We were happy to see that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this year, but we still have several weeks left of winter in the midwest before we can really get excited for warmer weather. Keep reading for a few tips to help you save money and stay covered whether you’re out on the road, on vacation, or staying warm inside.
Save on heating costs until the weather warms up
If you’ve been dreading every utility bill since the weather turned colder, you’re not alone. But there are some ways you can lower the costs of keeping your home warm in the winter. Start with your water heater. Try taking shorter showers, and making them warm rather than scalding hot. Lowering your water heater’s temperature setting to 120°F can save you up to 11 percent, and cutting the length of your shower in half could save you up to 33 percent! The same goes for your thermostat. Turn it down and add a layer of clothing for warmth – switching your setting from 71°F to 68°F could shave 5 percent off your bill.
Next, make sure you’re not losing heat. Check your attic insulation – you should have a minimum of 11 inches of insulation. Next, make sure your doors and windows aren’t letting in a draft. Replace weatherstripping if needed and adjust window openings to close any gaps.
Lastly, check your furnace filters. Clogged filters not only cause dirty air; they also make your furnace work harder, which means a higher bill.
Heading somewhere warm? Keep your home safe while you’re away
It’s a good idea to leave your home clean and up-to-date with routine maintenance before you leave. This will lower the chances of you coming home to damage or a pest problem. Make sure your heating system is in good order, your gutters are clean, and most of your appliances are unplugged.
Protect yourself from one of the most common homeowner claims: water damage due to pipe leaks. Check for leaks or poor fittings on your pipes and the water lines attached to your appliances. Open the cupboards beneath your sinks. You may consider turning your water off completely, depending on how long you’ll be gone. If you do leave your water on, set the temperature in your home to at least 55°F.
Lastly, don’t make your home a target. Wait until after your vacation to post photos or updates on social media, have your mail picked up or forwarded, and pause your newspaper delivery. Make use of an alarm system and lights with timers and motion sensors. It’s always a good idea to have a friend or neighbor check in on your home frequently while you’re away.
Keep your car going in the cold
First, check your battery. Car batteries have a harder time producing a charge in cold weather, which is why dead batteries are so common this time of year. You can check the health of your battery with a voltmeter or multimeter. You’ll need around 12.40-12.75 volts to reliably start your car. If yours tests below that, it may be time to replace it.
Another winter car woe is a cracked radiator. This happens when the radiator has frozen, and can be costly to repair. You’ll know this has happened if, when you try to start your car, you hear a squealing sound and see steam coming out from under the hood. To avoid this, try to park your car indoors if possible, and check your car’s coolant concentration – it should be a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.
Lastly, well-maintained tires are crucial on slick or icy roads. Make sure to get your tires checked before traveling, and continue checking your tire pressure frequently as cold temperatures cause it to drop. And always remember: in winter weather conditions, take it slow, and keep a blanket and other supplies in your car in case of extreme weather.
One of the best ways to protect yourself, your home and your car at any time of year is to make sure your insurance policies are all up-to-date and have the coverage you need. Call us today or fill out the form below to get started.