Though winter technically happens every year, it doesn’t always feel like we have winter here on the Texas Gulf Coast. However, this year we’ve had a number of cold days and it’s even snowed!
We have different needs in cold weather than we have in warm weather. Because we’re always pinching pennies in my household, I’ve been considering how to save money as we face the colder temperatures.
How to save money during the winter months
When heating the home
The money in our bank accounts sometimes drops along with the outdoor temperatures because of heating costs. Here are several ways to keep this from happening.
- Use window coverings wisely. Open curtains to windows that are in direct sunlight to allow the sun to naturally heat the rooms. Cover windows that are not in direct sunlight with heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets on frames or with insulating drapes.
- Lower the thermostat. Use clothes and blankets to stay warm so you can set the thermostat as low as is comfortable. Be especially sure to do this at night when you can keep warm under blankets.
- Care for your furnace. If you have a forced air furnace, then change your furnace filters and have the furnace serviced at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer. If you have a wood- or pellet-burning heater, then clean the flue vent regularly and periodically clean the inside of the heater with a wire brush.
- Prevent air from entering through the fireplace. If you’re not burning a fire, then keep your fireplace damper closed so cold air doesn’t flow into the house. If needed, add caulk around the fireplace hearth. Consider increasing your fireplace’s effectiveness by installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows hot air back into the room.
- Add insulation. Place weather stripping around your windows and doors to prevent warm air from escaping. Consider placing better insulation in your walls and attic.
- Run ceiling fans in a clockwise direction. Ceiling fans use minimal energy. When you run one at a low speed in a clockwise direction, it pulls air upwards in the middle of the room and pushes the hot air at the top of the room down the walls toward the floor. This can raise the temperature at the floor by as much as five degrees!
- Avoid using exhaust fans. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans pull air out of the house, namely the hot air that rises to the ceiling in your home. Use these if needed, but shut them off as soon as they’ve done their job.
- Cook at home. Cooking, especially when you use the oven, slow cooker, stove, and similar appliances, heats your home. On cold days, warm your home by making things like Salisbury Meatloaf, Turkey and Wild Rice Soup, and Slow Cooker Bourbon Chicken.
When purchasing winter clothes
The cost of clothes can really add up! Here are some simple ways to save as we acquire winter clothing.
- Layer items you already own. Instead of buying new shirts and sweaters, see if you can keep warm by layering the shirts, vests, sweaters, scarves, etc. that you already have in your drawers and closet.
- Make your own. If you have the ability to knit or crochet, then put it to use making your own scarf, hat, and mittens. You can even attempt a sweater! If you sew, then you can make a variety of clothing items.
- Shop sales or buy used. If you don’t need the clothing right away, then you can wait until winter passes and get these items on clearance. However, if you need the clothes immediately, then shop sales or check consignment and thrift stores to see if they have something suitable.
When purchasing food and other items
The prices on many products vary throughout the year. You can often find the following items at low prices during the winter months.
With the help of these strategies, we’re hoping to keep our spending at a minimum this winter. If you need additional ideas, check out my sources: U.S. Department of Energy, The Simple Dollar, and This Old House.
What additional tips can you share? How do you save money during the winter months?