Families across the world are facing a cost of living crisis exacerbated by soaring inflation, rising interest rates, and spiralling energy costs. Hard-working householders are having to face the decision about what to cut from their monthly bills so that they can continue to make ends meet, and not fall into the black hole of debt.
Putting the heating on is one area which many families are holding back on. In the UK, electric and gas bills have risen astronomically, and without the government stepping in to temporarily stem the hike, many households would be paying four times what they were paying a year previously. However, average monthly bills are still considerably higher than what they were a year ago. Alongside rocketing petrol and shopping bills, there is not a household in the country that isn’t taking a long, hard look at all areas of their expenditure.
Keeping the heating switched off is one such area.
Structural damage leading to expensive repairs
But not heating your home has consequences that go beyond simply being a bit cold in your home. The knock-on effect can mean that your house becomes damp, and develop mould, which in turn has a detrimental effect on the health of those living there – particularly if they are very young or elderly.
Let’s just outline what happens to your home during the winter when the heating is not on.
- Water pipes can freeze and shatter or split.
- Changes in temperature can cause condensation to gather on walls, floors and woodwork, causing damage to the fabric and structure of the building.
- Hardwood floors can expand and contract with the changing temperatures and humidity.
The most damaging aspect to the structure of the house is the fact that the temperature is always changing, and this has consequences on the way that certain elements of a building’s substructure react to those temperatures, causing damage that can be expensive to rectify.
Detrimental to your family’s health
For those living in the property, while the risk of hypothermia can be dangerous, particularly for those of a certain age, it is the damp and mould that will cause the most damage in the long term.
People living in damp environments are twice as likely to succumb to respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis, breathing difficulties, asthma and chest pains.
The issue with dampness he is not the ‘wetness’ itself, but the microscopic bacteria and fungi that circulate in the air and are breathed in by those living in the property. For those who already have skin conditions, the contaminated air can exacerbate the condition and cause eczema.
Other symptoms can also include fever and vomiting, eye irritation, blocked noses, wheezing and coughing.
To try and overcome both the detrimental effects on both your family’s physical health, and your financial wellbeing, it is important to try and maintain a constant temperature throughout the winter months, even if it is lower than what you are usually used to. That consistency and constancy are more important than having a blast of heat, then letting it go cold again, then blasting out the heat again, then going cold. The fluctuations and extremes can do more damage than a constant ‘coolness’.
Make sure that family members are dressed in layers, as several layers are better at retaining the heat than one big jumper. Extra blankets on the bed and hot water bottles will keep you snug at night. And make sure that you check out what government grants you could be eligible for.