10 Low-Cost Ways to Save Money at Home

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Owning your own home is expensive, and we’re not just talking about taxes, insurance and mortgage payments. Home maintenance and repair is perhaps the biggest hidden cost of homeownership. Utilities, yard care, renovations and other costs can also eat into a budget. But if you’re one of the 63 percent of millennial homeowners experiencing buyer’s remorse due to hidden costs, here are some ways you can slash them — with easy, low-cost, regular maintenance chores you can do yourself.

Flush Your Water Heater Yearly

All it takes is one cold shower to understand the value of your hot water heater. But new hot water heaters aren’t cheap; they can cost about $300 if you do the installation yourself, but upwards of $3,000 if you buy a more expensive, tankless or solar model and if you hire a contractor to install the appliance.

Fortunately, you can extend the life of your water heater — and keep that money in your pocket longer, by performing regular maintenance. Flush your water heater every year, and change the anode rod every five years.

Change Your Furnace Filters Regularly

Your furnace can’t draw in air efficiently if its filters are clogged and dirty. Change your furnace filters every one to three months. Do it more often if you have pets or allergies and less often if not. Don’t forget to clean or change your air conditioner filters, too.

Fix Your Leaky Faucets and Toilets

If you’ve been wondering how to save water and slash your water bill in the process, it’s time to fix those dripping faucets and running toilets. Troubleshooting a leaky faucet or repairing a running toilet is easy for most novice DIYers, but even if you have to pay someone, it’s worth it. You could be letting hundreds of dollars run down the drain each month otherwise.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

Your home’s gutter system redirects rain water away from your siding and foundations. But when your gutters get clogged with leaves and debris, that water doesn’t have anywhere to go, and it can overflow, damaging your foundations and the exterior of your home. Clean your gutters in the spring and fall, or more often if you have trees nearby.

Clean Your Home’s Exterior and Keep It in Good Repair

Use a bucket of warm, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush with a long handle to clean your siding once a year. Examine exterior paint each spring or summer and touch up any chipped or peeling spots to keep water out. Use masonry mortar repair compound to replace missing mortar and stucco patching compound to fill holes in stucco.

Inspect and Replace Missing or Damaged Caulk

Caulk keeps water from seeping in around window and door frames, and also around exterior vents, hose bibs, and electrical wiring. Inspect caulked areas each spring or summer, and expect to use three or four tubes of caulk to touch it up each year.

Keep Shrubs and Trees at Bay

Shrubs and trees that grow too close to your home can cause water to seep behind your siding, encourage squirrels, birds, and other animals to nest in your roof or walls, and even damage your foundation. Keep shrubs and trees three feet away from your walls and prune them regularly. A branch smacking against your home in a storm can scratch your siding or even break a window.

Know Your Home’s Geographical and Climate Vulnerabilities

Is your home in a flood zone? Are extreme weather events a concern in your area? Are you at the bottom of an incline, where water could flow downhill toward your foundation when it rains? These are all factors to consider when maintaining your home. When you know what the local climate and topography is throwing at your home, you’ll be better-equipped to prepare yourself with the right insurance and the right home improvements, such as high-impact windows or a sump pump.

Get an Energy Audit

An energy audit is worth the money because it can help you know exactly how to lower your energy costs. An audit can show you which doors and windows are drafty, for example, or where you need more insulation.

Opt for Energy-efficient Appliances and Lights

Energy-efficient fluorescent or LED lights don’t just lower your power bill — they also last a lot longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, which means dragging out the ladder to change that stairwell light less often. When you replace an old appliance, opt for an energy-efficient model to keep costs down.

When you own a home, you need to cut costs wherever you can, so you can put more aside to save for those unexpected maintenance expenses. A wise homeowner keeps costs down by keeping his or her home in good condition. With regular maintenance, things break down less often, and that means lower maintenance costs overall.

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