When you are a senior citizen on a fixed income, you need to cut corners wherever you can. In the winter, this can often come in the form of turning down the heat in living area or using a space heater. Sometimes seniors even try to heat their homes via their kitchen appliances.
If you are wondering “Can I use my oven to heat the 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.
There are several reasons why it is not only unsafe, but potentially lethal, for someone to try to heat their home with an oven or stove top.
Why Is It Dangerous To Heat The House With An Oven?
The obvious concern about using the oven to heat a home or an apartment is that it creates a huge 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.“
Gas ovens use 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.
You may think it’s okay to heat the home with an electric oven, 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 and possibly catch fire.
Another consideration for either type of oven is if you’ve left anything on a counter close to the oven. I’m talking about items like a kitchen towel, apron or oven mitts, or things made out of paper, like newspapers or bills. Any of these things could also 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).
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?
How To Keep Warm Without Heating
If you don’t have heat, the first thing to do is to conserve body heat. This means putting on more layers of clothes and / or wrapping up in extra blankets
Next, heat only one room in the house. 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 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).
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.