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How you heat your home this winter could damage your health

THE way Brits heat their homes this winter could be causing serious damage to their health, experts have warned.

As the cost of living crisis continues to pinch pockets across the nation, many people are doing their best to keep themselves warm as cheaply as possible.

One expert said the way people are heating their homes could be making them vulnerable to infection

But a leading expert has warned there is a massive conundrum where people are taking steps to reduce costs, but at the same time reducing ventilation in their home, causing problems.

Whats more, many are adding new pollutants to indoor air by burning wood or cooking with the windows closed.

Professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, Cath Noakes, said this will make people more vulnerable to health risks and accelerate infection spread.

She explained that closing windows, turning the heating off and using log burners could all be dangerous measures.

Prof Noakes, who was one of the advisers on the Governments Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) during the Covid-19 pandemic, said: I have a real concern that some of the things people are doing actually have a compounding effect.

So if you are at home, for example, and you dont turn the heating on and you keep the window shut, not only have you reduced ventilation, but youve also created a condition where you might get more damp and mould, which has a knock-on effect of impacting your health.

She explained that previous research by her team found that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of Covid infection from airborne droplets by up to 70 per cent.

Covid infections have fallen in recent weeks and studies have found the Omicron strain is milder than those that have come before it.

However, people are still catching the bug along with other respiratory illnesses such as flu.

With that in mind, Prof Noakes said the importance of managing ventilation at home goes beyond Covid.

The expert said it can help avoid the spread of transmission of other infections such as chicken pox, measles, TB, and other respiratory diseases such as influenza.

All of which can pose a higher risk in poorly ventilated spaces.

There is so much evidence that the quality of the air we breathe is really important for our health and ventilation is a really big part of that, said Prof Noakes.

She added that more awareness needs to be raised of ventilation and its importance in protecting people from illness.

It is critical to making buildings more resilient to health threats, including our regular battles with the transmission of colds and flu around crowded indoor spaces, she said.

The expert said there are many ways in which ventilation can be improved without racking up costs.

For instance, when you open windows intermittently, you can get some fresh air in without impacting your energy use something many people are currently very conscious of.

Making sure you open a window after youve had a shower or using an extractor fan in your kitchen when you cook can also help.

Youre only using it for short periods of time so youre not using much energy to provide ventilation, the expert added.

Prof Noakes is part of an international campaign called World Ventil8 Day, which takes place today.

Its aim is to raise more awareness of the role building ventilation plays in supporting the health and wellbeing of people.

During the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic, experts at the University of California said opening windows could help stop Covid invading your home.

Messages from the UK government also urged Brits to keep windows open in order to stop the spread.

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