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Help! I live in a cold home

Living in a cold, damp home can seriously impact on people’s health and mental wellbeing. No one should be suffering in the cold at home, help is available. Below you will find information the risks and groups vulnerable to the effects of the cold, impacts to your health, staying warm and well,  and the extra financial support available.

Stay Warm and Well

Cold Weather Benefits

Keeping Well

Staying healthy in winter

There are lots of things you can do to help stay warm at home over the colder months. The ideal temperature for your main living room is between 18 – 21°c. If you have limited mobility or fall into one of the at-risk categories you should aim for 20°c or above.

  • 24°C – very warm, could be unsafe for heart conditions
  • 18-21°C – comfortable temperature
  • 18°C – minimum for being comfortable
  • 12-16°C – fairly cold, could be unsafe for respiratory conditions
  • 12°C – cold, could be unsafe for heart conditions
  • 9°C – very cold, could be a risk for hypothermia


Stay warm & 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.

The effects can be both physical and psychological. They include:

  • Increased chances of circulatory conditions such as blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke
  • Worsened respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or asthma
  • Make worse conditions such as diabetes
  • A higher risk of falls and accidents for elderly people
  • Depression
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Existing medical conditions can become worse
  • Children’s cognitive development can be affected

You could be at more risk if you or someone in your households falls into one of the groups below: 

  • people with cardiovascular conditions
  • people with respiratory conditions (in particular, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)
  • people with mental health conditions
  • people with disabilities
  • older people (65 and older)
  • households with young children (from new-born to school age)
  • pregnant women
  • people on a low income

It’s harder for elderly people and very young children to regulate their own temperature. This puts them at higher risk in extreme temperatures. As well as protecting your own health, always remember to keep in touch with elderly and vulnerable friends, family and neighbours during cold snaps to make sure they’re warm and comfortable.

If you are living with cancer, the Macmillan Home Energy Advisors could help. There is also a Managing your energy costs booklet

Free flu jabs

For most healthy people flu is unpleasant, but they usually recover within a week or two.  A pharmacist can give treatment advice.

However, in certain groups of people, flu can be serious with a risk of severe illness and potentially serious complications.  A free flu vaccine offers the best protection. More information on who should have the free flu jab is available to view. You can also speak to your GP surgery or pharmacist.

Further information on flu is available on the NHS website .

Cold weather benefits

If you receive any type of benefit or are on a low income, you should check to see if you are eligible to for extra financial support to help keep you warmer over the winter months. 

1. Warm Home Discount

5The scheme helps low income households with their energy costs.  Participating energy suppliers provide a one-off discount of £140 on your electricity bill between September and March. Is a £150 rebate on the household electricity bill. If you don’t receive it automatically, you will need to apply through your electricity supplier.

Is a £150 rebate on the household electricity bill. If you don’t receive it automatically, you will need to apply through your electricity supplier.

What it is and how to apply: The scheme helps low income households with their energy costs.  Participating energy suppliers provide a one-off discount of £150 on your electricity bill between September and March.

Eligibility: There are two ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount. You will automatically qualify if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well), your name is on the bill and your energy supplier is part of the scheme.

If you automatically qualify, you will receive a letter from the Government by 7 December 2018. If you don’t get a letter but believe you should automatically qualify, call the Warm Home Discount Team (0800 731 0214).

If you don’t automatically qualify, you may still be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier if you are on a low income, meet your supplier’s criteria for the scheme and they are part of the scheme.

If you have a pre-pay meter you can still qualify for the discount.  Your electricity supplier will tell you how you’ll get the discount e.g. a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

How to apply: Check with your electricity supplier as soon as possible to find out if you are eligible and apply.  The number of discounts given by suppliers is limited.

If you live in a park home and pay your electricity through your park site owner, or as part of your pitch fees, you can apply for the Park Home warm home discount by contacting Charis Grants (03303 80 10 40).

2. Winter Fuel Payment

£100-£300 is available for those aged over 65 on the qualifying date (usually in April).You should receive this automatically from the government, but you can call the helpline to confirm (0800 731 0160).

3. Cold weather payment

Are made when the temperature where you live is an average of 0°C or below over seven consecutive days. It is based on the benefits you receive and will also be paid automatically.


Keeping well at home

You probably know that keeping yourself as fit and healthy as you can is important all year round, but your lifestyle can make even more of a difference when it comes to keeping well in winter.

    Logo for serviceThe West Sussex Wellbeing Service can help support you with health lifestyle advice and support. It is a friendly and impartial service which comes from your local authority and other partners, the majority of our services are completely free to users.

    Fall Prevention: Anyone can have a fall, but older people are more vulnerable and likely to fall, especially if they have a long-term health condition, or their home is too cold. There are things you can do to help prevent falls. West Sussex County Council has produced a range of helpful guides and resources in a variety of formats.

    West Sussex County Council Adult Care Point : You can refer yourself or someone else (with their consent) who you are concerned is at risk of a fall or who has previously fallen in their home. They may be eligible for aids, adaptations and further support to help keep them safe at home and reduce the risk of falls.

    Eat well

    Eating regular meals will help keep your energy levels up during winter.

    • Have plenty of hot food and drinks.
    • Plan your meals and keep your diet as varied as possible.  Aim to include your daily five portions of fruit and veg.
    • Stock up on tinned and frozen foods, so that you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.


    Power cuts

    To report or get information about power cuts, call 105.

    If you need extra help during power cuts, contact the electricity power provider for your area:

    Hand turning a thermostat knob

    Contact a home energy advisor

    If you are worried about your bills or keeping warm in the winter, please contact an advisor.