Beat the cold, sustainably

Maybe winter has finally arrived?!

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As temperatures drop and the weather disrupts lives up and down the country, how should we respond in ways that are sustainable? There’s got to be an approach other than ramping up the central heating, right?

After all, four out of ten of us are avoiding switching on the heating during colder spells due to fears about energy bills. At the same time, around of third of us complain that we can’t get our homes as warm as we’d like.

It’s true that in cold climates, proper heating is essential for everything from quality of life and health to productivity at work. Growing concern with lowering the cost and the environmental impact are fueling new ways to do both. Although there’s some exciting new technology, the growing importance of sustainability means that we should really be revisiting the idea of staying warm:: “first warm the person, then warm the room.”

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As it turns out, there are plenty of little steps we can take which, when put together, amount to a sensible, sustainable way to deal with the cold snap. For little or no investment, you can easily warm up, and even have fun while doing it.

Let’s start with some traditional ways to keep ourselves warm:

It may seem obvious, but start by wearing clothes - the right ones! Dress in wool, wear several layers, and put a pair of slippers on. Don’t get too comfortable, though: do go outside, as it will help your body adjust better to the cold. Drink hot drinks, as this will raise your core temperature. Sorry, but avoid alcohol, as this will do just the opposite, lowering your core temperature. Why not do some baking, and leave the oven door open afterwards, while you’re snacking on a freshly-baked loaf of bread or cake!

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Then, of course, there’s eating warm food, and plenty of it. Then you’ll feel the benefit of staying fit, which keeps you warm even when you stop moving. Why not light some candles - they add heat and create atmosphere (always good at this time of year).

Now, this may sound odd, but try taking a cold shower; it really does improve blood circulation. And, to cap it all, hug someone - shared bodily warmth and all that!

Around the house there are a number of quick wins. To start with, during cold weather, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when you are at home during waking hours. Reducing the heat by only a few degrees when you're sleeping or out of the house will help save money. Reduce heat loss through the fireplace.

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it’s also vital that you draught-proof your home and ensure that your pipework is insulated, too. An obvious thing to do, but one which many people overlook, is bleeding your radiators, in order to avoid cold spots in your home. While you’re at it, get up in the loft and make sure it’s properly insulated, and check your hot water cylinder as well.

Close your curtains before it gets dark or while you’re away from the house. A lot of heat escapes through windows, and you’ve paid for it - so keep it in! That way you stand a chance of keeping the temperature consistent, and it gives you a fair chance of keeping the heat in overnight.

If you still want to embrace technology, then a smart thermostat is a low-cost way to improve the efficiency of your existing heating system, allowing you to control your heating from your phone or tablet.

So, stay warm: body first, home second #sustainably