12 Smart, Money-Saving Tips for New Homeowners
You just closed on your first house. No doubt, it was probably the largest purchase you’ve ever made. As soon as you move in, you’ll start thinking about all the projects and new responsibilities of home ownership.
Your first few weeks and months in your new home present a wonderful opportunity to find ways to save money. Investing in little upgrades now can save you piles of cash in the future by lowering your energy bills and helping prevent the little disasters that often lead to huge repair bills.
Here you’ll find a dozen of our best tips for saving money and safeguarding your home from expensive damage.
1. Install a Smart Thermostat
Utility bills can take a big slice out of your budget. If you though your bills were high at your old apartment, wait until you see how much it costs to heat and cool a house.
Luckily for you, there’s a new generation of smart thermostats on the market that’ll help you keep your climate control endeavors as cost-effective as possible.
Smart thermostats let you program your optimal desired temperatures for different times of the day. After a while, they learn from your habits and adjust themselves accordingly.
What kind of savings can you expect with a smart thermostat? About 8% per year, according to Energy Star.
2. Install a Smart Water Monitoring & Security System
When you think about protecting your home, smoke detectors and home security are probably the first things that come to mind. But your home is actually twice as likely to suffer water damage than it is to be the victim of fire or theft.
Smart home water security systems, like the Flo by Moen, help protect your home from water damage and leaks and can potentially help you save money on your water bill and homeowner’s insurance.
Sometimes water leaks are so small and out of sight that by the time you spot them, the damage is already done. Your drywall can be damaged or your home’s frame compromised. Black mold from prolonged water exposure could impact your family’s health.
But with a smart monitoring system in place, you’ll get alerted to the smallest of leaks so you can get a professional in to take care of it. Tiny leaks might seem like just a nuisance, but they can add up to thousands of gallons of wasted water over the course of a year.
The sooner you tackle a problem, the more money you’ll save.
3. Start a Home Emergency Repair Fund
One of the biggest changes from being a renter to a homeowner is the added burden of maintenance. Back in your renting days, if something went wrong all you had to do was call the landlord or building manager to take care of it (including footing the bill).
Now if something breaks down, it’s all on you. Chances are as the years go by you’re going to be faced with some unexpected home maintenance challenges.
Prepare yourself for these future projects by setting aside a little money every pay period for an emergency repair fund. That way, when something comes up you’ll be ready to tackle repairs without going into debt.
4. Make Sure Your Attic is Well Insulated
We all learned back in our 5th grade science class that heat rises. Attics that are poorly insulated can let heat escape and add some extra dollars to your heating bill. If you have an attic in your new home, it’s a good idea to take a look around and check on your insulation.
Attics should be insulated with at least R-30 grade insulation, which translates to about 8 inches of insulation. If you’re moving into an older home, chances are you don’t have enough. Make this upgrade a top priority before temperatures start dropping.
5. Check up on Your Water Heater
Water heaters are one of the cornerstones of comfortable, modern living. Imagine taking a cold shower every day or having to boil water to wash your dishes? It’s easy to take for granted, but your water heater goes through a lot of stress while it does its job.
Look for the manufacturers sticker on your water heater. You should be able to find the date it was made and installed. If your water heater is over ten years old, replacing it with a brand new one should move up to the top of your home maintenance list.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Roof and Gutters
It protects you from the rain. It protects you from the snow. Your roof might be the most important part of your house. Makes sense to want to have it in the best shape possible, right?
One of your first tasks as a new homeowner is to make sure your roof is in perfect shape. Some things to look out for are missing shingles, worn out rubber boots around vents and and pipes, and patches of moss, which could be a sign of water leaks and mold.
Making sure your gutters are clear of debris and are draining properly is also important for your roof’s future health. Gutters that are clogged can cause water to build up on your roof and weaken or damage it.
7. Take Your Time With Home Improvement Projects
Buying your first home is definitely one of the most exciting times of your life. You’ll probably think of dozens of projects – big and small – that you want to start tackling immediately.
You’re in this for the long haul. You don’t have to jump on every single project right away. Take your time to settle in and get used to your new living situation. Your financial picture is bound to change with new expenses like your mortgage, property taxes and insurance payments.
Start jotting down a list of projects you want to accomplish and rank them according to priority and cost. Don’t put yourself in debt by trying to do too much at once. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
8. Replace Your Old Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check up on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they aren’t past their expiration dates. If you want to be on the safe side and have some extra peace-of-mind, consider starting fresh and replacing all your detectors soon after moving in.
You can call your local fire department and have them come in and inspect them. They’ll often install new detectors for you, free of charge.
A good rule of thumb? Change your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every ten years.
9. Upgrade to Newer, More Efficient Appliances
If your home came with older appliances, you can save a lot of money over time by upgrading.
Look for appliances with the Energy Star label. Energy Star certified appliances often do a better job than their not-so-efficient counterparts, all while using less electricity.
While the upfront costs may seem high, you could save up to 30% on your utility bills if you use energy-efficient appliances. Over time, the amount you save can offset the cost of upgrading.
10. Upgrade to LED Lighting
If your home isn’t already equipped with LED light bulbs, consider making the switch. LED bulbs are light years more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts, which leads to direct savings on your energy bills each and every month.
Not only that, but there are just so many options with LEDs. You can get bulbs that have a warmer, more yellow shade of white for your bedroom or reading areas, and bulbs with brighter whites for the kitchen or workspaces. If you want to get really crazy, you can get LED bulbs in just about any color you can dream of.
And they last longer, too. Even if you pay a little more for the bulb up front, it’s going to be a lot longer before you have to replace them.
11. Change Your Locks
The first thing you should do when you move into your new home is change the locks. It may seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget about or put off for later.
But think about it. Who knows how many copies of those original keys are floating around? You don’t want to leave anything to chance. Call up a locksmith and have all the doorknob locks and deadbolts changed.
If you’re a home security enthusiast and want to go the extra mile, you can look into getting a home security system installed, too.
12. Create a Maintenance and Repair Rolodex
Ever hear of Murphy’s Law? It states that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It may not be literally true, but as the years tick by while you’re living in your new home, things are going to happen.
When the unexpected happens, the last thing you want to do is scramble trying to find the right person to call. So soon after you move in, start building up a list of plumbers, carpenters and electricians.
Ask around the neighborhood for recommendations. If you’d search online to build your list, check out websites like Angie’s List. Your neighborhood probably has a local Facebook group where you can ask other homeowner’s in your community for their favorite handymen and repair services.