Basic Home Improvements that Can Save You Money

Basic home maintenance can be a real drag, but this is what we have to do to keep the house from falling down around our ears. Most of us want improvements like a beautiful screened patio, or comfy den with fireplace. Stuff we can see and touch. I like improvements that save me money in the future. Here are some good examples.

Attic insulation

Newer homes are generally well insulated, but if your home is more than a few years old it may pay to take a look in the attic. If you have six inches or less of fluffy insulation it might be a good idea to roll another layer on over the old. Be sure to use insulation with no vapor barrier. If there is little room to crawl you can have loose insulation blown in. The savings in air conditioning costs for an older home like mine is dramatic.

Attic ventilation

Attic ventilation starts with soffit vents and ends with gable, ridge, or roof vents at high points. The idea with passive ventilation is to move cooler air from low to high and out the attic as it heats. Thermostatically controlled fans can provide active ventilation. You’ll save money and the home will be more comfortable.

Storm windows

Even if you have what we call “insulated” double pane windows, your home may be a candidate for good quality storm windows. Condensation or drafts are key factors to watch for. You may not realize you have drafts but look for a very fine powder of dust at joints. Thermal block drapes can help, though I like to open the drapes during the day.

Water heater

If you’ve got an old water heater take a close look at it. Newer properly sized water heaters can easily save you 10 to 20 percent on operating costs. Considering an estimated water heater life at 13 years the operating costs can range from $4 thousand to over $11 thousand. That’s pretty good money to me.

Major appliances

The federal government now mandates efficiency standards for major appliances. Why they would need to I don’t know. It’s in our own best interest to save money with more efficient appliances. Replace a 1980 refrigerator and you can save $100 a year on operating costs. Energy Star rated refrigerators have to be 20 percent more efficient than minimum government standards. Some refrigerators are up to 63 percent more efficient. That can save big money.

Air conditioning equipment

Heating and cooling accounts for up to 56 percent of electricity costs in a home. If your unit is 10 years old you’re ripe for an upgrade. Regular maintenance such as changing filters and cleaning coils can help until you are able to relace old equipment. I’ve done a combination of all the items listed and see a monthly savings of more than $100.

Landscaping

How can landscaping save money? By shading the home in the summer. Choose the right plants and the leaves will fall in the winter which allows the sun to heat the home. This is a form of passive solar energy.

Trellis, awnings, covers

Once again we save money by shading the home. I live in a very hot state so cooling is my biggest worry.

Well, there you have a list of money saving ideas. I’m sure you can come up with many more. This is just the start. I bet we can cut our total electric bills by 50 percent. I’ve cut 30 percent this year alone and the home is more comfortable.

More from Gerald:

How to Add a Mantel to a Fireplace

Fix the Falling Towel Bar

For the Home Tool Box: Wood Chisels

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