With the coldest month of the year now upon us, many older people will be thinking about their winter fuel budget and how to ensure it lasts until the spring thaw.
Utility companies' gas and electricity pricing is often both expensive and complex, and rates of fuel poverty among the elderly are disproportionately high.
Going without heating is far more than just an uncomfortable experience. For older people, this can exacerbate conditions such as arthritis and poor circulation, as well as increasing rates of cold and flu.
In today's article, we'll tell you about six ways older people can make the most of their winter fuel budget to stay safe and warm throughout the winter months.
Ideas for stretching your winter fuel budget
Here are some of the most effective ways to heat your home while minimising costs throughout winter:
1. Improve insulation
Many of our homes (especially older properties) lack the insulation needed to retain heat efficiently. Discuss options with your loved one relating to:
- Draught-proofing doors and windows
- Thoroughly insulating any loft spaces
- Cavity wall insulation
- Hot water tank/pipework insulation
The quality of insulating materials has increased significantly in recent years, so any investment your loved one makes here is likely to prove worthwhile.
2. Draw curtains
Windows lose a huge amount of heat, and some older people may not think to draw the curtains in certain parts of their home (especially if there are rooms they don't typically use).
Drawing these curtains at night will help to preserve heat. Additionally, if there is a non-electrical radiator situated between the curtains, make sure to tuck them behind it to allow warm air to circulate the room.
3. Remove obstacles
As with curtains, bulky furniture and other obstacles positioned in front of heating devices can prevent air circulating effectively.
Help your loved one remove these items and create space to ensure they get maximum value from the utilities they're paying for.
4. Selective heating
It may be the case that your loved one spends most of their time in certain parts of their property (e.g. the bedroom, living room and kitchen).
In such instances, it could be beneficial to advise them to turn off or turn down the heating in any unused rooms and close the doors so as to concentrate the heat in the places it's needed most.
Encourage your loved one to think about how best to set their thermostats/timers to gain maximum value.
For instance, if they sleep with an electric blanket, it may be safe for the heating to be switched off for most of the night.
Also, set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature and leave it, rather than turning it up in an attempt to get a boost when the weather conditions deteriorate.
6. Additional support
You may also be able to help your loved one access additional advice services and/or financial support.
In terms of the latter, your loved one may be able to claim:
- Winter fuel payments
- Cold weather payments
- Warm home discount
- Budgeting loans
And, in terms of the former, many regional Age UK branches offer some form of home energy check. Through this service, the charity can provide advice and free resources that should help stretch that winter fuel budget further.
Help your loved one stay safe and accompanied throughout the winter months by discussing live-in care with the friendly team at The Good Care Group.