Beat the cold – staying warm in winter
Finding ways to beat the cold is going to be important for many UK households this Winter as we make adjustments to cope with higher energy bills. There are many ways that you can stay warm when it gets cold, which include adjusting your central heating, insulating your house against heat loss and keeping yourself warm through movement and wrapping up.
We have put together some tips covering some practical ways to keep warm in Winter when the temperature drops.
Beat the cold by managing your heating
In colder months, your central heating is essential to keep the chill off. This year, because of higher fuel costs, many people are concerned about switching the heating on. However, it is possible to leave your heating on and keep the costs under control with the following tips.
- Lower your thermostat
One of the best ways to keep your heating costs down is by setting your central heating to a lower temperature. This can be especially effective when using a portable heater such as Duux Threesixty 2 Fan Heater or Duux Edge Convector Heater to beat the cold by providing a boost to the room you are currently in.
- Get your central heating system serviced
Before it gets too cold, it is a good idea to have your central heating serviced. This will make sure that the system is working efficiently and potentially less wasteful. A service can also give you some reassurance that your heating is less likely to fail when the weather gets colder.
- Have a smart meter fitted
If you don’t have a smart meter, requesting one from your energy supplier can be a helpful way of bringing down your heating costs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a smart meter can reduce a household’s electricity use by 2.8% and gas use by 2%.
- Turn down your hot water temperature
Turning down the thermostat is a logical way to reduce energy consumption, but fewer people think to turn down their hot water temperature as well. Many combi boilers give the option to set radiator and tap temperatures separately. If you don’t have a combi boiler, you will need to adjust the thermostat on your hot water tank.
- Lower the flow temperature on your boiler
If you have a condensing combi boiler, you could save around 12% on your gas bills by turning down your boiler’s ‘flow’ temperature. This is the temperature that your boiler heats water to before sending it out to your radiators. This doesn’t affect the overall room temperature but it does mean that your rooms will take a bit longer to reach the temperature on the thermostat.
- Avoid getting into fuel debt
The above advice will help you to reduce your heating costs, but higher fuel costs mean that some people will still find themselves unable to pay their bills. To help avoid getting into fuel debt, there are some steps that you can take.
a. Improve the energy efficiency of your home
The next section of this guide has practical advice to reduce heat loss in your home and bring down your heating costs.
b. Check that you are claiming all of the benefits that you are entitled to
There are a number of benefits designed to help people who are struggling with their fuel bills. Turn2Us has a free and confidential benefits calculator which you can use to check which benefits you are entitled to.
c. Provide your supplier with a monthly meter reading
By providing regular meter readings you can make sure that you receive an accurate bill and you are not overpaying. Energy companies can sometimes overestimate the amount of electricity used, so this could keep your payments at a more manageable level. You may also find that regularly checking your meter could make you more conscious of how much energy you are using.
d. Contact your supplier If you’re unable to pay your bill
The energy regulator Ofgem requires energy suppliers to offer affordable payment plans and provide emergency credit to people using a prepay meter. If you are worried that you may not be able to pay your bills, contact your supplier as soon as possible. Find out more on Ofgem’s website.
Beat the cold by preventing your house from losing heat
Even if your central heating is running at maximum efficiency, if your house is not well insulated, you could be wasting a lot of heat. The following advice can help you beat the cold by keeping heat inside your home and cut down on your costs.
- Check you are not losing heat
There are a number of ways that heat can escape from your house but by checking the most common areas of heat loss, you can prevent a lot of warmth escaping.
a. Check your loft insulation
Make sure you have effective insulation covering your entire loft. Anywhere that doesn’t have flooring, consider laying a doubling layer of insulation.
b. Seal cracks in your floorboards
Especially in older houses, there may be gaps between your floorboards which could allow heat to escape. Using sealant is an inexpensive way of plugging the gaps and keeping heat in.
c. Keep your doors closed
This is particularly important if you are providing extra warmth to a room with a fireplace or portable heater. Leaving a door open will cause the room to quickly lose heat.
d. Use draught excluders
Even if your doors are closed, you can lose heat through the gap at the bottom of the door. A draught excluder will plug the gap, letting you keep more warmth in the room.
e. Turn off bathroom extractor fans
As well as extracting steam, extractor fans will pull warm air out of the room. In the winter it can be a good idea to turn extractors off, and perhaps leave the door open while you shower to clear the steam from the room.
- Put foil behind your radiators to reflect heat back into the room
By using tin foil or radiator reflectors, you can reflect heat back into the room rather than letting it escape out through an external wall.
- Use heavy curtains
Curtains provide a layer of insulation between the windows and the room. Thick, heavy curtains can prevent some heat escaping, even if you have double glazing installed. Remember to leave your curtains open when it is sunny outside to let in the warmth.
- Use a humidifier
Humidifiers like Duux Tag Ultrasonic Humidifier will make a room feel warmer without raising the temperature. This works in the same way as a sauna which gives the impression of more heat by increasing humidity not temperature. Raising the humidity in a room allows you to set your thermostat to a lower temperature but without affecting how warm you feel.
- Make sure that your ceiling fans are blowing down
In the Summer, your ceiling fans extract warm air upwards to help keep you cool but during Winter, people don’t generally switch their fans on. Many fans, however, allow you to reverse the airflow direction. If you have this option, set your ceiling fan to blow the warm air that has risen to the ceiling back down into the room.
- Leave your oven door open after cooking
This is a great way to give some extra warmth to your kitchen, giving a boost on a cold day using heat that would otherwise be wasted. Be careful, however, if you have pets or young children as this could create an unnecessary risk.
Beat the cold by keeping yourself warm
Even after taking steps to insulate your house, heating your house to a lower temperature, does mean that you may sometimes feel cold during the Winter months. This final section provides some guidance on how to keep yourself warm and cosy when it is cold outside.
- Layer up
When the temperature drops, prevent your body from losing heat, by wrapping up warm. There are several ways that you can keep out the chills.
a. Wear several layers of warm clothes
Thermal underwear, fleeces and sweatshirts can be layered to keep you warm. This works by creating pockets of air between the layers. It is far more effective to keep your core warm than your extremities, so a jumper will be more effective at keeping you warm than wearing gloves.
b. Cover yourself with blankets
When settling on the sofa for the evening, a blanket can help you beat the cold, providing extra warmth and comfort. This works on the same principle as layering up your clothes, keeping your core warm can mean your hands and feet will warm up too.
c. Wear thick socks and slippers
While it is most effective to warm your core, cold feet can be quite uncomfortable and can lead to an increased feeling of coldness. Socks and slippers will keep your feet warm on cold evenings and contribute to your overall comfort.
d. Wear a hat
It is a myth that we lose most of our body heat from our head, however on particularly cold days, a hat can still help prevent heat loss and keep you warmer.
- Warm your bed with a hot water bottle or electric blanket
Getting into a cold bed can contribute to making you feel cold. While you warm up fairly quickly once under the covers, it isn’t a pleasant feeling. Before going to bed for the night, try putting a hot water bottle under the covers or switch on an electric blanket for a toasty feeling as soon as you get into bed.
- Rearrange furniture away from walls
When it is cold outside, external walls can be the coldest part of a room. Beat the cold feeling at the edges of the room by moving furniture away from the walls, you can feel more comfortable by sitting in a warmer part of the room.
- Eat and drink warming foods
Keep warm by eating and drinking foods that contribute to your overall warmth. If you drink cold drinks, replace these with tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Foods that are harder to digest, such as those that are higher in protein and fats make your body work harder and increase body temperature to boost metabolism. Porridge and starchy vegetables can also help keep you warmer.
- Keep moving
A little physical activity will get your blood pumping and warm your body. Be careful not to do so much that you start to sweat as this will cool you down faster so it is important to strike the right balance of activity.
- Don’t drink alcohol to keep warm
Alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate which makes your skin feel warmer. However this also causes you to lose internal body heat, making you colder in the long run.
How to stay warm in cold weather
As we brace ourselves for the colder weather, it is helpful to know that there are things you can do to keep warm without turning up the heating.
It is most effective to use a combination of different methods to beat the cold. Maintaining your heating at a lower temperature can save money while keeping the chill off, but this will be more effective when managing heat in your house and keeping yourself warm.