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How to prepare for winter

Preparing for the colder months

As the weather changes and becomes even more unpredictable, it’s important to prepare for the colder months ahead. Use our handy guide to find out how you can stay warm and keep well this winter. 

Our advisors can support you with the areas covered in this guide and help you identify schemes, grants or funding you may be eligible for. If you’d like to speak to someone, call our free and confidential Helpline on 0800 0234 834 – available 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).


Getting your home ready for winter

There are small things you can do that’ll help you through the coldest season of the year. Wearing extra layers of clothing and using a thermal blanket can go a long way in helping you to feel cosy indoors, without turning the heating on. But, you should also ensure that your house temperature is stable throughout the day.

If you’re concerned about the cost of heating your home, there are grants and schemes you may qualify for.

  • Accessing the Warm Home Discount Scheme

    It’s always good to save money where you can. Under the Warm Home Discount Scheme, you may be able to reduce your winter electricity bill if you’re in receipt of Guarantee Credit (as part of Pension Credit), or certain other means-tested benefits. Your energy supplier will need to be part of the scheme and if you qualify, the Department for Work and Pensions will send you a letter automatically between October and December.

    If eligible, you could get £140 off your electricity bill between October and March, and you may also qualify for a gas bill reduction. If you’re unsure about your eligibility, you can call their Helpline on 0800 731 0214. You can also contact your energy supplier to see if they’re participating in the scheme.

    You can get support with heating bills through similar schemes, such as the government’s Winter Fuel Payment – visit the gov.uk website to learn more.  

  • Heating and gas safety

    It’s worth getting your heating system serviced (as well as your boiler), to be sure that they’re running safely and efficiently. If you have other forms of heating, make sure they’re working and ventilated properly. 

    For your safety and security, you should only have inspections carried out by someone who is certified. You can find an engineer by calling the Gas Safe Register Helpline on 0800 408 5500, by visiting their website, or by contacting your utility provider.

  • Insulation

    It’s always worth making sure your home is insulated. You may be eligible for support with insulating your home under the Energy Company Obligation scheme. It’s government-funded and is designed to help households become more energy efficient. 

    You might also be eligible for a loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and/or a new boiler. This will depend on whether you claim certain benefits, are a homeowner or live in a privately-rented property within a qualifying area. For more information, visit Ofgem’s website.

  • Safety

    You can’t always tell if something’s unsafe or not working as it should, so it’s important to have smoke alarm and carbon monoxide checks carried out each year. That way, you can minimise risks from household dangers.

    It’s also a good idea to keep a stock of salt or sand you can use to make your outdoor flooring slip resistant. This will help to keep you safe – reducing the potential for injury from slips and falls.

  • Food

    Keep extra supplies of canned foods, long-life milk and bottled water in case you’re unable to get to the shops. But if you have difficulty leaving your home altogether, you should contact your council for help and support. They can put you in touch with companies within your local area that can provide you with meals, delivered straight to your door.
  • Medicine

    Having a supply of basic medicines, such as cough syrups and cold and flu tablets is also a good idea. That way, you’ll likely have enough to last you a few days or so, if you’re unable to visit the pharmacy. 
  • Vaccines

    If you’re aged over 65, you can get a flu or pneumococcal vaccine on the NHS, which could protect you from serious illnesses.

    You should speak to your doctor for advice and guidance about this – especially as there may be specific guidelines concerning COVID-19.

  • Keep active

    Even if it’s chilly outside, go for a walk if you can – bearing in mind current COVID-19 guidance. If you’re unable to go outside, try to get up regularly and move around the house. Exercising regularly is not only good for our physical health, it supports our mental health too.
  • Go online

    If you have a device such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet, you can connect with others easily, online. Social media networks like Facebook are great for keeping in touch with friends and family – you can even join a group and ‘meet’ new people.

    If you’re unsure how to get started, ask someone to give you a hand with setting up an account. And if you’re unable to meet with them face-to-face, you can always talk it through over the phone.

    Age UK offer easy-to-follow training courses that’ll teach you everything you need to know to get up and running on the internet. To find out more, visit the Age UK website. If you don’t have a computer at home, you can access one for free by visiting your local library.
  • Stay social

    Spending time alone is something we’ve all had to do more of in recent months – but it’s important to interact with others, especially if you’re feeling isolated, worried or anxious. Befriending services can connect you to new people, help you to make friends, and find activities you enjoy. Here are a few you might like to try: 

    • Age UK offers a free befriending service ‘Telephone Friendship’ – available for those aged over 60. They can introduce you to people who share similar interests and are keen to make friends. If you’d like to sign up, visit Age UK’s website or call their Helpline on 0800 6781602 – they’re open from 8am - 7pm, every day.
    • The Royal Voluntary Service provides telephone calls for companionship, and in some cases, they may be able to deliver essentials such as food and medication to your home. To find out more, visit the Royal Voluntary Service’s website or call their Helpline on 0808 196 3646 – available from 8am - 8pm, every day.
    • Re-engage also offers a telephone companion service you might be interested in. If you’re over 75, living alone or in sheltered housing, you can sign up to join a group. To apply online, visit Re-engage’s website or call their Helpline on 0800 716 543 – available from 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Enjoy yourself

    It can be harder to stay motivated in the winter – but you should still try to do things and go to places that make you feel good. If you’d like to try something new, get in touch with your council or the nearest library to find out what’s available in your local area.

    If you’d like to get out more but are feeling a little down, you should talk to someone about it. Whether it’s a friend, family member or your GP, just talking to someone can help you to feel better and they may be able to refer you for further support. 

Get in touch with us to see how we could help you

Call our free and confidential Helpline on 0800 0234 834. We’re open 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).

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We offer a range of services to current and former bank employees. Please see below for more support.

More support

  • Our support services

    The Bank Workers Charity exists to support current and former bank employees. Find out more about the services and support we provide.
  • How to check your benefits

    This simple benefits calculator helps you find out if you’re entitled to means-tested benefits. And it’ll indicate if you’re entitled to non-means tested benefits too.

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