January 28 Letters: Keeping out the cold isn’t all about the central heating

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From: Fiona Lemmon, Maltby, Rotherham.

I REFER to the article (The Yorkshire Post, January 22) featuring the report published by The Children’s Society. I have not read the report which focuses on “Exposing the damaging impact of energy debt on children”. The newspaper article mentions in the report the conflict for parents who have been, are or are potentially in energy debt and trying to keep their families warm. I agree that the “Big Six” energy companies are lax in their treatment of customers and continue to supply the earth’s resources at over-inflated prices.

However I wonder what The Children’s Society classes as “cold”? What is cold for one isn’t for another.

I remember squabbles in the workplace over the office temperature. Some members of staff would insist on having an office window open – wasteful of the energy used for the heating being on – while others shivered in the draught. I left a spare cardigan on the premises as I fell into the latter category.

Now I am a senior citizen and wear thermal underwear and clothing plus an extra layer of clothing when it’s very cold. But I have long been sensible about wearing warm and layered clothing in cold weather.

I am very grateful for the Winter Fuel payment I receive, which still leaves me with a £1,000 expenditure every year for my combined gas and electricity consumption. I do not have the central heating on overnight but am warm and snug in bed every night.

The Yorkshire Post article highlights the claim in the report that “almost a quarter of children living in families who have been in energy debt have had trouble sleeping because their bedroom was too cold”. Surely the conclusion is that parents should check on their children’s bedding needs and supply a comforting and warming hot water bottle?

When I was a child, there was no heating in bedrooms and I remember the glorious patterns of Jack Frost on my bedroom window when I woke up on icy mornings.

The advent of central heating has caused most of us to be soft and complacent. In my childhood, there was usually only one fire lit in the house – in the sitting room. I would undress in front of this before going to bed. By morning the fire would have gone out and not be relit till teatime. The bathroom/toilet had a small paraffin lamp lit during frosty weather to try to stop the water freezing in the pipes.

It seems to me that our sedentary lifestyle is making us think that we should have a standard temperature indoors 
all year round.