It’s a popular opinion that owning a home is much easier than renting an apartment, but there are many unexpected costs that people don’t account for when buying a home. From mortgage and utilities to upkeep and maintenance, there are a lot of costs associated with owning a home.
To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips that you can use to save you money each month so that you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck when it comes to your expenses. Some of these tips are free while some of them are pretty affordable, and even the affordable ones will make a difference in the long run. Employ just a few of these and you’ll start to see the changes within a short period of time.
- Get an Automated Thermostat
Many people don’t bother changing the temperature on the thermostat when they’re not home, and this can end up wasting a lot of fuel. Why heat or cool the home if no one is there? Instead, you can save more on your energy bill each month by leaving a sticky note on your front door when you’re leaving to change it or you can make it easier on yourself and get an automated thermostat.
An automated thermostat will do all of the work for you and will even learn your schedule so that you don’t have to program it yourself. Just determine what temperature you want it to be when you’re home and what you want it to be when you’re away, and the thermostat does the rest for you.
An automated thermostat may seem expensive at first, but signing up for certain programs or mailing in a rebate can save you a decent chunk of change. And with one installed, you may be able to save up to around $170 per year on your energy bill.
- Let your Air Conditioner Breathe
Because your air conditioner unit is outside, it’s exposed to a lot of elements including leaves and dirt. Be sure to check on the unit periodically and remove this debris so that the vents of your units aren’t clogged. You also want to provide enough space for your unit to take in air. Remove shrubbery immediately around it or trim it back to at last one foot away from your unit. And if you notice that there is a significant amount of dirt and debris inside your unit, it would be best to have it cleaned by a professional.
So how much difference does this really make? For one thing, you’ll have an air conditioning unit that is well-maintained, will work much better, and will have a longer life span. But in terms of your wallet, you’ll be able to save upwards of $20 per year on your energy bill since it’s running more efficiently.
- Consider Internet and Cable Bundles
Since there’s been a somewhat monopoly on the cable and Internet services market for a long time by the big-name companies, it’s been easier for smaller companies to come up with more affordable packages for customers. Bundle and save for a rainy day by shopping around and looking for a service provider that works in your area.
- Close the Curtains
During the summer, it can be refreshing to open up the windows and let some breeze in. But your windows are actually letting in a lot of heat as well through sunlight. And if the inside of your home is warm, your AC is going to work overtime just to keep the temperature down. Closing the blinds or the curtains will minimize this from happening and doesn’t take any time at all. Focus on your windows that face south and west, as these are the ones that will receive the most sunlight. On average, you may save about $35 on your energy bill for the year.
- Warm Showers
Having a hot shower in the morning or evenings can feel great, but you’re actually raising the costs of your energy bill by a lot. You’re paying more to heat up more hot water and you’re adding heat to your interior which needs to be cooled down by your air conditioning. Instead, take a short warm shower that doesn’t use up more energy in your home. With that regular routine, you can save up to about $50 per year on your energy bill.
- Replace Your Air Filters
Your HVAC filters do a lot of work by keeping out allergens, pollen, dust, and dander from getting into your lungs. But because of how hard they work, they get clogged over time. A dirty filter only blocks airflow so your system will have to work that much harder to provide you with the same amount of air. It’s best to clean or replace your HVAC filters at least every 6 months or sooner, depending on the size of your house and how many people live there. This change can save you between 5% and 15% on your overall energy bill.
If you do choose to replace your filter, don’t get one that has a higher rating than the one your system came with. It does a better job of trapping more dust, but it will force your system to work harder than it’s used to, and that can lead to your entire HVAC system overheating.
- Drying your Clothes Outside
Put the dryer aside and take your laundry outside. Especially during the summer months, you can save a lot on your energy bill by neglecting to use your dryer and using the power of sun and wind instead to dry your clothes. It costs nothing to dry your clothes this way, except for the expenses needed to put a clothesline outside in your yard.
In the winter months, you can get a drying rack and place it in front of the air vents of your wall so that the warm air can dry your clothes. It will definitely take longer this way, but by giving your dryer a break, you can save upwards of $80 per year on your energy bill.
- Cook Outside
Instead of using your stovetop or microwave, consider cooking outside on the grill. Depending on the kind of grill you have, this can actually save you on your energy bill. Additionally, you’re not heating up your home’s interior, leading to your air conditioning turning on. And who doesn’t enjoy the taste of the grill anyway? It’s healthier, there’s no oil involved, and you won’t have any cookware to clean in the end.
- LED Lighting
Make the change to LED bulbs, which are much brighter than incandescent and only use a fraction of the energy. They do tend to be more expensive in the long run, but they actually last much longer so you won’t have to buy new bulbs as often. Incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, turn the majority of the electricity they receive into heat. Making the change will save you a decent amount on your bills each month.
- Seal Your Windows
A gap as small as 1/64 of an inch around your window amounts to a 3.3 square-inch hole in your wall. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a decent sized hole to let all the wind in. And that’s just for one of your windows; adding them all up together creates one big leak that’s emptying your wallet year after year in heating and cooling bills.
To find out if you have a draft, close all your windows and the flue of your chimney, and move around your home with a burning stick of incense. If there’s airflow that moves the smoke, then you’ve definitely got a leak. You can solve this problem easily with some weatherstripping that takes no time to install. Don’t forget to check the outside of your windows as well to see if there is any damaged caulking. Simply remove it and add new caulking around the window. This simple tip could save you as much as 20% of your energy bill for the year.
- Repair Leaks
Joints and seals in the ducts of your home can dry out and deteriorate over time. This is the result of temperature fluctuations within your attic, basement, and crawl space. To fix the problem, you could hire a professional to clean out your ducts or do it yourself. In the latter case, look into your ducts with a flashlight for any areas that don’t have any dust; if you find one, that means there’s a leak. Fixing this problem will save you roughly 8-10% on your electricity bills per year.
- Childproof the Outlets
Electrical outlets, even outdoor ones, tend not to have insulation behind them. But these tiny holes make it easy for air to get from outside to inside, creating small drafts that affect the true temperature of your home. Light a match and place it in front of an outlet; if the flame flickers, then you have a draft.
Instead of trying to find some way to patch them up, just add childproof covers over them. They keep the air out so that your home is a constant temperature throughout the year. You could save as much as 2% on your heating and cooling costs each year.
- Insulate Attics
You have insulation throughout your home to keep you warm and cool, but your attic likely has none. This means a lot of air can escape up there, forcing your heating and/or cooling to work overtime. You should add a gasket around the opening and place some foam insulation around the top of the hatch to take care of the problem.
- Remove Gaps Under the Doors
Your door does need some space underneath it to swing open and close, but the size of that gap can really make a difference. A gap that’s too big can result in a lot of air getting in. Consider replacing your door sweep to fix the problem or add draft stoppers by your doors when they’re closed. Getting rid of this problem can save you up to 11% of your heating and cooling bill.
- Insulate Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks
The areas around sinks and toilets tend not to be insulated on the other side of the wall. This leads to warm and cool air escaping from these openings into the home. To solve the problem, just add some foam insulation around the edges of these fixtures to keep the air trapped. Foam insulation also lasts a really long time so it won’t need replacing for a while. A job like this can save you a whopping 17% on your energy bills for the year.
Saving money each month for your home doesn’t have to be an exercise in frugality and living cheap. Just by taking a few steps and making small changes to your home, you’ll be able to save more money without having to drastically change your life.
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