Since your home is typically the biggest single financial investment most people make, it’s important to take care of it and to do your best to save money where you can. Here are some common ways homeowners waste money.
Incandescent Light Bulbs
I am not one to throw away perfectly good light bulbs but doing so would save money if I replaced my incandescent bulbs with LEDs, or light emitting diodes. LEDs are actually tiny semiconductors rather than light bulbs and they use 80 percent less energy, last 25 times as long, and cost a fraction of the money for the light they emit over the life of the bulb.
Leaky Faucets or Running Toilets
A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. A moderate toilet leak generally wastes about 6,000 gallons of water per month and can cost you an additional $1,000 per year. As with most home repair problems, plumbing woes only get worse with time.
Dirty Air Filters
Changing the air filter in your heater and/or air conditioning unit every few months can extend the life of your HVAC system. Dirty filters cause the electric motors to run more often and wear out sooner.
Most homes have programmable thermostats, allowing you to set a temperature to stay comfortable day and night. One way to save money is to keep your home warmer in summer and cooler in winter, especially when everyone leaves for work or school. Wasting resources on cooling or heating empty rooms is also bad for the environment.
Poorly Adjusted Air Vents
If you are too warm in one room but too cold in another, there’s a good chance your air vents haven’t been adjusted properly. When air is directed more evenly, you don’t need to adjust the thermostat so often.
Really Hot Water
The default setting for most water heaters is 140 degrees; however, most of us can get all the hot water we need at 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees, you’re likely paying an additional $10 per month. This is one of those areas where you can save money and not notice any decrease in comfort.
It’s amazing what people can accomplish with YouTube and a little determination. Rather than hiring a handyman for simple repairs, see if you can figure it out yourself. Clearly, I’m not talking about major renovations here, but small repairs are often simple and inexpensive.
It’s hard to see what’s happening up on the roof, but it’s worth a look every now and then. Fixing a curled shingle will save a more expensive repair later.
No Attic Fan
Attic fans with automatic thermostats are a great way to reduce air conditioning costs and add years to the life of your roof. When it’s 90 degrees outside, for example, it can be as hot as 130 degrees in your attic. When the attic fan blows all that hot air outside, your home stays cooler and your roof lasts longer. A whole house exhaust fan will also pay for itself quickly.
Old refrigerators can be energy hogs. If you have one in your garage that you’re not using, get rid of it. It’s costing you about $30 per month. And if your fridge in the kitchen is more than ten years old and it breaks, better to replace it rather than repair it because of improvements in energy efficiency technology.
Basically, the longer you defer maintenance on your home, the more expensive repairs will be and the more money you’ll waste in the meantime. That’s why when I talk to people about purchasing a home, I recommend they start a maintenance savings account right away.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.