The cold and snow in the Northeast and Midwest are getting frustrating, to say the least. Money Conscious consumers should be aware that because of the extreme and extended cold, energy prices are expected to increase. Gas is above $100, up from $5 not long ago. Propane was up 70% from Friday to Tuesday to $2.45. This puts a tank of propane between $100 to $200. While much of these costs won’t be passed to consumers, some of them will. This is a nice way to start a budget for the new year.
As always, budget accordingly. Upcoming heating and electric bills may be higher than usual even for the winter. How can you mitigate the effects of the cold weather on your wallet? Here are some suggestions:
- Install storm windows correctly – Incorrectly installed storm windows or having no storm windows can let a lot of money go out the window (no pun intended)
- Install weather stripping – This is vinyl or rubber stripping installed around tops of doors and windows with nails or staples. Though they don’t look pretty, they’ll do the trick until something more aesthetically pleasing can be installed during warmer weather.
- Install door sweeps – These are the rubber strips we often see at the bottom of doors. They help make the door flush to the floor and ensure money isn’t going out the door (pun intended).
- Add window shrink covering – This is like Shrinky Dinks for adults. Remember those? Place the specialized plastic sheets over your windows and shrink them to size with a blow dryer. The view and sun aren’t obstructed, but the cold is.
- Add shades and drapes -If you’re going for a modern or industrial look, this may not be an appealing idea. Of course, this could be a temporary solution. Either way, shades and drapes are an age-old solution for keeping out the cold in the winter and keeping in the cold in the summer.
- Use door snakes – To assist your recently installed door sweep or to use in place if you’re too lazy to install the door sweep, throw a snake or draft door stopper at the bottom of your door. Many of these are humorous. We used to have one that looked like a cow. We called her Lactaid.
- Cover pipes – If you have water pipes that are exposed to cold, wrap them with heating tape to protect them from freezing and bursting.
- Open cabinet doors – If you have water pipes between cabinet doors and exterior walls, open the cabinet door to allow heat around the pipes. This will reduce the risks of the pipes bursting.
- Repair door and window leaks – It may be too late to do this correctly now. A temporary solution is to use caulking to fill any holes or leaks. When summer comes, have these repaired correctly.
- Wrap your water heater in an insulating blanket – This is a big blanket to wrap around your water heater. It’s a specialized big blanket, so don’t throw your favorite down comforter around it. Otherwise, you could run the risk of a fire. Water heater wraps can save 25% to 40% on energy bills.
- Insulate outlets – This is foam padding for around light switches and outlets. If you’re in an older house, it’s likely your outlets don’t have proper insulation. New homes don’t have as much of a problem, but it can’t hurt to check.
- Install attic and basement insulation – This step, too, may be too late, so add this to your “To Do” list for spring. Just like your head and feet, a lot of heat goes out the attic and basement of your home. Installing this magical pink stuff is like putting socks and a hat on your home.
- Install attic stair covers – This is an insulated lid or box to put over attic doors, particularly those in the ceiling.
- Dress appropriately – At the risk of sound like Jimmy Carter, bundle up. Now is not the time to wear shorts and t-shirts at home. Dressing appropriately while in the home can save tons of money.
By following these steps, you can minimize the financial impact of this weather. This will ensure you don’t blow your budget in the first month of the year.