Conserving Cash when it’s Cold: Winter Money-saving Tips

Wintertime can be hard on wallets and purses. When the days are short and dark and the weather is cold it’s inevitable that we’re going to turn on more lights and spend more on keeping the house, and ourselves, warm. There may be other unavoidable expenses too; salt and grit for icy paths, anti-freeze and de-icer for the car, boiler repairs or maintenance if your pipes freeze, and extra winter hats, coats scarves and gloves it gets really cold outside. As if the additional expense that coping with winter requires wasn’t enough, slap bang in the middle of it all we have Christmas and New Year to take care of. Once the festive season is over, recovering from the financial onslaught of present-buying and food shopping can be a real challenge. At a time when being frugal is difficult but important it’s useful to have a few hints and tips to help you save money during winter. Here are a few ideas for reducing winter bills, spending less and making your money go that little bit further during the colder months.

1. Buy a bag of inexpensive cat litter…

…unless you already have a cat, of course. How can cat litter save money in winter? Cat litter makes a good, cheap and readily available alternative to rock salt and grit for de-icing paths, pavements and roads. In severely icy driving conditions, cat litter can provide traction to prevent car wheels spinning on ice and get you moving. Strange but true, a liberal sprinkling of cat litter around your car could save you an expensive car recovery call out or an insurance claim if your car slides on ice into another vehicle.

2. Turn down your central heating thermostat by 1 degree

Would you definitely be able to detect a one degree difference in the overall warmth of your house? If not, lowering your thermostat by one degree will save you an estimated £40 per year on your fuel bill. Of course, one degree is just the beginning. If you become savvy with your thermostat and adjust it in accordance with changing temperatures (i.e. set it lower on milder days and higher when it turns colder) you can save even more.

3. Wear extra layers

No-one is suggesting that you turn off all the heating and wrap up like an eskimo, but by the same token you won’t save money in winter by overheating the house and walking around in a tee-shirt and shorts. If you’re feeling a little chilly, pop on a jumper or cardigan before you reach for the heater.

4. Be supermarket savvy

Supermarkets bang on about loyalty so much because they know only too well that shoppers can save a fortune by spreading their weekly or monthly shop between different supermarkets and taking advantage of the different special offers in each. From the last week in November the big supermarkets become fiercely competitive and the so-called ‘price wars’ escalate as each vies for the most Christmas trade. If you’re prepared (and able) to shop around you can reduce your grocery bill significantly. The same applies immediately after Christmas when supermarkets have stacks of unsold goods to sell off at bargain prices. If you find an unbeatable offer on a product that you regularly use and that has no shelf-life (such as washing powder, loo rolls, toiletries etc.) buy in bulk if possible to beat later price rises.

5. Check your car tyre pressures

There’s a mistaken belief that lower tyre pressure provides more traction on icy roads during winter. In fact, according to the AA not only are lower tyre pressures more dangerous in winter because they reduce a car’s stability on the road, they also significantly increase a car’s fuel consumption. To save those precious petrol pennies in winter, make sure that your tyres are at the correct pressure, drive smoothly avoiding sudden acceleration and breaking and where possible travel with as light a car (i.e. empty the boot) as possible.

6. Give your fridge’s coils a clean!

When you’re cramming your fridge or freezer with Christmas food you want it to operate as efficiently as possible: running a fridge accounts for around 9% of your annual electricity bill. If the pipes at the back which circulate the coolant are clogged with dust your fridge will be using more electricity than it needs, so give them a clean to improve efficiency. The same applies to your freezer if it’s heavily frosted – if possible defrost it every few months to keep it running cost-effectively.

7. Don’t buy scarves, hats or gloves new

Buying clothes second-hand from a charity shop or jumble sale isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but when it comes to items such as woolly hats and winter scarves and gloves you can’t really go wrong. These items can be picked up for a fraction of the cost you’d pay in a retail shop, and if you’re slightly squeamish they can be run through the washing machine before you wear them for the first time. And, of course, by buying from a charity shop or jumble sale you’ll be helping those less fortunate than yourself.

8. Find drafts and seal them off

If you’re paying to heat your house you don’t want to waste money losing that heat as a result of drafts around doors windows and floorboards. An easy way to detect drafts is to use a lighted candle and hold it in places where you suspect there may be a draft; the flickering and direction of the flame will give away any movement of cold air. If you don’t trust yourself with a candle near curtains, drop a small feather from the top of each window frame – you’ll easily see if the feather is blown off course by a draft. Inexpensive draft sealing strips can keep rooms cosy and save a small fortune in wasted energy costs.

John is a Blogger at Deal Zippy. For a deal of the day everyday and discount vouchers UK visit Deal Zippy today.