If you're shivering in your rental home, what can you do about it, given you're probably not allowed to embark on intensive renovations?
Living in cold accomodation can be dangerous - particularly if you're aged 65 or older or have a long-term health condition.
You shouldn't have to worry about keeping warm in winter. Find out what your landlord is obliged to do for you and what you can do yourself without spending too much money.
Your home has to be fit for habitation and it's your landlord's responsibility to ensure this. If your house is too cold (or swelteringly hot) or damp, then this is a danger to your health and the landlord must make necessary repairs.
There are exceptions to this rule, though. If you have caused damage to the property, either intentionally or through negligence, the onus is on you to fix issues caused.
If your rental home is cold because repairs are needed, write to your landlord. Keep your a record of your requests (including the content of the requests and their dates) as evidence.
If your home is managed by a letting agent on behalf of your landlord, talk to the letting agent. It should talk to your landlord on your behalf, as it is the letting agent's responsibility to make sure that repairs are made.
If your home is in such a state of disrepair that it's actually unsafe for you to live there, instead talk to your local council immediately. They will have an Environmental Health department who can inspect your home and demand repairs on your behalf.
If the situation isn't quite that dire, read on to find out what you can do yourself.
Rooms in your rental property may have cracks and holes where hot air escapes, causing your room's temperature to plunge. You can't go out-of-pocket double-glazing your landlord's windows or insulating the space between the walls, but there are quick solutions you can try.
Doors and windows are the biggest culprits for leaking warm air, but you should also look out for:
Where possible, using a foam strip or a disc to cover over these points will reduce heat loss. As solutions go, it's just applying a plaster over the problem, but it's a low-cost and temporary solution that works.
It seems obvious, but do wrap up in the meantime.
You lose heat from exposed skin when the temperature around you is cooler than your body temperature. So do put on extra layerswhen the ambient temperature is low.
An electric heater can give you concentrated heat when and where you want it. They're particularly well suited for some renters: they're versatile, quick, and easily transportable from one tenancy to the next.
Their drawback is their high cost per hour. Electricity is much more expensive per kilowatt hour (kWh) than gas, and portable heaters usually run at two or three kWs.
To keep yourself comfortable, and make sure that your energy use is proportionate to your needs, buy a heater with a thermostat that's proven to work. It's the most important feature of any electric heater, and our tests show that quality varies widely.
Heaters have to be fitted with thermostats now because of energy efficiency rules.
Make sure that electric heaters (sometimes called space heaters) are not forbidden by your contract though.
Electric heaters are often fairly cheap up-front. There are plenty of electric heaters that cost between £30 and £40:
Their true cost can come later in the form of bills, though. Make sure you consider how much you'll be paying in electricity.
Electricity typically costs around 21p/kWh if you're on a price-capped tariff paying by direct debit.
Many electric heaters are rated for maximum outputs of 2 to 3kW. So you need to use them sparingly and use their thermostats too.
Few heaters need to run for a full hour on 2 or 3kW. Most need between 15 - 30 minutes to heat a medium sized room by 10 degrees celsius. If you run a 2kW heater for half an hour to get the temperature up, in real terms that's 1kWh of consumption.
It's important to strike the right balance between humidification and ventilation. This can be hard when your windows and doors are tightly shut to insulate your home.
Your home will become damp and mouldy if you don't limit the humidity that builds up through drying clothes, cooking and showering. A dehumidifier can help you keep damp in check.
There are a lot of ways you can get help with your heating costs, including:
If you're over 65 years of age, and you fit into one of the following criteria, you're eligible for Age UK's warm homes programme:
If you qualify, then Age UK, through a local partner, will offer you support. Through Warm Homes, Age UK will help you to claim the benefits you're entitled to, send a tradesperson to your home to carry out an energy check, and provide further advice and support.
If you're a renter who can't top-up your meter for any reason, you can apply for emergency credit from your energy supplier.
You are expected to repay this credit when you next top-up, although this can be discussed further with your supplier and repayment schedules should be set according to your ability to pay for energy.