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).