HOW can people save money during the winter and during a pandemic?

The Isle of Wight's Footprint Trust has put together some of its top tips, to help people save energy, save money and keep well.

'Heat hero' Ray Harrington-Vail, who works for the charity, said: "There is lots of advice given over social media about saving energy and keeping warm, but not all of it is correct, and some just repeats old myths.

"One is that most of your body’s heat escapes through your head. It doesn’t. Only about 10 per cent is lost through your head. Wearing a hat is a good idea but more important to wear layers of clothing.”

Another myth is that most of the heat escapes from the roof or windows of your home. Ray said these are both wrong. Walls account for around 33 per cent of heat loss, the roof about 26 per cent and windows around 18 per cent.

He suggests insulating the whole house to save money, as the cost will be paid back in five years.

He said double glazing is also a good idea, although payback will take longer, but it does make your home more secure.

What temperature should you keep your home at?

Ideally you should try to keep some heating in all rooms, as it helps prevent damp. But if you are on a limited budget this is unrealistic. If you are fit and young, the NHS suggests you do not need to keep your home at a minimum of 18C. Babies and children’s bedrooms should be between 16C and 20C, as young children can be put in danger from overheating. For older people or those with medical issues, keeping the living space and bedroom between 18C and 21C is recommended.

What rooms should be prioritised?

Lock the heat into your living space and bedroom — don’t waste money heating the hallway. Keep doors closed. For rooms not being used, keep the heat on low, and leave cupboard doors and drawers slightly open to allow air-flow. Try to open the window for ten minutes every day, to ventilate vacant rooms.

We are hearing a lot about ventilation at the moment. Why is that?

Ventilation can reduce infection levels in the home from flu or air-borne viruses such as Covid. Regular airing of inhabited rooms by opening windows for short periods of time can be effective at reducing concentrations of viruses in the air. SAGE has suggested having them open for ten minutes every hour.

What type of heating should we use?

If you have gas central heating use it. Electric heating isn't cheaper. Likewise with Night Storage Heaters, don’t use more expensive stand-alone heaters, and avoid unvented portable gas heaters. Get a carbon monoxide alarm for each room with a gas appliance, boiler or sold fuel burner. Have you boiler serviced every year to keep you safe, save energy and make it last longer.

What about grandma’s old money-saving tips?

They are as relevant today as they were yesterday. So closing thick curtains at dusk will help prevent heat loss through windows. We now also have the option of fitting much cheaper thermal blackout blinds, which can be purchased from a number of retailers. Charity shops can be a good place to find thick curtains, when they reopen. Making a ‘door sausage’ to prevent draughts from blowing under your door is a winner. These can be made from a leg of an old pair of jeans or trousers, then stuffed with other old rags.

Is there any financial help available?

The Footprint Trust tells hundreds of Islanders every year about the £140 Warm Home Discount. Those receiving guarantee pension credit automatically get this sum taken off their electricity bill, providing they are with a leading supplier. Other householders have to apply to their energy company. Contact your utility company to see if you qualify.

Other free help is also available from water and energy companies through their Priority Services Register. This is for any household that has a vulnerable person living there. In the event of power or water failure you will be contacted to see if you need help. This can be done on line at or by phone on 0800 294 3259.

The Footprint Trust charity has been helping local people throughout the pandemic via its helpline on 822282. They have provided more than £10,000 worth of grants to help people with energy issues. Its work is funded by a number of bodies including the National Lottery Community Fund, Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme, HM Government and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation. Individual donations and those from the business community have also assisted.