With the cold weather closing in, in the UK we can expect buckets of rain, gale force winds and maybe even snow coming our way over the following months. Whilst this season has many good things: cosy evenings, the return of the roast dinner and Christmas, winter can also be challenging for homes and health. But there’s help out there and things you can do to prepare for the cold weather.
First of all, with the promise of likely snow this year, our top tip for preparing for extreme weather is to download the Met Office app to get severe weather warnings. That way you can know as early as possible what is coming your way and get ready for it.
When the cold weather does hit, there’s nothing better than a cosy home to retreat to. There are plenty of ways you can make sure that your home is heated this winter. Here are a few:
The Warm Home Discount Scheme is available to low income households and means you can get £140 knocked off your energy bill! If you’re a pensioner who receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credits, then the Department for Work and Pensions should write to tell you that you’re eligible for the scheme before the end of the year.
Outside of this group of people, the Warm Home Discount Scheme is offered to anyone living in ‘fuel poverty’. The easiest thing to do to see if you qualify for the scheme is to speak to your energy supplier. Check first if they a part of this scheme – a lot are but not all of them! If they are, they will ask you for information to decide if you are eligible for the discount. If you are, then they’ll knock £140 off your energy bill by March 2020!
If we have 7 days in a row of zero degrees Celsius or below between November 1st and March 31st you may be able to apply for a Cold Weather Payment. You’ll need to be getting certain benefits to apply – click here to find out which ones. If you are entitled to this payment you will get £25 into your bank or building society for each of the days of this 7-day period.
This is an allowance of £100 to £300 to help people pay their winter energy bills. If you were born on or before 5 April 1954 you should get this allowance automatically.
If you don’t know whether you are eligible for this payment you can contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre by phoning: 0800 731 0464
You will need to have these details to hand:
- your National Insurance number
- your bank or building society details
- the date you were married or entered into a civil partnership (if appropriate)
Getting the flu vaccine
During this time of year, we can all expect to get ill at some point with cold or flu. The flu can wipe you out and make you feel terrible for a number of weeks, but for certain people getting the flu can lead to more serious illnesses.
Those who are vulnerable are older people, pregnant people and those with underlying health conditions, such as asthma. Your GP or local pharmacy should be able to arrange an appointment for a free flu vaccine if you are at risk from further complications from the flu, so make sure you check with them if this is something you need!
Taking care of your pipes
One big freeze can play havoc with your water pipes and a burst pipe can lead to a tougher winter while you wait for repairs. If you can leave the heating on as low as possible for a little while every day this will mean the water keeps moving evenly through the home.
If your pipe freezes don’t be tempted to blast the heating, as this could lead to a burst pipe. First, switch off the water supply at the tap/valve and make sure none of your taps are dripping. Use hot water bottles covered in a thick cloth to evenly thaw the pipe, starting from the end nearest to the tap to slowly melt the ice. Remember, don’t ever be tempted to use a flame on them!
There are lots of things to look forward to in the winter; wrapping up warm, mugs of hot chocolate and getting to spend some time resting at home. Prepare for the coming months and if you have neighbours that might need a little extra help, why not reach out to them to offer it. Stay warm swappers!
The HomeSwapper Customer Support team are always on hand to give advice and tips on how to get the most from HomeSwapper. They deal with Swappers every day and have a unique insight and view on the thousands of successful swaps that take place on HomeSwapper.