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Should You Use Your Oven To Heat The House?

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Many senior citizens living on a fixed income look to cut corners wherever they can. In the winter, this can often come in the form of turning down the heat in living areas or using an electric heater, etc.

Sometimes seniors even try to get their house to the right temperature by using their oven or stove top.

But, is it safe to use your oven to heat your house?

Be aware that it is not recommended to use the oven to heat your house because of the dangers it can present, such as fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. And if the senior is using an older gas stove, the dangers can be compounded.

It’s true that the gas flame heats the immediate surrounding area – but there are safer ways to heat your home than to use an oven or stove.

Although you can open the oven door once it’s turned off to let the warm air into your room, it’s a bad idea to keep the door open while the oven is on.

An electric oven isn’t designed for space heating.

There are several reasons why using an oven or surface units with heating elements are not only unsafe, but potentially lethal. We’ll go over these in this article.

Not only can it be dangerous, but it’s an inefficient way to heat up a large space like an open concept kitchen and family room.

You wouldn’t expect keeping your refrigerator door open to cool down your large room, would you?

We recommend to look for an alternative heat source like portable heaters (as long as they are safe), a home heating system or central heating.

These are all good options for heating your home during colder weather.

Why Is It Dangerous To Heat The House With An Oven?

The obvious concern about using the oven or stove burner to heat a home or an apartment is that a hot oven can create a potential for a house fire.

In addition to the fire danger, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says,Do not use a kitchen range or oven to heat your house because it could overheat or generate excessive carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. A by-product of combustion, it can be produced by ordinary appliances, and is a common hazard in the home. Mild exposure can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or headaches; while severe poisoning can result in brain or heart damage or even death.

Mississippi State Department of health

A gas range / gas oven uses natural gas, propane or other types of flammable gas to cook your food.

These gases can all cause carbon monoxide poisoning. They also can be sources of formaldehyde and other pollutants, which can be toxic in high amounts.

In addition, gas flames can create a good amount of water vapor which increases the humidity level in your home.

This can then have the opposite effect of making you feel warm because if the humidity in the room is too high, you can end up feeling cold!

You may think it’s okay to heat the home with an electric oven, (or the heating element from a stove top) but that’s a myth.

Leaving the door open while the oven is on can cause the appliance’s temperature dials and the knobs to melt from the hot air and high heat and possibly catch fire.

The most common reasons people leave their ovens on all day and/or overnight is either for cooking or heating the home.

Another consideration is are items like a kitchen towel, apron or oven mitts, or things made out of paper left on the kitchen counter.

Any of these things placed near a hot surface or open flame could combust and create a kitchen fire that could cause you to lose your home or your life.

You always want to keep anything that could burn at least three feet away from a stove or oven (or space heater, fireplace, wood stove, etc).

We highly recommend smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home!

What Happens If The Oven Is Left On All Night?

In addition to running up your utility bill, leaving a gas oven on all night raises your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or starting a kitchen fire.

A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.

University of Wisconsin-Extension

Although a properly closed, empty oven won’t necessarily catch on fire (there’s nothing in the oven to burn), if a pan of food, or crumbs, or grease are left in the oven then it’s possible that a fire could start.

Remember that if the oven door doesn’t close properly or if the door is left open, the heat from the oven can melt the oven knobs or anything else that’s nearby, which could possibly cause a fire.

You can read more in our in-depth article, What Happens If You Leave The Oven On?

I will repeat this again – it’s important to install a smoke detector as well as a co detector in or by your kitchen to help protect you and your family.

What Is The Safest Way To Heat A House?

A safe way to heat your home is through electrical energy.

Electric heat is a cleaner, safer way to keep your home warm this winter. It has fewer potential hazards than natural gas and carbon monoxide poisoning makes it our top pick for heating safety reasons alone!

The safety features that are inherent in electric heat make it the best choice when you want both your home and family safe from fire.

The downside is that using electricity to heat your house is generally more expensive than using gas – but it is much safer.

Also, if there is a power outage, you lose the source of your heat unless you have a generator.

How Can I Keep My House Warm Without Heat?

If you don’t have a heat source, the first thing (and the best idea) to do is to conserve body heat.

This means putting on more layers of clothes and / or wrapping up in extra blankets.

An electric blanket may also be an option for you.

Next, heat only one area of the house to your desired room temperature.

This should be a room that doesn’t have large windows or more than one door, in order to avoid leaking heat to the outside.

It’s best if the room can be closed off so the heat stays inside. Reduce drafts by covering windows with blankets or shower curtains.

Use towels or bedding or door draft stoppers at the base of the door to block heat from escaping.

If you are using a space heater, keep flammable materials at least three feet away from it. Don’t leave it running while you are sleeping.

Remember that any type of space heater must be vented (except an electric space heater).

Read about the safety of space heaters, including ceramic heaters here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you leave the oven door open after cooking?

It’s not necessary to open the oven to release the built-up heat after cooking. The heat will dissipate into the house regardless. Opening the oven door just causes a quick burst of heat instead of a slow release.

Are gas stoves safe for seniors?

In order to ensure gas stove safety, a senior should have an easy-to-use or automatic fire extinguisher close at hand. In addition, they should install stove alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as a gas stove shut-off device. Range hoods should vent to the outside, and smoke alarms must work properly.

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