Save some cash on winter’s biggest expenses


Has anyone else noticed how cold it is outside?

Of course you have, and as such your heat is probably on full blast. You may be staying in more (really using up that electricity, huh?) and perhaps you’re taking more warm baths. (Hello, hot water bill!)

It’s nice to stay toasty in the comfort of your own home when the temps dip low outside, but it’s not so nice when the extra large bills start coming in the mail. Try staying warm and holding on to some of your hard-earned cash this season by following these easy tips in three big expense areas.
1. It’s Electric
Baby it’s cold outside, and you’d rather be inside … we get it. But spending more time indoors doesn’t necessarily have to add up to a higher electricity bill. Try these simple fixes:

  1. Clean furnace vents and keep them properly maintained to reduce energy consumption.
  2. Remember to unplug “vampire electronics” — things like televisions, computers or toasters — that suck up energy all day long if they’re plugged in and you aren’t using them.
  3. Take a couple of minutes before bed every night to check all the rooms in the house and make sure that no appliances or lights were accidentally left on.

2. Is it Hot in Here?
Freezing outdoor temps are not an excuse to set it and forget it (we’re talking about your thermostat, here). To avoid a monster heating bill, try following these easy steps:

  1. Check around the house for drafty doors and windows where the heat may be escaping. If you find any, look into having those areas insulated to prevent this from happening any further. It may be a small upfront cost, but it’ll save you tons in the long run.
  2. Follow this mantra: If you don’t use a part of your house the entire day, don’t turn the heat on in there.
  3. Save even more energy by lowering your thermostat at night.
  4. Don’t forget that even when the temps dip, the sun still comes out (usually). Find spots to hang in the house where you can make use of the free heat from sunlight.

3. Cars Can’t Take Care of Themselves

Don’t assume that your car can handle itself in the cold winter months — most of the time a little added TLC is necessary to ensure you don’t do damage to your car that could mean even more expensive repairs down the road. Keep the following in mind during the winter so you aren’t paying an arm and a leg for repairs in the spring

  1. Try to always keep your gas tank at least ½ full to avoid freezing.
  2. Take care of those tires. Sitting on old, leaky tires because you don’t want to pay for new ones won’t help you when they cause an accident on the icy winter roads.
  3. Salt and ice can do major damage to your car’s paint job, so remember to wash it after a particularly snowy winter.
  4. Rubber wiper blades tend to deteriorate over time, so replace them every six to 12 months if possible. Also remember — wiper fluid helps break up snow and ice that lands on your windshield, so be sure to keep an eye on that as well.

Cheryl Lock is a personal finance writer at and former editor at LearnVest and Parents magazine. When she’s not writing, she enjoys travel, which she blogs about at


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