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Remaining warm both inside and outside your home and eating well can help reduce your risk of serious health problems.

As you get older it takes longer to warm up which can be bad for your health. The cold thickens blood and increases blood pressure, and breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.

Keeping your home warm & safe

As energy bills rise, do you feel nervous about turning up the thermostat at home? Here are some top tips to get a handle on the heating this winter.

  1. The ideal temperature is 64°F (18°C) for your bedroom and 70°F (21°C) for your living room. Check your thermostat or use a room thermometer to monitor temperature, and keep your bedroom window shut on a winter’s night.
  2. Have your heating system serviced and your chimney swept, or ask your landlord to do this if it’s their responsibility. Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm and never block air vents as fires and heaters need good ventilation.
  3. Draw your curtains, as soon as it gets dark to stop the heat escaping and the draughts coming in. Fit thermal linings to your curtains if you can - this will also help to keep the heat in.
  4. Keep windows and internal doors closed when it’s cold – this will keep heat inside, where you most need it.
  5. Get a keyhole cover - it should only cost a couple of pounds and will help keep the draughts out in cold weather.
  6. Use a hot-water bottle, wheat bag or electric blanket to warm the bed, but never use a hot-water bottle and electric blanket together as this can be dangerous.
  7. Have your heating system serviced and chimney swept
  8. Check your water stopcock is working properly
  9. Apply for Free Home Insulation

Dressing to keep warm

  1. Wear several thin layers of clothing as these trap air and keep you warmer than one thick layer.
  2. Wear clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics, if possible
  3. Wear a hat and scarf - most heat is lost through the head and neck
  4. A shawl or blanket will provide extra warmth, if you’re sitting down,. You should also try to keep your feet up, because air is cooler at ground level.
  5. Wear warm clothes in bed. When it’s really cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks and even a hat.

Eating to keep warm & well

  1. Make sure you have at least one hot meal a day and regular hot drinks.
  2. Include a variety of foods in your diet to get the nutrients that you need.
  3. Eat potatoes, pasta, bread and rice which contain important carbohydrates. Pasta and rice will last through the winter months, so stock up now.
  4. Try porridge with hot milk for breakfast and soups and stews for lunch and dinner.
  5. Keep basic food items in your cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. Tinned fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as the fresh kind.

How to keep the fuel bills down

  1. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room
  2. Don’t leave electrical items, like the TV and DVD player, on standby – switch them off.
  3. Only boil as much water in a kettle as you need.
  4. Use a 30°C programme on your washing machine
  5. Turn off any electrical chargers once your appliance is at full power, such as a laptop or mobile phone.
  6. Don’t block your radiators – it cuts the heat they give out
  7. If you have a dishwasher, fill it fully before using it, so it’s more energy efficient.
  8. Find out more about help you could get with heating costs
  9. Apply for Free Home Insulation. There are benefits and grants available to help with insulation and energy efficiency, such as cavity wall insulation.

What to stock up on

If you can afford it, you’ll feel more relaxed if you stock up for the winter months. Try to have a store of these, in case you have trouble getting out of the house.

  1. Batteries for your smoke alarm
  2. Salt or sand for icy steps and pathways
  3. Cold and flu medicines, as well as any repeat prescriptions
  4. Pasta and rice will last through the winter months
  5. Tinned fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as the fresh kind.

Our Winter Wrapped up guide has more information on keeping warm in the winter.

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575