Jeff Smith has been an online writer for three years and has provided the number of useful articles on home improvement.
Think saving thousands of dollars on ordinary home improvements and household-related expenses is impossible? Well, fortunately, it’s not impossible at all.
Starting with these 32 ordinary ways to save extraordinary money on the homefront, you’ll see that saving money at home is as simple as ever.
1. Add Zones To Your Home – For heating and air condition, that is. If you’re like most folks, you probably spend most of your time in just a few areas of your home. Why pay extra to maintain the entire residence at just the right temperature? Consult with an experienced HVAC provider to find out just what zoning your house will require.
2. Automate For Better Comfort – Having a programmable thermostat installed will easily save the cost of installation over the course of a year if you set it to run the HVAC at more efficient temperatures when you’re away at work or sleeping.
3. Spin Ceiling Fans More – Eliminating the need to run the air conditioning in the fringe months and helping to reduce the ambient room temperature by up to 10% the rest of the cooling season, using ceiling fans in every well-used room of the house is just downright practical. And to give them extra credit, running the fans backward during the heating season also has measurable energy and money-saving effect.
4. Open Up The Windows – It’s all too convenient anymore to dial in the thermostat to just the right temperature without regard to the weather outside. For most climate zones, simply using the windows to achieve a nice cross breeze when it’s practical is a great way to keep cooling costs to a minimum.
5. Stay Cool With A Whole House Fan – Many older homes relied on this strategy in lieu of air conditioning before it was common to even have A/C in the home. A whole house fan basically circulates all of the stale, warm rights up and out of the house. Running just this one fan can reduce the temperature very noticeably, while also providing some relief from the humidity. The cost of operating a whole house or attic fan is literally a fraction of the cost of using central air conditioning.
6. Flip The Switch To CFL Lighting – CFLs, better known as compact fluorescent lighting, is touted by the energy savings watchdogs as a realistic way to save hundreds of dollars per year for the average household. The light quality and dependability of today’s CFL technology is excellent, but the energy cost savings of at least $40 per bulb (for a 60-watt equivalent) over the lifespan of the bulb is even more remarkable.
7. Score The Greenest Yard On The Block With A 100% Organic Lawn – It does take some effort to achieve a healthy all-organic lawn, but the bottom line is quite attractive when compared to paying for all of those chemical applications. The premise of going organic basically involves using natural components and balancing the soil to support deep-rooted grass-the resulting thickness is its own best resistance to weeds other common problems.
8. Examine The Potential Of Xeriscaping – What exactly is xeriscaping? Simple-it’s the process of using plants and other landscape features that are well planned to do great in their environment while greatly reducing the need for frequent watering and related maintenance. Low maintenance equals low cost.
9. Add Attractive Awnings – Many homeowners install awnings for their aesthetic appeal-and that’s a great reason in and of itself. But the sunray blocking prowess of a correctly placed awning or two also keeps cooling costs down during the intense sunshine of summer. And there are an added bonus also-the blocked rays won’t be able to damage or fade your home’s upholstery and carpet.
10. Install Gutter Shields – Paying someone to clean those gutters several times per year? That’s an expense that really adds up over time. Instead, why not spend a little upfront to go maintenance-free in the gutter department and save significant money and time over the long run.
11. Stamp Out Extra Expense With Modern Concrete Patios – Thanks to the innovation in decorative concrete technology over the last several years, there is little reason to spend lots of extra money installing slate and flagstone patios. Professionally stamped and dyed concrete offers the same exact look with much less upkeep than natural stone. And while the realistic look might fool even the most discriminating folks, there’s nothing tricky about large amounts of money saved.
12. Properly Place Trees In The Landscape – Having right-sized trees placed smartly around the home not only helps to paint a more serene portrait in your landscape, but they also clean the air. What about the money savings? Think shade-mature trees do an incredibly effective job at blocking the harsh heat of the sun before it ever has the opportunity to heat up your home.
13. Heating And Cooling By The Space – One remarkably effective money and energy-saving strategy, particularly for those who happen to work full time from a home office, is to keep the central heating and air conditioning at a more efficient level and using a space heater or window air conditioning unit to maintain the one room being used the most at just the right temperature. This will easily save a couple of hundred dollars yearly when compared to keeping the entire house at a uniform temperature when only using one small area.
14. Using Window Shades To The Max – Another age-old (but often forgotten) technique to minimizing or maximizing the solar impact of sunlight on the home is to deploy a strategy of using the window shades or blinds effectively. In other words, in the winter, and when the sun is shining in, let the light in. When it’s not, keep the shades closed for a slight insulating effect. In the summertime, just reverse the process.
15. Save Water While Showering – Water-saving showerheads are definitely becoming the norm these days and that’s a good thing! Because they just work better than ever before, taking a comfortable shower with respectable water pressure can still be a reality…even when saving a really decent percentage of water (and money) used to stay fresh and clean.
16. Automate Security Lighting – In many cases, we tend to leave certain lighting turned on around the clock for security purposes; it’s a convenience thing as much as it is actually for the security itself. By installing timers or motion sensors to control the lighting and keep it switched off as often as possible, measuring the financial impact will have bright results over time.
17. Set A Sprinkler System Timer – Just like lighting, sometimes it’s really easy to turn on the lawn sprinkler or landscaping irrigation system and neglect to turn it off at the optimal time. Overwatering can actually be harmful to the plant life, and we know it’s simply wasteful when it comes to the pocketbook too. Using a simple low-cost water timer that plugs right in between the hose and the nozzle, delivering just the right amount of water while eliminating wasted resources is practically automatic.
18. Add More Insulation – Talk to a professional to find out if your home is properly insulated. For drafty, under-insulated homes, installing the right amount of insulation is probably one of the best ways to achieve financial savings-dollar for dollar, that is.
19. Take Credit With High-Efficiency Windows – Energy saving and solar blocking technology has been vastly improved for windows over the last decade or so. In an average well-insulated home, it’s simply a fact that most of the money spent heating and cooling a house is lost through the windows. The good news is that there’s currently an attractive tax credit offered to homeowners who are installing new high-efficiency windows. Why not take credit and save a few hard-earned dollars at the same time?
20. Go With The Tankless Water Heater – When installing a new water heater, the latest evolution of tankless units is very practical for savings-conscious homeowners. Because they only heat water on demand as it’s used, they save all of the energy that traditional tank water heaters use to keep all those gallons of water heated and ready to go at all times. Plus, tankless water heaters properly sized for your home’s water use loads will never run out of hot water.
21. Insulate Tank Water Heaters – If your home currently has a traditional tank-style water heater, and replacement is not in the cards, check to see if it’s been wrapped with a special insulating water heater blanket. Available at a very minimal price point, these insulating blankets will save up to several times their cost over a few years’ time. Remember, it all adds up!
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22. Insulate Hot-Water Pipes – Here’s a practical tip, especially for brand new homes with open access to the hot water pipes as they’re first being installed. The foam wrap style hot water pipe insulation is a snap to install with easy access. It won’t likely save bundles of money immediately, but with a cost of about 10 cents per foot, long term cost savings thanks to energy saved are still worth it.
23. Clean And Change Filters – Nothing robs the efficiency of a heating and air conditioning system quite like dirty filters. After all, they’re so easy to change (or clean if your unit uses a permanent filter system). Twice a year is just not often enough for this easy task.
24. Try Paint To Avoid A Total Remodel – It’s easy to set our minds on wanting a total remodel in a certain room of the house or two. However, many times all we really want or need is a fresh makeover for that area. It’s amazing how quickly a new paint scheme along with some minor décor upgrades will prove that a full-out remodel would have been completely overkilling. Save money by trying a little new paint first.
25. Choose Vinyl Flooring Instead Of Expensive Natural Materials – Slate looks great, and so does natural and ceramic tile. But the thing is, they’re excessively pricey when compared to alternative solutions such as look-alike vinyl sheet flooring or tile. Today’s vinyl flooring might just surprise you with its realistic looks-plus, it’s easy to clean and a breeze to maintain when compared to natural slate and grouted tile.
26. Reface Quality Kitchen Cabinets – Achieving the look and feel of a brand new luxurious kitchen often relies on the kitchen cabinets to carry the weight of the project. However, if the overall layout of the existing cabinets is still satisfactory and if the cabinets themselves are of acceptable quality, simply refacing the cabinets is the way to go. They’ll look completely brand new, but at a minor fraction of the cost of actually installing all-new.
27. Take Care Of The Finishing Touch With New Cabinetry Hardware – Much like refacing cabinetry, replacing outdated or broken cabinet hardware can work miracles for any tired kitchen or bathroom. It is amazing how much impact the little details like knobs, pulls, and hinges really do have on the overall look. And we’re talking the difference of spending just a few bucks per cabinet-not thousands!
28. Keep It Square – Building a new addition or designing a brand new home? If so, consider the age-old trick of the trade-keep it as square as possible. Eliminating complex angles reduces the number of materials needed, the number of waste materials that will end up in the scrap pile, and of course, the amount of time required to handle the construction and carpentry. This one tip alone will save thousands of dollars in extra material and additional labor costs.
29. Walk On Engineered Flooring Instead Of True Hardwood – Engineered or laminate wood flooring is the way to go for effective cost savings. With quality engineered flooring, most people will never even notice that it’s not real hardwood. Engineered flooring is much easier to install and performing costly maintenance every few years (as with real hardwood) is a thing of the past. Needless to say, the cost is going to be measurably less too.
30. Upgrade To Consumer Grade Appliances – Let’s face it…while those gourmet professional level appliances can be incredibly appealing, for most of us, going with high-end consumer-grade products will be much more practical. Not only are they designed for the needs of the cook-at-home chef, but they’re also more affordable, more efficient, and require significantly less maintenance.
31. Install A Water Filtration System – For those who consume quite a bit of bottled water, there’s good news-by installing a drinking water filtration system, you’ll actually end up with better quality water than what’s in all of those bottles. Added benefits of having fresh filtered drinking water ready at the touch of a lever include the fact that it’s much less expensive than bottles and the fact that you’ll be reducing your environmental impact thanks to cutting out all of that plastic.
32. Consider Composite Decking Material – Often priced even lower than wood upfront, the savings really begin to snowball over time. Composite decks mean little maintenance other than an occasional rinse with the hose. Compare this to treating and staining wood decks every year or two (until they need to be replaced completely eventually).
On average, most of us will spend more money on house-related expenses in our lifetime than any other category of expense. It’s not difficult at all to save thousands and thousands of dollars over the decades-saving extraordinary money on these expenses just requires a little thought!
Have a few great ideas of your own to add to the list? Please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!
© 2019 Jeff Smith
Liz Westwood from UK on September 25, 2019:
You have given me a lot of food for thought with these very practical and useful money-saving tips.
Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 23, 2019:
What a comprehensive list of useful tips and suggestions! I plan to go over the list with my husband and to share it with others. Thank you!