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There are ways to stay warm and cosy during the winter months – without it costing the earth

January and February are often the coldest months of the year, and when cold weather strikes we all need to stay warm. This is particularly important for the elderly, the very young and anyone with a health condition.


Keeping warm can help prevent colds and flu, and it's recommended that homes are heated to at least 18 degrees C – especially if you're over 65 or have limited mobility. But many people overheat their homes during winter – and end up with huge bills at the end of the season.


Turning down your central heating thermostat by just one degree can save around £80 per year on heating bills, says the Energy Saving Trust. This simple action will also reduce your carbon dioxide emissions – so it's better for the environment too.


So how can you stay warm, save money, and avoid overheating your home? Here are a few tips.


Insulate

If you're heating your home, you want to be sure all the heat stays inside. Effective insulation keeps your house warmer and your energy bills down. As well as having loft insulation, consider draught-proofing gaps around windows and doors – a swimming noodle makes a cheap but effective draught excluder. And don't forget draughts that can sneak in through the keyhole or letterbox.


Thermal-lined curtains keep rooms warm at night, and remember to close curtains at dusk to keep the warmth in. Shut the door of the room you're spending time in – this will keep the room cosy and avoid heat drifting into little-used areas like halls and stairways.

Turtle Doves fingerless gloves

Dress up

It sounds obvious, but putting on a warm jumper when you start to feel cold, instead of just turning up the thermostat, can help to save on your heating bills. Similarly, warm socks will keep toes toasty. Natural fibres, such as wool, are good insulators. Or opt for a fleece – many fleeces, such as this one by Craghoppers, are made from recycled materials, making this an environmentally friendly way to stay warm.  


A hot water bottle or microwaveable wheatbag can warm you up if you're feeling very cold. Some people may benefit from wearing wrist warmers, such as those made by Turtle Doves – these are especially helpful for people who suffer from circulation problems such as Raynaud's.


Eat, drink and be active

Eating healthily and taking regular exercise can help you keep warm, says the NHS. Although it may seem counter-intuitive when it's cold outside, going outdoors for some exercise can improve circulation – which will help you to stay warmer in the long term. Wrapping up in warm clothes and heading out for a walk is good for your wellbeing too.

Even if you can't get outside, don't sit still for too long – get up to move around at least once every hour, as even moderate exercise can make you feel warmer.


Try to eat at least one hot meal every day. Hot soup is an excellent, nutritious option – especially if it contains lots of vegetables and pulses. Regular hot drinks – tea, coffee or cocoa – can also help.


Wood is good

If trees used for firewood are replaced, wood provides virtually carbon-neutral heating. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, and this is released when the wood is burnt – so no additional carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere.


A wood burning stove can supplement the heating in your house, making you less reliant on less environmentally friendly central heating systems. They're also a great back-up if power cuts or fuel shortages hit.

Wood needs to be seasoned before being burnt. This means the wood should be left for at least six months – and preferably for at least a year – after cutting, so that it can dry out thoroughly. Seasoned logs will burn better and give off more heat. When you buy logs, your supplier may sell you seasoned or un-seasoned wood: always check before you buy.

  

If you haven't time to wait for wood to season, or are unsure about whether your delivered logs are dry enough, kiln dried logs are a good idea. We recommend Logs for Sale for quality logs that burn efficiently and produce a lot of heat.


Bio-mass

If you're planning to install a new heating system from scratch, it may be worth considering biomass.


These wood-fuelled heating systems burn wood pellets or chips, and can power central heating and provide hot water. Although the price of wood fuel varies, it is often cheaper than other heating options.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a wood-fuelled biomass boiler could save you up to £800 a year compared to electric heating – and you may also be eligible for financial support if you plan to install one.

Biomass is a low carbon option too – just like firewood, the carbon dioxide emitted when wood chips or pellets are burned is the same amount that was absorbed over the months and years that the plant was growing.  


When new trees are planted in place of those used for fuel, this becomes a sustainable process – with emissions far lower than the emissions from fossil fuels.

Fire
Walking
Wood stack

Keeping warm

in winter

Little Green Space January 2018

We saw biomass in action when we stayed at the excellent, eco-friendly West Lexham estate. This Norfolk holiday destination uses a biomass boiler to heat the holiday accommodation – including tree houses and glamping bathroom blocks (pictured above). And this method was certainly effective – the treehouse we stayed in was warm and cosy, even though the night-time temperature outside was minus zero!