A guest post by Ashley Spade -
Nobody said owning a house would be cheap, but does it have to be so expensive? Everywhere you turn, there’s another expense lurking. You fix one thing, and something else breaks. There’s always something that needs to be tweaked or fine-tuned, and if there isn’t, a visitor will be happy to point something out to you. Home ownership is almost like a second job because its upkeep requires so much attention and time.
There may not be a more expensive time to own a home than during the summer. Keeping the bugs out, the house cool and the lawn tidy all cost a pretty penny, and that’s when things are running smoothly. When things go wrong, it costs a whole lot more. Home renovations might cost a few bucks now, but they’ll save you more over the long run. After all, the cost of inaction is far greater than the temporary setback that comes with improving your home.
Seal the Deal
One great way to ensure you don’t donate your entire summer paycheck to the power company is to seal your doors and windows. This will help to keep the warm air out, and it’ll also keep the bugs where they belong – outside your home. Doing this will also help you during the winter months, as it will keep your house nice and warm.
Sealing should only be done by professionals, so you’ll have to pay to get this done. However, you’ll see some savings on your electric bill, and over time you’ll have earned many times more than your initial outlay. Plus, you’ll qualify for a tax credit of up to $1,500.
In order to gain the most from your air conditioning, you should change the filters in your AC and heating unit regularly. If filters aren’t changed, the air that’s flowing in your house won’t be as safe for you and your family. Changing filters regularly will also save you from having to hire a professional to repair the damage an old filter can cause to your AC unit.
Lay of the Land
Are you one of those people who only drags out the lawn mower when grass is up to your knees? If so, consider the impact your lack of attentiveness has on the value of your home. An unsightly lawn not only decreases the dollar value of your house, but it leads people to draw other conclusions about the cleanliness indoors. That’s a big deal if you rent out part of your house, or are trying to sell or refinance.
The summer months can be taxing on us all, but maintaining a nice lawn does more than add value to your home’s bottom line. It can be a great source of pride for you as you host friends and family for weekend barbecues. It can be a fun hobby if you work a job that gives you lots of free time in the summer. But the best part about having a nice lawn? It gives you the opportunity to create your own garden, enabling you to grow your own vegetables and skip the overpriced, chemical-soaked veggies at the grocery store.
The most ambitious of all summertime tricks is the one that saves you the most money. Solar power allows you to essentially cut the cord with your power company, saving you hundreds of dollars a month. Since your home will be a self-sufficient energy source, you won’t have to pay for electricity in most months, and definitely not during the summer when solar power is at its highest frequency.
There’s no getting around it – solar panels are expensive. The cost of solar panels can cost tens of thousands of dollars, a price many people aren’t willing to pay. However, there are plenty of tax credits available for going solar, and you may be able to cut the cost nearly in half after taking advantage of a 30 percent federal credit and any state credits you may be eligible to receive. In addition, the value of your home will increase as a result of your investment. You’ll definitely pay more to start, but over time you’ll reap a huge benefit, especially as you stash away all the money you would’ve paid to the electric company.
The start of summer may mean spending more money on ballgames, vacations and parties, but it doesn’t mean a significant increase in home maintenance expenses. You can thrive in the summer if you invest a little now and let it pay off over time. You’ll rest easier in your comfy and cool home knowing you’ve done all you can to slash your bills and improve your quality of life in the dog days of summer.
This post is a guest post written by Ashley Spade, a law student in Chicago. In addition to learning how to live life on a grad student budget, Ashley spends her time training for triathlons and hanging out with her sidekick, Sir Winston Pugsalot (a rather mischievous pug). Follow her adventures on twitter: @ashspade.