It’s time to start planning home improvements that can save you money and increase the value of your home. While you likely have a few exciting remodeling projects planned, it’s important to also incorporate cost-saving upgrades like energy-efficient appliances and insulation, smart home technologies and water-conserving landscaping that will help you reach your financial goals for years to come. If you want to decrease your utility bills, cut home service costs and invest in the long-term value of your property, try these eight budget-friendly home improvement projects.
1. Rethink Landscaping
According to the Chicago Tribune, the average American spends over 70 hours a year on lawn care and at least $347 a year on lawn and gardening products, not including the cost of watering. Whether your yard is large or small, you’d probably love to cut costs and lessen your environmental impact by being smart about landscaping. Consider hiring an irrigation expert to re-assess how you’re watering your lawn and overhaul your sprinkler or drip hose system to increase efficiency. Xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that eliminates the need for supplemental watering, is a great alternative to a lawn. If you still crave the traditional green patch of lawn, fake grass products are becoming more and more popular and are an affordable option that cut down on maintenance and keep your lawn looking great year-round.
2. Increase Home Safety & Security
Many home owners aren’t aware of how much money they can save on their home insurance premiums by making simple, affordable improvements to their home like installing a home security system. By making your home safer from break-ins, fire damage and natural disasters, you can significantly reduce your liability and give yourself peace of mind. Install storm shutters, reinforce your roof, invest in heavy-duty gutters and downspouts and update your carbon monoxide and fire alarms.
3. Improve Insulation
Fixing drafts and insulating doors, floors and walls can save you tons of money on your monthly utility bills and keep you more comfortable in your home. The easiest solution is to upgrade your weather stripping, door skirts and install foam gaskets behind light switches and outlets. Some older homes may benefit greatly from insulating existing stud cavities with injection foam or other types of insulation that can be installed after home construction. While this project is often done in the fall, it’s a shame to wait. These type of improvements not only save you money on your heating bill in colder months, but also help to keep precious cool air from escaping your home in spring and summer.
4. Smart Heating & Cooling
Connected Thermostats like Nest, Lyric and Ecobee3 conserve energy by learning your heating and cooling preferences and automatically adjusting to keep your home comfortable year-round. They can be conveniently controlled from your smart phone and are very affordable. Smart thermostats have an auto-scheduling feature that allows users to decrease the heating or cooling of their home while they’re asleep or away. Many also include a geo-fencing technology that uses your smart phone to recognize when you’re near your home and anticipate your arrival by adjusting the temperature to your preferences. By adapting the temperature of your home often, these thermostats can cut your energy consumption by up to 15%.
5. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances
One of the easiest ways to cut water and electricity costs is to invest in an energy efficient washer, dryer, dishwasher or refrigerator. While you pay more initially for energy-conserving models, they’re a rewarding long-term investment and pay for themselves over time. ENERGY STAR certified appliances are generally a great place to start if you aren’t familiar with how to choose the best appliances for your home. They offer convenient guides to help you compare features based on your needs.
6. Update Plumbing Fixtures
According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family spends $1,100 per year in water costs, but can save $350 by retrofitting fixtures. Low-flow sink faucets, shower heads and toilets use a more efficient type of high-pressure aerator that use less water, but delivers the same water pressure and performance. Low-flow fixtures are relatively quick and easy to install and you could even qualify for a rebate if you purchase an EPA-approved WaterSense fixture. If you don’t want to buy new fixtures, you can also convert many existing faucets or shower heads by incorporating a more efficient aerator, which only costs around $10 at most improvement stores.
7. Perform Routine Maintenance & Inspections
Preventing damage to your home before it happens is a rewarding way to save money and guarantees your property will hold its value for years to come. Conduct a yearly maintenance inspection of your home, checking critical areas like the roof, foundation, wiring and plumbing for issues. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, always consult a professional. It’s less expensive to address a problem quickly than waiting until it gets serious and requires extensive materials and labor to repair.
8. Incorporate Renewable Energy
Incorporating alternative energy sources to power your home not only saves you money, but also decreases your carbon footprint and helps reduce environmental pollution. The cost of installing solar panels has dramatically decreased in recent years. Many companies now offer convenient leasing programs that help to lessen your initial investment and provide free maintenance. Solar panel installation calculators can help you understand if your home is a good candidate for solar based on the design features and size of your home, location and weather patterns in your area.
We all want our home to be a place of beauty and a source of pride, but it’s also important to keep an eye on the bottom line and save as much money as possible on everyday costs. Whether you’re saving for your next home renovation or just want to re-evaluate your yearly budget, these eight practical home improvements can help you save money for years to come.