Owning a home can be mighty expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Below, we’ve listed 30 quick and easy updates you can complete with a small amount of time and have the potential to save you big money.
Install Low-Flow Water Fixtures
For somewhere around $20 per faucet, you can install low-flow water fixtures that will successfully save both water and money. These fixtures are a breeze to install, and according to Energy Star can reduce your water consumption by up to 50 percent! For most people, that’s an average savings of about $150 per year.
Total Savings: About $150 per year
Use Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Fluorescent light bulbs may be more expensive than their traditional counterparts, but according to Energy Star, fluorescent bulbs both last longer and cost you less money in the long run.
Total Savings: About $6 per year on energy bills
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats such as Nest, ecobee, and Honeywell work by connecting to your smart phone so that you can adjust the temperatures in your home from anywhere. When you leave the heating or cooling off while you’re away, and turn it on a few minutes before your arrival home, you have the potential to save a ton of money and energy. Plus, the newest programmable thermostats are often more accurate than your regular one.
Total Savings: Up to $150 per year
Weather Strip Your Windows
30-40% of heating and cooling loss comes from windows that haven’t been weather stripped. To make your heating and cooling system more efficient, and to save some money in the meantime, make sure the windows in your kitchen and and bedrooms have been properly sealed. Weather stripping materials cost as little as $5 at your local home improvement store.
Total Savings: About 20% of your heating and cooling bill
Add New Weatherstripping Around Your Door, Too
Three dollars will get you about 17 feet of new weatherstripping from your local home improvement store. Replacing the stripping around your home’s doors can save you on your monthly bills, just like the window tip above.
Total Savings: About 20% of your heating and cooling bill
Run Your Ceiling Fan
According to Energy Star, ceiling fans can be purchased for as little as $50, and can save you about $15 per year on your energy bill. In the winter, running the fan clockwise will recirculate warm air, while in the summertime, the fan can create a windchill effect by running counterclockwise.
Total Savings: About $15 per year
Install a Security System
No matter what kind of neighborhood you live in, installing a home security system can save you big bucks. Home security systems cost only about $30 a month to maintain, and many companies frequently offer deals like free or low-cost installation. It’s said that 83% of potential burglars will skip a home that advertises their security, a fact that can save you thousands of dollars in stolen items. Most home insurance companies also offer a discount for homeowners who have installed security.
Total Savings: About 10% of your annual homeowner’s insurance costs
Insulate Your Windows with Plastic
During the cold winter months, cover your windows with plastic insulator kits like the one sold by 3M. The kits come with double-sided tape that can be used to stick a plastic covering to your window frames. This covering, which can be nearly invisible, will keep cold air from entering your home, and help you save on heating bills. Though most people insulate their windows during the coldest winter months, unused windows can stay covered throughout the year for even bigger savings.
Total Savings: Up to $17 per window in the winter
Add More Insulation to Your Attic
If you have an attic space, adding more insulation could save up to $600 a year on your heating and cooling bills. To see if additional insulation could benefit you, simply measure the existing insulation. If it’s fewer than 11 inches (for fiberglass) or 8 inches (for cellulose), adding more could save you money. A roll of fiberglass-batt insulation can be purchased inexpensively at your local home improvement store. Simply roll it over your existing insulation.
Total Savings: Anywhere from $100 to $600, depending on how much insulation you add
Plant Some Trees
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, planting trees around your house can cut your heating and cooling bills by 25 percent. In the summer, trees planted near windows provide shade for your home’s interior. In the winter, the trees lose their leaves, which allows sunlight to stream through the windows and provide more warmth. To increase your air conditioner’s efficiency by 10%, plant trees so that they shade the conditioner.
Total Savings: 25% on heating and cooling bills
Replace Old Appliances
New appliances can be a chore to purchase, but upgrading your old machines with new models can save you a ton of money. For example, replacing a pre-1994 clothes dryer can save you about $40 a year, while replacing a washing machine that is more than 10 years old can save you about $135 annually. Investing in newer, more efficient appliances can also save on energy and water.
Total Savings: $40 – $135 per year
Plug Your Electronics into a Power Strip
Contrary to popular belief, computers, televisions, and other electronics use less energy to turn on than they do remaining on at all times. Indeed, Energy Star asserts that the average American spends $100 every year to power devices that are turned on or on standby mode. To save this wasted money, plug your devices into a power strip that you can just turn off when you’re not using them.
Total Savings: $100 annually
Clean Your Gutters
Though it doesn’t save you each and every month, cleaning your gutters has the potential to save you thousands over time. Water is a house’s most dangerous enemy. It can cause cracked foundations, leaking roofs, rotten wood fascia, and invite wood-destroying insects. The gutters around your home act as the first defense against these massively expensive issues. Before the rainy season, inspect the exterior of your home, clean your gutters, look for loose shingles on your roof, and repair any minor issues before they become a nightmare.
Total Savings: Thousands, potentially
Shorten the Dryer-Vent Hose
A short dryer-vent hose allows your dryer to work more efficiently. To shorten the hose on your dryer, simply disconnect it from the dryer, vacuum it out to free up any obstructions, and cut it so that it’s just long enough for the dryer to be situated a couple feet from the wall. Not only will this simple task save you on your energy bill, it’ll also allow your dryer to dry your clothes about 20% faster.
Total Savings: About $25 per year
Lower the Thermostat on Your Water Heater
Most water heater thermostats are automatically set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit to cut down on the time in which one has to wait for a hot shower. But lowering this thermostat to 110 to 120 degrees won’t lengthen that wait by much, and it could save you a good chunk of money on your bill.
Total Savings: At least $30 per year
Insulate Hot Water Lines
For about 30 cents per foot, you can insulate your hot water lines and save money on your energy. The inexpensive insulation tubes have a slit along their lengths so that fitting them over the pipes is a breeze. Insulated water lines also help transport hot water to your faucet faster.
Total Savings: About $50 per year
Insulate the Water Heater Too
Just as you can buy insulation tubes for your hot water pipes, you can also purchase an insulating jacket for your hot water heater. The jacket may cost you about $30, but installing it is easy, and it will net you about $15.
Total Savings: An extra $20 to $45 per year
Better Yet, Opt for a Tankless Water Heater
Next time you need to replace your water heater, opt for one of the tankless variety. Though they may cost a little more out of the gate, having a tankless water heater will effectively save you about 20% each water bill. Not only do the waterless tanks last 5-10 years longer than traditional tank heaters, purchasing one will also get you a federal tax rebate come tax season.
Total Savings: About 20% of your water bill
Install a Shower Manager
This nifty battery-operated device can time your showers at five, eight, or eleven minutes. It’s a breeze to install, and will both save you time and cut down on your water use. The initial cost of the Shower Manager is $115 on the official website, but it can save you $200 or more per year on your water bills.
Total Savings: At least $200
Keep Closet Doors Closed
This one may seem too simple, but keeping closets located along an exterior wall closed as much as possible can lower the square footage you’re cooling or heating, thereby saving you money.
Total Savings: About $50 per year
Enroll in Your Energy Provider’s Time-of-Use Plan
If your local energy supplier offers rebates or discounts for using less energy during peak hours, be sure to enroll! Simply running the dishwasher or washing your clothing during non-peak hours (usually at night) can save you big on your monthly bill.
Total Savings: $25 5o $30 on your monthly bill
Hand Wash Some Dishes
Even the newest model of dishwasher uses a ton of water with every load. Lower your water use, and your bill, by hand washing dishes when you can. Even a few times a week can save you on your monthly bill. To be as effective as possible, be sure to fill the sink with the water you’ll need, and try not to use much more than that.
Total Savings: Depends on how often you wash dishes by hand
Replace Air-Conditioning Filters Every Month
Though the general rule of thumb is to replace your air-conditioning filters every 3-4 months, replacing them monthly during the warmer summer months can save you money. Fresh filters will keep air flowing freely, thereby allowing the air conditioning unit to work less.
Total Savings: At least $40 throughout the summer
Cut Down to Only One Refrigerator
If you’re one of those households that keeps an additional refrigerator in the basement or garage, consider getting rid of it. Refrigerators are one of the most expensive appliances. An extra fridge — especially one that is more than 10 years old — is likely only serving to sap money and energy.
Total Savings: More than $200 per year
Replace Your Phone Line with a magicJack
Replacing your home phone line with a magicJack can turn your expensive phone plan into a free phone service. The magicJack itself can be purchased for about $40. Plug it into your computer’s USB port to use your broadband access as a phone line.
Total Savings: $400 or more per year
Seal All the Leaks
According to the National Resources Defense Council, the average household contains enough leaks to equal a three-foot-by-three-foot hole in the wall. Think about how much air can escape through a hole that size, and you’ll have an idea of how much money you’re unwittingly wasting. You can purchase caulk and spray foam for about $5 per container. Use them to seal the cracks in your doors, windows, and vents, etc. To identify the leaks, purchase a draft detector (Black & Decker makes an affordable one) or wait for a windy day to detect them yourself.
Total Savings: Upwards of $100 per year
Raise the Deductible on Your Homeowner’s Insurance
Raising your deductible from $200 to $1,000 (for example) can save you a large amount on your annual insurance bill. Though this will cost you more money if you need to make a claim, having a higher deductible may also dissuade you from making a measly claim that can send your rates soaring.
Total Savings: Varies, but average of about $200
Install Solar Powered Garden Lights
Instead of keeping your porch light on all day in advance of returning home after dark, install solar power lights. A variety of lights are available at your local home improvement store, and most offer about 10 hours of nighttime brightness.
Total Savings: About $10 off your monthly bill
Be Smarter About Laundry
Though you may be tempted to do laundry as frequently as possible to avoid clothing piling up, you can save lots of water and money by only doing full loads of laundry. Using cold or warm water can also save you some. To cut down even further on laundry-related bills, hang your clothes to dry when possible, instead of running the dryer.
Total Savings: Varies, depending on amount of laundry
Install a Sink Filter
Save some money and do your part to save the earth by installing a sink filter in lieu of purchasing bottled water. The filter will remove any harmful substances from your tap water, and ensure it’s fit to drink.
Total Savings: A family of four can potentially save up to $2,900 per year by drinking from the tap instead of bottles