Steps to take now to save this winter
As we enter into the later summer months, there is still plenty of warm weather to look forward to, and hopefully mild, comfortable temperatures in fall. While a cold winter is a harsh reality for many parts of the country, it's not something we have to completely dread. The holiday season brings together family and friends, and winter sports are a great way to enjoy the snow.
If you want to make sure the upcoming winter season is one of your best ones yet, there are a few steps you can take as early as this month to save money and be better prepared for cold weather. As we all know, the cooler temperatures bring with them potential money drains, including for heating and snow removal. We might not be able to control the weather, but we can control our preparation for it!
Stock up on off-season items.
If you know there are a few things you will need this winter, whether it's warm apparel or snow removal equipment, you don't have to wait until the first snowfall to make a purchase. Start searching around to compare prices and see if you can find any off-season bargains. You have the luxury of time to wait until you find a great deal, and you can avoid the marked-up prices during winter when everything is in high demand. In fact, shoppers can often see some of the lowest prices when the items are not most in demand. That means late summer can be a good time to snap up last year's winter coats that haven't yet been purchased.
As we enter another shopping season, many states have tax-free holiday weekends during August. Use this to your advantage if you're in need of a new winter coat or boots, as these holidays usually are limited to apparel, computers and back to school supplies.
Prepare your home for the cold.
The summer is a great time to make sure your home is ready for cold weather. Check for air leaks around doors and windows, as these can be a major drain on your energy costs, and seal them with caulk. Make sure you have draft stoppers for any doors that are letting air into the house.
You can also prepare for winter by cleaning out your furnace, replacing air filters and getting the chimney cleaned out. If you need to outsource any of these tasks, it's a good time to do so – you can get a jumpstart on the experts' busy seasons, and maybe even bargain for a discount.
You can also bleed your radiators by opening the air vent to allow trapped air to escape. This will help them work more efficiently during the winter months. Also, check to make sure your furniture is not blocking radiators from circulating heat throughout a room.
Lastly, consider a programmable thermostat if you don't have one already. Turning it down in the evenings and while you are away from the house can save a ton of money on your energy bills.
Make sure your vehicle is ready.
Now is a good time to get your vehicle tuned up and in good running condition before the winter weather hits. Not only can it save you money by avoiding costly damage down the road, but you are also taking steps to keep you and your passengers safe.
One of the most important parts in your car to get serviced is your brakes and brake pads. Hardworking brakes are essential for icy roads. Also, take a look at the pressure in your tires and the tread, and determine if you might need a set of winter tires. If so, start budgeting now and save toward these each month. That way it won't be a huge hit to your bank account when the time comes.
Check that you have enough antifreeze – while you're at it, you may need to clean and flush the cooling system as well. It's also a good idea to stock up on supplies and tools to keep in your car at all times, including an emergency kit (which is also useful to have at all times of the year), a shovel and a heavy duty ice scraper.
Winter should feel a little less scary now that you're armed with tips to manage costly winter expenses!
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report
Click through the slideshow below for more great ways to save:
Winter driving myths
Don't say goodbye to winter just yet
Simple hacks to keep you warm this winter