12 Ways Homeowners Waste Money — And How Not To

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What do you do when your monthly budget for home expenses doesn’t leave much for your savings plan? How about when some of those expenses start creeping up a few dollars here and there, but your income hasn’t budged?

Perhaps worst of all, how can you avoid astronomical repair or replacement bills when home components fail?

To start, look at typical ways homeowners waste money and what you can do to avoid these mistakes. Then find solutions that can save you more than they cost to put into practice, and take a look at how you can spend a little in advance to save a lot in the long run.

Tips To Stop Wasting Money on Your House

Here are two major areas of waste related to your home — and 10 ways you can plug the slow money leaks as well as avoid future gushers.

Poor Energy Efficiency

You may not be in a position financially to install solar panels or a geothermal heat exchanger. But your utility company may offer incentives or rebates to offset the expense of making energy upgrades. The following free and low-cost strategies can help reduce your utility bills.

  1. Adjust your thermostat settings. By turning back your thermostat 7-10 degrees for at least eight hours per day, you may save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling costs. This costs you nothing to implement.
  2. Turn off lights and computers when not in use. Unplug chargers, too. They drain energy even when nothing is plugged into them.
  3. Switch to LED light bulbs. While these bulbs cost more than what you’re probably accustomed to paying for incandescent bulbs, they last much longer and reduce energy use by up to 75%.
  4. Install ceiling fans. Fans make you feel cooler, so you might be able to do without air conditioning in some climates. In others, you may reduce energy consumption by keeping your thermostat set a few degrees higher when the AC is running. Be sure to turn fans off when no one is in the room.
  5. Save energy when cooking. Your microwave uses 80% less energy than your regular oven does. Pressure cookers reduce cooking times.
  6. Vacuum your refrigerator coils. Twice a year is recommended, more if you have shedding pets. Dust-covered coils can reduce your refrigerator’s efficiency by 30%.
  7. Do laundry with energy efficiency in mind. As with the dishwasher, run full loads. Cold water works as well as hot with today’s detergents. Hang the clothes out to air dry. If you use a dryer, clean the lint trap each time.
  8. Make effective use of natural light during the day. If you can’t add energy-efficient windows or full skylights, light tubes installed in the roof transmit, amplify and diffuse sunlight into your rooms during the day. Awnings or solar-filtering shades let in light while controlling heat gain. Window films also reduce heat loss in winter.
  9. Replace worn weather stripping. Sealing air leaks around windows and doors blocks heat from leaving and entering your home.
  10. Buy ENERGY STAR appliances. When replacing old appliances, choose the most energy-efficient models. If you want to save money, look instead for coupons and sales, and pass up unnecessary extended service warranties.

Poor Home Maintenance

If money or time is tight, you might be tempted to skip some monthly or seasonal maintenance chores. The following maintenance tasks protect some of your most expensive home systems and components from failing catastrophically, so you shouldn’t ignore them.

  1. Service the furnace and air conditioning system. When your furnace fails in January or your central air conditioning dies in August, you could be faced with a bigger repair or replacement bill long before you’d planned for that expense. Changing your filters every 1-3 months is a relatively inexpensive way to prevent your systems from working so hard that they conk out before their time. In addition, shop around for a plan from an HVAC service company to inspect and maintain both your heating and cooling systems annually in advance of the months you need the heat and AC functioning in peak condition.
  2. Inspect the roof and clean gutters and downspouts. Visually inspecting your roof from the ground for loose or curling shingles or having a professional roofing company do a more thorough examination of the flashings may prevent future leaks. The same goes for gutters and downspouts clogged with debris. Leaks may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy — but not necessarily if the insurance company determines they were caused by lack of proper maintenance. Leaks may not be visible until the damage is done to your ceilings, walls and floors. Even worse, mold growth may require costly professional remediation. Overflowing gutters can lead to ice dams on the roof, a cause of roof leaks, as well as cracks in your foundation leading to bigger expenses you definitely want to prevent.