Keep warm, keep well

Cold homes have a significant impact on people's health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

The chances of these problems are higher if you're vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • you're over 65
  • you're on a low income (so can't afford heating)
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • you are disabled

How to fight flu

Flu is a highly infectious illness that can spread rapidly. You may be eligible for a free flu jab if you're at risk of complications from flu.

Find out if you can get the flu jab for free on the NHS.

Fuel poverty facts

In the UK, in the winter of 2012-13 there were 31,000 deaths linked to the cold weather.

Currently, there are 2.46 million households in England in fuel poverty. This is when a household is living below the poverty line and has higher than average energy bills.

Read more about fuel poverty from the Energy Bill Revolution.

Keep your home warm

  • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. It's a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night.
  • If you're under 65 and healthy, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you're comfortable.
  • 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.

Eat well in winter

Food is a vital source of energy, which helps keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.

Wear warm clothes

Wrap up warm, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

Help your neighbours in winter

Check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they're safe and well. 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're worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

Read more tips on how to cope in very cold weather.

Cold weather benefits

You may also be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment

Winter Fuel Payment

A Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 is available if you were born on or before July 5 1952.

Find out more about the Winter Fuel Payment.

Cold Weather Payment

Cold Weather Payment may be available to you if you receive certain benefits. Payments are made when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of 0C or below over seven consecutive days.

You'll get a payment of £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 2014 and March 31 2015.

Find out more about the Cold Weather Payment.

How to reduce your energy bills

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to reduce bills and make your home more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. 

Find out more online from the EST website or call 0300 123 1234 (9am-8pm Monday to Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday).

For more information on cold weather benefits and other help available, read the Financial help to heat your home section in the Keep warm, keep well leaflet (PDF, 248kb).

Page last reviewed: 15/10/2014

Next review due: 15/10/2016

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 86 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

missac said on 27 February 2014

It's all very well to say "keep rooms heated to 18°c" but not when we are a country where so many hard working people are unable to afford this. Myself and partner are both self-employed and not the "dole-scum scroungers" the press bang on about and yet have not seen our household thermometer go much over 12°c this winter - it's usually at about 9°c and less at night, not through choice but because we simply can't afford to put the heating on. Our pay-as-you-go gas meter is so expensive that even the hot water only goes on twice a week.
I work from home, and keep layers of cardigans, a winter coat, hat and scarf on all day and still feel the chill!
After a tough winter, we have around £20 a week to live off, far below this country's Poverty Line, yet we are under 65 and don't have children which leaves us in a bracket unable to receive assistance from a government that claims we have a "wealthy country".
We struggle with this, yet there are people far worse off out there - is it really worth advising people to "stay warm" when so much of the country's population do not have the means to do so?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Very cold weather

Ways to keep warm and look after vulnerable people if the weather turns extremely cold

Flu and the flu vaccine

Your guide to flu symptoms and the flu vaccine, including who should be vaccinated this winter

Winter health

Tips and advice on how to stay healthy and well through the cold, dark days of winter