‘Millions fret over paying heating bills, but health should be higher priority for Herts householders’

Turning down the heat to cut bills and save cash could be bad for your health, say the experts

Turning down the heat to cut bills and save cash could be bad for your health, say the experts - Credit: Archant

Households in Hertfordshire are being urged not to turn down their thermostat to save money during the winter months even though government statistics show there are now 4.5 million people unable to afford heating costs.

A large number of those in fuel poverty in Herts are in rural parts of the county and are typically older people living in poorly insulated houses.

And this group is most at risk from the health consequences of living in a cold home including breathing and heart complications, says OFTEC, the trade body for oil heating industry.

With last winter seeing the highest number of people dying from the cold in 15 years they are offering households struggling with their fuel bills advice on how to save money without turning down the thermostat.

The tips include:

Keep the temperature of your main room at least 21 degrees centigrade.

Check your heating timers and turn off radiators in rooms you are not using.

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Ensure nothing is blocking your radiators such as furniture.

For oil households, check you have enough oil in your tank.

OFTEC is also reminding households of the importance of having their boiler serviced by a registered technician, to ensure everything is working correctly and efficiently, as waiting until the system breaks down is far more costly and could leave families in the cold.

Spokesman Malcolm Farrow said: “Households across Hertfordshire will be welcoming in the New Year next week but it is important to remember that, for some people, this festive period is a very difficult time of the year.

“Many homeowners will be tempted to turn down their heating to save money but this can have serious health implications as the 43,900 winter deaths in 2013/14 demonstrates.

“While the 4,000 oil households in Hertfordshire are benefiting from the lowest heating oil prices in six years, there are still too many people struggling with their fuel costs, particularly those on LPG and electricity who still face very high energy bills.

“We have produced a free ‘Keeping Warm This Winter’ booklet giving advice to households on preparing for the cold weather and I would urge people to follow the simple steps we have outlined to keep warm and healthy over the New Year.”

The ‘Keeping Warm This Winter’ booklet can be downloaded for free at www.oilsave.org.uk.