Keeping Warm on a Budget: How to Beat the Winter Chills

This year, government cuts have lead to an extraordinarily high number of vulnerable people being left in the cold when it comes to boiler care, central heating and hot water.

The budget for the energy company obligation (ECO), a service put in place to protect low-income households, has been slashed as part of austerity measures in recent years. In 2017, the money made available went down from £800m to £640m, a major shift that has impacted Britons across the nation.

The cuts mean thousands of people are missing out on vital services they need to keep their home warm. From boiler replacements to appliance servicing, those that cannot afford such necessities are now being forced to suffer through a freezing winter. Many of these people are vulnerable or ill, unable to earn enough to pay for the ever-growing expenses of boilers and central heating upkeep.

Let’s suppose it’s going to be difficult for you to afford having your heating on this winter. With the government taking a firm stance on cuts, how can you avoid potentially deadly situations in the bitter British winters?

Invest in a Space Heater

In the event of being unable to access central heating, due to a broken system or unpayable costs, you may start looking for other options to create heat. Space heaters, otherwise known as portable heaters, are small radiators or fans that provide targeted heating for a small area of the household.

These types of heaters are not efficient for heating a whole property. However, they can be much more efficient for one space and a cost-effective alternative to central heating. For example, if you’re spending most of your time in the living room, a space heater used to warm this one room will ensure you stay comfortable without wasting energy heating rarely used rooms.

When used in conjunction with other suggestions on this list, they can be a very effective solution.

Buy Thermal Underclothing

It’s something everyone will tell you. Wrap up warm! Put an extra layer on.

Extra layers are all well and good, but nobody wants to be padded out like an Arctic explorer when eating dinner or relaxing in the evening. Heaping on more clothes can also expend extra energy and costs on washing machine usage.

Instead of throwing on a fleece, jacket and coat, consider being more strategic with your layers. Thermal underclothes are specialist garments designed to trap heat and keep the body warm. They are worn by everyone from explorers to outdoor labourers in the winter.

Thin, comfortable and incredibly effective, thermals can help keep you toasty without having to layer up like a Russian doll.

Insulate Wherever Possible

Given that we’re talking heating on a budget, the idea of spending money might not be something you are all too keen to hear about. But, for those looking for long-term solutions, insulation is an effective tool for battling the cold.

Heat in the home is lost through the walls, flooring, ceiling, windows — pretty much everywhere. It dissipates and is eventually wasted, which is why your home will get cold after the heating goes off, because the warmth escapes — even if you don’t open the doors and windows. Additional insulation in places like the attic and walls can stop heat escaping as quickly. It also helps stop the cold from getting in. The result is that it’s easier for you to stay warm on those icy winter nights.

Insulation can cost a few hundred pounds, but the costs are well worth it if you can afford them. They pay for themselves in less than two years when it comes to a reduction in energy bills and make a noticeable difference to warmth in your home. In the summer, they also trap cool air.

The perfect answer to both baking summers and ice-cold winters.

Cover Draft Spots, Eliminate Weak Points and Reduce Wastage

Homes are naturally heated.

They are protected from winds and contain items that exude warmth like lights, cookers, electronics and the human body, but there is also ample opportunity in the home for cold to enter and warmth to escape. Cutting out these choke points will help prevent temperature drops in the home, keep you more comfortable and, more importantly, stave off winter-related illnesses.

So what can be done?

  • Cover Windows — Windows lack the insulating power of walls and, therefore, allow for the escape of heat and the onslaught of cold. Their seals can also allow for the leaking of cold air. Plastic films or thick curtains can help trap heat and stop cold getting in through window panes.
  • Exclude Drafts — Draft excluders are very useful tools, especially when it comes to external doors. You can also use items like tape or scrunched up newspaper to plug drafts in areas such as door and window frames.
  • Limit Entry Points — The more your house is exposed to the elements, the quicker it will cool down. Limiting entry points to one door will help to control airflow, as will sealing things like catflaps. While you are looking to block cold air getting in, you don’t want to obstruct ventilation points. Leave these built-in elements of your home as is, even if they do make things a little bit chillier.
  • Cover Floorboards — Unlike carpeting, floorboards absorb the cold much more easily and therefore cause the temperature in your home to fall. Covering floorboards with rugs and mats is a good way to ensure your property remains as warm as possible.
  • Close Doors — Activity creates heat. Inactivity leads to cooling. When you’re in a room, you’re making energy and naturally warming the area. When you leave a room for hours or days, it becomes inactive and cold. If your house is open, the icy air in these rooms will steal warmth from the rooms that are active. Keep doors shut and draft excluders in place for rooms you don’t often enter.

Author Bio: Paul Cunningham, founder of Plumbing Care Services, is an industry specialist with a wealth of knowledge in the central heating and boiler care sector.

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