From Spotlight: Take the Ugh Out of August With Lawn and AC Tips

9 Irritating Things About Summer Heat (and How to Nix Them)

Like bugs. And leggy flowers. And sky-high energy bills.

Man with swim float illustration
Image: Malte Mueller/fStop/Offset

Dog days of summer? More like the mosquito days. And super sweaty days. By the end of summer it can feel like bugs, grime, sweat, and heat have taken over your home. And you get to pay for it with high cooling bills. Ugh.

Here are the most annoying things about summer and how to get rid of them.

#1 Spiders and Ants

Girl looking at spider trapped under a glass at home
Image: Jessica Lewis/Getty

When the days are long and hot, bugs get thirsty, just like we do. So they may be invading your home in search of water. 

To cut them off from your homey oasis, you'll need to make sure your doors and windows are sealed. But also check where pipes and wires enter your house for tight seals, too.

How to get rid of spiders:

Vacuum your home thoroughly; clear away any cobwebs; and throw away the vacuum bag. (Vacuums typically kill spiders, but their egg sacs are hardy.)

Peppermint oil, diluted with water in a spray bottle, can also help drive away some spider species.

How to get rid of ants:

When you catch an ant on the march, you'll need to do more than un-premeditated murder to halt the parade. 

Ants leave a scent trail wherever they go, so clean the area with soap and water to knock out the parade route.

Then go after the whole colony with a cup of warm water, half a cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of boric acid. Dip cotton balls in the mixture and place them in dishes in areas where you've seen ants.

#2 Stinky Garbage

In late summer, everything is ripe — including your trash. Alas, garbage is garbage, but you can deodorize your trash can in a couple of ways:

  • Make the night before the garbage truck comes Clean-Out-the-Fridge Day, to minimize stinky leftovers piling up in the bag.
  • Sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom of each new liner, and add a bit more to the trash every morning. Tossing a dryer sheet in the bottom of every trash bag — even if it's already been used in the dryer — can also help neutralize nasty odors.

#3 Hot Feet on the Patio or Deck

Shade sail over a summer back patio

Foot burns are the worst.

Soothe your soles. Add a pergola over your patio or deck, and you'll increase your home's value while protecting your bare feet.

Other options, such as a retractable canvas awning or a shade sail, can also do the trick while adding versatility and color to your outdoor space.

#4 Ugly, Leggy Plants

By late summer, your plants may begin to look leggy, meaning they're just long stems with a meek flower at the end. 

Rather than looking foliage-full like they did a month or two ago, leggy plants look thin, spindly, and sad. Not so good for curb appeal.

Grab your clippers for an easy fix. Just cut back about half the stems two-thirds of the way to their base. Within a couple of weeks, those cut stems will be blooming with new flowers, and you can cut back the other half.

Your refreshed pots and beds should keep looking good (and getting envying looks from neighbors) for a few more months.

#5 Mosquitoes

Cheesy pun alert: Mosquitoes are the ultimate summer buzzkill. (We warned you.)

But it's true: Nothing ruins outdoor fun faster than a swarm of these pesky stingers.

Clogged gutters with standing water are basically a mosquito maternity ward, so keep them clear of debris at all times.

Look for other areas that contain standing water and clean them regularly: the dog's outdoor water bowl, the bird bath, and that wagon the kids left out before it rained.

Also, it may seem obvious, but install an outdoor fan! Mosquitoes are wimps when it comes to breezes.

#6 Pop-Up Thunderstorms

Tree that has fallen because of a storm
Image: Chris Sadowski/Getty

Those pop-up summer storms can be a refreshing break from a hot spell. But when a freak storm leaves a large branch or tree in your yard — or worse, on your home or fence — it can be downright scary.

The good news is that when a tree — even your neighbor's tree — lands on your home or other insured structure, your homeowner's insurance should cover it.

If it simply landed in your yard and didn't hit a structure, you're likely on your own in removing the debris. In that case, take comfort in the fact your house is safe.

Related:  How to Protect Your Home from Water Damage

#7 Sky-High Power Bills

Ceiling fan spinning in a house
Image: jajaladdawan/Shutterstock

As summer heat rises, so do your utility bills. 

To fight back against the annual assault of energy bills, start with the basics: Install a programmable thermostat — and program it. Get your AC maintained regularly to increase its efficiency and replace the air filters regularly.

Beyond that, some creative cooling strategies can help you save even more. So, turn off your central air, and employ these cheaper cooling techniques.

Here's how to lower your power bill in the summer:

  • Get a couple of cheaper window units for key rooms and use only when there. Like the bedroom when you're sleeping or near the dog's crate when you're gone.
  • You can also free yourself from AC completely and use fans.
  • And during the daytime, when the sun is beating down, draw your blinds and curtains — a simple step that can drastically reduce the sun's effect on your home's indoor temp.

#8 HVAC Noise

Who can enjoy the birds chirping and crickets cricketing with your AC whizzing all day?

Don't sweat the noise pollution; take the opportunity to drown it out with something beautiful, like a water feature in your backyard. There's nothing like the sound of rushing water to lull you into relaxing, forgetting the heat, and soaking up the last few weeks of summer.

Or, just switch that baby off. Who needs to cool the house when you're sipping ice tea on the patio?

Related: Which Way Should Your Ceiling Fan Turn in Summer?

#9 A Crunchy, Brown Lawn

A crunchy, brown lawn thirsty for water
Image: Simon McGill/Getty

By late summer, we're all wilting a bit. But when your once-lush lawn seems to have brown highlights — or a complete brown color wash — your home's curb appeal will start drying up.

Brown grass isn't always nature's fault. Your brown grass may be the result of mowing your grass too short. Leave at least one to three inches of grass above the root so the grass can absorb enough water to combat the heat.

If your grass is browning because of drought, make sure your sprinklers are adjusted properly, and water less often for longer periods.

If you live in a drought-prone area, you may be better off removing most of your grass and opting for hardscaping or drought-friendly ground cover.

What's not to like about stone walls, gravel paths, or paved patios? Install enough of it, and you can ditch your lawn completely.

A headshot of Nancy Mann Jackson
Nancy Mann Jackson

Nancy Mann Jackson has written about homes and the financial impact of updating homes for such publications as CNBC and CNNMoney. She, her building contractor husband, and their three boys have lived through more than their share of gutting, remodeling, and renovating happy homes.