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Ways to stay warm when the weather is freezing

How to supplement the warmth from your central heating to retain heat and reduce energy consumption

January and February often bring the worst weather and snow plus freezing temperatures make staying warm that much harder. With many of us working from home, home learning, or shielding due to the coronavirus restrictions, this means that while we don’t have to face the elements to go anywhere, we have to find ways to stay warm at home - ideally without spending a fortune on heating.

We’re assuming here that you will have your heating on, however we have several suggestions that can help you conserve heat meaning you can most likely get away with keeping it at a low level, to cut down on energy consumption. They will also help keep you warm in the event of a boiler breakdown, if the worst should happen.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure everyone is warm enough when temperatures plunge outside:

1. Check the condensate pipe

While this doesn’t keep you warm itself, doing this could help make sure you can stay warm and avert potential disasters like a boiler breakdown. One of the most common reasons for boilers stopping working in very cold temperatures is something quite simple: the condensate pipe becoming frozen. The condensate pipe is the pipe that leads from the boiler through an external wall to remove excess moisture. The outdoor section of it can freeze and this can cause the boiler to stop working because it can no longer expel water.

When it is freezing, it’s worth double checking that all is well with the pipe in order to potentially avert any issues. If it looks in danger of freezing you can gently thaw it out with some warm water or by placing warm towels around it. You can also do this if it has fully frozen and the boiler has broken down and it will often resolve the problem. It’s a good precaution to lag this pipe, if you can, to prevent it freezing in future. Likewise, with other external pipes.

2. Keep doors closed

Closing internal doors will help to retain heat in each room, especially where doors lead out to non-habited areas such as hallways and landings as there is no point losing heat to an area where nobody will benefit from it. Draught excluders may be something that your granny used to use but they can really help plug up gaps and minimise heat escaping.

3. Wear layers

Use your clothing as your first defence against cold. By wearing a number of layers and maybe even a blanket, you can get yourself as warm as possible ‘for free’ then use the heating to top up the warmth to a comfortable level. Cranking up the thermostat and then wearing a T shirt is very wasteful!

4. Warm food and drinks

Taking in warm food and drinks will really help you stay warm so opt for soup over sandwiches and plenty of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Clasping a steaming mug will also help keep your hands warm.

5. Keep moving

If you are working or studying from home, or even having a duvet day, you can often find that you end up sitting in the same position for hours at a time. Getting up and moving to another part of the house periodically will stimulate your circulation and generate some body heat. It’s also good for productivity as it can help you feel more refreshed and it’s good to look away from the screen regularly. Go make a cuppa or just walk around the house for a few minutes to get the blood pumping. If you are really keen, you can fit in a quick Joe Wicks workout!

6. Take a bath or shower

If you do find you have become very cold, one of the most effective ways to bring your body temperature back up is to have a warm bath or shower. You will find that this allows you to warm up much more quickly than sitting by the fire or radiator.

7. Close the curtains or blinds

Close your window coverings as soon as it begins to get dusk as this will help retain heat and prevent it escaping through the window. It is especially helpful if you have thick, lined curtains, and they fit close to the window.

8. No heating? Use other sources

If you are unfortunate enough to have a boiler breakdown, many of the above measures will help you to retain the heat that you have but you may need some other sources. Electric heaters are very useful items to have in for emergencies and good, old fashioned solutions such as hot water bottles and electric blankets will also help. Hopefully these will tide you over until you can get your boiler fixed.

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