If you’re from Chicago you know that there is no easy transition into winter. One day it will be 50 degrees, and the next, snow is piling up by the inches with temperatures plummeting toward freezing territory. While we would love to have 75-degree weather all year long, this is Chicago baby, and we go wherever the wind, or in this case winter, takes us.
So here are some tips to help you take on the Chicago winter head on and in the most cost-effective way possible:
Bundle up and stock up. The winter is no time to worry about being stylish. This is the time to break out the big and heavy coats and hoodies, and double up on socks to stay warm. Now is also a good time to score an extra pair of gloves or hat for a cheap price. They are not only good to have around, but what’s winter without losing the occasional glove. A good pair of snow boots that are waterproof is also a good investment.
For extra warmth, load up on hand warmers. Hand warmers are cheap and thankfully can be found at almost any gas station or convenience store this time of year. Be on the lookout for a deal where you can snag a handful at a time. Whether you’re working outside or spending some time out in the cold, these have proven to be both cheap and effective. Plus, they can be reused and are extremely versatile as you can put them in your hats or gloves.
Keeping the heat. As a Chicagoan, enduring a Chicago winter means that you also know that you try to bear the cold for as long as you can before turning on your heat. Because once the heat rises, so does your bill. But when you finally do, you want to retain as much of that heat as possible. Use old rags or towels to seal cracks by laying them at the base edge of doors to hold in heat. Make sure windows are sealed and locked to further prevent cold air from making it inside.
If you have a working fireplace and extra firewood, consider making a fire every once in a while. This will provide additional heat to the house without having to crank the thermostat up a couple more degrees.
Ready to roll. Preparing for freezing temps doesn’t mean it’s time for hibernation. We still have to get around. You have to be ready when it’s time to venture out, however, the sharp cold can also do a number on your vehicle. Be sure to check tire pressure as drastic changes in temperatures can weaken your tires, making them more susceptible to damage on the road. The last thing you want is to change a flat in these conditions. Bulking up your tires will not only ensure that your vehicle will hold up against the elements, but also those dreaded potholes that are sure to follow. It may also be a good idea to keep extra change in your car if you need to put some air in your tires. Be on the lookout for gas stations that offer air for free.
Preserve your charge. With less daylight during the winter months, we’re also using our headlights more often and that can lead to the common mistake of leaving lights on, resulting in a drained battery. The best solution here is to invest in a good pair of jumper cables. These are a lifesaver for those times when we need a quick jump, and can allow you to avoid the cost associated with calling for help.
And, it’s not just the battery of your cars that you need to worry about, the cold can affect the battery of your mobile devices as well. If you can, pick up an extra car charger or wireless charger to keep your devices at full power when you need them for emergencies.
Consider the alternative. Let’s face it, driving in the snow is tough, and it can really be an unpleasant experience. We’ve all held our breath making our way through each traffic light or put the slightest pressure on the breaks, only to have our cars swerve or slide along the ice. Don’t make the drive if you don’t want to. Take advantage of public transportation or ridesharing services when you can to ease the stress of driving in bad conditions. This is the time to use discounts and free rides offered by many popular ridesharing services.
Chicago, whether you’re ready or not, winter is here, and no matter what any groundhog says, it’s sticking around for a while. So, get out there and take it on.