Is Your Budget Ready for Summertime Bills?

    Utility bills can be a big drain on your budget any time of year, but they may be especially hard to handle this summer. Energy costs are no more resistant to inflation than any other expense, and the experts forecast rates will continue to rise this year.

    Simply keeping your home cool as the mercury climbs outside can put a cramp in your summertime plans. If you don’t want to pinch pennies all season long, check out this guide below.

    What to Do if You’re Dealing with an Unexpected Spike Today

    You might not have to imagine how it feels to see your bills double from one month to the next. You may have joined the millions of people who opened a bill to find a surprising amount owing due next month.

    Here’s what you can do in these alarming situations.

    1. Contest the Bill

    If you don’t think your bill matches your energy usage, pick up the phone and call your energy provider. This gives you a chance to flag potential issues with your meter or administrative errors that could be unfairly inflating your bills.

    Even if you do genuinely owe the amount on your bill, this conversation can naturally lead to asking about financing plans. Your utility provider may let you push out your due date or pay what you owe in multiple chunks.

    2. Put Holidays and Expenses on Pause

    If you saved up for a vacation or household renovation this summer, consider syphoning some of that cash for your utility bill. You can also postpone your trip or project until you replace these savings.

    3. Borrow with Discretion

    Many people don’t have any savings set aside for a vacation, let alone unexpected expenses. This can be a stressful situation to be in, and it may be a good reason to borrow an installment loan.

    So, what is an installment loan? It’s a small-dollar loan that arrives in one lump sum to be used as you like. Eventually, you’ll have to start paying it back. You won’t have to repay it all in one lump sum, but rather over a series of installments — which is how it earned its name.

    Installment loans can be helpful in emergency situations when you can’t afford an unexpected spike in utilities. But they can’t help you with recurring bills — even if you can’t afford them.

    What Can You Do to Avoid Another Big Bill?

    While you might be paying more for each kilowatt of electricity, cubic feet of natural gas, or litre of water, you still have control over how much energy you use.

    Try out the tips below to reduce your energy consumption and lower your bills.

    • Learn to live with a warmer AC setting — for every degree you go up per 8 hours, you save about 1 percent on your heating and cooling costs.
    • Try using fans before turning on your AC.
    • Fix damaged weatherstripping so that when you turn on your air conditioner, all that cool air stays inside.
    • Wait to use energy-zapping appliances until off-peak hours.
    • Wash your laundry in cold water and hang your clothes to dry.
    • Collect rain in barrels to water your garden and grass without turning on the hose.

    Energy Costs Are Expected to Drop Soon

    The good news is that energy experts say rates will begin to lower later this year, so you won’t have to deal with unusually high bills for much longer.

    Until then, you might be able to take out an installment loan to cover a surprise bill once. But for long-term solutions, you need to think about your consumption to lower your bills.

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