As we trudge through the murky, watery depths of winter here in the Pacific Northwest, we are made all too painfully aware of the increased living costs associated with the season. Here are a few ways to save a buck or two, some of which you may have heard but bear repeating:
- Wear sweaters and warm socks indoors so you can lower the thermostat temperature.
- Buy for next year – hit up the end of season sales to save upwards of 50% off winter clothes for next year.
- Did your child just have a growth spurt and grow out of their winter clothes? Take them into a consignment shop and get store credit for trading up. You get some money back on the old pair and obtain a new pair at already frugal prices.
Health- Eat healthy and be healthy!
- Getting sick costs you money in increased healthcare costs and possible lost wages. Load up on that vitamin C, and here in the Northwest where we get so little precious sunlight, Vitamin D. And don’t forget the greens!
- Use a humidifier – heated indoor air is constantly drying out leading to dried out sinuses, which can lead to illness.
- Keep your air filters cleaned or replace regularly.
- Are you a frequent skier/snowboarder? Save dough by taking advantage of reduced prices on season passes, frequent skier programs, locals-only pricing, late season ticket deals, student pricing, active military discounts, or join a ski/snowboard club
- Check online: liftopia.com, skicoupons.com, and thesnowjunkies.com specialize in deals on lift tickets. Also, check out craigslist.com for people reselling tickets they can’t use. You can always just search for: [your ski resort] + “coupon”.
- Look local: check out coupon books like the Entertainment Book. There are usually promos going on through local businesses. For example, a local car dealership was giving away a free lift ticket if you test drove this year’s model. A local Shell gas station was also offering a free lift ticket when purchasing 10+ gallons of gasoline. Local ski shops often have some sort of deals to offer as well. Keep your eyeballs peeled for other local businesses with lift ticket offers. There are deals to be had!
- Want winter sporting goods but not that serious? The used gear at second-hand sporting goods stores will do the job. Craigslist is also a great resource.
- Tip: go during non-peak times, you’ll get better deals.
Home Energy Bill- Pretend that your indoor air is a hazmat zone and you can’t let the air escape.
There are entire websites (and businesses) dedicated to making your home more energy efficient and thus way more information than can be repeated in a single blog post. Don’t be afraid to investigate more.
- Close up those heating vents and doors to any infrequently used rooms in your home. Likely candidates are studies, dens, basements, laundry rooms, and guest bedrooms.
- Make sure your home is energy-proofed. Here’s a good place to start: http://www.energysavers.gov/tips/
- Turn down your water heater by 10-20 degrees, you probably won’t notice the difference, but you will notice your bill drop.
- Keep lots of warm throws handy for when you’re lounging about the house.
- Take it to the next level. Hang sheer curtains over an open doorway to the hall keeps heat in the living room where you want it in the evening. Pressure rods are inexpensive and easy to remove and store until next winter.
- Put plastic film over your windows and use curtains to trap in the heat. Windows are huge heat sinks. Keep the curtains open during the day to allow solar heating of your house.
- Turn off vent fans – over your stove or in the bathroom – these just spew your heat outdoors.
- Have a fireplace or woodstove? Close the vent! But take advantage of it as a heating source during the winter. It may be more cost effective depending on the cost of wood, pellets, etc. in your area.
- Want a DIY project? Make your own solar heater!
- Patch the holes – make sure your attic and/or basement/crawl space is properly insulated, cracks are sealed, and holes are patched.
- Make sure your heating units are operating at peak efficiency – get them checked, maintained, and cleaned. You can replace the air filter yourself (every 2-3 months).
- Keep the thermostat as low as you can possibly stand. Gradually lower it over the course of a few weeks as your body gradually adjusts to the colder weather.
- Leave the thermostat alone! Changing it up and down could cost you as much as 4% of your bill for every degree change. Try not to vary more than 5 degrees. Or better yet get a programmable thermostat to reduce your fiddling and maximize efficiency.
- Bake …a lot – it serves as a psychological trick to make you feel warmer from the inside out and it also actually heats up your house (a little.)
- Check and make sure all the heating ductwork and pipes in the basement are properly insulated to prevent heat loss. Leaky ductwork often accounts for 10-30% of your total heating and cooling costs.
- Always fill up your oil and gas tanks before the cold weather hits as the costs of oil and gas are typically higher during winter due to a surge in demand.
- Check the caulk and weather stripping around your doors, door sweeps, and windows. Install new caulk if they are not caulked or the caulk is old. Examine the door weather stripping and replace it if it is old or light can be seen seeping in-between the door and door jambs.