Are you eligible for a winter fuel payment?
High fuel prices are one of the controversial topics of our times but look here to stay. No one, however, should have to suffer the cold through lack of funds to pay the bills.
With the Government's Winter Fuel Payment, if you were born on or before 5 August 1953 you could receive between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills.
If you think you're missing out, call the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 0345 915 1515.
Are you keeping your home warm enough?
Basic, inexpensive steps in cutting your fuel costs include increasing loft insulation, using weather-stripping around walls and doors, using expanding foam filler for small spaces, and putting up thicker curtains and blinds to prevent heat loss.
If you need some more ideas, do a free online home energy check at the Energy Saving Trust.
Eight tips for keeping warm in winter.
Are you eating the right food for winter?
On a cold day warming, hearty foods both comfort and sustain. Slow cookers can be bought for under £20 and use little energy.
Leftovers can easily be made into a casserole and all kinds of creative soups and stews rustled up with little effort. Cook large quantities and save time, money and effort by freezing the rest for an easy meal another day.
Visit our recipe pages for more inspiration.
Charity shops are not the only place to update your winter wardrobe for little outlay. Street markets are worth checking but just check the quality of seams, zips and buttons. Major supermarkets often offer clothes at bargain prices, especially at the end of the season, or look for promotions or points offers linked to supermarket loyalty cards.
Also stores such as Matalan, Primark, Peacocks and TK Maxx can be good sources of inexpensive clothes. Try buying one item from an unfamiliar shop to start with, to see how well it washes.
Online, eBay is an alternative – and Amazon sells clothes too, often branded, at reasonable prices. Then, of course, there are other online fashion giants such as Asos, with bargains galore.
Fit for purpose
Local adult education centres offer a wide range of health and fitness-orientated courses and some are tailored for those over 60. You should be entitled to a concession of 50% or more on the cost, and may be lucky enough to find a free course.
Meanwhile community centres can be another source – check your local newspaper, library, Facebook groups, the internet and at the centres themselves. Leisure centres, too, offer a choice of activities. Concessions should be available for people aged 60 plus, those on benefits or people with a GP referral.
Discover the exercise basics.
Dark evenings and long cold nights are the ideal excuse to get comfortable on the sofa and relax in front of the small screen. If you have a smart TV or a tablet, you don't need to pay for Netflix or Amazon Prime - instead catch up on TV you might have missed over the summer. The BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and Channel 4's 4OD, all offer a huge range of free programs and box sets on demand to keep you entertained.
Don’t overlook the obvious though – libraries are as ever a source of free books and DVDs. Online shops such as Amazon offer goods second hand as well as new – real bargains can be had on books, DVDs and CDs.
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