Money Saving Tips: Winter Waste
Waste Not Want Not
Times are tough. When you're already on a budget it can be even more difficult to make ends meet come the colder months of the year. Heating bills go up, as do electric bills with less daylight to offer warmth and light to our homes. Keeping these bills down to a manageable level along with other money saving tricks can help you get through winter without feeling like you're just tossing your money into the fire.
Often times, particularly in older homes, the largest source of heat loss comes from leaky windows. Your hard earned money and heat is literally getting sucked right out of the window!
Here are some ways to put a stop to higher heating bills through proper winter window care:
- If you have storm windows, install them
- Place plastic around the inside and/or outside of each window
- Use heavy curtains to cover windows, preventing drafts and forming an insulating barrier
If you have pets or small children, using an outdoor plastic may be a safer and more economical choice to ensure the plastic is not punctured and/or your pets and children do not come to harm from misuse of the plastic.
Plastic coverings can also be found for sliding glass or French doors. Read the packaging to make sure you are purchasing the correct type for your home and use.
Doors are the second most troublesome area where heat is lost. There are a number of ways to prevent heat loss when dealing with the doors in your home leading to the outside:
- Check to make sure that your door has a proper seal. There is weather stripping available for doors in the event that you can feel a strong draft coming from the space between your door and door frame.
- If you have an attached garage, consider using the garage door rather than the front door. When doing this enter the garage, close the garage door before opening the door leading into your home. While the temperature of your garage may be the same as outside, the wind will be blocked, therefore resulting in less heat loss when entering the home.
- Use draft stoppers at the base of your exterior doors. The more heat you can retain, the less your furnace has to work to replace it.
Clean and Efficient
Cleanliness is cost effective! Clean out your air ducts and furnace. Be sure to change your air filter regularly. Not only because you want to have clean air cycling through your home, because it's cheaper too!
A dirty furnace runs at nearly half of it's capability, meaning it has to work twice as hard to keep you warm! Ouch! Not only is that going to nickle and dime you to death each winter, it's going to shorten the life of your furnace substantially, which is going to cost you big time when it finally quits all together.
A great way to save money during the winter is by doing something that has a double benefit, rather than just a single cause. Cooking on the stove or in the oven helps heat your home back up without the use of the furnace. With all of the other winterizing you've done, it does an even more efficient job!
The more you can bake or use the oven, the better. Here are some great ideas that will warm the belly while also warming your home:
- Homemade breads, rolls, biscuits, pies, and cookies
- Casseroles, bakes, or hot-dishes
- Chili, stew, or soups
In the fall, when the weather is just starting to chill down; making your own jams and jellies is a great way to get into the swing of using your stove and oven to help warm up the home. Don't forget about baked potatoes and meatloaf!
Exercise is a great way to produce heat, body heat that is! The more you move the warmer you will become. This will allow you to keep your home at a cooler temperature without feeling chilled to the bone.
It doesn't have to be an exercise routine filled with sets, reps, and some hyper guy screaming at you from a DVD on your television screen. There are plenty of ways to keep busy and warm during the day (or evening) that don't appear to be a work out (but they really are).
- Folding and putting away laundry
- Walking up and down the stairs
- Sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming
- Dusting, moving furniture to either rearrange or vacuum behind (or underneath)
- Playing a game with your kids
- Playing with your pet
- Dancing in the living room
- Scrubbing or deep cleaning
If you're moving, you're exercising. Get up off that couch and get moving! Staying active means staying warm without any extra cost; plus it has the benefit of keeping or getting you in better shape. Double bonus!
Or at least dress in layers. You can always add more layers to an outfit if you're getting chilly. Keeping your furnace set at a lower temperature while adding a few extra layers saves a bundle (pun intended).
- Wool socks
- Sweaters or sweat-shirts
- Afghans, shawls, or blankets
- Booties or fuzzy slippers
10% of your body heat leaves through your feet, while another 10% escapes through your head! If you cover just those 2 parts of your body you can conserve 20% of your heat. That's a lot of heat! Don't be afraid to grow your hair longer, wear hats, or keep your neck covered, and cover those tootsies!
Plan Ahead & Save
Now that you're saving so much more money this winter by implementing the tips above, it's time to save even more:
If you know that last year you spend an average of $200 each month on heating and this year you've cut that down to even $150 each month; take that $50 per month and put it away. This is to be used as your "upgrade" fund! Even if it is enough to purchase a single new window, that new window is going to save money for you next winter!
Is your furnace on it's last leg? Use your "upgrade fund" to purchase a newer model when they go on sale during the hot season when not very many people are thinking about purchasing a furnace.
Planning ahead and purchasing newer, more energy efficient windows, doors, or appliances is only going to benefit you even more in the long run. Not only is it going to keep your costs lower, it is going to raise the value of your home.
Stay warm & enjoy the savings this winter!