Staying warm and happy this winter

Helpful tips for winter.

Feature image

During the winter months your wellbeing is really important. Here are a few tips to help you stay warm and happy this winter:

  • Warm clothing - if you’re going outside, dress in layers, wear a hat, gloves and scarf. Clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics are best to keep you warm. When you're indoors, wearing thick socks and slippers will keep your feet cosy.
  • Hot drinks and food - try to have regular hot drinks and food such as porridge and soups. If you have a slow cooker, why not try making casseroles and stews to keep you warm this winter? If you are looking for inspiration, please visit Slow cooker recipes | BBC Good Food
  • Head outdoors - as the days get shorter, try to take time to get outside when you can, wrap up warm and head out for a quick walk.
  • Do regular exercise - keep as active as possible to boost your blood circulation. Move around at least once an hour and avoid sitting still for long periods. Even light exercise will help keep you warm.
  • Read a book - Why not get cosy this winter sipping on a cup of tea and reading a good book? It is a great way to unwind and have some time to yourself.
  • Talk - sometimes the best thing is to talk to someone, ring your friends, catch up with family.

If you are worried about your mental health you will find information on organisations who can provide support in our advice centre.

Looking after your home

Whether it's strong winds, heavy rain or snow, here are common winter problems you might face and what to do if you find yourself in these situations.

Frozen door locks

If the temperature drops below  0° the locks on outside doors may freeze. If this happens, don’t try to force the key into the lock or try too hard to turn it as the key may break. To defrost the lock try: 

  • Hand Sanitizer (alcohol based) — coat your key with hand sanitizer and insert the key gently into the frozen lock, but do not force it.
  • De-icer — spray de-icer into the lock and gently insert the key, but don’t force it.
  • Your hands — Heat your key in your hands or put your thumb on the lock for a short while, this could thaw the lock enough to get your key in.
  • Hot water — pour hot water carefully into the lock. If you're locked out, ask a neighbour for some hot water.

Frozen pipes

When temperatures drop during winter, the excess water inside your pipes can expand as it freezes. This can cause pipes to burst causing a leak or even flooding in your home. Frozen pipes can also stop your heating and hot water from working properly.

Make sure you know where your stopcock is so you can turn off the water if you need to. If you think that one of your pipes might be frozen, here’s what you could do:

Find the frozen pipe

  • Turn on your hot and cold taps, if no water comes out, or only a slight trickle comes out, then your pipe may frozen.
  • Check any pipes that are exposed, such as under sinks or along the outside of the house.
  • Frozen pipes may have frost on them, or they may have a slight bulge.

Turn on the taps

  • Before you attempt to thaw a frozen pipe, make sure you turn on the tap that the pipe feeds water into.
  • Turn on both the hot and cold taps - this will help to relieve pressure in the system and allow water to escape.

Thaw it out — where to start

  • Begin to thaw the pipe closest to the tap and work down to the blockage – this helps the melting ice or steam to escape. Follow the advice below on how to thaw pipes.
  • Important! Don’t start thawing close to the blockage. This could cause pressure to build and increase the chances of the pipe bursting.
  • Don’t forget to turn off the taps, once the pipe is thawed, and water starts to flow through again.

How to thaw exposed pipes

  • Hair dryer - one of the easiest ways to thaw a pipe is by using a hair dryer on the lowest setting. Turn the dryer on and point the heat at the pipe, beginning with the portion closest to the tap. As with any electrical product, take the proper precautions and avoid coming into contact with water when using the hairdryer.
  • Hot towels or hot water bottle - wrap towels that have been dipped in hot water or a hot water bottle around the pipe. This can help to slowly thaw the blockage.
  • Never attempt to thaw a pipe using an open flame. This can damage the pipe and can also start a fire in your home.

If the pipe is not exposed, turn the heat up in your home. You can try to thaw the frozen pipe by increasing the temperature in the room. Turning the thermostat up may be all that is needed to allow the ice blockage to melt.

Many of our homes have high efficiency combination boilers. These each have a white plastic pipe to allow water that condensates to escape. In the winter these can sometimes freeze and can stop your heating from working. Follow the advice above on how to thaw pipes. The boiler will show up an error code, below are typical error codes in our homes.

Boiler brand

Error Code

Baxi

E133 or E28

Ideal Boilers

L2, LF, or F2

Glow-Worm

F28 or F29

Potterton

E133 or E28 or the error code may alternate between E1 and E33

Worcester Bosch

EA229 or D5

Vaillant

F28 or F29

If you think a pipe has burst, you can find out what to do in our advice centre.

Keep up to date with the latest UK weather warnings by signing up for alerts on the Met Office website