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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2012 > Winter Weather Tips for Saving Money

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Winter Weather Tips for Saving Money

As you brace yourself for a long Ohio winter, take steps to save money and stay safe. Follow these tips to help ensure your winter-weather transactions go smoothly: 
  • Check a business’ reputation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. You can search for complaints filed against a particular business on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. With the Better Business Bureau, you can find complaint information, business information (such as ownership and government action against the business), and a rating for the business.
  • Gather information from trade associations. For specific types of work, consider checking with trade organizations. For example, before having your chimney cleaned, contact the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Although chimney sweeps are not legally required to be certified through the CSIA, it may be a good place to start your search for a chimney cleaner.
  • Get multiple estimates. Hiring a professional to plow your driveway or clear your walkways this winter? Get estimates from several businesses. Also ask for references of past customers, and contact those individuals to ask about their experiences with the business.
  • Make sure all details are in writing. Once you decide on a business, insist on a written contract. Check to see that the contract includes all important details, such as a timeline for when the work will begin and end, and who will be performing the work.
  • Determine payment options. Ask about different payment options, such as paying per plow or in installments rather than one lump sum at the beginning of the season. Ensure that any information about payment is included in the written contract.
  • For propane-filling emergencies, contact the Ohio Attorney General. While the Public Utilities Commission regulates 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 the propane tank you use for home heating is less than 10 percent full and you need an emergency fill, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515. The office may be able to work with your propane company to obtain prompt delivery of your propane. For complaints involving other utilities, contact the Ohio Public Utilities Commission at or 800-686-7826.
  • Give your vehicle a check-up. The winter season can be challenging for vehicles and drivers alike. Be prepared at all times with emergency supplies such as ice scrapers, shovels, blankets, flashlights, water, and food. You never know when you might need these potentially life-saving supplies. Take your car in for regular maintenance checks, which can reduce the risk of problems on the road and save you money. Regularly check the oil, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and tire pressure.
As always, if you believe you have been treated unfairly in a consumer transaction, file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.