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Practical gifts to help loved ones stay warm this winter

A gift-guide to help people you love keep warm and cosy this winter. For anyone who is worried about heating costs or is trying to lower they energy usage.

The holidays aren’t often associated with energy savings – fairy lights, roast dinners, and keeping your home cosy in the frosty winter weather all contribute to increased energy use and high bills. But millions of people this winter will be unable to afford to heat their homes, let alone all the holiday trimmings.

If someone in your life might struggle to keep warm this winter, why not share the warmth with a practical gift that will help them save energy and keep cosy?

Cold homes are dangerous to people’s mental and physical health. As well as exacerbating symptoms of illnesses, cold homes can make people feel isolated as they struggle alone and feel too embarrassed to reach out for help. Because of this, you might not always know who is struggling.

These gifts are practical and can offer some much-needed comfort to your friends and family. Plus, these gifts work for anyone trying to live more sustainably as well! Saving energy doesn’t just save you money, it reduces your carbon footprint too.

These small gift ideas can help someone stay warm in a cold home…

A heated throw or blanket only costs around 2p an hour – that’s a little over £3 a week if you use it constantly.

A hot water bottle is a classic for a reason. Cheaper to buy than an electric blanket, they’re great for warming up a cold bed before you get in, or just snuggling up to on the sofa. It’s important to change your hot water bottle every 2-3 years as old bottles may crack and leak.

You only need to put these items in the microwave for a few seconds, meaning they cost less than 2p an hour to use.

Having cold feet is miserable, and has actually been linked to the onset of common cold symptoms. Slippers and fluffy socks are a great help when trying to stay warm at home on a budget. If this gift is for an older person, make sure you go for boot-style slippers with sturdy soles as other styles can increase the risk of trips and falls.  

Looking to buy someone a cosy Christmas jumper, thick socks, or a warming blanket? Wool is a great choice of fabric because it’s a powerful insulator, meaning it helps you get warm faster and stay warm for longer.

Layering up is a really effective way of keeping warm. Thermal tops and leggings that you can wear underneath your clothes are great for adding an extra layer of warmth and it doesn’t feel as strange as wearing hats, gloves, or scarves inside! Merino wool is a great fabric choice – not only is it a great insulator but it’s naturally odour-resistant. That means you don’t need to wash it as often as other fabrics, saving you even more energy and money.

This might seem like a strange gift idea, but a radiator reflector is an inexpensive way to get the most out of your heating. Reflectors are panels of shiny, foil-like material that you install behind a radiator.  They reflect the heat coming from the back of the radiator (that would otherwise be lost through the wall) into the room. This makes your heating more efficient, so you don’t need to turn it up as high and you’ll get more out of the heating you pay for.

Similarly, if your radiator is under a window, a shelf can make it work more effectively. The shelf works by directing heat into the room, rather than letting it escape out of the window . You can buy specially designed shelves that sit on top of a radiator (great for renters as you don’t need to screw them into the wall) for around £20.

Feeling crafty? Here’s some practical gifts you can make yourself…

Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy in your home. A homemade draught excluder is an easy sewing project that you can make using scrap materials and old household items. We have a free guide to making a draught excluder here.

Why not gift your time to help a loved one ditch the draughts this season? There’s lots of inexpensive DIY measures to reduce heat lost through draughts. From letterboxes to loft hatches, we cover simple solutions to the most common sources of draughts in our free DIY draught-proofing guide.

We mentioned above that woollen clothes and accessories are great for keeping warm in winter. So why not get your knitting needles out and make someone a cosy handmade gift?

Hot meals really warm you up on a cold day. But cooking, especially using an oven, can be expensive because it uses a lot of energy. Baked goods or oven-baked meals that someone can heat in a microwave (which is much more energy efficient than an oven) can help someone enjoy the comfort of a warm, home-cooked meal without worrying about the cost.

Got a little extra cash to spend?

These larger gifts can help your loved one to save energy and reduce their bills…

Uninsulated bare floors are cold underfoot and contribute to home heat loss. A rug is a great way to remedy this and make a room cosier and more energy efficient.

Similarly, heavy, lined curtains can help to insulate single-glazed or draughty windows. Just make sure to tuck them behind any radiators under the window or you’ll stop them from working effectively.

Both of these items can be expensive to buy, but they’re a lot cheaper to run than an electric oven. With some practice and imagination, there’s few things you’d prepare in an oven that you couldn’t make using one of these energy saving alternatives.  

For more ideas to help you or your loved ones stay warm at home for cheap, our energy advisors share their top tips here. Or read our other energy advice pages for other helpful guidance.

Can you help us share the warmth this winter?

Our energy advice line provides life-changing support to people living in fuel poverty. Sharing your warmth in the form of a donation will help us to support more people and make a real difference in their lives. Whatever you can afford will go towards the comprehensive support we offer.

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