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Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Monday, 29 November 2010
Guide to keeping warm this winter

Walker in the snow (Photo: John Giles/PA)
It's better to wear several layers of clothes in the winter to trap heat

As the weather turns colder it's important to make sure that you stay warm.

Help The Aged have supplied a selection of tips to help you stop shivering in the cold winter months.

From keeping the draughts out and the heat in to looking out for friends and neighbours, there are plenty of tips to stop you feeling the chill.

Keep moving

Try not to stay sitting down for long periods - get up and move around a bit.

Any kind of activity, from walking to the shops (as long as it's not very cold) to doing the vacuuming, gets your circulation going and makes you feel warmer.

If you have difficulty walking, moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes and fingers will help.

If it's very cold outside or icy underfoot, try to keep active indoors rather than venturing outside.

Dress for warmth

Wrapping up warmly, both indoors and out, is very important.

Several layers of thin clothing, for example, a shirt or blouse, thin jersey and cardigan, will keep you warm by trapping air between them.

Clothes made from wool, polyester or fleecy synthetic fibres are usually warmer. Thermal underwear can also help beat the chill.

Warm, thick tights or long socks are a must as well as a warm pair of slippers.

Make sure you know how to set the thermostat for your central heating

When sitting down, a shawl around the shoulders or a blanket over the knees will provide a lot of warmth.

When you go out, be sure that you are dressed for the weather; it is very easy to just throw your coat on when you go to the shops, only to realise on the way that it's colder than you thought.

During the winter, make sure you wear warm layers under your coat and wear gloves and a hat or headscarf; this is very important as a lot of your body heat is lost through your head. Warm shoes or boots with good grips are also important.

If you get wet, change into new, dry clothing as soon as you get indoors.

Eat for warmth

During cold weather, regular hot meals and hot drinks will provide warmth and energy.

Even if you don't feel like cooking, try to have at least one proper meal a day.

Certain foods such as potatoes, beans, bread, milk, eggs, meat and fish, are all good sources of protein, energy and vitamins which will help keep you healthy.

Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will also help - contact your local council for details of the Meals on Wheels service in your area, which can provide hot meals.

It's also a good idea to keep stocked up on some basic foods so you don't need to go out to the shops on very cold days.

Keeping your home warm

Whatever type of heating you may have, it is important to keep both your living room and bedroom warm enough.

Try to heat your bedroom overnight during the winter months. If this isn't possible, warm your bedroom at night before you go to bed.

If it's very cold weather and bills are a great problem, living and sleeping in one room may be a last resort - but get some friends or family to move your bed into the living room rather than sleeping in an armchair overnight.

Thermal imaging showing heat loss from a house (photo: Science Photo Library/Alfred Pasieka)
Insulating your house properly will stop heat escaping and lower your fuel bills

The recommended temperature is 21 degrees Celsius, but you may be more comfortable at a higher temperature.

If the temperature falls below 16 degrees Celsius, the elderly especially could be at risk of suffering from hypothermia, heart attack or a stroke.

One of the best ways of increasing your comfort and keeping bills down is to make your home more energy efficient.

There are two sides to energy efficiency - one is to keep the heat in and draughts out by insulating and draught-proofing your home.

The other is to make good use of your heating and get full benefit from your fuel. By keeping you warmer and saving you money, energy efficiency is good news all round.


Heat rises, so a lot of heat can be lost through your roof. You can cut this down by insulating your loft.

Draught-proofing the front door with a well-fitting curtain will cut down on draughts, but avoid using loose draught excluders as it is very easy to trip over them.

Draught-proofing strips can also be fixed between the part of the window that moves and the frame, and to the bottom of doors, especially the front and back doors where most heat is lost.

Central heating

Make sure your heating system is in good working order by getting it checked at least once a year. Ask your gas or electricity supplier about this as they may offer free checks to people aged over 60.

Make sure you know how to set the heating controls. If you can't heat your bedroom overnight during the winter months, set the timer so that the heat comes on an hour before you get up and goes off when you go to bed.

Try to keep the heat in all the rooms you use during the day at 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit).

Double glazing

Double glazing cuts heat loss, but can be expensive. However, you can attach plastic film or sheeting to the window frame which will help.

Curtains will also insulate your windows. Ideally they should reach right down to the ground. This traps a layer of air between the glass and the curtain which gives added insulation.

If you have radiators under your windows, don't let the curtains hang in front of them. Tuck them behind the radiators so that the heat flows into the room.

Water tanks

Your hot water tank should also be insulated. A special jacket that fits around the tank will slow down the amount of heat loss and keep your hot water at the right temperature for longer.

Your cold water tank should also be insulated to stop it from freezing over in the winter months.

General advice

Research has shown that as we get older, the risk of a heart attack or stroke greatly increases in cool temperatures, so it's important to keep your home warm.

Cold air on the head and face at night has been shown to increase blood pressure, so remember to close your bedroom window at night when it's cold outside.

Try to keep the temperature inside at a constant 21 degrees Celsius

It is very important to keep warm in bed at night. A hot water bottle will warm up your bed, as will an electric blanket, although you must never use the two together as this can be dangerous.

Wearing the right clothing to bed is as important as wrapping up when you go outside - thermal underwear or pyjamas and bed socks will all help keep you warm right through the night.

A warm, milky drink before bed can also help and, if you sometimes wake during the night feeling cold, you could keep a flask of hot drink by your bedside too. Try and make sure you have enough bedclothes.

Finally, however much you like the fresh air, in very cold weather it is advisable to keep your bedroom window closed.


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