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New guidance published on heating levels  

Public Health England (PHE) has published new guidance on recommended heating levels in the home, which could lead to lower energy bills for homeowners.

The Cold Weather Plan for England aims to prevent the major avoidable effects on people’s health by alerting them to the negative health effects of cold weather, enabling them to prepare and respond appropriately.

It recommended a series of steps to reduce the risks for:

  • the NHS, local authorities, social care, and other public agencies;
  • professionals working with people at risk; and
  • individuals, local communities and voluntary groups.

The Cold Weather Plan has been published annually since 2011. This year’s plan continued to build on the experience of developing and improving the ability of the health and social care sector and its partners to deal with significant periods of cold weather.

Last winter, PHE said rooms occupied during the day should be kept at a minimum of 21C, and 18C at night. But now it has altered this to a recommendation of at least 18C day or night.

Kent-based Swale Heating agreed with the new advice, pointing out that a reduction of just one degree could cut the typical gas bill by as much as £55 per year.

Swale Heating sales director Matthew Edwards said: “PHE found the previous guidelines were based on outdated World Health Organization figures from 30 years ago. A new review has resulted in the lower recommendation of at least 18C, which it says poses minimal risk to the health of a sedentary person, wearing suitable clothing, in winter.”

The updated guidance said that below 18C, the danger of stroke or heart attack increases. However, it added that those aged over 65 or with a medical condition may benefit from a slightly higher temperature.

Mr Edwards added: “We all want to cut the rising costs of keeping our homes warm, so following advice like this makes sense. Everyone can take a few simple steps right away and save energy as well as money.

“If you have a programmer, set it so that the heating only comes on when needed. Switching off your boiler when nobody is home saves money. You can reduce the energy your boiler consumes by up to 40% with efficient room thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves, while replacing a 10-year-old boiler with an efficient A-rated new one could reduce your energy consumption by a third.”

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