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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2011 > Stay safe, save money this winter

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Stay safe, save money this winter


As winter falls upon us, concerns arise about safety, travel, and money. With a little planning, you can protect yourself and save money.


Before having your chimney cleaned, check the reputation of the business with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau. Although chimney sweeps are not legally required to be certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), it may be a good place to start your search for a chimney cleaner.

Snow removal

If you decide to have your driveway plowed or your walkways cleared by a contractor, take precautions to help ensure your snow gets removed. Get estimates from at least three different contractors. Once you decide on a contractor, get the contract in writing. Ask about different payment options like paying per plow or in installments rather than one lump sum at the beginning of the season.


Having  your roof repaired or your home properly insulated can help save on heating costs. Get at least three different estimates when looking for a contractor. Also, check that the business is registered with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Ask the contractor to give you references of recent work done in other homes in your area. Call those references and ask questions about the kind and quality of the contractor’s work. Pay for the project upon completion or in no more than thirds rather than making a large down payment to help ensure that the work will be completed to your satisfaction.


The cost of propane can fluctuate as much as the cost of gasoline. When buying propane for the winter or filling up your tank mid-season, be aware that the price you paid a few months ago or last year probably will change. Unlike most utilities, the Ohio Attorney General's Office has jurisdiction over propane and you may file a complaint with the office about propane issues. If your propane tank is less than 10 percent full and you need an emergency fill, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515. The Attorney General’s Office may be able to work with your propane company to deliver your propane.

For complaints against other utilities, contact the Ohio Public Utilities Commission at or 800-686-7826.

Motor vehicles

It’s not fun – and it can be downright dangerous – if your vehicle breaks down in the winter.

You should be prepared at all times with emergency supplies like ice scrapers, shovels, blankets, flashlights, water, and food. You never know when you might needs these potentially life-saving supplies.   

Take your car in for regular maintenance, especially during the winter. Breaking down while on the road can lead to large expenses, and regular maintenance checks can reduce the risk of problems on the road and save you money. At the least, check the fluid levels in your car (oil, brake, and windshield wiper) and the tire pressure before you drive.

Trade secrets of a scammer

Using a name you recognize

To increase the likelihood that you may fall for a scam, scam artists sometimes use names of well-known officials.

For example, some consumers have received phony communication from “Robert Gates” (former United States Secretary of Defense) or “J. Edgar Hoover” (the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation).

Regardless of whose name is attached, think twice before you agree to wire money.

Report a potential scam to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or by calling 800-282-0515.