Winter hassles hit your wallet

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Dutch Van Singel fired up the snow blower again Thursday to clean up the sidewalk around Seymour Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.

“About every round around the church takes two gallons of gas,” he said.

If you clean your driveway with a snow blower, you know how two gallons of gas at over $3 per gallon affects your bottom line.

Gas for snow blowers is just one example of the cost of coping with this winter weather.

Another are those annoying fender benders out on the road. Body work to on even a minor crash can be expensive, depending on your insurance deductible.

But the crash can cost you something other than money — it can cost you time.

“We try to knock them out as fast as we can,” said Dan Huey of Ed’s Auto Body Shop in Caledonia. “When we get the insurance companies involved, sometimes can take a week, you know, five to seven days to get the repair done.”

But the most obvious cost will be your home gas bill. DTE Energy estimates the average natural gas bills for November, December and January will be up 13%.

That means the $150 gas bill you received this time last year will go up to $169.50.

It’s all higher usage. The cost of natural gas has actually gone down this year.

But there are many ways you can save.

“Dialing down is an option. Does it save you on your gas bill?  Yes it does… about 3 percent for every degree that you dial down from 72,” DTE spokesman Roger Royer said.

Another tip is turn down the temperature on your water heater.

Royer advised picking up the phone if that bill gets too big to handle to avoid a shutoff.

“We’re going to have some high bills. Our customers are going to have some higher bills this year than what they had last year and budgets are important for everyone to keep in. Please contact your utility if you’ve got a bill that’s going to be a problems this month,” he said.

Back on the snowy sidewalk,  Dutch Van Singel there’s another way to beat the cost of winter:

“Move to Florida.”

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