Helping vulnerable people over winter

Posted 16/12/2015 by E.ON

It’s easy to see why a lot of people love winter. Bonfire Night, Christmas and the Strictly Come Dancing final all in the space of a few months!

But winter can also be the harshest of times. Many elderly people suffer during the season as a direct result of the cold weather. And indeed it’s estimated that the harsh extremes costs the NHS £1.3 billion every year.

This has to stop. And at E.ON we’re serious in our commitment to help customers manage through the winter months.

And you can help too. It doesn’t have to be time consuming and it doesn’t have to be formal, but by doing just one thing, you can ensure that a vulnerable person is looked after this Christmas.

It could be a family member, friend, or even a neighbour. But one small act can make a big, big difference.

So what exactly can you do? We’ve outlined some very simple ideas below to help you help others this winter.

Be aware of winter illnesses

Cold weather can be the trigger for a number of common ailments. Asthma and cold sores can be worsened by dropping temperatures, as can sore throats and joint problems. Heart attacks are also more common in winter, whilst anyone who’s had the Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, can vouch that it’s never a nice thing to experience. Be aware of the symptoms of these illnesses and little tips and tricks that can help fend them off. Check if anybody who should have has had their free flu jab and be up to speed with particularly nasty issues such as hypothermia

 Buy a thermostat

It’s essential for the room temperature to be set to at least 18C for anyone over 65 or with health conditions. Sometimes it can be hard for people to judge temperatures correctly, and many old thermostats can be inaccurate. Try and ensure that any vulnerable people you know have access to room thermometers that give more accurate readings, so they can be certain that they’re warm enough during colder periods. And if you’re particularly close to this person – perhaps they’re a family member – then maybe you can even use a smart meter to control the heating for them.

Make simple checks

Spend some time visiting vulnerable friends and neighbours and ensure that they’re making the small, straightforward changes to keep their house warm this winter. We’re not talking hour-long intense inspections of their property, just simple wins like making sure doors are kept firmly closed to block any draughts, and that curtains are shut when dusk draws in. This will minimise heat loss through the windows – and they will notice the difference.

Encourage them to keep their immune system strong

It’s always important to be ready when illness strikes, but why wait until then to act? When the nights draw in it’s all too easy to resort to comfort food. However, keeping yourself in peak condition during the winter months is really important so eating more fruit and veg will help.  Meanwhile milk and dairy products are great sources of protein, calcium and vitamins A and B12, which help ward off colds and keep bones strong.

visiting neighbours drinking tea - E.ON

There’s always time for a cuppa

Drinking tea is something the British are the undisputed champions at… but make sure that vulnerable people can continue this fine tradition during the winter months too. People may opt against making one if it means using up valuable energy, so why not make their day by inviting them over for a cup from your kettle. A hot drink can be a great way to keep people warm during the winter – and the company may be hugely appreciated too.

Check they’ve explored the E.ON benefits…

We’re dedicated to making saving energy more affordable, particularly for the customers and areas that need it most. So we offer a range of benefits and initiatives to those most vulnerable. Check that those you know are aware of the E.ON Energy Fund – a scheme set up to help customers of any energy company who are struggling to pay their bills. There’s also the Warm Home Discount, where we’re able to offer eligible customers a discount on their winter electricity bills. The initiative has proved so popular that we’ve already reached our maximum number of applications for this year, but to make sure you or someone you know doesn’t miss out next time around, please complete this online form and we’ll contact you once we have details of next year’s scheme.

…And check out any Government initiatives too

There are a number of Government-led schemes out there to help vulnerable customers, so be sure that those who most need it are in the know. Check out ECO, a scheme led by the Government and funded by energy suppliers, which could help people with funding for loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, or a replacement boiler if one is broken or not working properly, and is more than five years old. Meanwhile, if someone you know was born on or before 5 January 1953 then they may be eligible for Winter Fuel Payment – getting between £100 and £300 tax-free to pay for their winter heating bills.

 Let us know if you know of any quick and easy ways to make sure people stay that little bit safer this winter.

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