Ways to Save Money While Maintaining and Improving Your Home
As an adult, single or married, with or without children, you constantly need to work on your finances. You need to make sure you have enough money to survive, pay your bills, and maybe pay off your debts. Aside from monthly food expenses, you also need to pay your electricity bill and other utility bills. The expenses are endless. You are lucky if you still have some money left for your savings.
Owning a home can be expensive, and as a responsible homeowner, you need to set aside money for home renovations, repairs, and maintenance. However, home renovation and improvements need not be expensive. In fact, there are several ways that you can save money while maintaining and improving your home.
This book, 99 Things Every Homeowner Must Know: Ways to Save Money While Maintaining and Improving Your Home, will help you become a better homeowner. It contains tips and guides on how to do home repair, improvements, and maintenance in cost-effective ways.
Here are some of the topics covered in this book:
- Things you must do to save money on electricity and water bills
- How to save money on your old appliances and extra home renovation materials
- Methods to maintain your appliances and save money in the long run
- Money-saving ideas; and
- A lot of tips and tricks to save money on home improvement and renovations
- Know your budget
- Pay in cash as often as possible
- Shop around; do comparison shopping
- Check your local thrift stores
- Know the perfect time to make big purchases
- Try selling old fixtures
- Think about long-term goals, not short-term gains
- Buy according to what is useful and meaningful, not according to trends
- Ask for a discount from everyone, everywhere
- Flexibility is important
- Make home improvements that give a decent return on investment
- Donate your trash; get a tax deduction
- Don’t be afraid to rent
- Save money by saving leftover materials
- Buy materials and labor separately
- Keep your tools and workspace organized
- Check the scratch and dent section regularly
- Big box stores are sometimes a good place to go
- Conduct a home energy audit
- A programmable thermostat is key
- Install an energy-efficient ceiling fan
- Reverse ceiling fans really work
- Install weather stripping
- Add more insulation to your windows
- Use expanding foam filler for larger gaps
- Seal HVAC ducts properly
- Add insulation to your water heater and pipes
- Add attic insulation
- Set up charging stations with power bars
- Do not forget to unplug electronics
- Wash in warm water, Rinse in cold
- Minimize the use of the dishwasher
- Bathroom and toilet smart hacks
- Water heater timer is also useful
- Keep your freezer full
- Change your HVAC filters regularly
- Clean your dryer vent for improved efficiency
- Make sure your air conditioner drains well
- Regularly clean your air conditioner
- Clean and drain your humidifier
- Flush and clean your hot water heater
- Regularly check your toilets for leaks
- Check for and repair faucet leaks
- Don’t forget to check your washing machine lines
- Regularly clean your washing machine
- Regularly check your roof
- Check roof flashing
- Caulk it
- Clean the gutters
- Extend your downspouts
- Keep your fridge coils clean
- Replace your fridge door seal
- Deal with basement dampness
- Check the outside of your house
- Check and fix dry rot
- Check for potential termite damage
- Inspect fire extinguishers regularly
- Replace worn and old gutter
- Use a low-flow showerhead
- Use energy-efficient appliances
- Install a smart sprinkler system
- Repair small issues as soon as possible
- Regularly change furnace filters
- Do not ignore the warning lights
- Ditch the wood paneling
- Let go of a failing thermostat
- Mix high- and low-end materials
- Bring natural light without adding more windows
- Take care of small jobs
- Install solar panels
- Install low-flow toilet and reduce water usage
- Plant trees
- Repurpose used furniture
- Create your own household cleaners
- Refinish your own hardwood
- Install a clothesline
- Opt for a low-cost landscape
- Do not spend too much on wall preparation
- Don’t move the kitchen sink
- Hire the right help
- Enjoy deals at Amazon Warehouse
- Shut off the main water valve, especially before vacation
- Use leftover paint
- Don’t rush the home renovation and improvement process
- Use dryer balls
- Consider going tankless
- Install a leak detector
- Ditch the incandescent lights
- Opt for smart security devices
- Consider Low-E windows or window film
- Increase efficiency, not the size
- Get the right tools
- Buy building supplies at auction
- Say goodbye to laminate floors
- Repair and reglaze windows
- Repurpose old containers and jars
- Repurpose old clothes
- Grow your own vegetables
- Take care of your lawn yourself
Know your budget
One basic method to save money is to have a budget and, of course, stick to it. This is very important, especially if you are planning to do some home renovations. Make sure you have enough funds for the project. Your budget should include all unexpected costs, including the costs of staying at a hotel or eating out while the renovation is ongoing.
Smart tip: Budgeting may sound so easy, but it is not; it requires research. Plan your budget before lifting a hammer.
Pay in cash as often as possible
You will save a lot of money if you are paying in cash, especially if you are doing home renovations. I know it’s not as simple as it sounds, but if possible, avoid taking a loan because you will be paying for the interest. This is why it is important to plan and know your budget before starting any projects at home or making major purchases.
Smart tip: Avoid using your credit card if you can’t pay it off immediately.
Shop around; do comparison shopping
To save money on home renovations and improvements, it is preferable to shop around and check for the best deals. Doing comparison shopping is not difficult at all in modern times. You can easily and quickly compare prices online.
Smart tip: Download a barcode scanner to get the best prices on whatever you are buying.
Check your local thrift stores
If you are a smart buyer, thrift stores are your best friends. If you are doing home renovations, check if there are resale stores or thrift stores that specialize in home renovations nearby. Who knows? You might find some great treasures there.
Smart tip: Check local thrift stores first.
Know the perfect time to make big purchases
Yes, you read it right! There is always a perfect time for everything. There are specific times of the year when it is best to purchase big-ticket items. There are a lot of good deals around holidays, like Labor Day, Black Friday and Memorial Day. Be patient enough to wait for the perfect time. For example, the ideal time to buy lawn care items and outdoor furniture is the end of summer.
Smart tip: Purchase power tools and electronics on Black Friday. You’ll save a lot!
Try selling old fixtures
If you are planning to have home renovations or want to get rid of old furniture and fixtures, try selling them. You can post them online on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. Some people might be interested in your old stuff. If nobody wants your stuff, bring metal items to the scrapyard and get extra cash.
Smart tip: If you don’t need extra money or don’t want to sell old stuff, donate it.
Think about long-term goals, not short-term gains
You have to think long-term when it comes to home remodeling or renovations. Know when to buy cheap or expensive materials. For example, if a paint job on unfinished material will cost you 50% more than buying pre-painted materials, then buy the pre-painted materials. It will not only save you money, but it will also save you time.
Smart tip: Opt for pre-primed and pre-painted clapboard siding over unfinished siding.
Buy according to what is useful and meaningful, not according to trends
Sometimes you might be tempted to buy something because other people have it in their houses. Most of the time, you won’t even need these things, so after a few days, you might just put them in the storage room and let them accumulate dust. Knowing to buy what is useful, and not what is trending, can save you a lot of money.
Smart tip: Before you plan on buying something, you need to identify if it is a need or just a want. Some would suggest putting off your desire to purchase for at least one month. Most of the time, your desire will be gone after that.
Ask for a discount from everyone, everywhere
Ask for discounts whenever possible and save a lot of money at the end of the day. Most stores give discounts to contractors, so why shouldn’t you get the same privilege? You could also use your connections to enjoy a significant price drop.
Smart tip: Ask for help from a contractor friend or have subcontractors make the purchase for you.
Flexibility is important
Sometimes, things will take an unexpected turn. It’s nice to remind yourself that sometimes you can’t get exactly what you want. So, you need to be flexible. If the furniture or appliances that you are planning to buy cost more than expected, that means you need to cut other items from your budget to make up for it.
Smart tip: Planning and flexibility are vital. Always have a Plan B.
Make home improvements that give a decent return on investment
Only do home renovations if they provide additional value to your home. Do you really need to get a new bathroom or replace your hardwood floors? Some improvements bring more value than others. Plan wisely.
Smart tip: Do not buy things that are unnecessary or that you are not planning to use long-term. They are a total waste of money.
Donate your trash; get a tax deduction
Before you begin remodeling your home, carefully remove your fixtures and donate them. Maybe you want to donate your cabinets, tub, and sink. Aside from helping a good cause, you can also get a charitable tax credit for the donation. By doing this, you actually save two things — space in the landfill and a little bit of your soul.
Smart tip: Find a Habitat for Humanity affiliate near you to help you with this donation.
Don’t be afraid to rent
If you are planning to use a specific tool once or twice only for the entire home renovation project, it is preferable to rent instead of buy. It does not always make sense to buy a brand-new tool or piece of equipment. Also, if you are going to rent highly-efficient, professional-grade tools, you can finish your project more quickly.
Smart tip: Another option is to look for used tools online or at yard sales.
Save money by saving leftover materials
Make it a habit to keep leftover materials once the home improvement project is done. You’ll save a few extra dollars from leftover materials like small hardware leftovers, small pieces of wood, and expensive hardwood. Store all leftovers properly for future use.
Smart tip: Store leftover bolts, screws, and small-sized hardware in small plastic food containers.
Buy materials and labor separately
Sometimes, it is better to shop for materials separately rather than paying the mark-up prices the contractor charges you for using the materials they provide. For materials like tiles and lumber, and appliances like air conditioners, it is better to buy them at a warehouse or discount store.
Smart tip: Make sure to discuss any technical requirements with your contractor before buying the materials.
Keep your tools and workspace organized
A clean workspace will motivate you to work, and a well-organized workspace will prevent you from purchasing duplicate materials and tools. Imagine a chaotic workspace where you can’t find the tool you need. You may not even remember if you have that tool and end up just buying a new one to save time. Invest in pegboard so you can hang your tools on it.
Smart tip: If you want to expand your inventory of tools, make sure to create a new space for them to keep your workspace clean and organized.
Check the scratch and dent section regularly
The scratch and dent section of a hardware store is one place to go if you want to save a lot of money on tools and appliances. These tools and appliances are slightly damaged, but they still function well. The scratch and dent section is also a great place to check out if you are looking for affordable vanities and lighting. Yes, it is a gamble, and the right timing is the key.
Smart tip: Examine tools closely, make sure they are working properly, and don’t forget to check the price.
Big box stores are sometimes a good place to go
Some people do not like the idea of shopping at big box stores. They prefer to shop at local businesses. However, if you are doing a home improvement project, big box stores can save you a lot of money, especially if you want to purchase a TV, cabinets, or other household items.
Smart tip: Use coupons to save even more.
Conduct a home energy audit
Saving energy at home is probably the most important thing you should look into if you want to save money. Conducting home energy audits will help you determine where you are using the most energy, allowing you to address the high-priority problems first. You can do the energy audit yourself or hire an energy auditing company.
Smart tip: Doing the home energy audit yourself is not difficult. The U.S. Department of Energy offers helpful information on DIY home energy audits, and there are also a lot of DIY videos available online.
A programmable thermostat is key
Programmable thermostats are cost-effective. They will help you reduce your energy consumption at home. With programmable thermostats, you can easily adjust the temperature to what is comfortable for you. You can also create a schedule that will automatically make the room cold or warm whether you are at home or not.
Smart tip: It would be nice to install a programmable thermostat with the latest technology. Most of the latest thermostats are controllable through smartphone apps.
Install an energy-efficient ceiling fan
Save money on heating and cooling by installing an energy-efficient ceiling fan. These ceiling fans can help you feel cooler on warmer days, but they can also push the heat down to the floor during the winter months.
Smart tip: Ceiling fans are complicated to install. If you are not confident enough to do it yourself, it is advisable to hire an electrician.
Reverse ceiling fans really work
Installing ceiling fans will help you save energy at home. Help your cooling system run more efficiently by reversing your ceiling fans. It will shift cooler air from below and allow more air movement throughout the room. Also, you can easily turn the ceiling fans on and off, giving you more control over your energy costs.
Smart tip: Use ceiling fans that have a small switch at the base or close to the motor house. The switch allows you to change the direction of the fans easily.
Install weather stripping
Most doors and windows come with weather stripping. It covers the gaps without compromising the ability of the door to shut and open properly. If your door and windows don’t have weather stripping yet, install a sufficient amount of weather stripping. Also, don’t forget to check and redo it regularly.
Smart tip: Weather stripping is not only intended for doors and windows, but it can also be used on drafty areas like inside-to-outside gaps.
Add more insulation to your windows
Save money by adding extra insulation to your windows during cold weather. The window insulation can help maintain a warmer temperature inside your house.
There are a few ways to do it effectively, depending on the materials used. You can use clear window insulation for efficient, triple-pane windows.
Smart tip: Cellular shades look nice, and they are more energy-efficient. They also come with a blackout option.
Use expanding foam filler for larger gaps
Insulation is important to save money on heating and cooling. For gaps that are about 1/2 inch or larger, expanding foam fillers are preferable. Expanding foam insulation is a great option. However, it can be messy. Expanding foam fillers are a good option to fill gaps in pipes, behind the dishwasher, and in other areas.
Smart tip: Using softer window and door foam is highly recommended if you are insulating around windows and doors as it is easier to control and only expands a bit. Do not use expanding foam fillers unless you have to address large gap issues.
Seal HVAC ducts properly
Because of holes, lack of insulation, and poor connections, some homes lose a lot of air from the HVAC, which ends up being more costly. It is advisable to have the HVAC ducts properly sealed to avoid leaks.
Smart tip: There are two easy ways to effectively seal HVAC ducts: through duct sealing tape or duct sealant. The sealing tape option is cheaper and much quicker to do, but it is less durable than duct sealant.
Add insulation to your water heater and pipes
One important energy-saving project you should look into is insulating your water heater and pipes. You can easily determine when it needs insulation by checking if it feels warm on the outside. The good news is you can easily do this project by yourself.
Smart tip: Purchase affordable pre-cut fiberglass insulation and secure the pipe with tape or wire.
Add attic insulation
To save money, you should add insulation to your attic. The purpose of this is to slow the transfer of heat from the outside to the inside and vice versa. When adding insulation, you should think about R-value, which refers to the resistance level of the insulation.
Smart tip: Once opened, insulation material will expand. Make sure to keep it securely wrapped until you are ready to start on your insulation project.
Set up charging stations with power bars
Electronic devices, when plugged in (even when turned off), still draw power. They will not use up a lot, but over time, it could add up to big bucks. If your family members need to charge multiple devices, set up a charging station with power bars. They can easily turn off or unplug everything at once. The power bars will help reduce power leakage.
Smart tip: Set up a few charging stations in the house — the kitchen, living room, office… wherever the most convenient location is for you.
Do not forget to unplug electronics
You should make it a habit to unplug electronics when they are not in use, especially the computer, TV, and other equipment. It is also ideal to use surge protector power strips on your electronics and appliances to prevent power surges.
Smart tip: Use a power strip that also has auto-switching technology. This automatically turns off devices that are not in use.
Wash in warm water, rinse in cold
When doing laundry, you need to use the proper water temperature when you wash your clothes, and when you rinse them. Using warm water to wash clothes is best because it dissolves powdered detergents easily, and you can save energy compared to using hot water. Cold water works best for rinsing clothes because it makes them less likely to shrink or fade, which ruins them.
Smart tip: Clothes made out of man-made fabrics such as nylon, polyester, spandex, and rayon blends, or lightly soiled clothes, are most effective when cleaned with warm water. Delicate fibers such as lace and silk are cleaned most effectively using cold water.
Minimize your use of the dishwasher
Using a dishwasher is a great help if you want to save time scrubbing dishes. However, you have to consider that it can also use a lot of water. Use your dishwasher efficiently. Make sure to only run your dishwasher when it is completely full.
Smart tip: If you want to buy a new dishwasher, make sure it is Energy Star qualified.
Bathroom and toilet smart hacks
You can save a significant amount on your water bill if you know a few smart hacks for your bathroom. Aside from using a low-flow showerhead, you should also regularly check your bathroom and toilet for leaks.
Smart tip: Place a plastic container filled with about 30 ounces of water in your toilet tank. The bottle will replace the water and allow you to save 30 ounces of water with every flush.
A water heater timer is also useful
A water heater timer allows you to set a time for when to activate and deactivate your water heater each day. Each home has different water heating requirements; thus, you have to program the device based on your needs at home.
Smart tip: Use an automatic water shut-off system that turns off if the sensor detects water (a possible leak), or when the indoor temperature falls below a certain level.
Keep your freezer full
Freezers work more efficiently when they are fairly full. Taking up more space in your freezer will help it stay cold when you are opening and closing it.
Smart tip: If you don’t have enough stuff to fill your freezer, put some plastic jugs with water, or put some bottled water in it to take up space.
Change your HVAC filters regularly
If your HVAC filters are clean, your system will function efficiently. Thus, make it a habit to regularly check and change your filters.
Smart tip: Depending on how much you are using your HVAC, you should change the filters once every two or three months.
Clean your dryer vent for improved efficiency
After your fridge, the dryer is considered to be the second most energy-efficient appliance in the home. To maintain its energy efficiency, you should clean your dryer vent regularly and remove the lint buildup in the dryer.
Smart tip: Place your clothes dryer in a warmer part of your home so the dryer won’t need to work harder to do its job.
Make sure your air conditioner drains well
One way to avoid problems with your air conditioner is to make sure that it drains well. The condenser should efficiently funnel water out, away from the air conditioning unit, and away from your walls. A clogged drain can cause condensation to back up.
Smart tip: If you are dealing with water, make sure the line is not directed to the walls and the carpet.
Regularly clean your air conditioner
This is very obvious. One way to save energy and to make sure that your air conditioning unit functions efficiently is to do regular cleaning. Don’t wait for the annual maintenance visit. It is best to clean your air conditioner in the spring before you turn it on.
Smart tip: Help your air conditioner function efficiently by keeping debris and bushes away from the condenser coils.
Clean and drain your humidifier
Humidifiers are great at making your home more comfortable during the winter. However, they also need proper and regular maintenance. You need to clean and drain them periodically to keep mildew and mold from forming.
Smart tip: The perfect time to do the cleaning and draining is during the summer because it is more humid than in the winter months. After draining and cleaning, change the evaporation pad too.
Flush and clean your hot water heater
Clean your hot water heater at least once a year. No matter how clean your water is, sediments will settle at the bottom of the heater over time. If it remains unattended, it will cause issues down the road, and it will be more expensive for you to fix these issues.
Smart tip: Cleaning electric or gas water heaters is the same. However, with an electric heater, you need to unplug it and cut off the electricity. Be careful — you are dealing with very hot water.
Regularly check your toilets for leaks
By regularly checking your toilets for leaks, you can save a huge sum of money. Check the pipes for rust and cracks, and adjust the nut that secures the handle to the toilet. If you find a leak, make sure to turn off the water source so that you can fix the toilet without wasting any more water.
Smart tip: A good way to check your toilets for leaks is by drawing a line at the water level of the tank using a marker. If the water is below the line after 30 minutes, there is probably a water leak.
Check for and repair faucet leaks
Making sure that there are no leaky faucets is one way to save water. These leaks often occur in the spout and base of the faucet. Putting a dry paper near the faucet will help you determine if there is a leak. Changing the cartridge, replacing worn-out parts, and adding Teflon tape on the connections will fix the leaks.
Smart tip: Before you repair a leaky faucet, cutting off the supply from the mainline will prevent unnecessary waste of water.
Don’t forget to check your washing machine lines
Checking your washing machine lines can help you avoid breakdowns and save you a lot of money. Start a quick wash and watch the hoses while the machine goes through the wash and rinse cycles. During the draining cycle, watch the drain hose as well. If you find a leak, turn off the washing machine.
Smart tip: If you find tears in the hose, you can use tape to cover them temporarily. Then replace the torn hose with a new and better steel-braided hose, which is much more leak-resistant, as soon as possible.
Regularly clean your washing machine
Whether you have a top-loading or front-loading machine, you should clean your unit regularly. Mold and mildew may build up in a front-loading washing machine due to water in the door seal. Avoid more serious issues in the future by cleaning it regularly.
Smart tip: After each load, leave the machine open to dry and wipe the inside of the washing machine every couple of loads.
Regularly check your roof
It is important to inspect your roof regularly to make sure that you can fix any issues before you start having leaks. Even if you are not an expert, you can learn to spot areas that may cause potential trouble.
Smart tip: Asphalt shingles need to be replaced when the edges start to curl. Also, when inspecting your roof, make sure to check the flashing and gutters as well.
Check roof flashing
Flashing refers to the strip of metal added to the roof to prevent water from penetrating. This is used on roofs with more joints. If you have a pyramid-style roof that has no chimney, your roof does not need too much flashing.
Smart tip: Check your roof flashing regularly. Make sure it is properly installed, and if it needs repairs, get it done immediately.
Sometimes it is better to use caulk than weather stripping. Caulk is cheap and can be used both outdoors and indoors. You can use it to seal cracks between windows and doors and their frames.
Smart tip: There are many types of caulk, so make sure to get the kind that is best for your application. It also comes in different colors.
Clean the gutters
Gutters are designed to keep water away from the foundation of your home. If your gutters are clogged, water will not flow efficiently to the downspouts. You should clean your gutters at least twice a year.
Smart tip: Heavy rain or snowfall can cause the gutters to pull away. When you are done cleaning, make sure they are still attached to your house properly.
Extend your downspouts
The purpose of downspouts is to keep water away from the foundation of your home. If you are not collecting rainwater, extend your downspouts to prevent basement flooding.
Smart tip: Ideally, you should extend your downspouts to at least 3 feet from the home’s foundation.
Keep your fridge coils clean
Cleaning dirty fridge coils is a good way to lower your electric bills. Dirty coils will force the fridge to use more power to cool and can cause the fridge to break down eventually. The process is simple. Unplug your fridge and pull it away from the wall. Clean the coils or unclamp the bottom panel, for a modern fridge. Use a soft brush to scrape the dust off and a vacuum to clean up. Repeat until the coils are clean. Lastly, put everything back and plug in your refrigerator again.
Smart tip: Cleaning the coils once a year can help maintain the refrigerator’s cooling system. If you own pets, clean them twice a year as fur gets caught in the coils and reduces the fridge’s cooling capability.
Replace your fridge door seal
A broken fridge door wastes energy, money, and can spoil your food. Changing the gasket eliminates this problem. Prepare the new gasket by placing it in warm water. Use a hex screwdriver to loosen the screws, and pull out the old gasket gently when the screws are loose. Take the new gasket and push the lip over the metal retainer, sliding it behind the retainer around the refrigerator door, and finally put the screws back in place.
Smart tip: To check, inspect for condensation, thinning, or cracks. These are signs to see if you need to replace the door seal or gasket.
Deal with basement dampness
The basement adds extra space and storage space to your house. Excess moisture can prove to be a problem. If left untreated, the dampness can spread to the rest of the basement. Diagnose the cause of the humidity and moisture. Fix any leaks, make sure there is proper ventilation, and buy a humidifier to control the moisture levels in the air.
Smart tip: Insulating your pipes can reduce the condensation drips from cold pipes.
Check the outside of your house
When you have a house of your own, regularly checking the exterior is a must. Check the walls for cracks or mold to start off. Use tape to label any places that need to be fixed. When checking the outside of your house, keep track of the gutters, pipes, and any damage to the roof.
Smart tip: Cleaning your porch and calling pest control can rid your home of insects and pests. Infestations, especially termites, can destroy a property, so definitely check every month or so.
Check and fix dry rot
Dry rot is caused by living fungi that feed on wooden structures. Even without seeing the dry rot outbreak, you can easily find it because of the damp, fungal smell. You can treat dry rot by removing all the infected timber and applying wood stabilizer and wood filler to the affected wood.
Smart tip: To prevent a dry rot outbreak, improve the ventilation in your property. Airflow will dry out the wood in your house, which counters the primary cause of dry rot — damp wood.
Check for potential termite damage
Protecting your home from termites will help you save money and prevent damage. Termite damage may be evident when there are blisters in wood flooring, damaged wood with long grooves, or a bunch of termite wings near open spaces.
Smart tip: Knowing the potential cost of termite damage, it is smart to invest in termite protection plans, which includes annual termite inspection and removal.
Inspect your fire extinguishers regularly
Make sure the gauge needle is in the green zone; this means that the pressure is okay. If the needle is to the left of the red zone, that means that the extinguisher needs a recharge. If it is in the red zone itself, it means that it is over-pressured.
Smart tip: If your fire extinguisher does not have a pressure gauge, you can still test it by pressing its pin. If it pops back up, that means the fire extinguisher is pressurized. If not, the fire extinguisher is depressurized.
Replace worn and old gutters
When gutters start to let rain pool around your house, changing them is the best option. Start from the ground up. Unscrew the downspouts so the gutters will not anchor to the ground. Afterward, remove the gutters, piece by piece, from their hanging brackets. Slowly work around the house and dispose of the debris. Take careful measurements when installing a new gutter system. Be aware of the average rainfall in your area and pay attention to the materials used. Install pre-assembled parts set to a ¼-inch slope to make the water flow to the downspouts, and with that, you are done.
Smart tip: Using the right tools for the job will make the process and the installation faster and easier. Some tools that are very useful for gutter installation are outlet punches, outlet saws, and crimpers, to name a few.
Use a low-flow showerhead
Low-flow showerheads conserve water and promote energy efficiency by using only 2.5 gallons per minute or less. An aerating showerhead creates a mist-like spray, while a laminar-flow showerhead creates individual streams of water. These often come with a flow restrictor.
Smart tip: You can also purchase a separate aerator and attach it to your existing showerheads and faucets, which costs less than buying and attaching a new fixture.
Use energy-efficient appliances
Using energy-efficient appliances should help you minimize your energy consumption. These appliances cost less to run and maintain, helping you save more money, too. When upgrading to better appliances, make sure to select a size and style that’s appropriate for your home, while considering its price and estimated energy use.
Smart tip: Choose energy-efficient appliances, marked with the Energy Star logo. This label was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help consumers minimize air pollution and collect rebates.
Install a smart sprinkler system
In the modern age, you can now access your sprinkler system by phone using an app, so even if you are at work, or just at home watching movies, you can still check if your sprinkler system is functioning. With a smart sprinkler system, you can schedule when to water your plants. If it rains, the sprinkler system will not turn itself on, saving you water. Also, the sprinkler can determine how fast the water will evaporate on the soil you use using various metrics, given the info you input about your yard.
Smart tip: Regularly check the valve boxes and the sprinkler heads for any damage or leaks, which are good indicators that it needs replacement or repair.
Repair small issues as soon as possible
Small problems, when ignored, can worsen. A faulty circuit breaker might cut off all the electricity in your house, or worse, cause a fire. Fixing these issues before they can cause any problems can save you a lot of money and ensure your comfort and safety.
Smart tip: Monthly inspections of things around your house are very important to ensure safety and help you avoid expensive general repairs. Check if there are any leaks in your plumbing or holes in your roof where water could seep through. Inspect the filters of the HVAC units and check for tears in the wires of the circuit breaker.
Regularly change furnace filters
Changing your furnace filter should be a part of your monthly routine. It helps to extend the life of your furnace, reduce electricity bills, and improve the indoor air quality inside your home. A dirty filter is the most common reason for a unit to use more energy or even break down.
Smart tip: Buy your extra filters in bulk and store them close to your furnace to avoid forgetting to replace them. They usually come in a case of 6 to 12 filters.
Do not ignore warning lights
Warning lights are generally used to send a message about power failures. Whenever you see flashing lights from your HVAC unit while it is running in normal mode, it usually means that the outdoor unit stopped working because of a problem. Check the unit yourself and try rebooting the system. If the flashing does not stop, it is best to get professional help.
Smart tip: Different units equipped with warning lights have codes that go from two flashes to nine. So, it is best to get to know your unit and the meaning of these codes so you can attend to the emergency.
Ditch the wood paneling
Removing your wood paneling is a low-cost project to update your home. Remove all the baseboards, light switches, and outlets beforehand. You can then start to pry back your panels with a pry bar and your hammer and remove nails that become loose in the process. After the last panel is removed, patch the nail holes with putty.
Smart tip: For wood panels attached with panel glue, using a heat gun is very helpful to soften the glue. This is the safest way to avoid damaging your drywall.
Let go of a failing thermostat
A faulty thermostat can cause wiring problems as well as negative consequences for your HVAC unit. For safety purposes, it is best to turn off electricity that directs to your AC or furnace. You can replace your broken one by removing the face of your old thermostat and disconnecting the wires. Once disconnected, you can remove the old thermostat mount and attach the new one with screws.
Smart tip: There are new “smart” thermostats on the market that allow you to change your house’s temperature with your phone. This way, you can adjust the temperature in your house from anywhere.
Mix high- and low-end materials
Renovating a house means deciding whether to spend on high-end or low-end materials. Although the price is one of the biggest factors, you also have to choose durable materials.
Smart tip: Use high-end materials for structural integrity, or use cheaper alternatives like bamboo or stone cladding, which is equally strong. You can also decorate with low-end products, or invest in glass and resin fixtures in your kitchen and bathroom to raise the home’s value.
Bring natural light without adding more windows
Achieving that perfect lighting can be hard if you do not have windows. Painting your walls white or a light blue adds depth and light reflection. Painting your ceiling the same color can create a floating illusion.
Smart tip: If you want to maximize natural light, attach a mirror on one of your walls. This will aid in optically expanding the space that you have. French doors with colorful stained glass can give your space a more vibrant look.
Take care of small jobs
DIY home repairs are easier than you think. Teaching yourself to perform small jobs is a fun and educational experience. Hiring experts for minor maintenance will only cost money.
Smart tip: You can adjust leaky or loose pipes right away. A simple tightening of the slip-nut in the P-trap is a guaranteed repair. Horse clamps will aid in covering leaks. Holes in the drywall are also a nuisance that can be easily fixed with a spackle knife. You can also fill those nail holes with putty.
Install solar panels
Say goodbye to high electric bills! By using solar panels, you can go green and avoid brownouts. Going solar can be tricky. You first need to determine which location of your house is a good spot for it. Choose a stable location that is exposed to a lot of sunlight. It also needs to be accessible so it can be regularly cleaned.
Smart tip: When mounting panels, it is best to call experts. You can also ask around to learn the types of panels that will work for you based on your daily consumption.
Install low-flow toilet and reduce water usage
The average toilet uses 7 gallons of water with every flush. Meanwhile, low-flow toilets use only 2 gallons to do the same job. Switching to a low-flow option will help you rein in your spending.
Smart tip: To make your toilet more efficient, you will need an adjustable flapper, toilet tank bag, fill valve diverter, and leak detection tablet. Use a flapper that fits with the model of your toilet. Tank bags help displace water and control the flow. Diverters aid in saving extra water.
Trees provide oxygen and shade. Planting them in your home will contribute to a healthier home and a cooler environment. Therefore, you will not need to spend as much on air conditioning.
Smart tip: Hot days and blistering winds are unavoidable and annoying. Surrounding your home with trees that provide a wide canopy will help reduce the overall temperature inside your home. Hybrid poplars, red maple, weeping willows, and American sycamores can absorb the excess water vapor that contributes to high humidity. Such trees can also protect your home from strong winds in rough weather.
Repurpose used furniture
A crib is a piece of furniture that loses its purpose when the baby grows up. However, repurposing the crib into a new rocking bench makes it usable again. Remove the wall on one side, and use it to strengthen the bench enough to hold the weight of a child. Decrease the height of the other two walls to be used as armrests.
Smart tip: Adding foam or square pillows on the bench will increase its cushion and comfort.
Create your own household cleaners
Stains on your sink or kitchen appliances are unavoidable. You can easily create a cleaning solution by mixing 4 tablespoons of baking soda and a little warm water. Use this paste to shine your sink and appliances with a clean rag. Applying baking soda on the drain of the sink also removes the odor.
Smart tip: Never mix ammonia-based cleaning materials with bleach products. This will produce fumes that are dangerous for your health.
Refinish your own hardwood
Hardwood is a durable material that is good for making furniture and flooring. The application of varnish after sanding is enough to refinish the wood. Using paint on hardwoods may cause it to chip and crack, which also costs more than refinishing it. With primer and tough grade painting, an old hardwood will surely reclaim its former beauty, or even surpass it.
Smart tip: Woods are vulnerable to termites. Reducing the soil-to-wood contact around your house can help prevent termite infestation.
Install a clothesline
Using a clothesline instead of a dryer will reduce your electric bill. Using a strong material for the clothesline, such as wire or thin rope, will prevent sagging in the middle. The ends of the line must be tied securely to a stable post or wall to avoid accidental snapping due to heavy weight.
Smart tip: Make sure the clothesline is a good distance away from trees in order to avoid bird droppings.
Opt for a low-cost landscape
Landscaping a back yard is a goal for many people. But, the cost for landscaping may go over your budget. Finding low-cost, or even no-cost, alternatives can help you have the perfect back yard for the cheapest price possible.
Smart tip: The best way to save money on landscaping materials is by reusing and recycling materials in your house. Make use of old unused tires to plant your flowers or plants on, and even plastic bottles to plant your orchids on.
Do not spend too much on wall preparation
If you want to paint or repaint the walls of your house to make it livelier, you need to prep the wall first. But, sometimes you can overspend on the materials you need to prepare the wall, and now you have extra materials like wall primers and spackling paste that you no longer need. It is important to plan ahead before buying your materials.
Smart tip: To avoid overspending on wall prep, measure out the walls that you need to cover up first. Calculating how much material you need will help you buy just the right amount of wall preparation materials to use. Finding cheap yet reliable tools to help you with wall prepping can help you save some money too.
Don’t move the kitchen sink
Moving your kitchen sink from its current location to another can cost a lot of money and takes a lot of time and a good hand. It might even damage your property if not done correctly. What may seem like just a small repositioning of your sink can turn into long-term structural damage. So, why not improve your sink in its current location using new materials?
Smart tip: Improving the look of the rest of the kitchen without changing the position of your kitchen sink is better than moving it, which can cause a huge mess. You could change the design of your kitchen sink to one made out of granite, quartz, copper, or another material, which gives it more character.
Hire the right help
Your “can-do” attitude for home repairs can save you a lot of cash. But, doing it wrong can lead to more expenses. Hiring an expert or subcontractor is the best option if the job is difficult and unfamiliar.
Smart tip: Selecting from hundreds of applicants can be stressful. It is better to scour the internet for the right repairman so you can check reviews and ratings. Once picked, make sure that they are licensed and insured. Create contracts that discuss the work, fee, and expectations, and have both parties sign them.
Enjoy deals at Amazon Warehouse
There is no such thing as free, but Amazon brings that dream closer with its “Warehouse Deals!” Products that do not meet the “new” classification for the company are in this category. They are cheaper, but they are not damaged.
Smart tip: Deals on Amazon are identified as “Like New,” which are opened and returned, “Very Good,” which means functional but blemished, “Good,” which means working but lacking some parts, and “Acceptable,” which means used but in good condition. You can have fun rummaging through these options to make your pick!
Shut off the main water valve, especially before vacation
Finding water damage in your house after getting home from a vacation can be a nightmare. Achieve peace and relaxation without worrying by simply shutting your water valve.
Smart tip: To shut off the main water valve, you do not need to grab a phone and hire professional help. Deal with your own water valve by using a bucket, a pair of adjustable pliers, and a wrench. Look for the water valve based on what type it is. Outdoor valves are found on a wall or underground box. Indoor valves are in basements. Simply turn the valve clockwise to shut it down.
Use leftover paint
Painting your house is a costly job. Good paints are expensive and hard to come by. So when you have leftover paint, do not throw it away. Save it up and reuse it in the future.
Smart tip: Reusing old paints is very common in construction or renovations. Do this by mixing all your pigments in a bucket. Tone them down by mixing a lot of white paint. With a strainer bag, sieve the dirt and debris. Cover it up and store it. Next time you have a painting job, you do not have to buy white primer paint.
Don’t rush the home renovation and improvement process
Renovating your home is a spiritual experience. It is you placing your mark and style on your house. Rushing it can only lead to sloppy execution and bad results.
Smart tip: To make sure you do not cram the process, make a flexible deadline. You cannot expect everything to go exactly to plan. Mishaps are unavoidable. To stay on track, get a good team of people working on the project. Share your goals and communicate them to the team. Providing them with the best equipment will also speed up the process.
Use dryer balls
Dryer balls can help you dry your clothes much more efficiently. Dryer balls can help soften fabrics, making your clothes smooth to touch. They can also help you avoid over-drying your clothes and remove static build-up.
Smart tip: When choosing dryer balls, wool balls are better than plastic balls. With wool balls, you can add a few drops of essential oil on your dryer balls to make your clothes smell good. Wool balls are also more efficient, and they are all-natural, unlike plastic balls.
Consider going tankless
When considering whether to replace an old water heater, going tankless is the best choice. A tankless water heater is more efficient and energy-saving than traditional tank water heaters. Tankless water heaters usually last long, about 20 to 30 years. They are also very small, so they are not very hard to install in tight spaces.
Smart tip: To ensure the longevity of your water heater, make sure to do routine maintenance. Checking the temperature and pressure relief valve every year and replacing it with a new one every three years is recommended. Regularly draining the water is also very important to prevent sediments from forming in the tank.
Install a leak detector
Leaks are a flaw that no system is protected from. There are many causes for leaks, and it is not always possible to find these leaks and determine their size and exact location. If left undetected, these leaks can cause a huge amount of damage to your home. Installing leak detectors can help find these leaks and prevent further damage.
Smart tip: When choosing a leak detector, you should choose one that has a long battery life, an automatic shut-off system, and that alarms you by sound or by blinking lights. Leak detectors should also have an expandable coverage area and be easy to install.
Ditch the incandescent lights
Change can be unpleasant. But switching your old bulbs at home yields great benefits. Your lifestyle can be improved by throwing out your outdated incandescent lights.
Smart tip: Using LED lights for your lamps is a simple but life-altering step. Compared to incandescent bulbs, LED lights have higher lumens. They also consume less wattage, which means lower electric bills. Designed to emit less radiation, you can have a cooler space. Invest in your home by investing in high-quality LED bulbs.
Opt for smart security devices
Protecting your home is a priority. Ensuring its security with detection devices is a good way to do that. However, old wired detection devices are no longer reliable. Wireless smart devices will respond better and provide better service.
Smart tip: Easier to install, smart security devices have a wider scope of vision. With the use of WiFi or Bluetooth technology, you can have eyes everywhere. Achieve that peace of mind by making sure your device has geolocation, instant alerts, and artificial intelligence processors.
Consider low-E windows or window film
Windows are your connection to the outside world. They protect you from the weather and give you access to the scenery. Upgrade your space by installing window films that provide more security. Window films increase UV radiation and heat protection. These tinted films have different levels of opacity and reflectivity that can alter the view. Reflective films control glare by letting the rays bounce back to the source.
Smart tip: If budget is not a problem, go for window films that are made of ceramic, since they are durable and can absorb the most heat.
Increase efficiency, not size
Cramped spaces can limit your potential. Your perspective of the surroundings can affect your consciousness and actions. Increasing the size of your space can cost a lot of money.
Smart tip: Choose the perfect paint for your walls that relaxes you. You can use green and blue hues to evoke a calm atmosphere. Stocking up on round furniture can help by providing more seating space. Windows and strategic lighting can also brighten up the room and open it up.
Get the right tools
Renovation is a personal journey. Thinking about how your house should look requires reflection and introspection. Your tools are there to help you in the process. Investing in high-quality equipment will ensure a safe renovation adventure.
Smart tip: Buying tools from trusted hardware stores is a must. Do your research beforehand, or you can consult the experts and even the hardware shop assistants. Never assume that any tool is right for any job just because it looks suitable. Tool and property damage, not to mention accidents, can result from such assumptions.
Buy building supplies at auction
Bargains and discounts are rare at hardware stores. Some equipment has fixed prices that may be way over your budget. However, purchasing supplies at auction helps you take control. You can even name your price!
Smart tip: Sourced directly from manufacturers due to surplus supplies or minor damage, auctioned building materials are a life-saver. You can buy siding in squares, shingles in bundles, moldings and beams by the foot, and hardware and laminate flooring by the square foot. Get anything you need within your budget.
Say goodbye to laminate floors
Laminate flooring can be vulnerable to moisture damage and can go out of style. Fortunately, you can remove it easily by prying the end with a flat bar in the gap between the wall and the first row. Laminate planks will easily pry up and separate from the rest. Continue doing this to the rest of the planks and remove any glue residue or padding from the floor.
Smart tip: Before removing your laminate floors, remove the baseboards and wall moldings to avoid damaging them during the process. Mark the pieces so you know which piece goes into which wall.
Repair and reglaze windows
Good, functional windows are a top priority for any house. They protect you from the outside weather and any potential danger. However, buying replacement windows is challenging. You cannot just throw out the old ones because it can harm the environment.
Smart tip: Fixing your windows can save you money and help save Mother Nature. For leaks, you can try reinforcing the window with putty. Avoid foggy windows by replacing the sash in your panes. Cracked glass can also be remedied with a sash replacement.
Repurpose old containers and jars
You have finished eating a jar of jam. With your stomach full and the jar empty, what’s next? Throwing away the empty container is the obvious option. But, you can also transform that simple jar into an amazing creation.
Smart tip: Most jars are made of transparent glass or opaque plastics, which you can paint and decorate. After that, fill the jar with water and flowers for a personalized vase. Or make it educational by turning it into a terrarium to teach your kids about nature. Another idea is to store spices or reuse it for other jams or spreads to help organize your kitchen.
Repurpose old clothes
Clothes are an extension of who you are. Some of your clothes may have sentimental value and hold precious memories. Instead of throwing away or donating things that no longer fit, why not revamp them?
Smart tip: An old, reliable sweater from your teen years can be converted into a blanket by sewing it strategically. Shirts that you have outgrown can be turned into pillowcases or purses. Overused pillowcases or colorful curtains can even be turned into hair accessories by using them like a ribbon. You can even cut them up and sew rags.
Grow your own vegetables
Fresh greens and produce are sometimes hard to come by at the supermarket. They are often overpriced and old. Getting your own healthy batch of vegetables is easy. Go start your own garden!
Smart tip: Gardening starts with your location. It needs good soil content and sun exposure. Start small, so you can manage it efficiently. Begin with tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, lettuce, and carrots, which are easy to maintain. Eating your own garden vegetables, knowing that you worked hard for them, is more satisfying.
Take care of your lawn yourself
A well-groomed lawn will make any guest or neighbor smile. Your lawn is a reflection of you. The way you care for it mirrors your tastes and personality. It is a place where you can unleash your creativity.
Smart tip: To create a clean canvass for your floral artwork, pull out the weeds by their roots. Removing thatch protects your plants. For better growth, aerate your lawn with a core aerator and cover it with compost afterward. Mowing and watering it regularly is also a must.
Now you’ve read everything you need to know as a homeowner! I hope this book opens your mind and encourages you to save more. These 99 things you can do at home will surely save you a lot of money without compromising the overall quality of your home.