We all like to Saving Money when we can. From taking advantage of Cyber Monday sales to being a devoted couponer, people love to get more bang for their buck. This is especially true for homeowners trying to keep up with their home maintenance.
While you have to invest in home maintenance if you want to keep your home beautiful and functional, you may be paying more than you have to. The Motley Fool reported that around 63% of homeowners outsourced at least one aspect of their home upkeep, while 35% outsourced multiple aspects. There are times where you may have no choice but to call in a pro but you don’t have to for every little thing.
Below, we’ll discuss seven ways you can keep your home in pristine condition without breaking the bank.
1. Set a Realistic Maintenance Budget
There’s no way to avoid spending some money on home upkeep and maintenance, but how much is enough? You want a budget that’s realistic; otherwise, you’ll be stuck with emergency expenses that you can’t easily cover. Without a workable budget, you may have no choice but to put your expenses on your credit card. That could result in you paying extensive interest costs.
The Balance recommends that you use one of the two following methods to accurately calculate your costs.
The 1% Method
Determine your home’s estimated market value, and set aside about 1% of that amount in maintenance costs per year. For example – if your home is valued at $250,000, you should set aside about $2,500. The main flaw with this method is that your home value can either go up or down based on market conditions. Conversely, your maintenance costs are all but guaranteed to increase. I’d recommend you use this method only if you’re a new homeowner and still trying to figure out your typical maintenance expenses.
The Square Footage Method
With this method, you allocate a dollar for every square foot in your home. For example, if you had a 1,800-square-foot home, you would allocate $1,800 per year. This is an easier method to use since your square footage won’t change. (Unless you choose to make additions to your home, of course). The primary drawback with this method is that your total maintenance costs may be greater than your square footage if you have a smaller home.
In the end, the important thing is that you maintain an annual budget that covers at least the majority of your home repair costs. As the years pass and you address more maintenance issues, you’ll have a better idea of how much you need to budget.
2. Bundle Up to Save on Heating and Cooling Costs
It’s estimated that the average electric bill in American is about $183 per month. Of that, nearly half is allocated just to heating and cooling your home. That debt piles up quickly but it’s not something that you have to settle for. By keeping your thermostat at a marginal setting, ideally between 63°F and 68°F year-round, you have the potential to save anywhere from 10 to 15% each month on your bill. You can stay comfortable by making a few minor adjustments to how you actually regulate the temperature in your home.
Insult the Extremities on Your Body
Since body heat is primarily lost in regions where your skin is constantly exposed, the three main culprits for heat loss in the house are the head, hands, and feet. By wearing socks, a hat, and even your gloves in the house, you can keep the same degree of warmth you would if the heater was constantly blasting away.
Insulate Your Flooring
Even if you can’t afford to completely redo your entire layout, you can prevent heat loss in your flooring in the areas that matter most. In spaces like your living room, dining room, and other rooms where people tend to gather, invest in some decor items to keep you warm. In particular, a thick area rug is a great option because it will regulate temperature well and look great for your living space!
Regulate Sunlight Coming Through Your Window
If your problem isn’t heating but A/C, regulating the amount of sunlight coming into your home is a must. By investing in some curtains, drapes, or an actual window screen, you can control how quickly your house warms up without touching your thermostat. This will slow the rate that your house warms up and keep your house cooler.
3. Do Your Own Lawn Care
One of the most commonly outsourced home upkeep tasks is lawn care. While it is much more convenient to have someone else handle the landscape, lawn care can cost up to $80 per visit, depending on your yard space. Even if you only have your lawn cut from Spring to Fall, and every other week, you could still be paying around $1,120 a year. You can trim that cost substantially by doing the work yourself. Consider the following:
- The average cost of a new weedeater is around $50
- A reliable, mid-range, gas-powered push mower will cost you around $250
- It only costs about $3.50 in gas per acre to mow a lawn. Most homes have 0.19 acres of yard space or less. You can most likely do one to two sessions on one tank of gas.
If you decide to do your own yard, you’ll be looking at an upfront investment of around $335. However, once you have your lawn mower and weedeater, the only recurring expenses you’ll have are gas and maintenance. These are marginal and you’ll still spend far less than having someone care for your lawn.
4. Check for Water Leaks and Plug Them Immediately
Water leaks are one of the most common causes of wasted money in any household. It’s estimated that the average household wastes between 1,041 and 2082 gallons of water per year. That’s just for standard dripping from a faucet or shower head. If you have an extensive leak in your plumbing, not only will you water bill shoot up substantially, but you could be facing a hefty charge to repair your flooring and drywall as well.
Common signs to check for include:
- Dripping that continues when you shut off the faucet or shower head
- Water pooling under your sink or running down your toilet bowl
- Dripping or water stains originating from your ceiling
You should check your faucets, shower heads, and toilets at least once a month for leaks. If you’re comfortable inspecting your own roof, check it once per year or after any major storm. Otherwise, have a professional inspector do the job.
5. Swap Out Your Air Filters Once a Month
Air filters are one of those common household items that don’t seem like they have much impact. But regularly changing your air filter has the potential to save you an average of $45 per electric bill! The reason is simple – as dirt, dust, and other particles start to clog your A/C vent, your unit has to use more electricity to produce the same effect. By swapping out your filter(s) you reduce the overall electricity that your unit has to use. Best of all – air filters are cheap. They only cost around $15 each.
6. Clean Your Refrigerator Coils
Want to enjoy food that’s fresh, cold, and doesn’t cost a fortune? Good news! You can achieve all of that by regularly cleaning the condenser coils on your refrigerator. Your coils serve to disperse the excess heat that your fridge unit generates. When they get dirty, that process consumes a lot more electricity. Cleaning your coils is a very simple process that won’t cost you anything.
How to Clean Your Coils
All you need is a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment and a coil brush. Once you have them, follow these steps:
- Start by unplugging your fridge.
- Locate your coils. The coils are usually either on the back of your fridge but some models put them in the front at the bottom. They may also be hidden by a cover plate.
- Remove the cover plate or base grille, if one is attached.
- Use the coil brush to wipe away any excess dirt or grime from your coils.
- Use your vacuum cleaner hose to suck up any leftovers on the coils on the floor.
- Replace the grille and plug your fridge back in.
7. Check Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy and Look for Savings
Homeowner’s insurance is one of those necessary evils of homeownership. You can’t get a mortgage without being covered first. That being said, you may be paying far more than you need to on your insurance. Take another look at your policy and see if any of these options to save money might apply.
Typically, the lower your deductible is, the higher your annual premium is going to be. If you’re at a point where you could comfortably afford a higher deductible if you needed to use your policy, see if you can trade it in for a lower monthly payment.
Your Types of Coverage
You may have come into home ownership by taking out more coverage than you needed. It’s usually better to be safe than sorry but not at the expense of practical savings. If you’re not in a flood zone, and you don’t normally see heavy rainfall, do you really need flood insurance? Check your coverages and see how much you could save by reducing them or taking them off your policy.
See If Someone Will Give You a Cheaper Rate
Once people get a policy, it’s very rare that they take the time to shop for a new one. However, you could be missing out on a new policy that wasn’t available when you initially took out your insurance. Take an hour or so to get fresh quotes from other agencies. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of changing agencies, present those quotes to your current insurer, and see if they’re willing to match.
See If New Protective Measures Will Reduce Your Cost
Home insurers will often reduce your costs if you have methods in place to protect your home and assets. Examples include security systems, smoke detectors, and sprinkler systems. Get quotes for installing and paying any monthly fees for having these devices. If you save more on insurance than you’re spending on them, then they’re probably a sound investment.