Winter is finally over, and if you are reading this, the next two assertions are true for you: 1) it was a much wetter and heavier winter than usual and 2) you live in a dry – possibly desert – climate. While it’s great that the weather has finally turned warmer (and for once, we’re glad it’s not raining or snowing), if you do live in a dry climate, then you will need to do some inspections on your house to make sure nothing has happened that will likely cost you a lot of money down the road. These tips don’t just apply to homeowners. If you are renting and decide not to carry out any of these preventative measures, then you run the risk of something major happening to the structural integrity of the building where you live and you might just find yourself looking for a new home at a time when you really weren’t prepared to do something like that.
Springtime can offer unique ways to save money that you might not have been aware of, so without further preamble, here are our tips on ways you can save money in the Spring.
Home Maintenance Tips for Spring
First, if you went to the trouble of winterizing your home, then you will want to “un-winterize” it as soon as possible. At the earliest warm, sunny day, remove any temporary window insulation you might have installed and open all the windows. Yes, the fresh air is great, but in drier climates, this is a good and inexpensive way to prevent mold and rot from setting in. Many times, especially during particularly wet winters, condensation can build up between the actual window and the window covering. If there is visible condensation, take a cloth and wipe around the window frames. You don’t have to get them perfectly dry, but reducing the condensation will reduce the chance of mold or rot. Do not under any circumstances leave the coverings on. Many people erroneously think that if the coverings were effective in keeping heat in, then they will be just as effective as keeping air conditioning in as well. Such people often wind up with serious mold and rot problems inside a year and find themselves making expensive repairs.
If you do find mold (rot takes much longer to set in and shouldn’t be a problem), clean it with whatever household cleaners you have that contain bleach (don’t use pure bleach, too much of a risk of injury or fume inhalation, and NEVER ever mix bleach with ammonia. Such a concoction actually results in a poisonous gas), and let it dry naturally.
Meanwhile, check other areas of your home for potential mold or rot. Check crawl spaces, attics, cellar entryways and the cellar itself. If you live in an apartment, look for entryways to the attic or fuse box and check inside, making sure you don’t have mold or rot. If you do, inform your landlord or property management company immediately.
If you’re not sure what rotting wood looks like, here are a few examples.
If you are a homeowner and find mold or rot, contact your home insurance agent and see what repairs might be covered under your insurance plan.
Rent That Home Improvement Equipment
How often do you use a sander or routing saw? If you’ve got a spring project that needs to be done, find out if your local home improvement store rents out the equipment you need instead of buying it outright.
Fix Those Leaks
Let’s be real here’ most of us, when we find a leaky part of the roof or a leaky pipe or insulation padding that’s been shredded by critters will put off these pesky chores until the weather gets better, and then we’ll put them off until just before winter. Don’t wait. Many home improvement stores have spring sales in order to target customers who have those pesky winter repairs to deal with. Check your local home improvement store for upcoming sales and take care of the problem while you can, instead of waiting until you have to.
Turn off the Heater
Many of you might be thinking that you already do turn off the heater during the warm parts of the day, but we’re talking about turning off the heater entirely when the night temperature gets down to 60 degrees. You’d be surprised, but the heater can still come on almost as many times when it’s 60 degrees out as when it’s 30. This is because 60 is that mid-level temp that’s just cold enough to chill the house down, and warm enough that it doesn’t feel oppressively cold. Try just putting on an extra layer or two in the evenings and when you sleep, because the house will still warm up the following day when temps climb higher, but at least you’ll be saving money by not having the heater come on when it’s not really that cold out.
Switch to a Bike for Your Commute When It Gets Warm Enough
Cycling to work is not only good for your wallet, it’s good for you as well (assuming you don’t live too far away from work). Got a motorcycle? Most cycles get above 50 miles to the gallon, and you can save a fair amount of money in gas alone.
Fill up Your Extra Freezer
Got a spare freezer in the garage? Many people don’t know this but lots of grocery stores tend to move their frozen foods out in favor of spring fresh foods and that means discounts. Stock up your extra freezer and have a ready supply of food for the following winter while still saving money.
If you belong to a gym, make sure you get one of those memberships that let you pay by the visit or by the month. Most people don’t like going to the gym in the warmer months (well, most people just don’t like going to the gym), and you can save all kinds of money by just getting outside and exercising. Has it been a few months since the dog was walked? Instant exercise right there, and it costs you nothing (and your dog will love you more for it).
Hold off on the AC
Above we recommended turning off the heater when the weather gets warmer. But what if it turns particularly warm? Try opening your windows and letting in the fresh air before heading right to the Air Conditioner controls. Chances are it’s not too warm that you can’t enjoy the weather, even if you’re just sitting on your patio or deck, the air outside is medically proven to be better for you (because it’s been circulated instead of recycled). Get out there and breathe deep.
Save Money on Spring Cleaning
Going to be Spring cleaning this year? You can save money by making your own cleaning products with household or less expensive items. Good Housekeeping online has a few recipes for making your own cleaners. You can find them here. Making your own cleaners is less expensive in two ways. 1) the ingredients themselves are less expensive overall (bleach, vinegar, etc.) and 2) you can make larger amounts so you don’t have to go to the store as often. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the major manufacturers of cleaning products mark up the prices (if only slightly) in the spring to take advantage of spring cleaning and the fact more people buy such products at that time of year.
Longer Days Equal Less Electricity
Now that Daylight savings time has come, you can save money by keeping the lights off longer during the day. If it is still chilly where you are, readjust the thermostat so it won’t come on during the hours when no one is home. As we have noted elsewhere, a programmable thermostat (you can get one for around twenty dollars) can save you a lot of money throughout the year on utility costs.
Save Money on Produce this Spring
The end of winter also means that seasonal fruits and vegetables will be in stock at your grocery store. This is an opportunity not only to eat healthier, but to make fresh entrees without having to crank up the stove or the oven. We’re not just talking about salads. Do a search online for entrees that don’t need time on the stove and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll find that isn’t simply a variation on a salad.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies Offer Opportunities to Eat Lighter
OK, so you’ve been chowing down on the burgers and burritos all winter, and that’s understandable. We humans have a natural tendency to eat heavier meals in the winter. But now that spring is here, and you’ve stocked up your extra freezer, take advantage of the seasonal food that will be on sale (because of its seasonal properties) to eat lighter and get yourself ready for summer, and yes, you will save money. A pound of fruit and veggies generally cost less than half of a pound of meat.
Purchase Your Winter Clothes
If your kids will be outgrowing their winter clothes, you can donate the old clothes to charity and take advantage of sales. Spring is the time when most retailers are looking to get rid of their winter clothing with huge sales events. You can stock up on warm clothes for the following winter by shopping at the spring sales events at your local clothing store.
Sell Stuff You Don't Use Anymore
Did you find any interesting items in the attic or the garage? A lot of people, when they do major spring cleaning overhauls, will find things they no longer use or have use for. Got an old lunchbox? There are people who collect them and are willing to pay top dollar. Did you start a baseball card collection and then forget about it? Search online for dealers looking for rare and unusual cards. You get the idea. When you clean out your storage spaces, keep an eye out for anything that might be worth something to someone (and almost anything is worth something to someone), and check around for local antique dealers o even pawn shops that might be looking for what you have. Granted, they don’t want your old, busted vacuum cleaner…unless it was made before 1970, and then it’s actually (potentially) worth quite a lot. Now, you might not make a huge amount of money, but even a few bucks is better than having that old junk lying around. Conversely, think about having a garage sale. The early bird gets the money worm, so to speak. Studies (yes, they’ve done studies on this) show that yard sales held later in the year earn less on average because people tend to get burned out on their frequency, so the sooner you get that stuff out for sale, the more likely you are to sell it.
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