Winter Energy Saving Tips

None of us want to think about winter just quite yet, but it’s just around the corner. The time has come to start thinking about winter heating costs. Here are a few tips to save money this winter and still stay toasty and warm.

  • A humidifier can help control heating costs because the moist air will feel warmer, allowing the thermostat to be set at a lower temperature.
  • Use draperies, blinds, curtains or shutters on all windows to slow the loss of heat through the glass. Keep window coverings open on sunny days to let in the sun’s warmth.
  • Rearrange furniture, placing it next to inside walls and away from windows. Avoid blocking heat registers with furniture, draperies or carpet.
  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans sparingly. In just one hour, these fans can exhaust a houseful of warm air.
  • Closets and cabinets on outside walls can leak a great deal of cold air, so make sure the doors fit snugly and keep them tightly closed.
  • When you’re not at home, turn the thermostat down 10 degrees. It can save you around 10% a year in heating costs if done for 8 hours a day.
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Bill to Increase Access to Special Needs Trusts

Last week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation that may soon make it easier for people with disabilities to save money. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act would allow individuals with disabilities to establish a special needs trust for themselves. Current law states that such trusts can only be created by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, stated, “Those who want and need a trust to help pay for their care shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to do it.” He went on to say that this bill allows individuals to act in their own interests with their own assets without having to rely on a family member or the courts.

For people with disabilities who rely on government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, a special needs trust can be vital. To qualify for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, individuals cannot have more than $2,000 in assets at any given time. However, money saved within a special needs trust does not count against the asset limit.

Separately, states are working to implement the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act, which offers people with disabilities another way to save money. Under that law, individuals with disabilities will be able to establish ABLE accounts where they can accrue up to $100,000 without compromising their government benefits. However, it is thought that because of the deposit limits, many people will continue to rely on special needs trusts as well.