The general wisdom is that in cold weather, you should put on a jumper rather than turning up the heating. With energy costs escalating in the UK increasing numbers of people won’t be able to heat their homes. It’s one thing turning the heating down a bit, but living in cold conditions creates health risks.
Some years ago I opted for a dehumidifier. It helps warm the flat, dries the laundry and generally deals with the damp problems we’d otherwise have. It costs less to run than the heaters, and is cheaper than a tumble drier. It’s a fine example of how much easier it is to make lower energy choices, greener choices and money saving choices when you can afford the initial outlay. Poverty is expensive.
How good a choice is the extra jumper? They take a lot of effort to wash. Synthetic fibers dry quickly and are cheap, but they release microplastics into the water. Wool takes some drying, and if you’re short of money for energy, getting a woolen jumper dry is going to be a problem. Also, dry a wool jumper too slowly and it can start to decay, and will probably smell like a wet dog.
I’m quite a fan of thermal underwear in cold weather. It takes less space to store when I’m not using it. If you’re economically disadvantaged, you probably don’t have much space for stuff. Thermals are easy to wash and to dry. There are, again, the issues of synthetics, but there’s at least less synthetic fabric in the equation to begin with. Also, thermals tend to be densely made in a way that means they shed far less material than jumpers do. Not having the bulk about my person is important when I’m working.
A jumper is only helpful for keeping my upper body warm, but thermal longjohns also warm my legs. I find this really helps when I’m outside, walking for transport. Having the right gear makes getting places on foot a lot more realistic.
Buying thermal underwear is an investment. It’s not an outlay everyone can afford. Being able to make good economic and/or environmental choices depends on having good options in the first place.
Being cold is really undermining. It takes it out of you – I’ve been there. Being cold makes it harder to be economically active. It can make it a lot harder to think, or find the energy for anything else. These are not situations you can reliably budget your way out of if you’re starting from a bad place. Being cold makes people ill, and exaserbates illness. We should not be willing to tolerate fuel poverty, nor to tolerate the capitalism that has put so many people needlessly into states of distress.