Summer is the season of fun and relaxation. Unfortunately, it’s also a season that can send your utility bills skyrocketing. So while you’re hanging out and enjoying yourself this summer, be sure to also take the time to schedule these five summer projects. They cost less than $1500 to complete, but will save you even more with reduced utility bills long term.
1. Air Conditioning Maintenance
You rely heavily on your air conditioning unit all summer to get the job done when it counts the most. Scheduling annual maintenance before the super hot days set in can help ensure that your air conditioner doesn’t break down unexpectedly. During regular maintenance, your air conditioner will be cleaned, inspected and any worn parts replaced, so you can count on it to last all year. Best of all, performing regular maintenance will ensure that it performs at peak efficiency, which in turn will result in lower utility bills even when it’s running non-stop.
Cost: The average cost of annual maintenance on one air conditioning unit is around $100. Total costs range from $70 for a one-off check to $150 for regular season-long maintenance.
Money Saving Tips: Change your AC’s filter regularly. Filters help keep it clean so dirt doesn’t build up on the condenser, causing it to freeze. A clean filter will also help it stay in top working condition.
2. Install a New Thermostat
Did you know that your thermostat plays a big role in how big or small your utility bills are each season? You may think of your thermostat as simply the device you set and forget, but today’s smart thermostats can be programmed to turn off when you aren’t at home, helping to save you money. In fact, new digital models can even be accessed by your phone when you’re away so even if you forgot to shut it off, you still have the option.
Cost: The average cost to install a new digital thermostat is between $200 to $250. Full costs range from $50 for a DIY installation of a manual unit to $700 for an electronic unit.
Money Saving Tips: Invest in a thermostat that allows remote access. Now you can turn your thermostat off even if you stepped away during hours you would normally be home. And if you want it to be cool when you return, you can turn it back on right before you get home.
3. Replace Your Solar Screens
By strategically opening and closing windows around your home all day, you can help keep the interior of your home cooler without having to resort to the use of the AC unit. This in turn helps lower your bills. But it’s only possible to do this if your solar screens are in good working order. Screens help block out harmful UV rays that can fade your furnishings, while also keeping insects out of your home. If yours are getting full of holes, you may be loathe to open the windows, relying too much on the AC, even on more moderate days. Replacing your screens is easy and cost effective, and can help you keep your bills down at the start and end of the season in particular.
Cost: The average cost to replace the solar screens in two windows is about $48. Total costs range from $23 for DIY replacement to $84 if the screens need to be assembled and installed professionally.
Money Saving Tips: Purchase a screen repair kit to seal up small holes as soon as they happen. This can help keep your screens in working order, while prolonging the need for replacement, and preventing small holes from becoming larger.
4. Install an Attic Fan
One of the most effective ways to cool your whole home and lower your dependence on your air conditioner is to cool your attic. Heat rises, and if it collects in your attic, the space can become superheated over time. This is bad for your roof, as it can cause the shingles to deteriorate faster, and some of that heat can also transfer down into the rest of your home, making it even hotter. Installing an attic fan can help cool your attic, preventing some of that heat from building up, so your utility costs stay lower and your home stays more comfortable.
Cost: The average cost to install an attic ventilation fan is around $275 for a gable-mounted electric fan. Total costs range from $39 for a wind-powered vent to $321 for a unit that can cool up to 3000 feet.
Money Saving Tips: Consider investing in a solar powered attic fan, which won’t add to your overall utility costs while it cools your home.
5. Install a Retractable Awning
If you have a deck, porch or patio right off of your home, did you know that you can create a more enjoyable outdoor area and help save money on your energy bills at the same time? Sun shades are a type of retractable awning that installs on the side of your home at the roofline. Extended, it provides a shady area you can sit beneath. It also blocks the sun from entering the windows on this area of the house, which in turn can help prevent a lot of heat build up indoors at the same time, making you more comfortable inside and out, and lowering your electric bills.
Cost: The average cost to install a retractable awning is around $300 for a shade up to 30 feet wide, but can go as high as $450 for an awning with an electric motor.
Money Saving Tips: Install the awning where the sun hits your home at the hottest part of the day to help keep things at their coolest. Make sure that you purchase an awning that can handle whatever climate you are in, or that can be taken down in winter to help preserve it and prevent it from needing to be replaced frequently.
These five quick fixes can help cut your energy bills by a lot this summer, while making your home more comfortable to be in at the same time. Take the time to fix up your home, and be sure to consult the Cost Guides and How Much Cost Guides for more ways to save.