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Your guide to staying warm this winter

As temperatures across the UK begin to fall, it’s time to start thinking about staying warm. Every homeowner across the UK should be mindful heating their property during the winter months, as not doing so can have negative implications on both people and property. 

Here’s how to stay warm this winter, ensuring your home is properly heated, saving you money and letting you enjoy a happy and healthy season.

Why staying warm is important

Wintry weather can negatively impact both your wellbeing and your bank balance in the following ways:

Your health

According to the NHS, a drop in temperature, particularly below 8°C, can make a person more likely develop a range of conditions, alongside worsening their symptoms. Some of these include:

heart attack
stroke
flu
hypothermia
falls and other physical injuries
pneumonia
depression
dementia.

The risk is higher for over-65s, as well as people who are disabled or have a long-term illness, although however old or healthy you are, cold will still suppress your immune system.

Your property

Without regular heating in the winter months, homes can become damaged.

The most obvious of these is damp, which can quickly take hold in walls, ruining plaster and wallpaper. If it isn’t seen to, it can quickly invite mould into the home too, which, aside from looking and smelling unpleasant, can cause breathing problems such as asthma, and even affect the immune system.

Cold weather can also affect your property’s structure, causing wooden parts of the home, like door and window frames, to expand and contract, making them harder to open or close. Lastly, sealant can also shrink in cold weather, making your home draughtier and damper.

Preparing for winter

There are a range of tasks you should complete each year, before winter starts in earnest and chilly weather sets in, that’ll safeguard you and your home against the worst of winters’ effects.

The first is to draught-proof your home, thereby ensuring your property isn’t breezy and cold when the temperature drops. There are lots of ways to reduce draughts:

Ensure that the caulking around your window frames, floorboards and skirting boards is up to scratch, preferably with elastomeric caulk that can expand and contract without degrading.
Fit a flap on your letterbox and install inexpensive keyhole covers.
Install a chimney draught excluder (also known as a chimney balloon) into any unused chimneys.
Fix draught excluders to the bottom of your exterior doors.
Place draught strip seals on sash windows.
Insulate your loft hatch and install draught excluders around the edges of its frame.
Fit thermal linings to your curtains.

Next, make sure that your home is properly insulated, both in the attic and in your walls, and consider secondary, double and triple glazing. These will dramatically improve your home’s energy efficiency, making sure that warmth doesn’t quickly radiate out of your home whenever you heat it.

Don’t leave your home totally sealed during the winter though. Every few days, open windows on opposite sides of your house to encourage a draught through your home that’ll reduce condensation.

It’s important you keep your home at least 18°C if there are elderly or ill people staying in your home. If you’re healthy it’s safe to have it lower than this, although you should keep your home above 15°C to stop damp forming on the walls.

Lastly, make sure your annual boiler service takes place before winter, so you can feel safe in the knowledge it’s able to perform during its most active period.

Hacks for a warmer winter

Keeping your home warm during winter is an everyday battle – here are some tips on those little things you can do to keep comfortable.

If you choose to only heat certain rooms in your home, invest in inexpensive draught excluder ‘snakes’ for each door. They’re an easy and inexpensive way to keep rooms warm – you could even make your own.
Draw your curtains when it’s starting to get dark, or during the day, if it’s particularly chilly.
After cooking and turning off your oven, keep the oven door open to heat your kitchen.
When doing jobs outside in the cold, wear rubber gloves under your regular gloves to lock in the heat.
Stick a layer of tinfoil behind your radiators to reflect heat back into the room.
If your locks freeze up during especially frosty weather, heat your key with a lighter before putting it in the keyhole.
When the sun is out in the day, open your curtains to make the most of the free heat.
Living a healthy lifestyle can make your body more able to cope with cold weather. 

Financial assistance

There are lots of schemes available to help make sure you can heat your home during winter’s worst. Make sure you sign up to all available benefits well before the chill sets in, as applications might take a little time to process.

The Winter Fuel Payment is available to people born on or before August 5th 1953. You’ll have to live in the UK for at least one day during the week of the 18th to 24th September 2017 (the qualifying week), and be the recipient of the State Pension or another social security benefit (not including Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).

Then there’s the Cold Weather Payment, where the government will pay you £25 if the temperature in your area is or is forecast to be 0°C for seven consecutive days or more. You’ll be eligible if you receive Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

If you’re a low-income or vulnerable household, the Warm Home Discount scheme may also be of help. Most large energy companies participate, providing people who are eligible with a discount of up to £140 off their energy bills – to receive it, you or your partner’s names must be on the bill, with one of you receiving the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.

If you earn less than £16,010 and receive tax credits, you may be able to get up to £800 of free insulation and a free boiler under the Energy Company Obligation scheme. To see if you’re eligible, just call your energy provider and they’ll perform a free assessment.

Warming up your home is incredibly important, and whether you’re looking for tanks, boilers or fuel, Certas Energy is here to help. Click here to explore our product range.