So you’re one of the lucky 2/3 of Americans who own a home and no longer have to pay rent. That’s great, but by no means is home ownership cheap. With the rising costs of living, finding ways to save money is something that everyone should do.
Here are 11 things to do immediately that will reduce the maintenance costs of your home over the long haul. You can read about them and click any of the links provided for more information.
1.Check The Insulation in Your Attic
When is the last time you replaced the insulation? Take a close inspection and look for signs of deterioration, dust, mold and mildew.
If there’s inadequate insulation up there – or the insulation you have appears to be damaged – install new insulation. Here’s a great guide from the Department of Energy on attic insulation, including specifics on how much you should have depending on where you live.
Everyone likes to save money. That’s one thing to consider if you choose to invest in insulation for your homes attic. Homeowners can qualify for a home improvement loan that will allow them to affordably add insulation to their homes attic.
2. Negotiate A Better Mortgage Rate With HARP
Finding a mortgage with a fair interest rate and good terms is much easier today than it was before the Great Recession and mortgage reform. Today, mortgage consumers have more power. And you should exercise that power.
If you’re a homeowner and you want to save yourself thousands of dollars this year, there’s a government program that you might be able to take advantage of called HARP. The Home Affordable Refinance Plan (HARP) could help hundreds of thousands of Americans reduce their monthly payments by as much as $3,500 in their first year. The program was set to expire in 2017 but has been extended to 2018 for the time being. In order to qualify for HARP you’ll need good or excellent credit, so if you don’t have a very good credit rating then this probably isn’t for you.
To check if you qualify visit HARP Approvals, and fill out the short quiz (takes 2 minutes). If lowering your payments, paying off your mortgage faster, and having an extra $290 a month in HARP savings would help you, then this could be the easiest money savings tip you take.
3. Cover the Cost of Emergency Home Repairs
A recent survey by HomeServe USA reveals 25% of homeowners don’t have savings set aside for major household repairs. Nearly half of homeowners (48%) have had an emergency home repair in the past 12 months, according to the same survey.
When you face a major expense and lack savings to tap, where can you turn?
A Home Warranty Program will cover any unexpected repairs to your appliances, plumbing, water heaters, heating and other electrical systems. They also will replace anything that they can’t fix. Make sure you shop around for rates on a home warranty program – this website will give you quotes that you can then choose from. A home warranty program should be a minor cost that can end up saving you major money.
4. Lower The Temperature on Your Water Heater
Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, most households usually only require them to be set at 120ºF, which also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. Water heated at 140ºF also poses a safety hazard—scalding.
Savings resulting from turning down your water heater temperature are based on two components: reduced standby losses (heat lost from water heater into surrounding basement area); and consumption (from water demand or use in your home). Set too high, or at 140ºF, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses and more than $400 in demand losses.
Lower the temperature, save money on your energy bill, and you’ll never skip a beat.
5. Upgrade Your HVAC System And Save On Money and Energy
HVAC systems can last for over a decade, but that doesn’t mean you should always rely on the same system for more than 10 years.
So, where do you start when it comes to researching new HVAC systems? When you’re reading about different types of systems that might work for your home, be sure to research the various efficiency ratings. The higher the rating number for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the better it is for overall energy and efficiency savings.
Leave It to the Professionals. Improper installation can reduce your system’s efficiency by as much as 30 percent. In other words, it can actually cancel out the savings you’re expecting from upgrading to a more efficient model. HVAC installation is a job for a licensed, insured contractor with good references.
6. Install A Home Alarm System
Did you know that a burglary happens in the US approximately every thirteen seconds? That’s no joke, and it’s one of the main reasons why the home security industry is growing so rapidly right now. The majority of burglaries do not involve violence or the use of a weapon, but victims can feel traumatized for months after a break-in. The average dollar loss from a burglary in the United States is just over $2,000
For many homeowners purchasing an alarm system can actually reduce your homeowners’ insurance premiums. Insurance companies know that homes equipped with a monitored burglar and fire detection system have a lower chance or being robbed or destroyed, so they often reward homeowners with lower premiums for installing these systems.
7. Reduce Your Electricity Bill With Solar Panels
For Homeowners, rising monthly electricity costs can make you feel like you’re always living paycheck to paycheck. The good news is that now more than ever the government is offering subsidies to install solar panels. That means if you live in a sunny part of the United States, you may be able to qualify for a free installation, and it will significantly reduce your electricity costs in a matter of weeks.
In fact, some Americans have saved as much as $183 per month on their energy bills. If you’re not happy with solar panels, you can always wait until the new Tesla home Power-wall is ready and purchase that. If you’d like to get a quote on solar panels in your area – you can visit Home Solar Installation and get an idea of how much money you can save by making the switch.
8. Buy Non-Perishables in Bulk and Use Coupons
Many people never even bother to look at some of the larger packages of nonperishable items – they think it’s just too much. Try looking at the cost per unit of all of the sizes and choose the one that’s the best deal. Check for coupons and coupon codes for items you go through a lot of. There are many coupon sites out there with updated daily deals on hundreds of items. Simply search for what you need (and don’t buy what you don’t need, even if it’s on sale!) and if a good enough coupon presents itself, buy it in bulk.
Spread out over months and over a lot of items (think of all of the non-perishables in your home, from salt and sugar to soap and shampoo – food is just the beginning), this can add up to a lot of trimmed wallet fat.
9. Get A Personal Loan (From $100 to $35,000)
Many homeowners might find that they are unexpectedly in a tough financial spot and need a little bit of help. That’s where personal loans can help. Personal loans can be used for almost any expense – from paying off credit cards to financing home repairs. They are typically paid back in monthly or bi-monthly installments over an extended period of time.
Personal loans can be a convenient alternative to bank loans or high-interest credit cards, with online applications and no-hassle automated repayment. With PickALender you get access to loans for whatever you need and get to see the terms upfront before any commitment. Make sure you look at the interest rates offered and the loan repayment terms before going ahead with anything though.
10. Save Money on New Windows
Many people opt to replace old drafty windows at home with new energy-efficient ones. Replacing old windows can also lower your utility bill by 40% per month and increase your home’s curb appeal. You may also qualify to save $100s in seasonal discounts from manufacturers like Pella, Champion, and Andersen. Make sure you find the best price you can get by visiting Modernize Windows to compare pricing from local professionals.
11. Replace Your Bulbs With LED’s
If you’ve never updated the light bulbs in your home, consider switching to LEDs. These bulbs are about four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and last for many years. One tip: When comparing bulbs, use the lumens number to compare bulbs, not the equivalent wattages. Lumens indicate the actual amount of light emitted by the bulb.
Remember also that under normal usage (four hours a day) and average electrical rates ($0.12 per kilowatt hour), replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt LED saves about $0.66 per month. Now multiply that by all the bulbs in your house to see how much you’ll save every month. Even switching just the five most-used light bulbs in your home could save you upwards of $40 a year on your electric bill.
Wise old Ben Franklin knew what he was talking about because he also said:
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”