Getting ready for winter

With winter on the way, here's some information to help keep you and your home safe and warm during the cold weather.

Getting your home ready for winter

  • Our heating appliances are serviced every year, but if you have missed your appointment. call us to arrange one
  • Make sure you know where your stopcock is located and that it’s working, if not, call us to let us know
  • Test your smoke alarm to check it’s working, if not, call us to let us know

Preparing for the cold weather

  • Keep simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies in the house. Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription pick up and delivery service
  • Make sure you claim all the financial support you can to help with heating bills.
  • Have your electric blanket serviced, this should be done every three years
  • Keep a stock of basic food items in the cupboard and freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping
  • Keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on paths and steps in icyweather. Remember shops and supermarkets often run out of salt.


Save energy while keeping your home warm

  • Keep the rooms you use most at a comfortable temperature of around 18 degrees- this is more efficient that turning your heating on and off.
  • Shut your curtains in the evenings to reduce heat loss through your windows- making sure you tuck them behind any radiators so your radiators can better heat your room.
  • Try to keep the space in front of your radiators clear, so that the heat from them can easily circulate and heat up the room.
  • You can turn your radiators off in rooms you don’t really use and keep the doors shut.
  • Draught excluders are a good option to prevent cold draughts from entering your rooms.
  • Try putting on an extra layer on clothing at first rather than turning your heating up.

It’s important to keep your home warm this winter, for both your health and to avoid any problems with your property such as frozen pipes.

Here’s some information about the help available if you need financial support with your heating bills:

Warm Home Discount Payments for 2023

Under the scheme, certain pensioners and low-income households will get £150 off their energy bills this winter to help them cope with payments. Some energy users may begin to see savings right away because the discounts will be put into effect between October of this year and March 2024.

Instead of the money being paid directly into people’s bank accounts, the funds will be added as credit to electricity or gas accounts. If you use a prepayment meter, you’ll most likely be given a top-up voucher. However, to be eligible, there are a few things customers must do first. They must either receive the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit or be on other benefits such as the Savings Credit portion of Pension Credit, Universal Credit or Housing Benefit if you have high energy costs.

The government will determine the cost of energy based on the type, age, and size of the property for all applicants who are not on the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

The Warm Home Discount is a one-off payment to reduce certain customers’ energy bills over the winter months. If your electricity supplier is part of the Warm Home Discount scheme, then you’ll get the payment automatically if you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit.

Further Support and Grants available

Warm Home Discount Scheme

You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2023 to 2024 if you either:

  • get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
  • are on a low income.

This will open on the 16th of October and more information on the government website will be available then.

Winter fuel payment

If you were born before 25 September 1957 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills

How much you receive will also include a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You’ll get this extra amount in winter 2023 to 2024. This is in addition to any other Cost of living payments you get with your benefit or tax credits.

You should receive this automatically if you are eligible and will receive a litter between October- November stating the amount you will receive.

Cold Weather payment

You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

You may be eligible if you receive certain benefits such as income support, pension credit, income based job seeker allowance, universal credit or support for mortgage interest.

The 2023 to 2024 scheme started  on 1 November 2023.

Other kinds of support funds are available to support you in the Cost-of-Living Crisis

  • up to £900 in 3 separate Cost of Living Payments for households on means-tested benefits
  • a £300 pensioner Cost of Living Payment, to be paid alongside the Winter Fuel Payment 2023 to 2024
  • a £150 disability Cost of Living Payment for people who get certain disability benefits.

Benefits and financial support if you’re on a low income – GOV.UK (

Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024 – GOV.UK (


Electric Heater Safety 

Portable electrical space heaters can be a convenient way of providing extra warmth in
your home. Unfortunately, they can alsopose significant fire and electric shock hazards if they are not used properly. Read our guide:

Electric Heater Safety

Your heating and boiler 

As a Bernicia tenant, you will likley have either an Ideal or a Baxi brand of boiler. Here are some how to videos should you need to do any basic maintenance during the winter months:

Ideal boiler 

Ideal Heating – YouTube

How to Top Up The Pressure on Your Ideal Boiler – YouTube

How to Reset Your Ideal Heating Boiler – YouTube

How to Defrost a Frozen Condensate Pipe – YouTube

Baxi boiler

Baxi Connected self help: how to thaw a frozen pipe

As winter sets in and we start experiencing more extreme weather, the risk of flooding increases.

For tips and advice on flooding risk and management, visit our flood management page.



Having home insurance in place is so important at any time of the year but as the winter arrives, there’s more risk to buildings and your belongings.

Unpredictable weather and an increase in burglaries as the nights draw in means you need be sure you’re covered.

It’s important you insure your furniture, belongings and decorations against fire, theft, vandalism or water damage such as burst pipes.

Find out more about how we can help


Damp, condensation and mould

We know that damp and mould can be concerning for Bernicia tenants, particularly in the winter months.

We want to you know that we’re here to help if it’s a problem in your home and we’re here to work with you to find a solution.