Keeping and staying warm safely in winter
Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health problems like pneumonia. Find out some simple things you can do to keep warm, stay healthy and make the best use of your heating at home.
Here are some simple tips to stay warm and safe in your home during the winter:
First, check your heating
Why wait? Try your Central Heating NOW!
Simply switch it on and run it for an hour or so. If it works you will have peace of mind when the winter comes. If it does not work now, contact us on 0330 1234 034 so we can help get it back up and running.
Keep your home warm
Your main living room should be between around 18-21C (64-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.
A warm home during the day
To keep warm at home during the day try to:
- heat your main living room to around 18-21°C (64-70°F) and the rest of the house to at least 16°C (61°F)
- heat all the rooms during the day. This is more efficient than having some rooms with radiators turned off.
- make sure you keep your living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed
- set the timer on your heating to come on before you get up and switch off when you go to bed
- in very cold weather, set the heating to come on earlier, rather than turn the thermostat up. This means you won’t be cold while you wait for your home to heat up.
A warm home at night
To keep safe and warm at home during the night you should:
- try to keep the temperature above 18°C (65°F) in your bedroom overnight
- never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off
- unplug blankets before you go to bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use
- get your electric blanket tested every three years for safety – Age UK or your local fire and rescue service may be able to do this for you.
Wrap up warm, inside and out
Several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer. Don't forget to wear hats, gloves and scarves. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
Move around at least once an hour and don't sit down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm.
Look out for elderly friends and neighbours
Check they're safe and well through the winter. Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. If you are worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your Local Authority or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 169 8787.
Financial help with heating your home
If you are over 60, disabled or on a low income, you may be able to get financial help to heat your home.
For more information on schemes like cold weather payments, winter fuel payments and Warm Front, speak to your local authority, visit https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment or www.ageuk.org.uk.
To be put in touch with an Age UK group near you, call Age UK’s freephone advice line on 0800 1698787.
You can also apply for a grant to help with a debt on your energy bills, to help purchase energy efficient appliances and for funeral costs.
This grant comes from the British Gas Energy Trust. To find out more, click here
Storing your electric blanket
Even when your blanket is not in use, you can leave it on the bed all year round or place it flat on a spare bed. If you put the blanket away, it should be stored as the manufacturer recommends or as follows:
- loosely fold or roll it in a towel or plastic bag and store the blanket in a cool dry place
- let the blanket cool down before folding
- don’t use any moth-proofing chemicals
- don’t place heavy items on top of the blanket while it is being stored
Here are some further safety tips:
- always buy new when choosing an electric blanket - never buy second-hand blankets, they may not be safe and you can’t be sure they meet current safety requirements
- always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before use
- examine your blanket regularly for signs of wear or damage
- never use an electric underblanket as an overblanket (or vice versa)
- don’t use the blanket while it’s still folded or creased
- don’t use a hot water bottle at the same time as using your electric blanket
- don’t touch the blanket if you have wet hands or feet, and never use the blanket if it’s wet or damp
- don't insert or use pins to hold the blanket in place on the bed
Any doubt about your blanket? Contact the manufacturer before you use it to make sure that it is safe. It may need to be replaced.
Plug-in heaters use a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat. This means they can be dangerous if they are not bought from reputable shops and used correctly. You should:
- position them clear of curtains and furniture
- keep at least three feet - one metre - away from them
- have fireguards to prevent and protect children and/or pets coming in contact with them
- never dry washing on or near them (or on fireguards)
My heating isn't efficient
If you feel your heating is not working to its best potential, we can ask an engineer or surveyor to come out to you to have a look.
Check out our guide on what steps will take place here.
How to heat your home efficiently
Heating your home efficiently can help you save on your energy bills.
From using timers, thermostats and how to draught proof your home, check out our guide on heating your home efficiently here.