Home Upkeep: 4 Ways to Keep Your Costs Down
Your home is your castle – and castle upkeep can be expensive. But with a little know-how and effort, you can enjoy your home without emptying your wallet.
Using less energy, decorating on a budget, taking care of small problems before they become big ones, and doing basic home renovations and repairs yourself can help you keep your home costs down. Sound good? Then this guide is for you.
Read on to learn valuable ways you can save money on your home’s day-to-day and long-term costs, as well as ways you can better manage larger homeownership expenses when they arise.
1. Use Less Energy
It takes a lot of energy to run a home – and that energy costs money. Here are a few ways to conserve energy and cut down on your energy bills.
Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances and Light Bulbs
If you need to replace an appliance, choose a new one that promotes energy efficiency. Energy Star®-rated products must meet specific energy efficiency standards, which can help cut down your energy bills.
Control Your Climate
Don’t pay to heat or cool the whole neighborhood. Check that your doors and windows are properly sealed and have your HVAC systems inspected regularly to catch any problems. This can help you increase your comfort and decrease what you owe each month.
Use Your Thermostat Thoughtfully
Do you run to change the temperature if it isn’t exactly 70 degrees? Here are a few money-saving and energy-saving tips to try instead: Dress for the weather, enjoy a hot or cold drink, place area rugs on bare floors for added insulation during the winter, and turn the heat down when you are sleeping and the air conditioning off when you are away from home.
Think turning things off when you are not using them is enough? Think again. Many appliances and electronics, including TVs, microwaves, and air conditioners, are typically in “standby mode” whenever they’re plugged in. Standby power used by these devices can account for nearly 10% of a home’s energy use, according to the Department of Energy. To save electricity, unplug devices you use less often (or connect them to a power strip to make cutting off power easier).
Turn Down the Lights
Install dimmer switches and you will find that they are more than just an easy way to create mood lighting. They can also help you save electricity (and money) and extend the life of your light bulbs by allowing you to use only the amount of light you need.
2. Decorate on a Budget
You do not have to spend a lot to be stylish. Follow these decorating tips for a home that looks chic, not cheap:
Be the Star of Your Art
Frame personal photographs for wall art that is inexpensive, personal, and unique.
Shop Your Own Home
Upcycle things you own but have grown tired of by painting, staining, reupholstering, or buying new slipcovers or lampshades – the possibilities are endless.
Find out when Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or other local thrift stores put out new inventory and go at that time to claim the best pieces before they disappear. Watch for garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, and going-out-of-business sales, too.
3. Do Basic Home Repairs and Renovations Yourself
Most people know, or can learn, how to do some basic home improvements and repairs. Leave electrical issues, structural repairs, and removal of asbestos or mold to the pros. But taking care of simpler projects can save you money and give you a sense of pride. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at projects like these:
Do Some Demolition
Clearing out old cabinets and appliances, removing molding and carpeting, and getting rid of old tile for bathroom renovations are fairly straightforward tasks. If you have not done this kind of work before, do your homework: Watch how-to videos, read articles, or consult family members or friends who have more experience to get some useful home improvement tips. But leave more extensive demolition, like wall removal, to the pros.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can probably take care of a few simple outdoor projects yourself. Hanging lights (use LED bulbs to save on energy costs), installing window boxes, adding fencing or walls, or placing interesting borders between flower beds and walkways are simple, inexpensive projects that can help you enjoy your property more and boost its curb appeal.
Purchase Materials Yourself
Buying appliances, doors, cabinets, tiles, and bathroom and kitchen fixtures yourself can be cheaper than paying professionals for them, and you may be able to find some unique and inexpensive things through flea markets, garage sales, or Craigslist. Just be sure you understand your needs and your home’s dimensions before you purchase anything.
Take Care of Touch-Ups
Painting is a prime example of a home renovation project you can do yourself. Stripping and staining wood, repairing small holes in drywall, installing tile in the kitchen or bathroom, adding trim to windows, and changing out hardware on cabinets are other remodeling ideas you can bring to life easily and inexpensively.
4. Take Care of Small Problems (Before They Become Big Ones)
Spending as little as a couple of hours once or twice each month maintaining your home and looking for potential issues (or paying a professional to do it) can help you catch problems sooner, when they are less expensive to fix. Use this checklist as a guide:
- Clean filters, vents, gutters, and downspouts
- Get septic tanks, furnaces, and HVAC systems serviced regularly
- Check for leaks around doors, windows, and appliances and seal to improve energy efficiency
- Be on the lookout for cracks in the foundation, in walkways, and in driveways
- Check for leaks, mold, ice dams, and water damage on the roof
- Inspect chimneys, fireplaces, and HVAC systems
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries or replace the devices as needed
- Evaluate any leaking faucets or running toilets and ensure caulk is in good condition
- Look for signs of termites
Stay on Top of Home Expenses with Our Help
Home ownership costs money – there is no way to avoid that entirely. American Heritage Credit Union helps our members save for and pay for those costs by offering:
- Savings and Money Market accounts that offer competitive dividends and easy access to funds
- Mastercard® credit cards with great rates and big perks
- Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit with low rates and flexible options
- Personal Loans and Lines of Credit
To learn more and find the financial solutions that are right for you, contact us or stop by a branch today.