How do the Amish keep warm during winter? It's a good question and one that we will attempt to answer here.
Most Americans are spoiled. We can flip the furnace on, and within a short period time our houses are flooded with warm air. Of course, not everyone is so fortunate, but many, many people are.
That wasn’t always the case. How quickly humans forget. It was only around a century ago that reliable indoor heat began arriving in large numbers.
So, without a central heating component, there are many different ways Amish people heat their homes I’ve seen many creative ways.
For instance, in newer Amish homes, ones that are custom-built from scratch, I see wood or coal stoves in the basement, and the heat then rises through vents throughout the house and it actually makes for a fairly decent home heating system.
In older Amish homes, which weren’t built to capitalize on the “warm air rises “phenomenon, you’ll just see coal or woodstoves in the center of a room. And when it’s really really cold people will congregate around the stove. It’s cozy, but you have to be careful, I’ve burned through pants and shoes standing too close to the stove in an Amish home.
Like at a campfire, there’s a “Goldilocks zone “…where it’s not too cold, not too warm, it’s just right.. but it’s a very narrow zone… And if it’s really cold some people will sleep in that very narrow zone.
🔥 Most common heating materials Amish use:
- Coal: Cheap, burns hot, and is usually easy enough to find
- Wood: Plenty of this around, but it makes an uneven heat.
- Kerosene: Mainly used for cooking and lanterns, but heat is heat!
❓ FAQ About Amish Home Heating
Like many things with the Amish, the answer to this question isn’t as simple as it seems. The issue isn’t whether the Amish are “allowed “to have heat in their homes. The issue isn’t even with electricity.
The issue is with the Amish and the grid (related article: The Amish and Electricity) Once an Amish person is hooked up to the grid, that opens the floodgates for all sorts of technologies that they feel undermine their pastoral lifestyle. So, yes, if there’s a way to have an electric heater powered by a generator. That would generally be far more favorably viewed upon.
☀️ Other Amish Heating Methods
There are also tried and true techniques for keeping warm. For instance, newer Amish homes will be built facing south, to capitalize on the heat during winter. But keeping curtains open to capture heat and lightning kerosene lanterns are all common ways to leverage heat.
☂️ Going Buggy For Heat
Of course, there’s also the issue of how to keep warm in a horse-drawn buggy.
Probably the worst of the worst are places with only open buggies… Like Berne Indiana, or Marshfield Missouri. Those buggies are open year-round and you’re exposed to the whipping winds across the fields which sting you like 1000 razor blades.
That is where huge umbrellas come in handy to ward off the breeze. And thick, thick horse blankets are a must to keep away the cold. As are the usual assortment of thick hats, gloves, scarves, and boots.
Once you start talking about closed-in buggies, that’s different. You can keep pretty warm in the closed buggy boxes just with body heat and blankets, some will even have portable kerosene heaters.