Temperatures are set to plummet over the next seven days, endangering people's health. With soaring fuel prices making heating costs unaffordable, we've put together the most cost-effective ways to keep warm this winter.
Drink plenty of warm drinks to help heat the person. Copyright: Getty images Automatic Air Curtain
The UK is facing bitterly cold weather this December, with forecasts as low as -10 in some parts of Scotland. The Health Security Agency has declared a level three cold alert, triggered only when freezing conditions are likely to affect people's health. People with respiratory problems such as asthma, or heart conditions are at particular risk during the winter months.
Our bodies need to be kept at a core body temperature of 37C to stay healthy, which means rooms should be heated to a minimum of 18C. But with the cost of living still soaring, there are concerns that people will be unable to use heating to keep themselves and their homes warm during the colder months.
Here are some tips on how to keep warm this winter, so you can check in on vulnerable friends, neighbours and family members too.
There are many things you can do to maintain your core body temperature without turning the central heating on.
Layers: Wearing lots of layers rather than one thick piece of clothing will help to trap your body heat and keep you warmer. Thermal underwear and clothing, and hot water bottles are an inexpensive way to stay warmer for longer. You can also keep your feet warm with thick socks and slippers.
Food and drink: Make sure you eat healthily and drink plenty of hot drinks throughout the day. Avoid alcohol - it prevents your blood vessels from constricting and you'll begin to lose body heat.
Move around: It's also important to avoid sitting still for long periods of time - move around and keep as active as possible. This will help boost your circulation and keep you warm.
Heating one room during the day can keep the cost of your energy bill down. There are several ways to warm a room without putting the central heating on.
Curtains: Open your curtains during the day - the sun still provides warmth, even in the winter months. Make sure you close them as soon as the sun sets to keep the warm air in. Investing in thicker curtains, or thermal curtain liners, will help keep the cold air out and prevent heat loss.
Use a draught excluder: We tend to lose a lot of heat through gaps around windows and doors. Exclude draughts by lining your windows with rubber seals and use a homemade draught excluder by doors.
Move furniture away from external walls: Sitting with your back against an internal wall will instantly feel a lot warmer.
Insulate your floor with rugs: If you don't have carpets, put down plenty of rugs. Hardwood or laminate floors are a lot colder than carpeted areas.
Avoid condensation on windows: With the windows closed, condensation can quickly build and can eventually turn to mould. This can be harmful to your lungs. Make sure you turn your extractor fans on in the bathroom and kitchen and wipe down your windows at regular intervals.
Temperatures really plummet at night, so it's important to keep your bedroom as warm as possible. As with any room, exclude any draughts, close the windows when it's cold and put down rugs to insulate the floor.
Bedding: Use extra blankets, or buy flannel or fleece bedding if you can. These materials trap body heat and are better insulators than cotton. Using thicker tog duvets will also provide warmth.
Electric or weighted blankets: An electric blanket is a lot cheaper to run than a heater and provides a constant source of heat throughout the night. Weighted blankets are also very comforting and don't let draughty air into the bed.
Toasty pyjamas: Wearing fleece or flannel pyjamas will go a long way to keeping you warm as they trap the heat. Bed socks will also help you sleep.
Hot water bottle: Cost effective and long lasting, a hot water bottle will provide a safe source of warmth throughout the night.
As temperatures plummet, many organisations across the country are creating warm hubs. These spaces offer warm food and drink, heating and a place to meet others.
Warm Welcome has 3,000 registered hubs across the UK, offering welcoming spaces to the public. You can find one near you, here.
Many local organisations such as churches, town halls, shops, pubs and cafes are also offering warm hubs. Check with your local council to find a space near you.
If you’re claiming benefits such as Pension Credit, Disability Allowance, Income Support, Income-based Job Seekers' Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Support for Mortgage Interest, you may be able to get help with your energy bill.
Warm Home Discount scheme: The UK government run scheme is available to those receiving benefits or a low income, you can check if you're eligible on their website.
Cold Weather payment: These are given to people receiving benefits in England and Wales when there is an extended period of freezing weather. See if you're eligible for support.
Contact your gas or electricity supplier: Find out what support you could receive from your gas and electricity supplier by contacting them directly.
Winter fuel payment: Those born before 26th September 1956 may be eligible to receive support to pay their heating bill.
You can also contact Energy Savings Trusts, Citizens Advice Bureau and National Energy Action for simple energy advice on how you can save energy, make your home more efficient and reduce bills.
You can call the British Red Cross support line for more information about services in your area.
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