Renters and homeowners across the country are taking savvy approaches to save money around their homes. In honor of National Home Improvement Month, Homes.com, leading online real estate destination, and sister site, ForRent.com, sought out the top 10 tips to save money around the home, using little time and effort and offering inexpensive solutions. From do-it-yourself projects to updating small appliances, everyone can take advantage of these easy tips on a dime.
Utility bills can be daunting. In the summertime, the cold air needs to be on full blast and in the winter, everyone wants to feel warm and cozy. Programmable or “smart” thermostats are an efficient and inexpensive way to save hundreds of dollars on yearly electricity bills. An energy-saving smart thermostat, available for about $50-$100, can help decrease the cost of heating or cooling your home. It takes the guesswork out of trying to coordinate your home’s temperature with the temperature outside, as well as provides the convenience to set different temperatures at different times, seven days a week. Some models even come equipped with WI-Fi so you can control the temperature of your house even when you are not home.
2. Go Low-Flow in the Shower
Wasted water during baths and showers is like washing money down the drain. Replacing old and outdated shower-heads with new low-flow models is a great way to tackle the monthly utility bill and increase the efficiency of your hot water consumption. Plus it’s a great solution for renters! New spray shower heads use no more than two and a half gallons per minute and provide excellent water pressure. This simple switch could reduce your annual water bill by upwards of $100, depending on frequency. An added bonus is that low-flow shower-heads help the environment by conserving fresh water.
3. Make an Extra Payment
An easy tip that can save thousands of dollars in the long run is to make an extra mortgage payment annually. Over the course of a 30-year loan, one additional mortgage payment per year can save a considerable amount of money on annual interest payments.
4. Unplug Your Appliances
This may come as a surprise, but turning off electronics does not mean that you are eliminating their draw from the electric grid. Many electronic gadgets and appliances, especially computer monitors, consume power even when they're turned off, but still plugged into an outlet. This phenomenon is known as “phantom power” and can cost you hundreds of dollars annually. By unplugging your appliances, or using a smart power strip, you can save an estimated five to ten percent on your monthly electric bill.
5. Use House Plants to Purify Air
With air pollution levels steadily increasing, trying to improve the quality of air inside the home has become a trend across the country. Some homeowners spend hundreds of dollars on Air Purifiers to reduce allergens in air. An alternative to this costly investment is placing houseplants around the home. Not only do they remove toxins from the air, but they also add a little extra color to a room and make it feel more warm and comfortable. Perfectly placed houseplants can help improve air quality and aesthetics throughout the entire house. Houseplants are a great addition for renters because they add so much, cost so little, and can be easily moved to the next location.
6. Dodge the Draft
Even though homes have doors and windows to keep out the elements, as a house ages, the hot and cold air from outside often creeps in, creating drafts and gusts. Weatherproofing a home is an inexpensive and simple task that can save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling costs. For about $15, you can purchase some of the supplies you need to weatherproof doors and windows. There are a variety of weatherproofing products, including v strip, felt, and foam tape, so make sure to do some research ahead of time to see what your specific home will need. You can also get a home energy audit to discover ways to improve your home’s interior quality.
7. Do It Yourself
Redecorating a home or apartment is a great way to make a home feel new again. Professional decorators and painters often come with a very hefty price. With so many resources available around the web, jumping on the DIY bandwagon is easy, inexpensive, and fun. There are many DIY workshops located at local hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Projects around the house, such as painting, can save hundreds of dollars while transforming your space. Projects can also provide hours of fun and entertainment.
8. Install Ceiling Fans
Cooling a home is traditionally the most expensive part of running a home during the hot summer months. An air conditioner uses 3,500 watts of energy, while a ceiling fan only uses 60 watts of energy. A new ceiling fan costs anywhere from $50 to $200 and, on average, costs seven dollars per month to run. Decreasing the use of an air conditioner and increasing the use of a ceiling fan can save money and keep a family just as comfortable. Ceiling fans can even be useful during the winter months by setting the fan to run in a clockwise direction. The reverse motion pushes warm air down from the ceiling, keeping everyone warm.
9. Shop Your Home
Everyone loves to spruce up their space by buying bright new pillows and brand new artwork. Before you buy new accessories, take a walk around the house and see if there are small budget-friendly tweaks you can make. Rearranging furniture and lighting is a quick and free way to recreate an entire room. Move a desk in front of a window or position a sofa toward the fireplace instead of the television during the winter to change the feel of any space. Switching decorations between rooms is another free way to make two spaces feel new and different. Shopping your home before heading to the store can save you a lot of money!
10. Cut Back on Washing and Drying
With the average family doing 300 loads of laundry per year, maximizing how laundry is done at home can save time and money. Consider washing most clothes (except towels and linens) in cold water to save on heating costs. Make sure to use the dryer efficiently by filling up the machine without overfilling it. The next time you’re in the market for a new washer and dryer, do some research up front and see if a new washer and dryer will qualify your family for an additional tax credit. Energy-efficient appliances can save a family time and money.
Source: Homes.com, ForRent.com.