The Upside of Winter

Searching for the upside of winter.

intro: Brutal. That’s the best way to describe the frigid temperatures that has swept the nation this winter.

Americans have had to contend with Mother Nature's icy grip -- a combination of blizzards and even the Polar Vortex. And while today may be the last meteorological day of winter, it’s not over yet. More snow is set to return to the Midwest and Northeast next week.

Beyond the misery of frozen pipes and high heating bills, there is some cause to celebrate. Here are some top reasons for the winter-weary to embrace the cold.

quicklist: 1 title: You can buy cars on the cheap text: Walk down any street after a snowstorm and you’ll see rows of parked cars trapped in the white stuff. Digging out your car and be late to work isn't the most fun you can have following a storm, but the upside of cold weather is it has driven down the price of cars. Car owners have a tougher time selling used cars in colder months, not least because of hail-dented hoods and tired paint jobs. But buyers can get a good deal on a used, or even new ride, with dealerships pushing sales through showroom markdowns.

Big car companies General Motors and Ford Motor Co. both offered big deals on its pickup trucks this winter, with discounts of up to $9,000 on some pick-up trucks and utility vehicles.

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quicklist: 2 title: Fewer rats! text: Rats are not just destructive, disease-carrying pests plaguing your home and gnawing on your electric cables. Horrifyingly, they are also known to bite babies in their cribs, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

There’s not much you can do to stop the incidence of mice leaving up to 18,000 fecal dropping or rats shedding up to 500,000 body hairs around the house in a single year, but the good news is that fewer rodent litters are produced in winter, the ISDOH reports. Looks like the cold isn't good for a rat's libido.

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quicklist: 3 title: Bye bye bugs! text: It’s not just rodents that suffer in the cold. The National Pest Management Association told ABC News that cockroaches, ants, ticks, mosquitoes and stink bugs may also appear in fewer numbers this spring as a result of the cold.

"Temperatures as a whole can wreak havoc on populations," said the NPMA's Missy Henriksen, adding that while "there is good news to be told, most of us are probably not going to see a noticeable difference numbers."

"Insect repellent will still need to be a warm weather staple," she added.

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quicklist: 4 title: You could literally freeze your butt off text: Could being cold really help you shed a few pounds? A study released earlier this month suggests that shivering is just as effective as mild exercise in helping convert energy-storing "white fat" in your body to energy-burning "brown fat."

Former NASA scientist and entrepreneur Ray Cronise experimented with this hypothesis years ago, telling ABC News that exposing his body to controlled cold temps helped him lose 30 pounds in six weeks.

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quicklist: 5 title: Bad weather brings us closer text: Cold weather doesn’t just promote cuddling under the covers, a 2012 study of 1.3 million phone users found that isolating ourselves in times of extreme temperatures means that we’re also more likely to reach out and call our nearest and dearest.

The study showed that when "uncomfortable" weather descends upon us, the number of people we called dropped, but the length of phone calls increased -- meaning we’re more likely to lean on members of our inner circle and develop those social ties when it snows.

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quicklist: 6 title: Dogs in Sweaters text: One of the best reasons to embrace the cold is the sheer entertainment value seen on the streets. Did you notice more dogs in cute vests and booties trying to maintain their dignity this winter? That's because chilly temps promoted bigger sales of pet apparel in areas most impacted by cold, Petco told ABC News.

"The biggest increases have been in both heavy outerwear, including dog coats and jackets, as well in paw protection,” said Petco's Tracie Stansbury.

Here are some costumes to help your pets keep warm and fashionable this winter.

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