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What's your first thought when you hear the word "winter"? Some might answer that cosy nights by the fireplace, playing board games with family, long hikes in beautiful snowy landscapes, lovely soups, and celebrations come to mind. For others, however, the colder months represent something much darker: cold, damp, mold, and illness.
For the old Celts, the festival of Samhain — modern day Halloween — was a ritual of sending ghosts packing in the hope that they'd make it through the harsh and often deadly winter. In modern Europe, you may be surprised to hear, winter is still associated with an excess death rate of between five and 30 percent, with 25,000 additional people dying each winter in England alone!
Healthy and balanced nutrition, a flu jab, and staying active are all great contributors to your overall health in the winter. Your living conditions play a very important role as well, however.
At SteadyHealth, we know that these problems are often hard to tackle, both from a financial and practical perspective, and we have some tips for you.
The Dangers Of Living In A Cold Home
Homes with babies, people aged over 65, disabled people, and those suffering from lung, heart, or other health conditions should really be always heated to at least 18 degrees Celsius. While your home can safely be a little cooler if none of these things apply to you, many people will find that this is a comfortable minimum temperature for them, and that they'd ideally have their home a little warmer during the daytime.
If you are living in fuel poverty, which means you can't afford to heat your home adequately, or if you are living in a beautiful old home in a rural area that's simply difficult to keep warm as I am, however, you may find yourself on the short end of the stick — and having to make tough decisions.
What can you do to keep your home warm? You may be able to consider at least some of the following possibilities.
If you do have money to invest, and you do not have central heating, you may consider purchasing some infrared heating panels, which are much more energy efficient than convection energy. You could also look into solar panels, to fuel your infrared heaters much more cheaply (in the long run).
People who use radiators can consider buying radiator foil. This deflects the heat into your house and prevents it from being soaked up by walls. Meanwhile, window insulating foil simulates double glazing for those families who neither have it nor can afford to have it installed, by creating a pocket of air between the glass and the foil. This isn't free, but pretty low cost.
Those who are unable to make investments into their homes or homes they are renting still have options. People living in larger homes can consider reducing their living space to a few rooms during the winter. This will reduce your heating costs. Also, don't turn the heat off altogether at night. If your electricity is cheaper during this time, make full use of this by keeping your thermostats to at least 15 degrees Celsius.
Don't underestimate the fabrics you use to clothe yourself as a source of heat, either. Wool and silk are top choices as they help to preserve something like an "atmosphere" around your body, keeping your body much warmer than cotton or synthetic clothing would. Multiple layers of thinner clothes also insulate your body better than a single layer of thick clothing. This principle applies to your home as well: using curtains in front of windows can keep the heat in. Never cover a heater with a curtain, however.
If your bedroom is not heated properly, consider an electric blanket, hot water bottles, or heated cherry pit pillows.
Finally, if you are able to be physically active in your home, you'll be warmer than if you are sedentary most of the time.