The warning comes after high numbers of excess winter deaths were recorded in across England and Wales during 2015/16*, with an even higher number expected last winter once the full figures are released.
Those living in rural parts of the country are more likely to struggle to keep warm because their houses tend to be older and less well insulated, making them more difficult to heat effectively. People living in these homes are also often older and therefore more at risk of developing health problems, such as respiratory conditions, which are made worse by cold temperatures.
In response, OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, is urging people to take the time to regularly check on older relatives and friends to ensure they are looking after themselves over the colder months. OFTEC recommends you ensure:
- Main rooms are heated to at least 21C with other rooms used kept at least 18C.
- The heating comes on at the correct time and radiators are turned off in unused rooms. You may also want to adjust the heating timers to match the weather conditions.
- Nothing is blocking radiators as this reduces effectiveness.
- If you use heating oil that there is plenty of oil in the tank. If it needs topping up, use a firm which is a member of the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers.
The boiler has recently been serviced by an OFTEC registered technician who has checked it is working correctly and efficiently. If it does breakdown over winter, use our website search to find the nearest local registered technician.
Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, commented: “This time of year can be a real struggle for many people across the country, especially following the expensive festive period. As a result, some households resort to turning down their heating in an effort to save money.
“However, this puts people at greater risk of developing health complications, especially if they are older and more vulnerable. This is reflected in the large number of excess winter deaths seen in recent years.
“With incidences of a particularly virulent flu strain also rife this year, it is more important than ever to regularly visit vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours to check they are keeping warm and their heating system is working correctly.”
More useful guidance can be found in OFTEC's keeping warm in winter leaflet.