Figures released by the Office of National Statistics this week have highlighted the true extent of the problem older people in the UK have keeping warm during the winter period.
Last year alone, there were 31,100 'excess winter deaths' occurred in England and Wales in 2012/13 - a 29% increase compared with the previous winter.
Age UK, with the support of John Lewis, has launched its Spread the Warmth campaign, to increase awareness of the impact of cold weather on older people in particular and provide the UK's older citizens with the help they need to stay warm, all winter long.
With that in mind, here are some toasty tips to help spread the warmth this winter.
Why is it that older people in the UK seem to suffer so much more from the cold than those living in notoriously nippy countries like Sweden and Finland? One factor is preparation. People in colder countries are far better prepared for winter's bite than we are here in the UK. The second factor is energy efficiency.
In a typical UK household, well over half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water. So in these times of ever increasing fuel costs, having an efficient and cost-effective heating system is vital.
The Energy Saving Trust provides a range of energy saving top tips, from draught excluders, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation.
Read more advice on keeping yourself well and your home warm from Public Health England.
At night the temperature invariably drops, and without efficient insulation, your home will quickly lose much of the heat built up during the day. It can be ever so tempting to leave the heating on overnight, but what about the cost?
During the winter months, an electric blanket can go a long way to keeping you warm while you enjoy a sound night's sleep. Heat adjustable electric blankets are available, allowing you to keep warm.
Soft furnishings like throws, rugs and bedspreads can have a big impact on your household's cosiness. Yes, wrapping up warm is no substitute for heat, but large rugs on wooden floors can help to keep the heat in and the cold at bay.
A chunky knit throw can work wonders for settees, whilst for the bed, think faux fur or lamb's wool to keep the chills away whilst you enjoy some snug slumbering.
There are a number of other changes you can make to your home's soft furnishings which, although small, will have a considerable cumulative effect. Thick, lined curtains and draft excluders help to spread the warmth, no matter how biting it is this winter.
During its annual Spread the Warmth Campaign, Age UK and its local and national partners will be working hard to help older people keep warm and well in a number of ways, including through winter benefit checks and handy person services. They will provide hot nutritious meals at local lunch clubs as well as home visits and friendly telephone calls through befriending services for those who may feel isolated. Age UK also offers information and advice 365 days a year and older people and their families can call Age UK advice free on 0800 169 65 65.
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There are practical steps you can take to support your community in preparing for winter weather.
Helping you keep warm and well this winter.
There are certain practical steps that you can take to protect your home from winter weather.
Preparations and precautions when travelling in winter.
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