Thursday, June 13, 2019

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Reduce Summer Expenses

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Reduce Summer Expenses: It's not even summer yet and many parts of the country have already experienced sweltering heat waves. Summer brings higher bills for ...

Reduce Summer Expenses

It's not even summer yet and many parts of the country have already experienced sweltering heat waves. Summer brings higher bills for electricity and water as we struggle to stay cool and keep our lawns alive.

Here are a few reminders to help reduce those expenses:

Don't keep your house so cold that you have to put on a sweater or curl up under a comforter. When the weather is hot, enjoy wearing shorts, sundresses, and sleeveless tops. For every degree you turn up the thermostat, you may save approximately 1% on your energy bill. If no one's home all day, turn it up even higher and program your system to start cooling a half hour before you arrive.

Speaking of air conditioning, don't forget those annual check-ups for your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. Filters may need changing and the technician can repair minor problems before they become major. Not only will you save money by having equipment that runs at top efficiency, you'll prevent potentially life-threatening situations, like poor air quality or even fire from years of dust build-up.

Fans are great for circulating the air around you, creating a breeze to make you feel cooler, but they do nothing to lower the temperature. Turn them off if no one's in the room; they just use up electricity.

If you have large windows or sliding glass doors that face the sun, keep the drapes or blinds closed during the hottest part of the day. Not only will your house stay cooler, but you'll prevent the upholstery from fading.

When you run your air conditioner, make sure all your doors and windows are closed, including those in rarely-used bedrooms and bathrooms. I can still hear my father yelling at me to shut the door if I held it open too long for the cat to make up her mind if she wanted in or out. "What are you trying to do, air condition the whole neighborhood?"

Lots of hot days without rain can wreak havoc on your lawn, so expect your water bill to rise if you want your grass to survive. But be careful about putting your sprinkler system on a timer. Unexpected rain showers may save you from having to water your vegetation. There's nothing sillier and more wasteful than seeing a neighbor's sprinklers going off when rain is pouring down.

Don't stock up as much on perishable food that doesn't need to be refrigerated. Vegetables like onions and potatoes that can spend weeks on the counter during the winter might start sprouting after only a few days in warm summer temperatures. Fruit will ripen faster, so plan accordingly to avoid waste. In the south, we have a problem with bugs, so some dry goods like flour and crackers have to be kept in the refrigerator after they're opened. Allow space for that if you face this dilemma.

What tips do you have for saving money on utilities in the summer? I'd love to hear your comments.