For those of us that live in northern climates, winter still seems to catch us off guard, no matter how many times we’ve endured the snowy season.
Every year, the cold rushes in suddenly. The nights get darker sooner and, reluctantly, we turn on our heaters and break out our heavy jackets and boots from the back of our closets.
Perhaps one of the most unpleasant parts of winter is the sudden added expenses—heat, new car tires, days off from work during storms, and higher electric bills thanks to the long nights.
Here are a few tips to help you trudge through the winter with less of a financial burden:
1. Rent an apartment that includes heat (or live on the upper floors)
Renting an apartment that includes heat can save you a little bit of money. Of course, the cost of heat is incorporated into the rent, but if you’re the kind of person who likes their apartment very warm during the winter, you’re more likely to save this way.
If you can’t find an apartment with heat included, living on upper floors can save you money, because heat rises. Yes, moving your furniture up three or four flights of stairs is a huge pain, but if you can handle a little chill, you may not have to turn the heat on at all.
2. Get all season tires
First of all, if you live in the north, there are some cars you should avoid because they suck in the snow. If you have one of these cars (hint: any type of BMW), you’re more likely to get stuck, even with snow tires. This means you’ll have to pay someone (or beg someone you know) to come get you out, which also means you’re probably running late for work and that time may be deducted from your pay.
If you can’t afford to change your tires every year to winter tires, try all season tires. They’re definitely not as great as snow tires, but they do the job for the most part.
3. Use LED lighting (including your holiday lights)
This tip comes directly from the U.S. government’s website. LED lights have been around for a while now, and are better for the environment and your electricity bill.
November and December are particularly costly months if you’re the type that lines every part of the house with Christmas lights. But you can buy LED Christmas lights, and even Christmas trees that have LED lights wrapped around them.
Over time, LED lights will save you money, even if the upfront cost is a little more. Although, the cost of LED lights has dropped significantly in recent years. LED lights last longer and use less electricity, so replacing your main lighting sources makes sense financially.
4. Stock up on blankets, socks, and sweaters
One of the biggest financial burdens during the winter is your heating bill. So, while this tip may seem simple, it’s a lot cheaper to bundle up a little more than keep your heat up at 70 or 80 degrees.
There’s also the age old advice: Turn down your heat before going to bed. Since you’re sleeping under a pile of blankets anyway, there’s no need to keep the heat up while you’re not awake.
5. Cook at home
Cooking at home can help you cut out costly nights out, but using the oven and stove can help warm your home—or at least your kitchen.
After you’re done cooking, turn off your oven, but leave the door open so the remaining heat makes its way into the house.
Related: 6 Ways To Lower Your Food Bill
6. Let the sun in (and cover the windows with plastic)
Using the heat that the sun naturally provides can go a long way. Keep your curtains open during the day so the light can get in. But make sure your windows are properly insulated so that heat doesn’t escape.
It may not look very nice, but covering your windows with plastic can help keep the heat inside. The best part is that it’s very easy to do yourself!
7. Conduct an energy audit
All of these saving methods will be for naught if your home isn’t as energy efficient as possible. You can easily do an energy audit yourself. You’ll be checking your insulation, furnace filters, and electric use.
Have any obvious air leaks repaired. Have a professional come look at your furnace if need be. Fixing any small problems immediately is a better decision financially, than waiting for your furnace to completely fall apart.
Also, simply watch your electricity and heat usage. Set up timers on lights and TVs, unplug anything you’re not using, and turn down your water heater slightly.
Winter is filled with added expenses—from your heating to electric costs. Luckily, all of these simple tips combined can help you save this winter.