Warm sunny weather and the scent of blossoming flowers are a welcome change when we kiss goodbye to winter and say hello to spring. But with many people feeling the pressure of the rising cost of living right now, it's also a great time to take a fresh look at your finances and see if the new season brings in new opportunities to make savings on everyday costs. It all adds up, after all.
Here are some cost-saving ideas you can spring into action for the new season.
1. Dry your clothes outside in the warmer weather
Had the dryer on constant rotation throughout this wet winter? Although there are still definitely wet days ahead in spring and summer, warmer weather will hopefully create lengthier sunny spells you can capitalise on to get your washing hung and dried. Using your clothes dryer consistently not only gets expensive, but all that energy being used is not great for the environment either.
CHOICE laundry expert Ashley Iredale says, "The average annual running cost for a vented dryer is about $153. Switch from using your clothes dryer to a clothesline and that's cash you can put straight back in your pocket."
If you need to buy a new dryer, spending a little more money upfront to buy an energy-efficient heat pump dryer will save on electricity in the long run if you use your dryer to dry full loads three or more times a week. But if you only use your dryer for laundry emergencies, a cheap vented dryer will probably work out cheaper overall.
You can check out yearly running costs for clothes dryers in CHOICE's clothes dryer reviews.
2. Hold off on the air con and summer-proof your house
Heating and cooling your home is one of the biggest household costs, so it makes sense to limit the energy you're using where you can. As the weather starts to warm up, you'll hopefully be using the heater much less, but before you know it, those scorching summer days are going to be here.
But before you turn the air con up to full blast, keep in mind that you'll save money if it's running at the most optimal temperature for efficiency. The bigger the difference between the outdoor temperature and the indoor temperature that you set, the harder the air conditioner has to work – which means more energy used and bigger power bills.
Aim for 8°C cooler
"The running costs and energy used by your air conditioner can vary hugely based on a number of factors," says CHOICE home heating and cooling expert Chris Barnes. "But generally, for the best efficiency, aim to set your unit no more than 8°C cooler than the outside temperature."
Do you need to consider better options for curtains, blinds or shade coverings to keep the heat out and cooling costs down? Planning ahead now could save you money later
In general, Chris says, each degree cooler (or warmer in winter) usually adds about 10% to the running cost of your air conditioner.
Now is also a good time to give your air conditioner's filter a good clean to make sure it's operating at its most efficient come those warmer days, and start considering how you might summer-proof your home. Do you need to consider better options for curtains, blinds or shade coverings to keep the heat out and cooling costs down? Planning ahead now could save you money later.
3. Get stuck into seasonal produce
Fresh spring produce is wonderfully flavourful and, as an added bonus, it's usually plentiful and cheaper.
What's in season and what is available to you will vary based on where you live in Australia, but you may soon start to see prices coming down on spring fresh fruits and vegetables such as berries, beans, tomatoes, avocados, asparagus and more. Incorporating them into your daily meals can help keep food costs down.
Shop at farmers' markets if you can, and take advantage of bulk deals to save more – but make sure you're using what you buy (or popping it in the freezer) so that leftovers aren't going to waste and costing you more.
4. Spring clean your home and wardrobe
Spring is a great time for your yearly declutter, which may also present some opportunities to make a little extra cash. Sort through those spring and summer clothes you've had stored over winter and see if there's anything you don't think you'll wear or that no longer fits – perhaps you can hold a garage sale or sell online to make a few extra bucks. It may also help you rediscover some old items you forgot you had, which will save you from spending money on something new.
If you have any children's or baby items, sports equipment or tools you don't use all the time, you could try looking into various peer-to-peer rental marketplaces, such as Kindershare or Quipmo to see if you can make a little extra money by renting your items out to people who need them.
5. Reconsider your gym membership
No-one likes going for a run outside when it's wet, cold and windy, but perhaps as the days get warmer and longer and the beach more enticing, you might like to consider cancelling your gym membership in favour of exercising in the great outdoors.
Dust off the bike that didn't get much use over winter, head to the beach for more swimming sessions, or take advantage of (hopefully!) better weather to take more walks outside instead of using the car, which will also save you on petrol.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.