By Kylie Ora Lobell
Original article appears on SoFi and has been republished with permission
With the cold weather approaching, it’s time to look for ways to stay warm & entertained without breaking your budget. Consider: How are you going to keep your heating costs down this year?
The average American spends about $115.49 per month on energy, and nearly half of that goes towards heating and cooling. But heating isn’t your only concern — winterizing your home, your car, and your wardrobe costs money.
Here are some fall energy-saving tips and ideas for low-cost fall fun to help you enjoy colder weather without overspending.
Fall & Winter Savings Tips
Ready for sweater weather? Consider these 31 tips for saving money this fall while staying cozy and enjoying the season.
1. Seal Your Home
Before the cold weather hits, use caulk to seal any openings around your house that could allow cold air in. If too much cold air is getting in, then you’ll need to crank up the thermostat, which may cost you unnecessarily. Install weather stripping and seals around your doors, windows, mail chute, and air conditioner, too.
Recommended: 25 Fall Home Projects to Tackle This Year
2. Have Your Heaters Checked
Get in touch with your landlord, repairman, and/or heating company to check that your furnace and fireplace are properly functioning. They may check to see that the pilot is still on and clear any buildup and dust that may have accumulated in the warmer months, potentially saving you a costly (and inconvenient) service call mid-season.
3. Clean Up Your Yard
Branches, debris, or overgrown trees on your property can damage your home or car. Clean up any unsecured items or dead trees and branches while it’s still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors. Call a professional gardener for advice if you need to.
4. Winterize Your Gutters
Gutters filled with leaves and other debris can clog and form ice dams in the winter. Water can get into the roof and foundation of your home. Spend some time clearing your gutters before the cold weather comes to avoid costly repairs.
Recommended: What are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?
5. Set Your Thermostat to 68 Degrees (or Lower)
Make a goal and tell everyone in your home that you want to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower throughout the fall and into the winter. This can help you keep utility bills under control.
6. Open Curtains During the Day
Take advantage of sunlight to heat your home and provide bright natural lighting throughout the day. You may be able to turn your thermostat down during the day when the curtains are open for additional energy savings.
7. Close Curtains at Night
When the sun starts to set, close those curtains to trap that heat inside your home and insulate your windows.
8. Invest in Thermal Curtains
Those cute sheer panels you have up in the summer just aren’t going to cut it in the cold fall months and beyond. Instead, switch them out for thermal curtains, which will add more insulation and keep your home warmer. Ideally, your thermal curtains will have thick padding and multiple layers of fabric to stop air from circulating from your window and into your home.
9. Set Your Ceiling Fan to Spin Clockwise
Warm air rises. When your ceiling fan spins clockwise, it pushes down the warm air from ceiling level to your level — to keep you cozy all season long.
10. Turn Your Thermostat Down at Key Times
Whenever you don’t need much heat, like when you’re sleeping or out at work, you can find some extra fall savings by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees. Less heating should mean lower heating bills.
11. Install a Smart Thermostat
When you’re looking into how to save on utilities, technology is your friend. If you often forget to turn your thermostat down, you might want to invest in a smart thermostat such as the Google Nest. The Nest allows you to control your thermostat from anywhere via smartphone app, and offers intelligent programming such as Eco mode, which can sense when you are not home and automatically adjust the temperature to save energy.
12. Wear Warm Clothes at Home
Break out your favorite cozy sweater and flannel pants for wearing around the house, because they could help you save big on your electric bill. For every degree you lower your thermostat in cold weather, you could save 1% on your monthly heating bill. It’s called sweater weather for a reason, after all!
13. Pile on the Blankets
Along with layering up, another one of the best savings tips for cold fall weather is to purchase warmer blankets. Typically, down, cotton fleece, wool, and cashmere blankets are the warmest. They are great insulators and perfect for using on your bed or on the couch.
14. Check Your Car Battery
It takes much more energy to properly power your battery in the colder months. Along with making sure your car battery is functioning properly, ask a mechanic to check and see if it’s at or above 600 CCA. This should improve your car’s performance in cold weather.
15. Look Into Your Car’s Cooling System
While you’re at the mechanic and winterizing your car, have your cooling system checked, too. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a ratio of between 50/50 and 70/30 of antifreeze to water to protect against freezing and potential corrosion.
Recommended: 31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance
16. Consider Buying Winter Tires
Getting winter tires is crucial if you live somewhere that experiences winter weather early on, like in October. When temperatures drop to freezing levels, the rubber compounds in the non-winter tires will harden, and this will reduce the tire’s ability to grip the road. This could be very dangerous and not only lead to accidents and injuries but considerable costs as well.
17. Head to the Thrift Store
While buying new cold-weather clothes may be convenient, you could save big by purchasing these items secondhand. Even if you don’t find any clothes that fit, you may be able to stock up on scarves, mittens, blankets, and more.
18. Shop at the Right Times
If you’re purchasing new fall clothes in September, you likely aren’t going to get the best deal. Instead, break out those fall clothes from last year and then wait until late January or early February to restock on cold-weather apparel. The end of the season is when you’re going to snag the best deals.
19. Sign Up for Store Promotions
If you sign up for store emails with your favorite retailers, you can access coupons and other deals throughout the season and save on your cold-weather clothing and accessory purchases.
20. Sign Up for Rewards Programs
Enrolling in retailers’ rewards programs could also lead to big fall savings. For instance, with Macy’s Star Rewards, you can get 1% back in rewards, a birthday surprise, and other perks and offers. If you use your Macy’s card to make purchases, you could save even more. Platinum members get 5% back on purchases as well as free shipping and more. Look into your favorite stores’ rewards programs to see what you could receive for being a loyal shopper.
21. Look at Shipping Costs
When it comes to shopping for cold-weather gear online, make sure you calculate shipping costs into your budget. If you need to buy something from a specific store, determine whether the shipping costs are worth it or if there is an option to get it shipped free to the store.
Recommended: 9 Tips for Finding the Best Deals Online
22. Create a Fall Budget
Having a budget year-round is ideal, but creating one for the fall can keep you at the top of your fall savings game. Use a budget planner app (like SoFi Relay) to track your spending, meet your fall savings goals, see all of your accounts on the go, and monitor your credit score.
Recommended: Budgeting for Basic Living Expenses
23. Make Your Fall Lattes at Home
While you may love the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks — who doesn’t? — that treat could end up costing you more than $5 a pop. Instead, buy ground coffee that comes in fall flavors and the instant version of the PSL, which is only $5.99 for a pack of five at Target. Add some whipped cream, and the homemade version will taste just as good.
24. Eat More Plant-Based Foods
Save money on food in the fall by switching to at least a partially plant-based diet based on the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Foods that are in season in the fall include apples, pumpkins, bananas, carrots, spinach, kale, lemons, cabbage, raspberries, bell peppers, beets, and broccoli.
25. Make Chili
Chili is a cost-effective food that can be plant-based or meat-based and keep you satisfied for days on end. At the beginning of the week, make a big batch that you can eat on its own, with bread, or inside of tacos. This comfort food will keep you warm, cozy, and satiated all season long.
26. Clip Those Coupons
Another way to save is by looking in your weekly store circulars and clipping coupons for all the foods you’re going to purchase. You probably get these for free in the mail or as an insert in your weekly newspaper.
27. Go Online for Coupons
You can also save money on food by searching for coupons online prior to heading out to the store. Aside from your grocery store’s coupon offerings, you can find entire websites filled with manufacturer’s coupons simply by searching “grocery coupons.”
28. Find Free Events in Your Area
While going to your local county fair or pumpkin patch is enjoyable, it could involve a pricey admission fee. Instead, look for free events to go to in your area. Check your local newspaper’s event calendar or log onto Yelp for some ideas.
29. Sit Around the Fire
If you have a fire pit, you can invite some friends over for some low-cost or free fall fun. Break out the marshmallows and hot apple cider to get into the spirit of the season!
30. Jump Into a Pile of Leaves
Piles of leaves provide lots of entertainment, especially for kids. Once you’re finished raking your yard, set aside a pile you or your kids can jump into for some good old-fashioned free fall fun.
31. Switch to a Streaming Subscription
While a cable package can cost more than $200 per month, streaming services like Netflix cost less than $20 per month. Since you’re going to be spending a lot of time indoors, maximize your fall savings by opting for a streaming subscription instead of paying big bucks for cable packages.
With a little common sense and some focused spending on things like preventative maintenance and smart technology, you could cruise into this fall and winter prepared to stay cozy and save money.
Optimize your fall savings even more by signing up for a cash management account from SoFi Money. You won’t pay any minimum balance, overdraft, or monthly fees. Additionally, you can access 55,000+ fee-free ATMs within the Allpoint Network when you need to take out cash. Ready to save in a way that’s convenient for you? See how SoFi Money can help.
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.