Friday Financial Tidbit-How to handle the Polar Vortex in your budget

With the harsh winter we’ve had so far in 2014 for most of the United States, I sense a lot of January budgets are going to bust due to high heating bills. But not to worry, there are things you can do to adjust for high heating bills as well as actually lower your heating bills in the future.

There are various ways to adjust your budget so that your next heating bill doesn’t break your budget. In the short-term you can look to see where you have any “extra” cash in your budget and cut that back this month. Do you have extra money going to pay off debt?  What about money going into savings or being earmarked for vacation or care replacement? Granted, that isn’t going to be an easy thing to do, but it beats going into debt.

In the long run check to see with your utility company to see if they offer a budget payment plan. This is where they estimate your total annual cost of service and divide that amount by 12 so that you have the same monthly payment year-round. By having the same payment you will be paying less than you would in the winter, but more in the summer. This makes it a lot easier to budget and plan for.

To lower your heating costs try the following:

Shop for a different supplier-Most states have what they call a CHOICE program. That’s where you can choose your supplier of electricity, natural gas, etc. instead of being forced to use the regulated provider. The benefit of suppliers is that often they will offer introductory rates that are lower than the market rate. The catch being that the low rates expire after a certain amount of time so you need to keep up with it so you don’t end up paying more in the long run.

Buy a programmable thermostat-Is your house empty for large portions of the day? Do you turn your thermostat down when you go to bed? If so it might be wise to invest in a programmable thermostat. That way you can set the temperature lower when you are not home and have it automatically turned back up by the time you get home. This can cut your heating bills by not having to use heat when you aren’t there to enjoy it.

Use plastic around your window-If you have old windows that are drafty, try buying some plastic at your local home improvement store. The plastic is a clear sheet that goes over your windows keeping cold air from coming through the windows, but still allows you to see out of them.

Those are some tips on how to first pay for and ultimately lower your heating bills. No one likes high heating costs but it doesn’t have to break you as long as you prepare and prioritize your spending.

How have you prepared for paying for your heating bill for January?

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One Response to Friday Financial Tidbit-How to handle the Polar Vortex in your budget

  1. Dan Black says:

    Great tips here! I live in San Diego so the cold weather is not usually an issue. We are on the other end of things and have to be careful about when we use our AC.

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