When the demand goes up for warmer clothing in our Clothing Emporium, it’s a good sign that people are sensing the coming of winter. Fall, when the days are still warm enough to work both inside and out, is a good time to prepare yourself and your home for colder weather. If you are on a tight budget, making some needed repairs and preparations can help keep your spending on a good track. Here’s a visit to a previous column on getting ready for another Indiana winter, with some commonsense tips on ways to save.
Turn off lights and other appliances when not in use. Reduce your water usage by fixing leaky toilets and faucets. Insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency. A tank that is warm to the touch needs additional insulation. Cook and eat at home. Buy food with a longer shelf life in bulk if you can get a better price. Buy less junk food to get the most nutrition from your food dollar. Drink water instead of soda or juice. Use coupons and watch for sales. Shop at thrift stores. Cut back or quit smoking. In winter use a lower heat setting, and wear layers of clothing such as sweaters and long underwear. Reset ceiling fans to run in a clockwise direction in the winter to push warmer air into your living space. Get under a warm blanket while watching television.
Much of the money that a typical family spends on their home energy bills is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems. Air leaks are among the greatest sources of energy loss in a home. One of the quickest energy- and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside.
Change furnace filters regularly. Close off seldom used rooms, and close the heating vents inside. Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes. Open curtains on south-facing windows during the day to allow solar radiation to warm the living space. Close curtains at night to slow down the escape of heat. Access MyBrightpoint.org for information on their numerous assistance programs. Their Energy Assistance Program (EAP) helps pay a portion of an individual or family’s winter heating bills. Brightpoint’s Weatherization Assistance Program offers a home energy audit and energy efficiency upgrades to residential dwellings. A home energy audit will show a picture of the home’s energy use. The audit can help you determine where your home is losing energy, and which problem areas and fixes you should prioritize to make your home more efficient and comfortable.
If you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage payment each month, consider housing that is based on your income. Make use of government programs, such as those offered through the Fort Wayne Housing Authority (fwha.org). Monitor your financial accounts. Be careful to avoid overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees. Incurring one overdraft fee can start the ball rolling to additional fees, shrinking the account balance even more. Create a responsible plan for using debit and credit cards, and stick to it. It’s easy to forget about the small amounts put on the cards. Not monitoring these amounts can result in an unpleasant surprise when the statement arrives.
Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, provided this counsel, “There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important as living within your means.” It is not always easy to live that way, but it is always satisfying to meet the challenge.