15 Things a New Homeowner Should Do to Save Money
You’ve finally closed on your new home. The negotiations are over, the papers are signed and you’ve unpacked all the boxes. But don’t lose sight of your budget over the excitement of those new keys! Here are the best things you can do as a new homeowner to make sure you save money long-term.
1. Lower the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater
Lowering your heater temperature to the optimum temperature – 120 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) – could save you money month-to-month. Since most people never use water hotter than this, as it can burn the skin, the energy needed to keep water above this temperature is wasted. Lowering the temperature can help reduce the total on your energy bill!
2. Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a low-cost way to circulate air throughout your home. You can maximize the efficiency of your ceiling fans by switching them to blow air down on you in the summer and be pulled upwards away from you in the winter. This simple trick means you can keep your thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter – saving you energy costs every season.
3. Plant Shade Trees
Planting deciduous trees around the perimeter of your home will pay off in the long run. These trees will be leafy and green in the summer, shading your home from sunlight to keep you cool. When they lose their leaves in the winter, they’ll allow sunlight to stream into your home to warm it. Investing in a few of these trees will be sure to reduce your energy bill and keep your home comfortable all year long.
4. Install Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Many new homes come with cheap, inefficient light bulbs in the sockets. Spend an hour after performing a quick energy-efficiency audit on your home and replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Install these in places where lights are left on for long periods of time or accidentally – such as the kitchen or basement! Although they are an investment upfront, they will save you a lot of money on your energy bill in the long haul!
5. Know the Location of Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
Make sure to locate your main water shutoff valve on move-in day! Water damage is one of the most common household insurance claims, as one broken plumbing pipe can mean a flooding disaster for your home. Before disaster strikes, make sure everyone in your household knows where the shutoff valve is to protect you from water damage to your drywall, flooring and valuables.
6. Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances
While you’re at the store picking up energy-efficient light bulbs, make sure to pick up a few energy-efficient appliances to replace your old ones! Make sure to check the energy rating that is on the side of the box or item, which will give you an idea of how efficient the appliance is. Energy-efficient and reliable appliances will last you longer than older, less-expensive ones and will keep your energy bill low.
7. Fill in the Cracks
Many older homes will come with a few small cracks in the basement. These are usually due to the settling of the foundation, and as long as they are not growing, they’re nothing to worry about! Make sure you seal them with putty and mark the length of them with tape to keep an eye on their growth. If the crack starts to extend beyond the tape, make sure to call a specialist as soon as possible before the problem gets out of control.
8. Change the Locks and Make Spare Keys
One of the first things you should do as a new homeowner is change your locks. A small investment like new doorknobs and locks on a few doors will provide you with the peace of mind of knowing exactly who has access to your home. While you’re at it, make a few copies of spare keys for the neighbors or family members who live close by. Then, you won’t have to spend the money on a locksmith if you lock yourself out!
9. Check Your Insulation
Make sure to pop into your attic to make sure you have enough insulation to keep your home warm. For those in Georgia and the Carolinas, you should see about six inches of material everywhere. If you find patches of missing or damaged insulation, make sure to install new material as soon as you can to ensure you aren’t wasting money on inefficient heating!
10. Call 811 Before Landscaping
It’s so tempting to dig right into the yard right away for beautiful landscaping, but hold off until you’ve made one phone call! The national dif-safely hotline, 811, is a free service that will contact local utility companies that will survey your property to mark the location of all underground pipes, cables and wires. Since calling 811 before digging is mandatory in many states, you may avoid steep fines too!
11. Clear the Space Around Your AC Unit
Many AC units are surrounded by shrubbery that can restrict their airflow that allows the system to operate optimally. By removing dirt and leaves around the unit, trimming bushes touching the unit and clearing a 2 inch space around the perimeter, you can save annually by creating a better running system in under 10 minutes!
12. Air-Seal Your Home
In older homes especially, it’s important to look for any places where air may be leaking in or out of your home, like doorways or windows. Letting air in and out will let your energy bill slowly creep up. Make sure to air steal your home with caulking and weatherstripping to keep costs low!
13. Cover Your Water Heater and Exposed Pipes
Exposed water pipes and water heaters can easily lose heat in cold basements and garages. Wrapping them in either pipe insulation or thick blankets can make up to a four-degree difference in the temperature of the water. This trick will allow hot water to reach your faucets faster and with using less energy!
14. Buy a Stud Sensor Before Drilling Into Walls
While it can be tempting to start hanging photos right away, be careful – you never know what’s back there! A homeowner can easily damage plumping pipes, ductwork, wires and cables with careless drilling. To avoid a costly mistake, invest in a stud sensor (a $25 tool) that can detect the location of wood, wires and ducts.
15. Hang Out Your Laundry
Hanging your clothes on a line is a great way to save energy as well. Not only is this method completely energy-efficient, it will also protect your clothing from unwanted shrinkage. If you don’t have the space for a full clothesline, try a simple drying rack in your laundry room. Your cashmere sweaters will be sure to thank you for it.
Consider these tips and you will be well on your way to saving big bucks as a new homeowner!