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Cold-Season Smarts

This winter, keep your house warm, your car safe, and your wallet full.

girl posing with snowman in front of house, picture
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Photo: Don Mason/Blend Images
Photo caption
The first time you (or your kids) suit up for the snow, give your car a coat of wax.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose. And AAA reminding you that it's time to get ready for winter. Here are hot tips for the cold season to help you stay safe and warm— and save money down the road.

DODGE THE DRAFTS A well-insulated home can be up to 15 percent cheaper to heat, according to an Environmental Protection Agency estimate. Weatherstrip doors and windows to prevent drafts, and inspect the walls around fireplaces, dryer vents, and outdoor faucets for troublesome cracks.

DO WINTER CLEANING To avoid costly water damage, clear your home's gutters of leaves and debris. Meanwhile, get the furnace cleaned, have its filters changed, and install an automated thermostat to avoid heating an empty home.

DRESS FOR THE COLD Before you don your winter jacket for the first time, take your car to the driveway—or car wash—for a coat of wax. The polymer layer lasts up to three months, protecting your paint from ice and snow damage.

BUST RUST De-icing chemicals can help head off skids, but they also wreak havoc on cars, causing an estimated $3 billion in rust-related damage annually in the U.S. Rust doesn't just mar a car's surface; it can corrode brake lines and exhaust systems, making your car more dangerous to drive. To prevent this, wash your vehicle regularly, paying close attention to the undercarriage. Some car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.

TREAD CAREFULLY According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risk of skids and spinouts increases on worn tires. To check for wear, do the quarter test: Insert a quarter into the tread, with Washington's head upside down. If you can see the top of George's noggin, it's time for new tires.

This article was first published in November 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.