Hot Summer Savings!

Summer is a great time to take it easy, but - trust us - you do want to expend the energy it takes to read these smart tips to save money. These summer deals could save your family thousands:

1. Save on Keeping Your Cool
If you cringe before opening your summer utility bills, see if your local provider offers what's known as an AC conservation plan. For instance, Shakopee Public Utilities in Minnesota offers a free Smart Switch option, which saves users up to $30 on their electric bill for the summer months (June to September) by switching off their air conditioners automatically for 15 minutes at a time (a quick switch-installation visit by a licensed electrician is required). Get smart about appliances to cut your energy costs.
Savings: $30

2. Upgrade Your Appliances
If your fridge seems to be doing a halfhearted job of keeping the ice cream, well, iced, try the government's Cash for Appliances program. As part of the economic stimulus package, this extremely popular plan encourages Americans to replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models by offering hundreds of dollars in rebates. Details vary by state; go to the U.S. Department of Energy's site energysavers.gov.
If you go for a big-ticket item - like replacing your home's antiquated heating system (now, before the cold weather comes, is a great time to make the swap) - you can receive up to $1,500 off your tax bill (you can find more information on the program at energystar.gov/taxcredits). Many of these other go-green tips will save you even more money.
Savings: As much as $1,500

3. Trim Your Haircut Costs
Most of us have heard the myth that hair grows slightly faster in the summer, but don't let that lead you to more frequent (costlier) cuts. Instead, space out your and your kids' trips to the salon, and don't opt for a cut when a trim will do. For instance, at the Hair Cuttery, a chain of 900-plus salons, a woman's cut and blow-dry costs $19 to $23 and a kid's cut and blow-dry, $16 to $18; a bang trim, however, is a mere $5. If you can stretch the time out between appointments - say, from every two months to every three - by adding some fringe-snipping, you'll have more cash in your pocket. In between cuts, keep hair healthy by eating this.
Savings: Up to $75 a year per family

4. Take Down Tech Fees
If you're in the market for a new laptop, summer is one of the best times to buy; the sale prices can be comparable to those offered on Black Friday. That news should please anyone who has a child heading off to college and in need of some hardware (here's how not to go broke while funding college).

Also consider a new venue for savings, as Lindsay Barhold, 24, of Los Angeles, did when helping her parents research which computer to buy her college-bound brother. Barhold discovered nobetterdeal.com, which is akin to an online version of Marshalls. Stores send their products to NoBetterDeal when they can't sell them, or when the store doesn't put returns back on sale. Some items come in an "open box"; others are brand-new, as was the Dell laptop Barhold found that, at $350, was $250 cheaper than anything she'd seen. "We'd had a Dell before, so I was comfortable with that brand," says Barhold, who was further reassured by the site's return policy: cash back via PayPal, or a credit card refund.
Savings: $250 or more

More Ways to Save: Save money in one minute, five minutes, or a weekend!

Do you have tips for saving this summer?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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