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Keeping warm in cold weather

Low temperatures can cause health problems for older people. Read our tips to make sure you keep warm and comfortable during periods of cold weather.
3 min read
In this article
How to keep warm indoors Heating the home

How to keep warm indoors

Low temperatures can cause health problems for older people. There are several quick ways to help you keep warm at home during colder months.

  • If it’s cool in your home, make sure you have enough thick, comfortable clothing handy and that you wear multiple layers when appropriate. Wool helps maintain warmth, whereas cotton provides better ventilation and is usually more suitable for the summer months.
  • Sheepskin slippers or bootees are comfortable and great for keeping feet warm.
  • ‘Snugs’ are soft, ergonomically designed pillows that fit around the body, providing extra comfort and warmth when sitting or lying down. Heated throws are a good option to use on the sofa – choose one with easy-to-use controls.
  • Heated chair pads provide comfort and even gently massage your lower back. This can be particularly useful if you have limited mobility and tend to sit in the same position for long periods of time.
  • When it comes to bedding, wool duvets are usually best for keeping warm. At lower temperatures, wool provides superior insulation, keeping body heat in and cool air out.
  • You can also get heated bedding, including electric under-blankets or toppers, that fit over the mattress; or electric over-blankets, which lie over the top of the duvet. Read the Which? Home & garden guide on how to buy the best electric blanket for information on which type to buy, and details about the features and settings.
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Heating the home

As we get older, changes in our bodies can make us feel colder more often. This contributes to heightened sensitivity to lower temperatures, as well as making older people more susceptible to health problems caused by the cold weather.

 

To make sure your home stays at a comfortable temperature, it’s important that the property is well insulated. Taking steps to improve insulation can significantly decrease energy bills and also reduce the impact on the environment. Find out more on Which? Home & garden about how to pick the best type of insulation with information on the costs and the savings you can expect to make.

 

Read more advice on how to avoid becoming cold, with information about thermostatic devices and smart systems.

 

Dealing with heating costs

Often, the cost of heating can be a key issue for older people. The Winter Fuel Payment of £100–300 is available to older people to help with heating bills. This grant can make a lot of difference throughout the year, but particularly in winter, when it can cost more to heat a property.   

 

On the Home & garden section of the Which? website, there is information about Home Energy Grants, and 10 ways to save on energy bills also gives some useful pointers.

 

It’s worth noting, too, that some people make significant yearly savings simply by changing their energy supplier. Visit our Which? Switch site and provide a few details about your energy supply to find the best deal for you.

Heating units

It’s important to ensure that heating units are easy to use and manage. Try to avoid heaters with complicated controls, and always make sure you can reach the dial or remote comfortably. For example, if you usually use a wheelchair, it’s important that the controls are at a suitable height.

 

Central heating can provide the best coverage throughout the home, but sometimes it might be useful to have portable fan heaters to maintain the temperature in certain rooms. Heaters should never be covered up and they may not be appropriate for people living with dementia because they can present a fire hazard if the unit is left on for an extended period of time.

 

For more information about how to buy the best electric heater, read the Which? guide for electric heaters.

Further reading

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Last updated: 18 Sep 2018