Use some of the tips below to help you manage your finances over the winter.
Reduce Heating Costs
Some utility companies offer help to low income families so that they can manage their finances. Some companies, like NIPSCO offer a sort of pass through winter that means you not only get help with your heating bills, but actually get a discounted rate and are ineligible for a disconnect until March. This allows single mothers and other low income families to use their taxes to pay off the winter heating bills and to get through the winter with one less immediate concern. These companies might also offer weatherization programs that help you prepare the house itself so that you don’t need as much heat in order to keep it warm.
You can do a lot to limit the amount of energy you consumer over the winter so that your bills are not quite as high. Do simple things like bake more often and then leave the oven door cracked after you get done baking, keeping the children away from it. You can also simply dress warmer. You may like to keep your home nice and toasty in order to try and keep illness at bay, but the truth is that some bacteria and viral infections thrive in the warmer air, so you may not be doing your family as many favors with your efforts as you thought you were.
Actually use your thermostat. Many people set their thermostat on a particular temperature and leave it there, but your house really does not have to be seventy degrees while you are at work. You can also use alternate heat sources and leave your thermostat on a low setting. For instance, you might put a small space heater in the living room where your family is when they are home. This helps keep that particular area warm, but it doesn’t take as much energy as it would if you used your furnace to keep the entire house that warm.
Get creative with your laundry. If you are doing small loads or you have a lot of space in your house, hang your clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer. If you do have to use the dryer and it is an electric one, use an adapter to keep the warm air in your home. You can even use a coffee can to do this. Simply tape a light fabric around the dryer vent hose, and then attach the fabric to the can. Fill the can with water and make sure you keep it full. When the hot air comes out of the dryer, the lint will get trapped in the water and on the material, but the hot air will come into your home. Do not try this with gas dryers as they also share fumes in the hot air.
Weatherize your house. Put plastic on the windows and hang heavy drapes that when open, can still block a draft from the sides of the windows. When closed, they keep any cold air from coming in the house. Put weather stripping around your doors and windows. Use foam spray to fill in gaps where you might be losing heat. Surround the bottom of your house with bales of straw or even bagged leaves so that you can help keep the crawl space a bit warmer.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Other than reducing your heating costs, you also need to do maintenance on your vehicle. Fill your antifreeze and make sure you have decent tires. Sometimes you can get mechanic services for free or even get paid to use them when you do mystery shopping. These shops usually involve an oil change or something similar that is paid for, while you also get paid to evaluate the services. Even something as simple as changing your windshield wiper blades can make a huge difference in repair costs. After all, if you can’t see out your window, you are very likely to swerve off the road or hit an animal in the middle of a snow storm, and you certainly can’t afford those costly repairs!
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