Except for people in the tropics, the winter months have always been hard on the human race. Even in the 21st century, winter can feel more like a wasteland than a wonderland. The cold temperatures cause car engines to freeze and joints to ache. The lack of sunlight can have a major impact on people's moods. And snowstorms tend to have a withering effect on the economy, affecting everything from manufacturing and construction rates to auto sales and even hiring.
Fortunately, winter's bite doesn't have to be a drain on your own finances. There are ways to keep Jack Frost at bay by making a simple inspection of your home. Here are a few tips for saving money during the winter months.
Prevent Winter Damage
1. Inspect around your home for overhanging tree limbs, especially ones that extend a particularly long way from the trunk of the tree. These limbs can crack and fall under the weight of accumulated snow, causing significant damage to the roofs of cars and homes, so remove them if possible.
2. Examine your roof for cracked or missing shingles to prevent further water damage both inside and outside the home.
3. Prevent frozen pipes! when water freezes, it expands, which can cause pipes to break. Particularly vulnerable pipes are those exposed to the cold, like water sprinkler lines. Follow these steps to prevent your pipes from bursting, which can cause flood damages to your yard and basement.
- Drain the water from all water sprinkler lines. Do not put antifreeze in the lines unless specifically directed by the manufacturer. (This can cause damage to the local environment.)
- Drain and store outside hoses. Make sure to keep all valves open so that nay water remaining inside can expand outward rather than against the walls of the pipe.
- You can insulate some pipes by placing pipe sleeves, special tape, or even newspaper around them.
Perhaps the most surefire way to save money during the winter is to conserve energy. When winter hits, it becomes more expensive to both light and heat your home.
Fortunately, you can maximize the efficiency of both light and heat in your home. By keeping the cold air out, you can keep the savings in!
1. Take advantage of the sun. Nature's cheapest furnace and longest-lasting light bulb is your friend during the winter. Make sure to keep your curtains or blinds open during the day, especially on windows that face south. Relying on our own personal star means relying less on expensive heating systems.
2. Speaking of heating systems, try setting your thermostat as low as possible, especially while you are sleeping. Turning your thermostat down 10 degrees for eight hours can help you save up to 10% a year on your heating bill. Also, make sure to change the filter on your furnace at least once a month.
3. Seal air leaks around doors and windows by adding caulk or even rolled up towels around the edges. This prevents cold air from coming in, and won't force your furnace to work harder (thus costing you more money).
4. A fireplace is a great way to keep warm during the winter ... but it's also a great way to lose money if you're not careful. Make sure to keep your fireplace damper closed whenever it's not in use to prevent warm air from escaping. Also, make sure to lower the thermostat whenever a fire is lit.
5. Conserving energy isn't just a lot of "hot air". It's also a bright idea. By this, I mean watch your electricity consumption by turning off lights whenever they aren't needed. This is an especially big problem during the winter considering the sun goes down earlier.
6. While we're on the subject of lights, consider buying LED Christmas lights. They're both festive and 75% more energy efficient! Also, remember to turn off your Christmas lights before you go to bed. I promise you, the only person around to see them after midnight anyway would be Santa Claus himself.
7. Finally, be sure to lower the temperature on your water heater, especially if you go away on vacation.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Have a wonderful holiday season, a safe winter, and a happy New Year!