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People & Communities

Keeping your home warm, efficiently and safely

  • Heating your home to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing

  • Heating your home to at least 18°C is particularly important if you have reduced mobility, are 65 and over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease - having room temperatures slightly over 18C could be good for your health

  • if you are under 65, active and wearing appropriate clothing, you may feel comfortable at room temperatures slightly lower than 18°C

  • Overnight, people who are 65 and over, or have pre-existing health conditions, may find bedroom temperatures of at least 18°C are good for their health - this may be less important if you are a healthy adult under 65 and have appropriate clothing and bedding

  • If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go to sleep

  • Get your heating system and cooking appliances checked and keep your home well-ventilated

  • If you have an electric blanket, use it as instructed and get it tested every three years - never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket

  • Don't use a gas cooker or oven to heat your home - it is inefficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which can kill

  • if you aren't on mains gas or electricity, make sure you have a supply of heating oil, LPG or solid fuel so you do not run out in winter.

Keep the warmth in by:

  • fitting draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors

  • making sure you have loft insulation and, if you have cavity walls, that they are insulated too

  • insulating your hot water cylinder and pipes

  • drawing your curtains at dusk and tucking behind radiators to help keep heat inside

  • making sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture or curtains.

Look after yourself

  • Keeping well will allow you to do more and keep your independence - being cold isn’t just uncomfortable it can be bad for your health

  • Sitting or sleeping in a cold room isn't good for you and increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke and breathing problems

  • Don’t let the cold catch you out - check the weather forecast and be ready for cold weather

  • Keep your bedroom windows closed on a winter’s night -breathing cold air can increase the risk of chest infections

  • Food is a vital source of energy and helps to keep your body warm, so have plenty of hot food and drinks

  • Aim to include five daily portions of fruit and vegetables in your diet - tinned and frozen vegetables count towards your five a day

  • Stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy

  • Exercise is good for you all year round and it can keep you warm in winter

  • Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer as this will trap the heat better to keep you warm - socks and hats are great too and are a good idea to keep you warm in bed

  • Thin layers of clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and maintain body heat

  • Wear good-fitting slippers with a good grip indoors and shoes with a good grip outside to prevent slips, trips and falls

  • Make sure you have spare medication in case you are unable to go out

  • Cover yourself with a blanket or shawl if you are sitting for long periods as this will help keep you warm - put your feet up if you can, the air may be colder near the floor

  • Keep moving if you can - this will help keep you warm

  • Try not to sit for more than an hour - get up and walk around, make a hot drink and spread housework throughout the day

  • If walking is a problem try moving your arms and legs whilst sitting, or wiggling your fingers and toes

  • Power and utility companies have schemes which make at-risk groups a priority for re-connection following power cuts - find out if you meet the criteria and how to sign up

Look after others

  • Check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses, to make sure they are safe, warm and well

  • All of the advice above for 'Looking after yourself’ can be used to plan how to help others

  • Those with care responsibilities, whether for family members or on a professional or voluntary basis, should consult the Cold Weather Plan for England for a range of useful advice, as well as ensure that those at risk have homes heated to at least 18°C and receive regular visitors.

  • Charities and social and health care organisations should ensure that carers of those most at-risk are getting the support and advice they need to protect those who may be vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold weather.

Get financial help

  • There are grants, benefits and advice to help make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills

  • It’s worthwhile claiming all the benefits you are entitled to before winter sets in.