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How to save money on housing costs is something every homeowner investigates at some point. The cost of maintaining a house can add up fast.
Homeowners can spend a boatload of cash on things such as fertilizers and lawn applications for keeping weeds in check to noisy drafts around window seams blowing air in.
There is no question these and other items drain your monthly housing maintenance budget.
For several years, I was a Realtor and sold houses. Part of that experience was attending countless home inspections for clients that I was working for.
There are other ways to save money on housing costs through the mortgage loan process or hacks to pay off your mortgage early, or even moving into a housing cooperative, but we are just going to physically focus on properties of your house.
During the home inspection process, several things came up where the cost of house maintenance could be reduced by easy fixes thus allowing the client to save money on housing costs.
Below are some housing costs examples of where you can trim your budget and save money.
1. Look at the HVAC System
One way to save some money is simply by replacing furnace filters and making sure that your furnace is running at optimal performance. It can be a good idea to have a licensed HVAC professional come in and clean out your furnace unit.
Often times, a lot of sediment will be inside of the furnace, which actually makes the furnace work twice as hard. Cleaning out that sediment is one sure way to reduce your energy bill during those cold winter months.
2. Consider purchasing a warranty plan
Purchasing a warranty plan for your house to cover all of your major systems such as HVAC, hot water heater, and even appliances is a great investment to make.
By purchasing a warranty plan, you can save money on housing costs for the mechanics of your home.
I have one of these warranties offered by my local utility company.
Over the past 8 years, I have had to use it for 3 furnace repairs, and also for a new hot water tank. It has literally saved me over $1,700!
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3. Foundation Systems
If your house has a basement, one of the worst places that air infiltrates the house is located at the top of the basement walls where the sill plate is located.
I have personally been in my basement and have felt the cold, northern, sub-zero wind blow in during the winter months.
An easy fix for this is to use spray foam insulation which is an easy way to save money on housing costs by reducing these drafts.
Be sure to check with your local codes on which one to use. Some localities have codes that the insulation must be rated for fire.
4. Upgrading Furnace
This step to save money on housing costs would be a great improvement to do if you plan on staying in your house for at least 5 years.
Consider upgrading your furnace to a two-stage furnace. This furnace runs majority of the time at 65%. If it is extremely hot or cold out (and you are running AC) the blower will kick up to 100%.
This is a huge money saver and way to save money on housing with your electrical bill.
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5. Replacing Windows
According to energy.gov, old windows account for 25% to 30% of heat gain and/or loss.
Think about that statistic.
If you have a summer electrical bill that is $300 each month, you would save money on housing costs by $100 per month if the windows were replaced.
For three months, that works out to a total of $300 in your pocket. That amount is probably enough to purchase one window to replace.
6. Adding Insulation
One of the most common issues I came across during housing inspections was not having enough insulation in the attic.
The more insulation you have, the lower your energy bills will be.
I went in one house for an inspection and they had over 2 feet of blown in insulation!
7. Efficiency Drapery
Putting up heavy energy-efficient drapes can go a long ways to saving money.
Now I know back in the day, energy drapes sort of looked like shower curtains and nobody wants shower curtains over their living room window!
That is not the case anymore.
Most of them have heavy backings now that reflect the sun and also help against drafts and air leaks coming in around window seals.
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Switching over from incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to LED’s save a ton of money. I know that my kids personally are always leaving lights on in the basement.
Since I have replaced them I have noticed savings of about $20 a month. And LEDs last many more years than an incandescent bulb does.
9. On/Off Switches
Additionally, I also replaced my switches with motion shut off switches so the lights are not left on anymore.
When there is no activity or movement for a set period of time, now my lights automatically turn off.
It is great to not get up anymore in the morning and realize that my basement lights were on all night (or for days in some cases).
If you have kids, this has happened in your household.
Dimmers also make a difference as well due to the fact you can turn down the wattage on lighting. If you have a 100 watt Florescent light and you use a dimmer, you can reduce the energy consumption considerably.
I had a house that had over 20 can ceiling lights in the basement. I replaced all the bulbs with dimmable ones and my electricity usage dropped.
11. Smart Sprinklers
Water is one of the most expensive housing maintenance costs there is, especially when it comes to sprinklers.
If your hose has underground irrigation, consider using smart irrigation pop-ups. These are designed to reduce the spray and usage of water by 30% and a great way to save money on housing costs.
In addition, you can also replace your sprinkler timer with one that you can custom set a schedule on.
On these new timers, there are functions that if you want to reduce your water usage by 25%, you can now select that on the sprinkler timer box as an option and it will reduce all water usage by 25% for all zones.
Coming from someone who used to have $400 water bills every month, this is a great feature to consider.
12. Low Flow’s
Replacing toilets and shower heads are also great things to do. A lot of the toilets have two selections now for flushing, one energy efficient one and the traditional 1.6L for the “heavies” if needed.
Shower heads , although they are using less water today, their force is just as strong I think as a traditional shower head. Water management in general is an easy way to save money on housing costs.
Consider upgrading your appliances if they are more than 8 years old. Appliances today consume much less energy. This is a great way to save money on housing costs.
Your appliance upgrade investment will pay for itself over time by reduced energy bills. There are now dryers out there that have an auto-sensor and will shut off once they can sense that the load is dry instead of continuing to run.
14. Power Strips
They should be your best friend in a family household.
When you look at the common household media center, there are at least 5 devices that consume a lot of energy. Some of these would include, a TV, DVD, Stereo, Gaming Systems, TV streaming Devices, Cable Boxes, and many more.
By plugging all of these items into a power strip, you can shut all of them down completely when not in use.
These devices still draw current, although a lower amount, even when not at full capacity usage.
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15. Outside Grading
Another area to pay attention to is the area around the foundation of your house and the grading.
This comes up all the time on home inspections and how to save money on housing costs and potential for big repair bills down the road.
A homeowner will want to make sure that the grade of the land slopes away from the home.
What can happen is that in periods of heavy rain and precipitation, the water will roll back towards the house and go towards the basement if there is one.
This increases the potential for an expensive repair especially if your basement is finished with drywall. Additionally, it can become a health hazard as water will breed molds and mildew if you don’t know about it and your drywall or insulation gets wet.
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Washing your laundry in cold water will also help lower your utilities. In addition to that, you can also line dry them if you don’t have a problem with you neighbors scoping out your intimate apparel.
Also, using the pre-soak cycle and a shorter wash time are also additional ways to save money on housing costs.
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17. Water Heater Hacks
In the summer time, I dial down my temperature on my water heater to save money on housing costs. If you have children living in your household, this is also a good way to naturally get them out of the shower faster!
You can also use a thermal blanket and wrap your hot water heater in it to save additional money on it.
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These simple tips are easy things to consider to save money on housing.
By reducing your monthly routine housing expenses, you will free up a lot of cash.
You will find a lot of these tips will allow you to save money on housing costs.
This could potentially cut your mortgage amount in half or more. If you can save money on housing costs, you can redirect those resources to other areas of your life.