Home ownership is a dream for most Americans. It represents not only success and achievement but also a place to call your own. It is the center of your life and where many of your family memories will be made.
There is a very sentimental attachment to the first house you purchase with your spouse and the home that welcomed your newborn child. But along with all of these fond memories and emotional attachments comes home ownership costs.
These expenses evoke much less sentimental thoughts and in some cases can even create some sadness or angst. But homeowners can avoid some of those sad feelings and expenses by investing just a little time to reduce the cost of owning and maintaining their home.
Reduce Your Utility Costs
Moving into a home brings a lot of bigger bills and some of the most noticeable are your utilities. You can address just a few key areas and help to reduce the cost of heating, cooling, and electricity. First, inspect the insulation in your attic. You should find at least six inches of insulation between the beams and even more if you live in the northern portion of the country. If you find inadequate insulation then adding more can help to reduce the cost of heating your home. You will also want to see if your state offers any type of rebate, refund or incentive for homeowners who improve the insulation of their home. Ceiling fans will also help to circulate hot air in the winter and cooler air in the summer making both your furnace and air conditioner more efficient. Another hit on your energy bill comes from your hot water tank. Make sure that the temperature is not set higher than 120 degrees. That is about the max temperature for hot water that will not scald or burn and it is more energy efficient than a higher setting. Also consider installing a hot water tank blanket to help maintain the temperature of the tank and reduce the amount of energy that it uses to keep your water hot. You might also want to investigate an on demand system such as a “tankless” hot water system. This is the most efficient manner for heating water for a home.
Ideas For The Outside Of Your Home
You can also make a few changes outside your home to help reduce your utility bills. Planting trees that will shade your home is a great way to reduce your cooling costs. In addition to providing shade your trees will also provide natural screening to provide privacy from neighbors and a sound barrier from street noise. In addition to planting a few tees, consider landscaping with Xeriscape plants. These are varieties which are considered to require much less water. Many cities now offer classes on Xeriscape designs as well as rebates or credits to homeowners who install these eco friendly plants so you will save on your water bill and the cost of the new landscaping. Another way to conserve energy is to use a clothesline to dry laundry. A clothes dryer not only consumes a lot of energy but it also adds heat to your home. In the winter time the added heat is welcome but in the summer it is just adding to the workload of your air conditioner. Take advantage of the free heat outdoors to dry your clothes and also help keep the temperature inside your home more comfortable.
Access Your Mortgage
One of the biggest expenses in every homeowner’s budget is their mortgage. And it is a good idea to review the terms from time to time to see if you can reduce the fees that you are paying. If you purchased your home and made a downpayment of less than 20% then you are likely to be paying Private Mortgage Insurance. The premium for this is being added into your monthly mortgage payment and can range from $30-$70 per month for every $100,000 that you borrowed so the cost adds up. Once you have made enough payments to reach 20% of the value of your home, you can request that the PMI be removed from your mortgage. Another way to reduce your mortgage is to shop for a better interest rate. Not only will this reduce your payment but it can also reduce the length of time that you are paying. In some cases, you might even find that you can refinance on a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year and reduce your interest even more.
In the perfect world, home renovations would all be completed by a contractor and at a very affordable price. But in the real world, home renovations and updates can be very expensive. But if you can watch as few YouTube videos and you are at all handy, then you could complete some projects yourself. Not only will this create a nicer living space for you and your family but it will also be adding value to your home. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two most important rooms to buyers and are probably two important rooms for most homeowners as well. New kitchen cabinets can be very costly, but staining or painting the existing cabinetry and adding new knobs and drawer pulls can provide a fresh new look for less than a few hundred dollars. A basic bathroom can get a makeover of new fixtures, a new mirror and paint for less than $500. Add in a few decorator touches and you will have an affordable bathroom renovation. If you are feeling more confident in your DIY skills you might even consider installing a new tile floor to increase the beauty and value of the renovation even more. Homeownership costs can be expensive but by investing a little time and doing some research you can find many great ways to reduce your expenses. Your reward will be in your increased enjoyment of your home, increased functionality and the increase in value.