The situation being faced by these people can be assuaged by using a simple concept that a temperature difference between two regions always means that there is an energy loss, which is occurring and it can be put to useful work.
At colder reaches or higher latitudes, it is extremely difficult for human inhabitants to sustain and if there is a snowstorm and the power is knocked out and this makes life more difficult altogether and there are times when there is no power for days. In higher reaches people burn coal/wood to keep warm when the outside temperature could be as low as -15 deg C or perhaps less than that. Under these circumstances living without power makes life miserable and to add to woes it may take days to restore the power provided the snow storm or the bad weather subsides. It is here that the concept of thermoelectricity can effectively be used to generate power.