Look after your health this winter, including tips on keeping warm and safe, cheap ways to heat a house, and claim winter fuel allowance.

Cold weather in the winter months can cause health problems for the elderly or vulnerable. There are simple things you can do to keep warm and stay healthy in winter.

Prepare for winter

Before winter arrives, you can:

  • set your heating to the right temperature (18-21°C or 65-70°F) which is warm, but keeps bills as low as possible;
  • improve the insulation in your home and fit draught-proofing;
  • get the free flu jab for those who are aged 65 or over, have certain medical conditions, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person;
  • build up a stock of medicines;
  • stock up on essential food items - including non-cook foods and long-life milk in case of a power cut; and
  • have your heating and cooking appliances checked - carbon monoxide is a killer. Find a Gas Safe registered engineer.

During the winter

When the cold weather arrives, you can:

  • eat well - have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day to maintain body heat;
  • keep warm in bed by wearing socks, thermal underwear and using a covered hot water bottle;
  • stay active and keep moving to keep you warm, even if it's just wiggling fingers and toes; and
  • keep blankets handy in case the heating fails.

Winter fuel payments and other financial support

There are various types of grants, benefits and financial support available to help keep your home warm.

Name of grant or benefit Who is eligible?
Winter fuel payment

If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. You usually get a winter fuel payment automatically if you are eligible.

Warm home discount scheme You could get £140 off your electricity bill if you either receive the guarantee credit element of pension credit, or
you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.
Cold weather payment You may get a cold weather payment if you’re getting certain benefits. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days. You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

You can visit the the GOV.UK - heating and housing benefits page to check you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to.

Prevent falls in winter weather

One of the biggest risks from wintry weather is falling, particularly among older adults. Icy conditions make it harder to stay on your feet, and the cold may cause us to limit our activity, which can lead to loss of strength and balance.

You can read advice about avoiding falls and slips here, including advice about getting out and about safely in wintry or icy weather.

More useful information

The GOV.UK website has leaflets you can download about keeping warm and well in winter.

You can also visit the winter health page on the Age UK website for more information about preparing for winter, and keeping yourself warm, healthy and safe during the winter months. 

See the NHS Choices pages below for more information on winter health:

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