With unemployment at an all time high, and many families struggling through financial difficulties, it’s easy to view bankruptcy as a way out. But declaring bankruptcy may not only be damaging to your credit, it could also affect future purchases and opportunities. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, here are ten ways to avoid bankruptcy.
I’m a big fan of Snuggies. While I seem to recall this ingenious blanket-with-sleeves sparking a lot of criticism when its infomercials first aired, I have to admit, the Snuggie that we keep in the living room is one of our most cherished possessions. It allows you to eat dinner, change the channel on the TV, and read a book without your arms ever getting cold. Pure genius.
Heating bills can be astronomical in the winter months, so winterizing your home is essential to keeping those energy bills down. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a lot of energy is wasted by leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, and inefficient heating and cooling systems. If you fail to winterize your home, you might as well cut a hole in the bottom of your wallet; that’s the effect your energy bill will have on your finances.
Before the outdoor temperature goes from acceptable to insufferable, commit a few hours to winterizing your home. Once the winter storms hit, it’ll be too late. Don’t know where to get started? Here are a few areas you’ll need to take care of to get your home in good shape for the winter season.
- Have you furnace cleaned and tuned annually. The best time to do this is in the spring because weather and humidity conditions are just right, but fall is your next best option.
- Change your furnace filter regularly. If you have a disposable furnace filter, you’ll need to change it about once a month. If you don’t want to worry about changing your filter, and you want something more efficient, consider installing a permanent furnace filter. However, you’ll still need to wash it regularly according to manufacturer instructions.
- Consider replacing an inefficient furnace. You could end up saving a lot of money by purchasing an energy efficient furnace. What’s more, you could qualify for tax credits if you purchase an Energy Star rated appliance.
- Clean leaves out of your gutters. Use a hand scraper or spatula, and then rinse your gutter with a hose. You don’t want clogged drains to form ice dams; this could cause water to back up, freeze, and seep back into the house
- Make sure downspouts are working properly. Water should be at least 10 feet away from the house.
- Check your window frame for any leaks. If you find leaks, close them up with caulk or rubber weather sealing.
- Insulate window glass with film. If you don’t mind the shrink-wrap look on your windows, window insulation film can really help keep the cold air out.
- Install energy-efficient window treatments. Window treatments, if you have the money, can be a fashion-forward way to insulate your windows. Check out what the Department of Energy has to say about energy-efficient window treatments, and then make your selection.
- Make sure your attic fan is not still running. If you leave it running, it could pull the heat out the top of your house; this would be an unnecessary waste of energy.
- Make sure you have enough attic insulation. Installing your own attic insulation is not hard if you take the right precautions. Check out this guide from the DIY Network for instructions on adding rolls of fiberglass insulation.
- Make sure to keep fireplace doors shut when not in use. If the doors are old or ill-fitted, have them replaced.
- Consult a professional chimney sweep. Your chimney doesn’t need to be cleaned annually, but it should be inspected at least once a year. If you plan to burn anything in your fireplace this winter, please make sure it’s safe for use. A chimney sweep will check for structural damage, and clean out all the gunk and dead stuff that could be a fire hazard.
- Drain outside hoses and disconnect them from faucets. Store them in a warm location.
- Drain water from sprinkler lines. If you have a pool, don’t forget to drain that too!
- Insulate pipes that are in danger of freezing. If you have supply pipes in your garage, for example, consider insulating them to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
The winter months are expensive enough without wasting money on leaked energy and unnecessary repairs. By taking just a few hours to check for leaks and problems around the house, you could save yourself a ton of money this winter. Do you have any winterizing tips to share with other Zing readers? Let us know in the comments!