With its plummeting temperatures, icy roads and dark nights, winter isn’t just a hazardous time for the vulnerable. That’s why staying alert to what’s happening in your local community, and making that little extra effort to help others, can make a big difference.
Here’s our advice to help us all stay safe and warm this winter:
- Use timers for lights if you go out for a long time. It’s not a fact we like to face, but the chances of your home being disturbed during the winter can increase. If you know you are going to be out of your home after dark, invest in some timers to switch on your lights in the evening. This will not only make your property look like it’s occupied – it’ll also help you save energy, with no need to leave the lights on from the moment you go out.
- Be prepared for burst pipes. Before winter really kicks in, make sure you know where your water cut off valve is. So if you are unlucky enough to find yourself with a burst pipe, you can turn off the water supply quickly. You should also turn off your central heating and avoid using any switches that you think may have been affected. Then once you have the situation under control, you should call a plumber. If you have an outdoor water source (like a tap for a hosepipe), it may be worth turning this off during the winter to stop any pipes from bursting outside.
- Clear the paths of ice. If you have a pathway leading up to your property, gritting the path with salt will help it to stay clearer for longer. If that doesn’t work, be sure to clear the ice off your path in the morning so it’s less slippery. It’s also a thoughtful gesture to clear any ice from pavements outside of your home, so passers-by can keep their footing. Plus, if you’re feeling really generous, clearing the paths of any neighbours who find it difficult to get around can make a huge difference to their day.
- Keep your pets indoors overnight. Our pets feel the cold too. If you usually leave your pet to sleep in an outside shelter, or leave it outside while you’re at work, you might want to reconsider your arrangements during the colder months – as they could damage your pet’s health. Try to find a suitable way of keeping your pets indoors for any prolonged periods. As for wild animals, escaping the cold spells is not an option. Birds can’t dig for food or seeds when the ground freezes, so why not leave some seeds out for them? They’ll definitely appreciate the easy meal.
- Look out for your elderly neighbours. If you have elderly neighbours, take five minutes to pop in and say hello. If their home feels cold, encourage them to put on some extra layers, or use a blanket to keep warm if they are worried about turning the heating up. If during your visit, you find them a little confused, or not their usual self, it could be that the cold is affecting them. Call the NHS 11 for medical advice if necessary.
In October we launched our Warm Home Discount scheme for 2015, which means that anybody in or at risk of fuel poverty this year will be entitled to a £140 electricity rebate. For our most vulnerable customers, this means staying warm throughout the winter – rather than worrying about the cost of heating their homes.
For more information on the winter help schemes in place at Co-operative Energy, and to see if you qualify for a Winter Fuel Rebate, visit our Warm Home Discount page.