If you are a homeowner, then you know that maintaining your house can be expensive. Many first time home buyers end up 'house poor' - they have a big beautiful house that they can barely afford to keep up with. That's why if you're like us your always looking for simple and cost effective ways to reduce your monthly home costs. The good new is, there are a lot of little things you can do to save money every month. That means you don't have to give up date nights with your significant other just to be a home owner. Below is a list of little tips and tricks you can do right away without spending much money. In fact, we guarantee that you will save money with the tips and tricks below. Be sure to share the list with your friends so they can benefit as well.
Get Rid of Cable
Many homeowners would just die at the thought of getting rid of cable but think about how much it costs versus how much television you watch. Can you honestly say that you get $100 (or more) of entertainment value from cable tv? We didn’t think so. That’s why it’s time to cut the cable and save yourself some money. A high-quality digital antenna can pull in all your local stations, and most of us have Prime Video or Netflix to catch plenty of favorite programming. Really, cable tv is just a waste of money. Take that money and go somewhere fun.
Find A Better Mortgage Rate
Many home buyers purchased their homes as sub-prime borrowers or did not qualify for the best rates available because they didn't have a big down payment. Once you have purchased your first home and built more credit or paid down debt, it's time to shop around and see if you qualify for a better rate by refinancing. Just a percentage point or two on your rate could save you hundreds of dollars a month. Many borrowers will qualify for a refinance after just a year of on time payments. Just be sure to consider all costs involved when shopping for a refinance. Fees can vary and if you are not careful, much of the savings can be negated by fees. If you’re ready to refinance your home, learn more about the process by clicking here.
Consolidate Debt Into One Single Payment
Debt consolidation could be a way for you to lower your total monthly payments. Lenders will provide you a lump sum to payoff other debts, like credit cards, and by combining all of your debts you can get lower interests rates. Therefore, more of the money you pay every month is actually going towards paying off the balance of your debt. If you think this might be an option for you, keep in mind that many lenders will require that you close paid off accounts. This guarantees that you will not rack up additional debt making it hard to pay off their loan. Really, this is a good way to gain financial control of your expenses.
Lower the Temperature on your Water Heater
We all love a nice hot shower in the morning, but many homeowners set the temperature on their water heaters way too high and it could be costing you money. The optimum temperature for most every household need is 120 degrees, so make sure you set your temperature at 120 (or lower) to save money and avoid scalding yourself or the kids with water that is too hot.
Check Your Attic Insulation
Heating and cooling costs are one of the things a lot of new homeowners under budget for when buying a new home. Going from an apartment to a larger house means your heating and cooling costs will be significantly more expensive. One thing you can do to keep energy costs down is to make sure your home has enough insulation. While you can't tear down walls to add insulation, you can peek into your attic and make sure all that air isn't escaping. Most areas of the United States call for at least six inches of insulation, and if you live in a colder climate even more may be needed. Insulation can be a DIY project as many home improvement stores offer free or low-cost machines that allow you to add blown in type insulation to you attic. The Department of Energy provides a free guide on attic insulation specifying how much you should have depending on where you live. Many states even offer financial incentives, up to a 75% refund in some areas, helping to lower the costs of adding insulation to your house.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
Unless it's not functioning properly, a new home thermostat will not directly save you money on heating and cooling costs. What a new thermostat can do is help you to better control your house temperature. Many homeowners turn their thermostat on and off as they leave the house or come home from work. The problem is sometimes you forget and that means the HVAC system is working all day - when no one is home - costing you money. Smart thermostats like Nest and Ecobee allow you to dial in the perfect temperature when home, and remotely turn off the system via a phone or desktop app. This can add up to significant savings over the course of a year. Nest even monitors your usage and tells you when you've used less energy than before and compares your usage to others in your area. Many utility companies offer rebates that help keep the cost of a thermostat upgrade reasonable. We were able to get a $25 rebate on ours. Check the Nest Website to see if you qualify for a rebate.
Install A Home Alarm or Security System
Homes without some sort of home security are more likely to be targeted by burglars and be broken into. Installing a home alarm like ones offered by ADT are a good step in the right direction for those who like the comfort of knowing that someone will be alerted in the event their home is broken into. What we don’t like though is the setup fee and monthly costs. Not to mention, the security guard is most likely to arrive too late to do much of anything. We think a better option is a motion activated security system with cameras. Home security systems like Blink require an upfront cost, but the prices have dropped and made a true home surveillance system affordable to most every homeowner. The added benefit to a system like Blink is that you will get alerts on your phone if motion is detected. You also will have a recorded video of the burglar to provide to police which may help in apprehending the criminal. We talked about the Blink camera system in our Smart Home Guide and can honestly say it gives you the best bang for your buck. If you can afford it, there are more feature rich options though. An added benefit of installing a home alarm or security system is that many insurance companies will discount the cost of home insurance when a system is in place. These discounts range between 10-20%. If your curious about what burglars look for when choosing a home to target read our article Prevent Your Home From Being Burglarized.
Replace Old Light Bulbs with LED’s
LED lighting is as much as 90% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and they last for years. LED's have a lifespan of up to 60,000 hours compared to around 1,500 hours for most incandescent bulbs which means you will eventually recoup your upfront costs and save money in the long run. Switching just the five most used lights in your home can reduce your electric bill by $40 per year. We were able to get a free set of energy efficient bulbs from our electric company. Check your local energy supplier and see if they offer similar programs.