This time of the year is always very busy for homeowners. Spring cleaning has started (or is soon to start) and a list of maintenance projects is filling up the "honey-do" list. Maybe you're working on your house to get it ready to go on the market. If that's the case, we would love to help guide you! Now is the time to list and we have decades of experience selling homes in Baton Rouge, and we know exactly what buyers will be looking for.
If you love the home you're in and you just want to do some updating and maintenance on your house, we've got 20 fantastic money-saving tips:
1. Add insulation.
Do you have an unfinished attic? More than likely, you can reduce your energy bill by adding more insulation- especially if you have an older home. What you need to investigate is where your home is and is not properly insulated, what type of insulation you have, and the thickness of the insulation you do have. Check your attic, walls, and floors connected to a space like a garage or basement.
2. Lower the temperature on your water heater.
Check the thermostat and set it at 120 degrees. Most are set at 140 degrees which Is so high it increases the risk of scalding, posing a threat to children. Lowering the temperature to 120 will save money on your energy bill.
3. Install an alarm system.
Not only can an alarm system keep your family more safe (homes without a security system are 3X more likely to be broken into), but it can save money on your homeowners insurance policy.
4. Reduce your electricity bill with solar panels.
Did you know that the government is now offering subsidies to install solar panels? In fact you could qualify for a free installation! This will significantly reduce your electricity bill.
5. Deduct your mortgage interest on your tax return.
If you've paid more than $600 in mortgage interest in a tax year, use a Form 1098 to get your fair share! A report from Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation estimates $70 billion in mortgage deductions annually among American taxpayers.
6. Replace old windows.
You probably already know that replacing older windows lower your energy bill, but the window replacement cost can be astronomical! Your new energy-efficient windows can now get a federal tax credit of up to $1,500. Weigh out the costs and figure up how much you could save (possibly up to $50 a month), and shop around to find a good deal.
7. Automate your thermostat.
Some of us have trained ourselves to manually turn up the thermostat when we leave for the day and then manually turn it down again when we come home at the end of the day. Nest learning thermostats do this for you after learning your habits and schedule to keep you comfortable. Although they are rather expensive, some energy companies will give you one for free or at a discount when you sign up with a plan. If nothing else, simply leave yourself a note next to the thermostat or set a phone reminder to remind yourself to adjust it when you leave your home.
8. Childproof your outlets.
If you live in an older, or poorly insulated or constructed home, your electrical outlet boxes may not have any insulation behind them, which is like having a hole in your wall. If you light a match on a windy day and put it in front of the outlet, you should be able to see air movement. A quick fix is putting plastic child-proof outlet plugs or socket sealers to improve your energy efficiency.
9. Insulate leaky kitchen and bathroom sinks.
If you have a sink, toilet, cable or phone line in an external wall, they are probably uninsulated behind the wall- meaning that warm and cool air is able to escape from these openings. The most cost-effective solution is to buy some expanding foam insulation and spray it into every crevice possible in your exterior walls.
10. Clear out space around your AC.
If your AC unit is surrounded by shrubbery that is restricting the airflow, take a few minutes to provide a foot of clearance around the units by trimming back bushes, removing leaves and anything that might be too close. Giving your AC some fresh air will help the system to run more efficiently.
11. Block out the sun with blinds and curtains.
You know which windows in your home are letting in the most heat on hot summer days. If you have windows receiving direct sunlight, make sure you are closing blinds and/or curtains so that you don't have to crank up the AC to keep the room cool.
12. Use your ceiling fans.
Did you know that simply using a ceiling fan can make your room feel up to 7 degrees cooler? Give your AC a break and save some money by putting them to use!
13. Replace air filters.
This is just one of those things you have to get in the routine of doing. Your HVAC filters should be replaced at least every 6 months, but realistically it should be more like every 3 months. Failure to do so reduces your system's efficiency and could eventually cause your system to completely burn out.
14. Switch to LED lights.
LED lighting saves money because it runs cooler than incandescent bulbs. In fact only about 10-15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume result in light, requiring your AC system to work hard to cool down the remaining energy that is turned to heat.
15. Remove gaps underneath doors / air seal your home.
While we don't think much about the bottom of our exterior doors, this is the part that has the most exposure to dirt and moisture, causing deterioration. You may have a hole in your door and not even realize it. To fix it, you'll need to replace your door sweep and head to the home improvement store.
16. Toss a blanket over the water heater.
Most modern hot water heaters are well-insulated but older ones are not. For a small cost you can blanket your water heater and save money over time. Be careful not to cover the top, bottom, thermostat or burner compartment!
17. Clear the way of vents.
Do not block the events in your home and make sure they're free of dust. Improving the air flow in the room will ensure that your heating and cooling is not having to work overtime.
18. Hang your wet laundry up.
Go old school! If you're up for it, having a clothes rack in the laundry room or even outside for drying can save you money. Even if you just hang up some of your laundry, you're still saving a little money rather than drying everything.
19. Get a SmartStrip.
When you set up your home electronics, consider a surge protector called SmartStrip that makes it convenient for you to "unplug" devices that aren't in use. If you're able to have the power cut automatically, you can save money over time- especially since many devices need a lot of power even in standby mode.
20. Plant shade trees near your home.
We saved the best for last- this may be our favorite tip of all! Plant trees that lose their leaves in the fall on the western and eastern sides of your house to naturally cool your home during the hot summer months by reducing the amount of direct sunlight hitting your house. Once the trees loose their leaves, the same sunlight can stream through your windows to now heat up your home! And here's a bonus- mature trees can increase your property value! Just make sure they're placed a safe distance from powerlines and your home.
Contact the Real Estate Experts
We love this time of year because it's the perfect time to list your home! Contact us, the real estate experts, to get your home ready to list so that you can start planning for your next home! You can reach us at 225-218-0888. Happy spring cleaning!