4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Saving for a Down Payment

Saving for a Down Paymentsaving

The thought and process for saving a down payment to purchase a home may seem overwhelming at first. Never fear, we’re here to help. Breaking the process into small, actionable pieces might just help you afford a home sooner than expected.

  1. Calculate what you can afford

Your first step in saving for a down payment includes deciding what you can afford what you are looking for in a home. Start by making a list of basic requirements including size, location, school districts, etc. When determining affordability, calculate the potential monthly payment plus homeowners’ association fees, taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and other related expenses. We recommend using one paycheck to cover all homeowner expenses if you’re one half of a dual income partnership.

  1. Determine how much a down payment you need

We recommend saving at least 20 percent of the purchase price. Lenders require 20 percent or more down for a conventional loan. Although, other loan options exist which require much smaller down payments, some as low as 3.5 percent. However, these loans require that you pay mortgage insurance. This insurance protects lenders if borrowers default on their loans. Once you know the price range you can afford, use this down payment calculator to get started saving.

  1. Create savings plan

One tip to help you save includes automating portion of your income. Options vary from choosing a fixed amount to choosing a percentage from either your paycheck or checking account. Whichever option you choose, deposit the portion into a separate cash savings account. You also can try the $5 bill savings plan where every time you receive five dollars as change you set it aside. Also, consider setting aside raises, bonuses and tax refunds. Combining all of these tips will help you get into your new home that much quicker.

  1. Build your equity

After all of the scrimping and saving, you deserve a congratulations for making your home purchase, but the benefits don’t stop there. As you make your mortgage payments each month, you own more and more of the property that builds equity over time. Equity that you can later use for a larger down payment on your next home or for an investment property. Either way, building equity ultimately builds your wealth.