November, 2023 | Boizelle Insurance Partnership

Winter Driving Myths

The winter season brings with it many familiar (and unwanted) driving traditions: Dark commutes thanks to shorter days with less sunlight, the morning routine of clearing snow and ice from your windshield, and

To help drivers navigate the challenges that come along with cold, ice and snow, there’s no shortage of winter driving tips. But unfortunately, not everything you’ll hear is really advice worth following.

To help you separate fact from fiction, here’s the truth behind 10 of the biggest winter driving myths.

  1. You should warm up your car before driving in cold weather.
    It’s long been said that letting your car idle for a while before driving is good for your engine. But while it’s no fun getting into a freezing-cold car during the winter months, the practice of warming up your vehicle can do more harm than good.

    Not only does warming up your car waste fuel and create unnecessary exhaust emissions, but extended idling does nothing to benefit your engine. Your car’s engine is fully lubricated after less than a minute of idling. And the fastest way to warm up your vehicle is by getting behind the wheel and driving. Anything else is just a waste of time and money.

  2. Letting air out of your tires will improve traction.
    Don’t fall for the old advice of letting a little air out of your tires to create better traction. Your car’s tires were designed to be inflated to a specific pressure (measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI). Keeping them underinflated won't give your wheels better traction. In fact, it may actually make it harder to stop.

    To find your car’s recommended tire inflation pressure, look for a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in your owner’s manual. And remember to regularly check your tire pressure during the winter months. You should do this because lower temperatures lead to lower tire pressure, which, in turn, leads to

  3. Four-wheel drive makes it safe to drive in the snow.
    There’s no doubt that owning a vehicle with four-wheel or all-wheel drive can carry a definite advantage when driving in snow or ice. But it’s not a silver-bullet for winter driving. That’s because safe winter driving relies more on having the right tires and by developing good driving habits.

    Know your limitations as a driver, and don’t let overconfidence or overestimating your vehicle’s capability get you into a dangerous situation. Even if your car is equipped with four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, traction control, winter tires or other safety features, never let good judgment and smart driving be swept aside by a false sense of security provided by vehicle technology.

  4. Pouring hot water on your windshield makes ice melt fast.
    On the surface, it makes sense that hot water would be an easy way to melt a frozen windshield. But pouring hot water on ice-cold glass is usually just a recipe for broken glass. Plus, the puddle it leaves behind can lead someone to suffer a nasty spill.
  5. You don’t really need winter tires.
    The popularity of modern “all-season” tires has led many to assume that winter tires are no longer necessary. But the truth is, you’ll always get better traction in cold, ice and snow from a set of dedicated winter tires.

    Winter tires feature a more aggressive tread pattern and different rubber compounds that remain more pliable when freezing temperatures hit. While they do require a seasonal tire change, winter tires remain the safest solution when driving in places where the temperatures drop below 45 degrees during the winter months.

  6. There’s nothing you can do about black ice.
    There are plenty of stories that tell of the dangers of black ice. And it’s universally feared for good reason: Because unlike snow and sleet, black ice can be practically invisible to an unsuspecting driver.

    But just because black ice is often invisible doesn’t mean you’re rendered helpless if you encounter it. If you find yourself on black ice, maintain your speed and don’t suddenly apply the brakes or gas pedal. Then, turn your steering wheel into the skid until you regain control of the vehicle. Once that happens, steer your car in the direction you want to go.

    Remember: Gentle control inputs from both the steering wheel and pedals can help prevent a spin – even on black ice.


  1. Emergency kits aren’t necessary for urban drivers.
    Sure, the thought of having an emergency kit in the trunk makes sense for rural drivers who rarely travel in densely populated areas. But it’s often said that emergency kits aren’t necessary when you live in a more urban area.

    Unfortunately, that’s just not true. If you’re trapped in a winter storm, it could take a tow truck hours to reach your location. And extreme winter weather could make it unsafe to walk to a nearby store or residence. For those reasons, it’s important to carry an emergency kit along with you –  no matter where you live or drive.

  2. Winter car washes are a waste of money.
    We can all appreciate the benefits of driving a clean, shiny car in the summer. But keeping your car clean during the winter months is a tougher task.


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Why Did My Auto Insurance Rate Increase?

With changing economies, it’s not uncommon to see costs increase. There are several factors that can contribute to these changing costs. From gasoline, to housing, to the cost of your insurance, everything is affected in some way or another.

Inflation: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 4% compared to 2022. What this means is that all of us are paying 4% more for the same goods and services we paid for a year ago.

Vehicle parts: The car industry was even more affected by inflation. The cost of vehicle parts rose by closer to 8.3%. This is a pretty significant increase when typical increases range between 2 or 3%.

Repair costs: Recent supply chain issues such as the car chip shortage as well as labor market pressures have caused repair costs to increase even more, by as much as 14.2% since 2022. On top of that, limited supplies and fewer workers can cause repairs to take longer. Because of this, customers are forced to use rental cars for longer periods of time, resulting in the cost of claims increasing as well.

Vehicle prices: The cost of used vehicles increased more than 27% in 2021. New vehicle costs are up more than 14%.

Driving again (and faster): Drivers are driving their cars faster than ever before, reporting to be driving at extreme speeds of 20 mph over the speed limit or even more.

Accidents: It makes sense that because drivers are driving much faster, that auto accidents have not only increased in frequency but also in severity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported an increase of 12% in fatalities. That’s the largest increase since reporting began in 1975.

How You Can Save on Your Auto Insurance

Ask about pay plan discounts

Consider ERIE’s Rate Lock option. With this feature, your insurance premium will remain the same year after year, even if you have a claim. The only way your rate will change is if you add or remove a driver to your policy, add or remove a car, or change your address.

Look at your deductibles. If you have a low deductible, that probably means your insurance premium is higher. By increasing your deductible (what you pay upfront before your policy kicks in), your insurance premium will be significantly less.

Review your mileage. Are you working from home more often and driving less than before the pandemic? You could be eligible for a lower rate based upon how many miles you’ve driven in one year.

Bundle your policies. If you only have auto insurance, by adding a homeowners insurance policy or an umbrella policy, your rates will decrease.

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How to Properly Use Lithium-ion Batteries

What is a Lithium-ion Battery?

Every type of battery creates electricity by turning chemical energy into electrical energy. It does this by using chemical reactions to create a flow of electrons from one material to another. We’ll spare you the rest of the science lesson. The important thing to know is that the materials used (lead-acid, alkaline, nickel-cadmium, etc.) all have different charging properties.

Lithium batteries use – you got it – lithium in metal or ion (Li-ion) form as their anode material. And they come with several advantages. Lithium-ion batteries are easily rechargeable and have the highest energy density of any battery technology, meaning they pack more power into a smaller space. They also can deliver a voltage up to three times higher than other battery types. For this reason, you’ll find lithium batteries in almost all modern portable electronic devices.

The list includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, eReaders, smart watches and Bluetooth headphones. Larger lithium battery packs are also used to power things like electric scooters, hoverboards, e-bikes and even electric cars.

How to Store a Lithium-ion Battery

If you’ve flown on an airplane or shipped a package recently, you’ve probably seen warnings related to proper lithium battery storage. That’s because lithium batteries have been known to cause fires when they’re damaged or stored improperly.

To safely store your lithium-ion batteries, follow these tips:

  • Avoid temperature extremes. Experts say the ideal temperature for storing lithium batteries is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing a battery in extreme hot or cold temperatures will reduce its lifespan. That includes exposing your battery to direct sunlight.
  • Keep them dry. Wet or humid environments can cause lithium batteries to rust or leak. In a worst-case scenario, moisture could even create an electrical short.
  • Store them partially charged. For longer-term storage, keep your batteries at about a 40 to 50 percent charge. Storing a fully charged battery can reduce its storage capacity. And when you store a completely dead battery, you risk it dropping to a zero-voltage state. When this happens, the battery may not be able to recharge – rendering it permanently disabled.
  • Remove batteries from your device. When storing a battery for long periods of time, remove it from the device, if possible. Even if your device is powered off, there is still a small electrical current running through the battery – which can cause a complete discharge over time.
  • Store in a safe place. Never store lithium-ion batteries near flammable or combustible materials.

When bringing your devices inside, make sure you store them in an area that won’t block a means of egress in the event of a fire. For example, storing a regular bicycle near your back door would be fine, but you wouldn’t want to do that with an e-bike. Lastly, make sure that your smoke detectors are functional and will warn you right away if there’s a fire.

How to Charge a Lithium-ion Battery

To get the best performance out of your lithium battery, try to recharge it before it’s completely dead. A good rule of thumb to follow is plugging in your device when the battery reaches 10 to 20 percent of its remaining capacity.

A fully discharged battery adds extra stress to the components, which can reduce its lifespan. So it’s always better to top off your device’s charge throughout the day than to wait for it to die completely.

It’s also worth noting that overcharging can damage lithium batteries, too. While most devices have protective circuits to prevent overcharging, you may still want to consider unplugging your device or battery from the power source after it’s been fully charged. Speaking of charging, only use the charging cable or dock that was provided with your device. Other chargers (while they may claim to charge faster) can damage the battery.

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What to Know About Outdoor Patio Heaters

It is a well-known fact that winter can bring about frigidly cold weather conditions, and, you, like so many others, probably do anything and everything you can in order to remain warm during the colder months. A lot of homeowners spend a lot of their time and attention on keeping themselves warm inside their homes. But, what about outside your home? Patio heaters are an option.

Patio heaters are specifically designed to radiate heat outward where people are gathered. For this reason, you won’t need to huddle around it in order to stay warm. Patio heaters have different fuel sources – usually propane, electric or natural gas.

If you are going to be using an outdoor heater, be sure to set it up in an area that is well-ventilated. These areas include patios, terraces, gardens, and outdoor porches or decks.

For safety reasons, do not use a patio heater in enclosed areas i.e. buildings or garages. Also, make sure they are not too close to the ceiling of a covered deck or patio. Using a patio heater in an area that is not well-ventilated leaves you at risk of starting a fire or could also lead to suffocation or poisoning rom carbon monoxide fumes. Experts recommend keeping a clearance of at least three feet around your heater.

How much you pay for your patio heater depends on a few factors. For instance, the size and quality of your heater will impact the cost. The cost of an electric tabletop heater can be as low as $100 while a commercial-style gas heater could cost you $500 or more.

How do you figure out the size of the patio heater that you need? Multiply the size of your space (in cubic feet) by the desired temperature increase.

For example, raising the temperature of a 10-by-10 foot patio by 40 degrees Fahrenheit – assuming an 8 foot heater height – would require a 32,000 BTU heater (10x10x8x40 = 32,000).

When deciding which patio heater to purchase, you’ll choose from three main fuel sources. Each fuel source has it’s upsides and downsides.

Propane patio heaters: These types of patio heaters work similarly to a propane barbecue grill. They are the most portable heater option because the fuel comes from a metal propane tank. The downside to this one is that the heater will shut off as soon as you run out of gas. For reference, for a 40,000 BTU patio heater, a full 5-gallon propane cylinder will last you around 10 hours.

Electric patio heaters: Because these heaters do not run on gas, they do not need to be ventilated because there is no open flame. For this reason, they can be great for areas such as covered decks and porches. Also, because they function like a space heater, they can be permanently mounted below a ceiling. Although electric heaters will only put out about 5,000 BTUs of heat, it is said that they provide a more comfortable experience and feeling of warmth.

Natural gas patio heaters: With a natural gas patio heater, you will never run out of fuel. Because these heaters are hooked directly into your home’s natural gas line, these heaters are the least expensive to operate. They do, however, need to be installed by a professional. A positive is that you won’t need to carry around a propane tank. A con to this version is that they are less portable and you will need to fork up more money initially.

When used properly, patio heaters are a safe way to keep your family safe during the cold winter months. To ensure that your heater is being used properly, pay attention to these tips:

Give it space. Your patio heater will generate a lot of heat. In order to prevent fire hazards, keep your heater a safe distance away from walls, ceilings, furniture, carpet, or any other flammable material. Three feet is the recommended distance.

Find a level spot. You don’t want your heater to tip over, so make sure you place it on a flat surface.

Check for leaks. Apply a soapy water solution to your gas tank in order to check for leaks. The giveaway is if you see bubbles rising from any connection points or if you smell gas. If you suspect a gas leak, have your setup inspected by a professional.

Light it safely. Most heaters have an electric ignitor button while others require you to light it yourself. Make sure you are a safe distance away from the flame. If the burner does not light immediately, turn off the heater and wait about five minutes. This waiting period is meant to prevent gas buildup which could lead to a potential explosion.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Just remember, Class B for gas, Class C for electric, or you can use a multi-purpose extinguisher that works for both.

Watch it carefully. Never leave a patio heater unattended and always make sure that little children and pets are kept a safe distance away. Do not use your heater when weather conditions contain winds of 10 mph or stronger.

Cover it up. Storing your heater properly can help prevent wear and tear and eventual breakdown. Proper storage can prevent your heater from becoming clogged with bugs and debris and can prevent rusting.

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