Stay warm and well
Keeping warm both indoors and out is essential for our wellbeing as the weather gets colder. Illnesses such as colds or flu are more likely when it’s cold, and if you are exposed to the cold for long periods of time, or extreme cold for a short time, your body temperature drops and you could be putting yourself at risk of serious health problems.
Why? If you are exposed to a cold environment for long periods of time, or extreme cold for a short time, you could be putting yourself at risk of serious health problems. These problems could include breathing difficulties, heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, and in extreme cases hypothermia. If you have anyone vulnerable in the house, including young children, disabled or older people it’s even more important to keep them warm to avoid illness, especially coughs and colds. There are several things that you can do to stay healthy during the cold weather.
- Eat and drink for warmth Regular hot meals and hot drinks provide warmth and energy when you need it, but remember to boil just the amount of water you need.
- Dress appropriately During cold weather wrap up warm, indoors and out. Ideally wear several layers of thinner clothing rather than one thick jumper.
- Keep warm at night Wearing the right clothing to bed is as important as wrapping up outdoors. Don’t forget to draw your curtains at dusk to keep in the warmth.
- Keep moving Any activity gets circulation going and makes you feel warmer. Spread housework out through the day and stay active.
- Sleep with your windows closed Cold air on the head at night will increase blood pressure increasing the risk of stroke or heart attacks.
- Let damp air out Open vents or windows at least once a day and keep lids on pans to prevent condensation and mould growth. Warm air will hold more moisture than cold.
Keep your home warm
Many of us spend a lot of our time at home so it’s very important to make it comfortable and warm. There are several things that you can do in your home to help stay healthy in winter.
- The right temperature Heating your home to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing.
- This 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 18°C could be good for your health.
- If you are under the age of 65, active and wearing appropriate clothing, you may wish to heat your home to a temperature at which you are comfortable, even if it is slightly lower than 18°C.
- Overnight, people who are 65 and over or who 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.
- To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, rooms in which infants sleep should be heated between 16°C - 20°C.
- Put thermometers in the living room and bedrooms.
- If you can, ensure your hot water is set to heat at 60°C (140°F).
- Draught proofing Fitting draught strips and excluders to gaps around doors and windows can save around £25 a year on heating bills and make your house feel much warmer.
- Insulation Check that your home is fully insulated. Fit a jacket to your hot water tank to reduce escaping heat and insulate any pipes in the loft or other unheated spaces. Loft and cavity wall insulation can significantly reduce heating bills and together can save you up to £255 a year. The recommended depth for loft insulation is 270mm.
- Grants There are grants available; contact your local authority or energy supplier for information. For information on grants and discounts please see our financial help page.
- Heating Check how well your heating is operating. If you heating system is over 15 years old it’s time to think about replacing it. It is also very important to ensure you have an annual gas safety check. Get to know your heating controls such as the timer and thermostat. If it’s very cold you can set the timer to switch the heating on earlier rather than turning the thermostat up higher to warm your house quickly. Don’t forget to ventilate your property to stop condensation.
Reduce your fuel bills
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce energy use and save money on your heating and other energy costs.
- Turn down radiators in rooms which you only use occasionally.
- Switch your lights off when you’re not using them.
- Replace normal light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs which use much less electricity. They may cost a little more, but they soon pay for themselves.
- Only boil the amount of water you need in the kettle.
- Turn off appliances like TV’s and phone chargers at the wall rather than leaving them on standby when they’re not being used.
- Regularly defrost your freezer to make sure it’s operating at full efficiency.
- Draw your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in.
- For more information, download the West Sussex ‘Stay Well this Winter’ booklet
- For further impartial information speak to the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234, or
- If you are worried about your heating bills contact Citizens Advice, or phone them on 03454 04 05 06.