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The signs of summer are beginning to appear: Air conditioners are humming, pools are opening, and gardens are just starting to show some activity. Nature is unfolding and temperatures are rising—along with the temptation to spend money.

Here are 3 ways to keep summer spending under control:

1. Ride your bike instead of driving your car.

Fuel prices typically rise during the summer with peak prices hitting the pumps in May. Companies producing summer-blend gasoline generally push up prices. Winter-blend gas evaporates more quickly, which equips cars to start easier and more quickly during cold months. The summer-blend fuels produce less smog and emissions. The transition drives prices higher.[1]

Motorists spend on average nearly $9,000 a year to maintain their vehicles, which includes paying for gas. Using your bicycle a couple days of the week translates into big savings and better health. You can also use your bicycle to run short errands.[2]

2. Improve your air conditioner’s efficiency.

Cooling our homes in the summer can get expensive. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling our homes consumes nearly half of the energy we use.[3] You can trim your monthly expenses by improving your air conditioner’s efficiency. Here are some simple tips:

Plant trees or shrubs to shade your A/C: Shade will help keep your unit cooler and could increase your system’s efficiency by 10%.[4]

Install solar window screens: By decreasing the heat coming into your home, your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard. Solar screens can block nearly 70% of the solar energy from entering your house.[5]

Raise your A/C temperature at night: Simply making your house slightly warmer at night can save you up to 15% on your air conditioning bills each month.[6]

3. Cut down your water bill

Believe it or not, there are a few solutions to keeping your yard nice and green this summer without having to pay an enormous water bill. Here are a few items to look into:

Invest in a smart irrigation system: This may reduce your water bill by up to 50% while keeping your garden healthy

Use drought resistant plants in your garden: There are plenty of beautiful plants that fall under this category to look into

Add mulch to your lawn: A simple process that can add more nutrients to your lawn and reduce water use at the same time.

Pull the weeds more frequently: This may be a pain to many people, but you don’t want your water to be wasted on weeds!

Many people also enjoy a nice cold shower during those hot summer days. While they sure feel nice, they can also increase your summer water bill. Low-flow showerheads cut water use by more than half. Older showerheads can use nearly 5.5 gallons of water per minute while the low-flow ones use about 2.5 gallons. That means you can cut your monthly water bill by more than half. People who take showers typically use about 35 gallons of water per shower. Using low-flow showerheads and switching to 5-minute showers can save you more than 25 gallons of water per shower.[7]

A few simple lifestyle changes can save you money during the summer. If you’d like to learn more about ways to manage your finances, we’d be happy to talk.

[1] http://www.nacsonline.com/YourBusiness/FuelsCenter/Basics/Articles/Pages/Why-Prices-Historically-Go-Up-in-the-Spring.aspx#.WSgv0VLMzEY

[2] https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/total-cost-owning-car/

[3] https://www.energy.gov/heating-cooling

[4] http://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/9-ways-to-cool-down-air-conditioning-costs/#slide=2

[5] http://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/9-ways-to-cool-down-air-conditioning-costs/#slide=3

[6] http://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/9-ways-to-cool-down-air-conditioning-costs/#slide=4

[7] https://www.thebalance.com/save-money-on-your-water-bill-1388747

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