Pensioners struggling to pay heating bills told to heat one room only

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Pensioners who are struggling financially are being asked to heat only one room in their home to around 20C during this winter.

This shocking advice, an illustration of the high cost of energy bills, is being offered in a new government leaflet.

The leaflet from the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, asks for people to turn off heating in the rooms they are not using. It states that they will still be warm and cosy.

The cost of energy has soared since the Coalition came to power and the Government has received criticism for tailing to address the problem of greedy energy companies.

However, this advice is also being offered by the NHS Choices website, which states that if you are unable to heat all the rooms, you should heat your living room during the day and your bedroom just prior to going to sleep.

Household have been asked to look out for their neighbours during the winter months in a bid to decrease the death toll which is caused by cold weather. Officials said signs to be looked for are newspapers stuck in letterboxes, curtains remaining drawn and milk bottles being left outside. All these could be signs that someone in that household has become a victim of the drop in temperatures.

This called has gone out to communities to be alert to the indications that elderly relatives, friends or neighbours may have been affected by the winter weather.

This appeal comes after the Local Government Association (LGA), NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) published the Cold Weather Plan for England, which offers advice to people on what they can do prior to and during the winter to reduce health risks.

Around 25000 excess winter deaths occur each year.

According to the head of extreme events and health protection at PHE, Dr Angie Bone, many of the winter-related deaths could be avoided. She said many of the fatalities can be prevented by following simple measures, preferably before the winter really sets in.

Dr Bone said those with health conditions, pregnant women and the elderly are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill should they catch flu. She said the best way to protect from flu is to obtain free vaccination offered by your GP.

PHE has issued the following advice to keep warm during the winter period:
• If you fall into an eligible group for vaccination, you should have your flu jab as protection for yourself and others
• Remain aware of the weather forecasts and plan ahead as far as supplies are concerned
• Obtain financial support to ensure that your home is more energy efficient, obtain aid with bills and to improve your heating
• Wear layers of thin clothing instead of one thick layer and when you need to step outside, wear slip-resistant shoes
• Do regular checks on your cooking and heating appliances
• Have regular hot drinks and meals during the day and remain active in a bid to stay warm
• Check on neighbours, relatives and friends who may be vulnerable to the cold weather
• Heat your home to a minimum of 18C to decrease the health risk, particularly if you are aged 65 and over or you suffer from health issues. If you cannot afford to heat your whole house, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before going to bed

Image Credit: Kari Söderholm

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