Summer Spending: 7 Ways to Prevent Money Mistakes

 kids running through a lawn sprinkler

Summer’s the time to kick back during vacation, enjoy time outdoors at summer cookouts and … pay big bills accrued through carelessness? No, that’s not you. Yet many of us overlook simple solutions to summer expenses. Here are seven ways you could rack up unexpected costs.

  1. Defer A/C Maintenance. An air conditioner crash right before a 4th of July BBQ can lead to expensive emergency service calls. Protect your air conditioning by having systems serviced, suggests Tom Kraeutler, the nationally syndicated radio host of The Money Pit Home Improvement Show.

    “People think that if their HVAC system worked last season, it will work this season, but it doesn’t always work that way.” For example, you might not notice that the A/C air isn’t as cold as it was last year, due to refrigerant loss. As well, filters should be changed regularly.

  2. A/C 24/7. To reduce air conditioning use, install a whole-house fan, Kraeutler suggests. Typically, this type of fan runs on a timer, drawing hot air up in the evening and exhaling it into the night air.

    This money-saving option costs about $500-$1000 to install at the outset, but saves on after-sunset cooling bills when everyone’s trying to sleep.

  3. Overlook Pool Problems. Your pool may be more dangerous than you think. Drowning is a leading cause of death for kids under 5, and can cause injuries for all ages. Most occur in residential in-ground pools, creating both an area of personal concern and liability.

    “You want to have layers of protection,” Kraeutler says. If one layer fails – such as a fence – the nearest door sounds an alarm if a child attempts access. Other layers can include non-climbable fences, gates that automatically close splash detectors and pool covers.

  4. Ignore Ants. Just one ant, right? Think again. That ant might be a termite, gnawing away at your home’s beams, which could lead to serious damage. Check your crawlspace and basement for any of the major wood-destroying insects, such as carpenter ants, Powderpost beetles and termites.

    No matter what’s bugging your home, don’t spend money trying to fix it with home remedies, Kraeutler suggests. Instead, hire a professional. “They know what the insect is, what they need to get rid of the insect, and where they need to put it,” he says. Surgeons of the home world, in a sense.

  5. Buy Bottled. It’s expensive to quench summer thirst with bottled water, purchased due to terrible tasting H2O or worries about lead and other contaminants. Instead of bottled, look into a faucet-filter for your kitchen sink, or a mainline water filtration system.

    “They’re not difficult to install,” Kraeutler says, and can even filter notorious hard water so it’s more pleasant. Faucet filtration makes it easier for kids to access water and less expensive than refillable filter jugs.

  6. Don’t Inspect the Deck. Decks should be checked out on an annual basis, and certainly before you host a summer BBQ – a friend’s falling through a rotted board could cause big problems for both of you. “Make sure the deck is solidly connected to the house, there isn’t rot and decay in the boards, and that railings and treads are secure,” Kraeutler says, along with all railings.

  7. Overuse Sprinklers. New “smart sprinklers” have Wifi apps to control their use – and misuse –so they can’t be accidentally left on all night, Kraeutler says. According to the EPA, 50% of outdoor water use is wasted due to evaporation, wind or runoff.

    Smart tech can help water the lawn: set irrigation timers for early morning to prevent overwatering. Drip irrigation is another method that means less water loss due to evaporation or runoff.

    Using these tips should increase safety and decrease expenses this summer, so there’s more time and money for kicking back and spending evenings with friends.