Summer seems to be early this year; especially since we didn’t get much of a spring. You may be looking for a couple of quick ways to save money at home, and maybe even a few ways to make your life a little easier, too.

Summer seems to be early this year; especially since we didn’t get much of a spring. You may be looking for a couple of quick ways to save money at home, and maybe even a few ways to make your life a little easier, too.

1. It would be so nice to be able to walk to the mailbox one day and have the only thing in there to be a note from a friend, a funny card from one of the kids, or an invitation to a party! I am so tired of all of the prequalified credit card offers, a plea for a donation, or several other unsolicited and unwanted pieces of junk! According to MMN.com and DoNotMail.org, more than 100 million trees are cut to produce all of the junk mail that goes into American mailboxes every year, and 44 percent of that is never opened! To end prescreened credit card applications from arriving (which I receive about 4 - 6 a week!) go to OptOutPrescreen.com. To end catalogs and direct mail, let advertisers know by filling out forms at CatalogChoice.org and DMAchoice.org.

2. With the temperatures hitting the high 90s in early May, I knew there was no way I was going to reach my goal of not turning on the air conditioning until July 1 this year. It wasn’t the daytime temperatures so much as it was the night-time temperatures. It never cooled off enough at night for me to be able to open the windows and cool off the house! It was the first year in a long time I didn’t meet that goal. I’m dreading to see how much my level payment plan might go up this year because of it. One thing that can help maintain some kind-of reasonable energy bills in these temperature extremes is energy-efficient windows. If you don’t have them now and just can’t swing replacing your windows, you may want to consider installing storm windows and doors instead. They may seem like a thing of the past, but they are better than nothing.

3. For dinner alternatives, heat things up and cook with a toaster oven, or plan your meals using the outside grill. This helps to avoid heating the whole kitchen.

4. While you are throwing things on the grill, don’t forget the vegetables that you’ve planted. Even planting a few vegetables will help reduce your food bill, improve your fresh produce on the table, and reduce the overall food demand that needs to be trucked in to the grocery. Grilled veggies are all natural.

5. You may be amazed at how new detergents have been fashioned to be more effective using cold water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes is used to heat the water. Cut your utility bills by washing in cold. Then, really slash the utility bills by hanging clothes outside on a clothesline instead of using the dryer.

6. Avoid using added fragrance. This may sound inane, but fragrance is often added to hide potentially toxic ingredients in everything from dish soap and laundry detergent to body lotions. By choosing fragrance-free products, you are eliminating many of the dangerous chemicals to which you are exposed on a daily basis.

7. Insulate your pipes by wrapping your hot water pipes in insulation such as neoprene pipe sleeves. This is especially effective when added to pipes within three feet of your hot water heater. This will reduce heat loss and raise water temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees, allowing you to lower your water heater’s temperature setting.

Outside of the storm windows, all of these are fairly low-cost, easy ways to cut your budget and live your summer a little more green.

Stay cool out there!