How to prepare for a cold weather snap

We didn't get a white Christmas in most parts of the UK, but we certainly did get a chilly start to the new year. The Met Office is issuing cold weather warnings around different parts of the UK as there's a chance of snow this January and February.

One thing is for certain – we’ve got some icy days and nights ahead! Read our 20 tips to help you stay warm and cosy during the next few cold winter months.

How to keep warm during the day

1. Move about to keep warm and stay healthy.

Our bodies get stiff and our metabolism can slow down when we're not very active. Whether you’re relaxing or working at home, it’s good idea to get up every so often. Set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes and trust us, your body will thank you! This can be as simple as making a cup of tea during a TV ad break or standing up while you’re on a work phone call.

2. Layer up with a blanket, scarf or shawl.

If you have back problems, try wearing a gilet or a sleeveless jumper for that extra bit of comfort.

3. Keep your feet cosy with slippers.

Do you have poor circulations or frequently suffer from cold feet? Try slipper socks or boot-style slippers as they trap body heat more efficiently.

4. Enjoy hot drinks and soups.

Warm up with a hot cup of tea or coffee in the morning, and you'll feel set for the day. If you're not a coffee or tea lover, why not treat yourself and your family to a hot chocolate instead. Chicken broths are well known for soothing sore throats, but if you're feeling more adventurous you could try a new soup recipe this winter. The heat from cooking will warm the kitchen up too.


How to keep warm during the night

1. Wear thermal underwear or fleecy pyjamas in bed.

This is a great way to feel cosy even during the coldest nights. You may also want to try another blanket or two on the bed!

2. Take a hot water bottle to bed.

As well as warming you up, hot water bottles can help you relax and they may relieve some aches and pains too.

3. Try an electric blanket if it's very chilly.

If you're struggling to get a good night's sleep you may want to try an electric blanket. Always check if your electric blanket can be used during the night. Make sure it’s checked every 3 years to make sure it works properly.

How to keep warm when you go outside

1. Check the weather forecast before you leave the house.

Most of us have been caught out in bad weather when we're not wearing the right clothes. Why not add a weather app to your phone to make it easier to check the forecast before you leave home. This is especially useful for dog walkers.

2. Go out in the morning or early afternoon.

We all need our daily exercise, but shorter and darker winter days can make it harder to spot ice on the ground. Try to go for a walk or a jog earlier in the day to avoid any slips. The daylight will boost your vitamin D levels, and you never know - it may boost your mood too!

3. Keep your face and hands warm, as well as your head.

If you’re not a fan of leather gloves or wool mittens, try some cotton fingerless gloves instead. You could also take some re-usable hand warmers with you for that extra bit of heat when you really need it. If you're not keen on hats, try some ear muffs instead.

4. Wear layers of fleecy, wool or synthetic fabric.

A few layers of these types of fabric are guaranteed to trap more body heat and keep you warmer for longer than one thicker layer of cotton.

5. Keep your feet warm with thick socks and lined footwear.

Choose wool or thermal socks instead of cotton, if you can. If you’re thinking of buying new boots this winter, go for non-slip soles and a warm lining that will keep you cosy and dry whatever the weather.

Worried about other weather conditions?

 Read our handy blog about how to prepare for extreme weather if you're concerned about flooding and storms.


How to keep your home warm

1. Look after your boiler.

You should get your boiler serviced regularly by a Gas Safety registered engineer. This way it’ll be in tip-top condition by the time winter comes round. If you do get a problem with your boiler, you may be able to fix it easily without calling out an engineer. Read our blog about 10 common boiler problems and how to fix them yourself.

2. Bleed your radiators.

If your radiators don't feel warm to the touch it may be that they need bleeding. You can follow our guide to bleed the radiators yourself, or you can ask a qualified plumber to do it for you.

3. Check your pipes.

Your pipes could be frozen if you notice a bad smell from the tap or a drain, or there’s not enough water coming out of the tap. There are lots of ways you can prevent frozen pipes. If an exposed pipe that you can see and reach easily is frozen, you could warm the pipe gently to help it thaw. If you don’t feel confident doing this, it's best to call a qualified plumber.

4. Block any droughts.

Keep your curtains open during the day and close them before it gets dark to trap warm air inside. Cold air will find a way to sneak in if there are any larger cracks under doors and windows. You can fix this temporarily with draught excluding tape. If you don’t have any, try rolling up an old towel to wedge against the length of the crack instead.

5. Insulate your home.

Insulation will help your home waste less heat, and you'll save money on energy bills too. Find out about different types of home insulation. If you get benefits or have a lower income, you may also be able to get help with cavity wall insulation costs through the ECO scheme.

6. Prepare for emergencies.

You can phone 105 if you have a power cut due to bad weather, or another reason beyond your control. This number is free to call and you’ll be put through to your local network operator who can give you help and advice. Check our gas and electricity emergency numbers to help you prepare for a power cut or winter storm outages.

Do you have a prepayment meter or a smart Pay As You Go meter? Try to top up your credit with a little extra during winter, if you can. If you have a smart Pay As You Go meter you can top up without leaving the house and set up automatic top-ups too.

7. Check if you can get support with heating bills.

Were you born on or before 5 October 1954 and live in the UK? With the government's Winter Fuel Payment you could get between £100 and £300 to help with your heating bills. If it’s zero degrees Celsius (or below) for 7 days in a row where you live, you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment too.

You can also get extra support from our Priority Services Register. Simply fill in the online form and we'll let you know how we, and other other organisations, can help.

8. Try to be more energy efficient.

Most of us are spending more time at home this winter, which means we're spending more energy. Take a look at our easy tips to help you lower your home energy bills, as well as your carbon footprint. If you don't have a New Year's resolution, this could be the one for you!

Want to know more about saving energy at home?

Find out how to choose energy-saving appliances for the home and how energy-efficient heating solutions can help lower your carbon footprint as well as your energy bills.