Winter is a time of year when spending tends to increase. Between holiday shopping and the need to bump up the heat in your home, it’s all too easy to begin paying more and more as the months roll by. But just because you’ll need to pay more to keep your home comfortable, and extra purchases are a seasonal norm, doesn’t mean you can’t employ some smart tactics to keep your spending at a minimum.
Here are some quick tips to save money this winter:
Winterize your home
According to a 2009 analysis conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 49 percent of energy consumption for homes in the region comprising Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota goes toward space heating. This is compared to the U.S. average of 41 percent of energy consumption going toward heating. Another 31 percent goes toward appliances, lighting and electronics. During the winter, when the days are darker, shorter and colder, these expenditures will naturally increase.
One way you can lower these costs is by ensuring your home is as efficient as possible. Don’t let the heat you paid for go out the front door – or the attic ceiling, bedroom windows or living room walls. If your home feels drafty, invest in some energy-saving upgrades:
- An insulation addition or upgrade in your attic or walls.
- Plastic sheeting to go over your windows and doors that you don’t use during the winter.
- Foam or fabric barriers at the bottom of your exterior doorways.
Additionally, take advantage of natural resources that can bring extra heat and light into your home. This refers to, of course, the sun. During the day, open your curtains wide to let the rays shine in and provide light and warmth – you may find you don’t even need to turn on your lamps or overhead lights during the daytime.
Turn down the thermostat
When you feel a chill, your natural reaction might be to turn up the thermostat. Think twice before doing this, though. First, consider adding some layers – are you wearing socks and a sweater? If you’re reading, watching TV or doing another primarily stationary activity, do you have a blanket to cozy up with? Additionally, drinking a hot beverage like tea, hot chocolate or bone broth can effectively warm you up.
If you decide that you do, in fact, need to turn up the thermostat, make sure to remember to turn it back down before you go to bed. Not only will this save you money, but it can also help you sleep better, is better for your health and is easier on your potted plants and major appliances, LifeHacker explained. Perhaps in the process of saving money on your heating bill, you’ll prolong the life of your refrigerator, thus saving money that way, too.
Keep your thermostat turned down while you and your family are away from the home at work or school – if no one is home to enjoy the heat, why pay extra for it?
Keep track of spending
One of the oldest tricks in the book, setting a budget can help you stay on pace for your seasonal spending goals. Determine how much you can reasonably afford to spend on holiday gifts, travel plans and all the potlucks and holiday dinners you plan on attending.
Using a mobile banking app like Bank Midwest’s, you can easily track all your expenses. Additionally, you can set up alerts that’ll give you a heads up about larger purchases; this can both help you stay in check and give you notice when a suspicious charge is made on your account.