Fuel Poverty Awareness Day: 30th November 2023

30th November 2023 is National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.

National Energy Action are a charity whose mission is to end fuel poverty and ensure that every household in England, Wales and Northern Ireland remains warm throughout the winter and beyond.

What is fuel poverty?

Fuel poverty is when households are unable to keep on top of and pay their energy bills. The result of this is often discomfort and a cold home, as people battle between staying warm and being able to afford the related expenses.

In the past, when monthly bills were more manageable, many may not have considered themselves in danger of fuel poverty. If the cost-of-living crisis has taught us anything, it’s the terrifying fact that poverty – in all of its forms - does not discriminate. Poverty can happen to anyone, at any time.

Homes shivering with low temperatures are not just unpleasant; they can also be dangerous. Cold environments can cause a whole host of serious mental and physical ailments, including stress, sleep deprivation, social isolation, respiratory conditions, and an increase in blood pressure. It can also aggravate existing conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and arthritis.

Fuel poverty: the facts

How cold is too cold?

Room temperatures below 13°C heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease and increased blood pressure.

It is recommended that the rooms you spend the most time in are kept at temperatures between 18 and 21°C. Doing so should successfully keep you warm and help to prevent any buildups of damp and mould, which can thrive in chilly environments.

While this is the ideal scenario, we understand that it is not quite that simple. The cost of fuel often makes us think twice about popping the heating on, even if it means we suffer as a result.

So, is there a way that we can stay snug while combatting the cost? We’ve gathered together some tried-and-tested cost-effective methods to keep you as toasty as possible this winter.

Cost-effective ways to stay warm this winter

  1. Freeze out the cold
  2. Use draught excluders to cover any gaps at the bottom of doors to retain warmth. These can be bought from Amazon for as little as £6.50*, or you can really save the pennies by stuffing an old pair of tights with unwanted fabric and tying the ends. For more inspiration on DIY draught excluders, check out this blog.

  3. Curtain call
  4. Make sure your rooms get as much sunlight as possible during the day, as this will provide some natural heat.

    Closing your curtains as soon as the evening and lower temperatures draw in could reduce the amount of escaped warmth in your house.

  5. Invest in an electric blanket
  6. An electric blanket may be a rather expensive one-off purchase, but it could save you money in the long run.

    In April 2022, it was estimated that a common 100W electric blanket cost just 3p an hour to run, making it a much cheaper option than turning on the heating.

    One of the worst things about winter has to be getting out of bed and stepping into the cold. Instead of rely on the radiator, you could power up the electric blanket for a few minutes and place your clothes underneath it.

  7. Rug it up
  8. Laminate, stone and tiled floors are especially susceptible to the cold and can leave your rooms feeling that bit crisper.

    Covering bare floor spaces with rugs can instantly make a real difference.

    We found this large, extra thick rug on Amazon for just £13.60*.

  9. Rearrange your space
  10. Yes, really! Did you know that placing large items of furniture (such as sofas and armchairs) in front of radiators can actually block the heat they produce? To achieve a nice, even flow of warmth, it might be an idea to reshuffle your room.

  11. Love your layers
  12. It’s frustrating – you shouldn’t have to wear multiple layers around your house in place of putting the heating on, but unfortunately this is the reality for so many right now. ‘Heat the people, not the room’ by dressing with the intention of locking in your body heat. Think slippers, long sleeved t-shirts with a hoody on top, and trousers tucked into thick socks.

  13. Handy heated gloves
  14. Do you work from home and suffer from icy fingers while typing away on your laptop?

    Heated gloves may just save the day and assist in keeping the cold at bay.

    There are many different types of heated gloves at varying prices, however you may be able to pick up a more reasonably priced pair from Amazon, such as these rechargeable versions sold for £13.99*.

  15. Grab a hot water bottle
  16. The humble hot water bottle is a somewhat underrated source of heat. Fill one up and snuggle up to it while you’re working from home or watching TV.

    Got kids? They will love microwavable teddies, like this £9.99* one from Ryman's!

  17. Eat hot, nourishing food
  18. It’s the perfect excuse to rustle up a bowl of your favourite soup: healthy, comforting and wonderfully warming.

    Love a hot drink? Reduce the amount of times you switch on the kettle by boiling it once in the morning and filling a large thermal flask with the hot water. Use it to top up your cuppas throughout the day.

  19. Jump around!
  20. There’s no denying that being on the move can generate heat and leave us with a glow. Why not try a fun home workout, a relaxing yoga session, or have a spontaneous dance to your fave tunes to boost your body temperature?

Additional help and support

Nobody deserves to endure a cold house. We need to collectively continue to raise awareness of fuel poverty so that families wandering around their own homes wearing coats and hats does not become normalised. It is unacceptable.

Please never think that this is just the way it is – there are charities, organisations, and schemes out there with methods in place to support those in need. It’s important to reach out and seek help as soon as possible.

It’s definitely worth checking to see if you are eligible for any extra grants or benefits that may offer you a helping hand. Citizens Advice Bureau have put together a comprehensive guide to the various available packages and their criteria, which you can find by clicking here.

Additionally, sites such as Citizens Advice, StepChange, MoneyHelper and National Debt Line offer free, impartial advice on a wide range of topics associated with money and debt management.

Being warm and comfortable in your own home is a basic human right and should not feel like a luxury.

*Prices correct as of 17th October 2023.

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