olive oil, wick, and a jar!

Something important to remember is to keep these heating and lighting sources somewhere that you can remember! Keep flashlights next to your bed or in easy to access places around the house because you never know when you might get caught in the dark!

What alternative heat and lighting sources do you use in a power outtage?

Learn more about Practical Food Storage and Preparing for Price Increases. And make sure you check out how to save and live better in all areas of your life on the Making the Most page!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Missy Steiger October 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

We have candles, oil lamps, kerosene lamps & flashlights. We bought a couple of those crank lights a couple of years ago but they stripped and wouldn’t crank after a while. I guess we need to look for a better quality light. Any recomendations for a brand?


2 Missy Steiger October 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

We have candles, oil lamps, kerosene lamps & flashlights. We bought a couple of those crank lights a couple of years ago but they stripped and wouldn’t crank after a while. I guess we need to look for a better quality light. Any recomendations for a brand?


3 Josie Christensen November 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Love your website. Would also love to do just what you are doing.


4 Dianne February 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm

we have used our wood stove last year and this year to heat our 2 story brick Victorian home.. We live in rural Ontario Canada and so far this winter we have just about gone through 2 bush cords ~$500 and are having another delivered tomorrow – should last the rest and maybe some left for the start of next yr so $1000 in total – we also have electric heaters in our bedrooms, but only when in the rooms, sure beats the price of oil which is what our furnace takes. I do miss a cozy home in the winter but what can you do?


5 kamiko October 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

for a light source when i cant find the flashlight, i use my cell phone. i also bought those tall 8″ Religious candles at the Dollar Store. i keep them on my fireplace, with lighters, and one by my desk as well. i also have touch lights in specific rooms. for heat, i have a fireplace. we can sleep in the den if the other rooms are too cold.
you can also fill milk containers with water, and throw in a glow stick!


6 Donna Jean October 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm

We like a night light when we go camping, so we use solar lights. They work great, and a few more would light us up quite a bit. I also have a propane heater that works very well to heat a small space. Many snowbirds use them here in Arizona to heat their campers. There is no blower, so, it uses no electricity!


7 Michelle February 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

I have just found out about “rocket mass stoves”. They are cheap to build and burn scraps of wood instead of logs. These are super efficient and retain heat for up to 48 hours after the fire goes out…


8 Stephanie April 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Hi! Can you give more info on your wood stove? How did you find one so inexpensive? My husband and I are excited to incorporate many of your ideas in our life. Thanks.


9 Merissa April 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm

We found our stove at Tractor Supply, farm stores seem to have them at better prices than other places.


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