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'Tis the season for shivering in your living room and paying an arm and a leg for heating bills. Or is it?
Winter doesn't have to strain your mood and your wallet! Here are some thrifty tips for surviving another central Pennsylvania winter.
1. Plug up Air Leaks
How much money are you spending to heat the great outdoors and that guest bedroom you only use twice a year? Probably a lot.
Thankfully, this is a cheap and easy problem to fix. The first step is completely free: just close off doors and vents to rooms when you're not using them.
You'll also want to invest in some caulk to seal off leaky cracks and expanding foam to stuff in larger holes, like the uninsulated space around electrical outlets and light switches.
2. Replace Your Windows
Another way heat escapes your home is through windows. Old windows are a recipe for cold homes and big heating bills.
Installing energy-efficient windows may cost a bit upfront, but they're a worthwhile investment. They can save the average home $500 yearly in heating and cooling costs. Plus, your home will be much more comfortable without all those chilly drafts.
3. Rethink Your Thermostat Strategy
Investing in a programmable thermostat can be a great way to save on heating costs, but only if you use it right. During the winter, set your thermostat at 68°F when you're home and lower when you're away or asleep.
If you can comfortably leave your thermostat lower than 68°F, do it! Get in the habit of wearing cozy pajamas around the house and you'll save a bunch on heating. Plus, who doesn't want an excuse to wear pajamas?
If you can't afford a programmable thermostat this year, you can still save money by turning down the heat when you're away or asleep. But these are tips for saving your budget and sanity, and we can all agree that life is easier when you don't have to constantly adjust the thermostat.
4. Light up Your Home (and Your Mood)
Preparing your home for the winter doesn't have to be all about energy efficiency. You're going to be spending a lot of time indoors once the cold weather strikes, so why not make it a little more livable?
As daylight hours grow shorter and shorter, it's easy to succumb to the winter blues. In fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression, is thought to be caused by short winter days. But even if you don't suffer from SAD, a lighting update can do wonders for your mood.
Prioritize the rooms you spend the most time in and think carefully about the type of ambience you want to create. There are almost infinite options for lighting your home, many of which are quite affordable, so let your creativity run wild!
5. Add Some Color
Another way to brighten up the dull winter months is to add a splash of color to your home. Are you worried that painting is a luxury you can't afford? Think again!
If you're not picky about colors, you can find discount paint at most hardware stores. This is usually paint that wasn't mixed quite right, and you can get it for less than $5 a gallon.
The disadvantage to buying discount paint is that it can be hard to find large amounts of the same color. If you run into this problem, one option is to paint an accent wall instead of the entire room.
Don't have enough of one color to paint a whole wall? Get artsy and make a fun gradient, or use painter's tape to create some stripes! Just make sure the paints you're using have the same sheen -- glossy, flat, etc.
6. Do Some Winter Cleaning
You've heard of spring cleaning, but what about winter cleaning? Now is a great time to start clearing out your clutter before the holidays arrive.
Start small and prioritize. You don't have to reorganize the whole house at once. Maybe you want to start with the living room, since family will be coming over for Hanukkah and you want it to look nice. Or perhaps your dresser is overflowing and you want to make space before you get your new pajamas on Christmas Eve.
Keep an eye out for holiday donation drives to give your lightly-used clothes and toys to, especially if you have younger kids who outgrow things fast. It's a great way to help someone in need and reduce your clutter all at once.
With a little foresight, your winter doesn't have to be cold, miserable or expensive! Now is the perfect time to start preparing for a cozy season of pajamas, hot chocolate and family time.