Spring is in the air and, with it, tax season is well upon us. While this time of year has many thinking of blooming flowers, baby farm animals and the like, pennywise (no, not the clown) homeowners find themselves seeking out any and all ways to save a few bucks. Rest assured, all frugal friends, there are a few simple and effective ways that your home can help you save money each month.
Start the Paperwork
One of the highest yield, albeit significantly more involved, ways that you can save money each month is by revisiting your home loan and refinancing your mortgage. Depending on your credit and your initial interest rate, you could be looking at pocketing some significant change each month by taking the time to fill out the paperwork. Of course this is not a surefire approach for everyone. There are a few things that you should consider before moving forward.
How long are you planning on staying in your home? If you are planning to sell soon, then going through the time, effort, and upfront cost of refinancing is not necessarily a good approach. You will also want to consider the type of loan that you originally took out for your home purchase. If your loan has you paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) then it could be incredibly beneficial to take a look at refinancing into a loan that does not require PMI payments. This alone can save you from paying a pretty penny each month, that doesn’t even go toward your mortgage.
Maintaining your Furnace and Changing Filters
The commonly accepted rule is that furnace filters should be changed every three months, but some argue that swapping out filters every month can increase the efficiency of your furnace, saving you money on your monthly energy bill, as well as increasing the odds of your furnace living a long, and fulfilling life. Most furnaces can last anywhere from 15-30 years, and you certainly want to prolong its life as long as possible, taking into consideration that a new furnace will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $1,500 to $6,500, depending on the model. That price does not include installation, which you would certainly need, and can run you about $2,000.
An added benefit of changing your filters frequently is that it will force you to make frequent checks on your furnace, allowing you to make small repairs immediately when they become apparent, a practice that can save you a lot of money and quite the headache down the road. Choosing to ignore your fiery friend will almost certainly lead to disrepair and, thus, despair.
Instal or Replace Weatherstripping
Homes with older windows and doors are notorious energy wasters, but even newer homes, built quickly with “builder grade” materials can be just as guilty of letting money slip right through their cracks. Do not fret, however, there is a simple and inexpensive way to seal up these money leaks: weatherstripping. This is an easy project, even for the novice DIYer. Because there are a few different types of weatherstripping to choose from, you would be best served to do a little research beforehand and refer to the expertise of the helpful staff at your local hardware store. You can also remove a piece of your existing stripping and take it with you, to be sure you purchase the best product for your project. Seal up any and all windows and doors leading outside (no need to go overboard and weatherstrip your closet doors, after all), and don’t neglect those basement windows, which can often go forgotten.
Lower your heat and Lay off the AC
Odds are, if you have lived in your home for a while, you have found a thermal sweet-spot. You know, that perfect temperature that keeps you comfortable and happy while lounging about like Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold, but just right. If you are willing to venture out of that ideal temperature, you should be able to put some cash in your pocket, albeit it might be the pocket of a warm sweater.
According to the Department of Energy, the average homeowner can save around 10% each year on their heating and cooling bills by altering their thermostat 7 to 8 degrees for eight hours of each day. That would mean that during the cooler months, you could have your thermostat set at 68 degrees while you are at home and awake, and set it back while you are out of the house, or peacefully sleeping, with a nice warm comforter. In the summertime, you could follow a similar routine, keeping your home at 78 degrees during the heat of the day (if you are hanging at home) and, at all other times (like when you're out or asleep), set it as high as you are comfortable (or slightly uncomfortable, as the case may be) with.