Smart homeowners think of their homes as more than just a place to live. Their houses are also their biggest investment. By strategically investing modest sums of money now, you’ll see major savings later.
Here are 11 keys spots to spend money with an eye toward saving.
- Heating and air conditioning units should be inspected in the spring and fall by a professional HVAC service to spot minor problems before big-ticket repairs are needed. Do your part by keeping shrubs clear of the unit, and changing air filters on a regular basis. Your system will operate more efficiently and run less, lowering your monthly bills and your risk of major breakdowns.
- Caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows should be regularly inspected and repaired or replaced when needed. This, too, will save on heating and cooling bills.
- Make sure your attic insulation is sufficient. The thickness or “R factor” depends on your region of the country.
- A programmable thermostat will help you reap significant savings on your heating and cooling bills. Program it to change the temperature when you’re at home, at work and asleep.
- Change your light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs are dinosaurs, but their first-wave replacement, the fluorescent bulb, has now been eclipsed by a light-emitting diode or LED lights. These long-lasting bulbs have significantly dropped in price in recent years, making them an affordable investment given their savings in replacement costs and energy.
- Replace old shower heads with low-flow heads, cutting your water usage and your water bill. While older models use as much as five gallons of water per minute, newer shower heads dispense 1.6 gallons to 2.5 gallons per minute.
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets. A continuously running toilet can lose a gallon or two per hour, adding up to almost 1,500 gallons per month wasted.
- Establish good habits, such as not leaving the water running in the bathroom or kitchen. Run only full dish and laundry loads. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Use a light timer when out of town.
- Routinely check for mold, dampness and water stains, which all signal potential problems. Roof leaks, showering without proper ventilation and poor foundation drainage are among the culprits. Safely survey the roof with a pair of binoculars. If you see damage, hire a professional to inspect.
- Clean gutters at least once per year — or more frequently, depending on the number of trees near your home. Over time, clogged gutters can cause erosion around the foundation and rot the fascia board of the eaves.
- Hire a professional pest control service to inspect annually for termites. Left undetected and untreated, termites can cause serious damage.