Summer heat is already in full effect, and you might already be sweating the bills that comes with keeping the house cool. While you want to save the most money possible this season, sometimes you have to invest money to save money in the long run. These home upgrades will cost you upfront, but will keep you cool and on budget for several summers to come. (See also: 5 Things to Do Now to Prepare Your Home for Summer)
1. Install a smart irrigation system
Using a smart irrigation system, like Rachio, helps your grass stay greener through the dryer months without costing you an arm and a leg. Smart irrigation systems connect to Wi-Fi to keep track of how wet the soil is and waters it on the smartest, money-saving schedule possible. They cost anywhere from $150–$250.
You can easily turn off your sprinklers, too, if you want to skip a watering, or if you know your kids are going to be engaging in water play outside. (See also: 34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill)
2. Start using a smart thermostat
When smart thermostats, like Nest, first hit the market several years ago, they were initially seen as a luxury. Now that smart thermostats have been a proven way to save money and reduce energy usage, they are a must-have for every home. Smart thermostats cost anywhere from $100–$225, they learn your cooling and heating preferences when you’re home, and many connect through Wi-Fi so you can manage them when you’re away.
Check with your electric company to see if they offer any additional incentives for using a smart thermostat. (See also: The 5 Best Smart Thermostats)
3. Get your HVAC serviced annually
Even if you think your HVAC system is working fine, it’s worth the money to have it inspected, serviced, and cleaned once a year by a professional. Throughout fall and winter, debris can build up in and around your unit, hindering the air flow. If your HVAC has to work harder to cool your home, then you are going to see the increase in your electricity bill. Servicing your HVAC system can also prevent more costly issues from occurring down the road, and is there anything worse than a broken A/C unit in the middle of summer? Nope. (See also: 6 Ways You’re Wearing Out Your Furnace Too Soon)
4. Buy an Instant Pot
I’m a fan of the Instant Pot because it easily allows anyone to cook delicious meals in less time than with other cooking methods. And you can cook almost anything without heating up your entire kitchen. Many popular dishes can take 45-60 minutes in the oven, which can heat up the house and cause your AC unit to kick into overdrive.
The Instant Pot costs about $100 upfront, it cooks meals quickly without putting out a lot of heat, and can be much easier than firing up the grill every night. (See also: 10 Summer Foods You Can Make in an Instant Pot)
5. Purchase and install solar panels
If you’re a homeowner, there’s a good chance you’ve been solicited by a solar energy company in the past few years with claims that you can drastically cut your electricity bill with no money down. While solar panels can save you money on your monthly energy bill and add value to your home, it’s more beneficial to own the solar panels outright rather than to lease them from a solar installation company. Purchasing the solar panels also entitles you to redeeming the tax credits and clears you to sell them without any issue when you sell your home.
According to Energysage.com, solar costs in 2018 range from $11,380 to $14,990 after deducting the tax credit. Yes, the initial investment is costly, but you can pay for it through a home-equity loan or a home equity line of credit. If you’re thinking of going with solar, skip the leasing option to save the maximum amount of money on your electricity bills for many years to come. (See also: 10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy)