You never know what might happen when the snow starts to fall. Everyone should have a three- to six-month emergency fund for unexpected expenses, like when four feet of snow caves your roof in — God forbid, of course. While you can’t control life’s curveballs, you can prepare and perhaps avoid big winter expenses. Here’s how.
1. Broken Heating System
Cranking up the heat helps maintain a comfortable temperature in the home, but extreme cold can push a heating system to the max, causing it to quit on you at the worst time.
A basic service call to diagnose a problem can cost upward of $100 — mine was $95 earlier this winter when my system wasn’t working — and this doesn’t include the cost to fix any broken components. (Luckily mine didn’t require anything out of the ordinary. I got away with just the $95.) If your system is older and needs replacing, however, you’ll have to shell out thousands of dollars for a new one.
There’s no way to predict when a heating system will break, but getting a home warranty can help you deal with this unexpected cost. These plans — which cost about $400 to $500 a year — are like an insurance plan for your home’s major systems. If your appliances — water heater, plumbing, electrical, heating, and AC system — need a repair, give your warranty company a call and they’ll send a technician within their network to fix the problem. You just pay a flat $50 to $75 out-of-pocket service fee. If the technician can’t fix the heating system, your warranty company pays the replacement cost.
There are limitations, so make sure you understand how your plan works. For example, your warranty company may only replace the unit if you can show a record of annual tuneups. As such, it’s important to stay on top of things so you don’t restrict yourself when it comes time to take advantage of the warranty.
2. High Gas Bills
Maintaining a warm, cozy home in the winter often requires turning up the heat. But…