Winter can be brutal on utility bills. It is true. As the holidays draw near, consumers are doing everything possible to save money. Weekend yard sales are springing up all over the place as people sell belongings to pay rent or mortgages. Friends and neighbors are cutting back on everything to stock up on food, pay bills, and perhaps buy a few Christmas gifts. There is no better time than winter to start living green.
Save Money at Home all Winter
Consumers that are barely getting by can’t afford major home renovations or repairs, but there are still some things one can do to save money on fuel and energy bills. A little effort to go green can add up to a substantial amount of money.
How to save money around the house during the winter:
Lower the heating unit thermostat and use ceiling fans to circulate heat. During cold weather months, change the direction so that the fan blades turn clockwise (there should be a switch for reversing direction on the motor casing.) Put the fan on low speed to prevent an uncomfortable draft.
Clean heaters and change filters. It’s best to have a central unit serviced by a professional at the beginning of the season. Otherwise, keep coils dust-free and change the filter often (or clean a permanent filter.)
Save energy by devoting an entire day to baking Christmas goodies. Turn off the heat in the house and stay in the kitchen – or close by – where it’s warm.
Unplug electronics and appliances not in use. Even when turned off the devices use small amounts of energy. Energy costs money.
Reuse printer paper. Keep a tray close to the printer for rejected print projects. Use the paper for grocery lists, errand lists, notes, and whatever else is suitable.
Wash and dry only full loads of laundry. When weather permits, hang clothes outdoors.
Run the dishwasher when it’s full. Partial loads waste water and energy.
Check for cold air leaking inside around windows and doors and window air conditioning units. Seal any openings or replace old worn weather stripping.
Cut long hot showers to ten minutes or less. It takes more energy (and money) to heat water when the temperature outdoors is cold.
Keep outdoor Christmas decorations within reason. Be sure to turn off the display before going to bed to save electricity and money.
Plastic bags from the grocery store can be recycled into household items, so be sure to return them to the store.
Health Tips Save Money during Holidays, Winter
Spend less money on doctor visits and medicine by staying healthy. Using common sense and following safety rules can save an expensive trip to the emergency room. Attention to housecleaning and self-care can keep a family healthy all season long.
Air out the home when the weather permits. Stale air is unhealthy and depressing. Pick a sunny day and open a few windows to let fresh revitalizing air indoors.
Keep the home dust free. Dust, dust mites, and pet dander collect in greater concentrations when a house is closed up for weeks at a time. Throw-rugs and bedding don’t get cleaned as often, so vacuum frequently.
Get rid of clutter. Clutter collects dust and is otherwise unsightly as well as unhealthy.
Buy locally-grown winter produce. Less fuel is burned and air pollution is reduced. Fruits and vegetables help keep the immune system healthy.
Set up holiday decorations according to package instructions without overloading electrical circuits. Taking shortcuts, failing to wear safety gear or failing to use the proper tools can result in costly trips to the hospital.
Green Money-Saving Tips for Christmas
Save on the little things to avoid overspending during the holidays. Don’t spend a lot on baking six different kinds of cookies; instead, host a cookie swap with neighbors. As an added bonus, an afternoon spent with good friends can add cheer to the cold dismal days of winter.
Think before buying. Most kids will get additional school supplies when school starts after the Christmas break. Go green with stocking stuffer that double as school supplies. In a special advertising section of Good Housekeeping magazine (December 2009, page 157), Walgreens and the experts at Good Housekeeping present “100 Feel Good Tips.” Tip number 27 states, “With more than 1.5 million pens discarded every year, choose refillable lead pencils when shopping for school supplies.” That’s less plastic going into the landfills.
Make it a goal during the holiday season to find joy in saving natural resources and share good spirits with others. Avoid the temptation to waste money on things unnecessary, but instead make do with what’s on hand. Go natural with holiday decorations, host a holiday potluck dinner, schedule a family night or go caroling with a church group. Above all, set a cheerful example. Children will remember the good times together long after the decorations are put away and the toys are forgotten.