Buying and running a home isn’t cheap. People who do it often find that vast chunks of their income disappear just to put a roof over their heads.
It’s not just the cost of mortgages (though, that is a part of it). It is all of the other expenses too. They soon add up and prevent you from achieving the financial freedom that you want, even if two people are earning money in your family.
The average household now spends around 30 percent of its income on accommodation, including recurring housing costs (such as mortgages and rental payments), homeowners insurance, and private mortgage insurance (just in case the owners can’t pay the bills). When you add all of the bills and other expenses, most people spend more than 50 percent of their take-home pay on accommodation. It’s a massive drain.
The good news, though, is that there is a lot that the average person can do to cut the cost of living in a property, besides refinancing. What’s more, these measures can also improve the overall quality of your accommodation, leaving you in a much better position than before. Check out some of these innovative techniques to cut the cost of ownership.
Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes
Insulating your hot water pipes is a relatively straightforward DIY project that takes a few hours but makes a massive difference to your bills. Foam pipe insulation is probably the best. All you do is order foam that is the right size for your piping and then wrap it around the pipes. Often you don’t even need to close it up with cable ties, glue, or tape: it’ll just stay in place by itself. You can also use fiberglass strips, but these are more challenging to install.
Replace Your Old Windows And Doors With Efficient Varieties
Your current windows and doors might be the reason your household bills are so high. Gaps between the windows, doors and their frames can allow warm air to leak out, being replaced by cold air that forces your heating system to work harder. Swapping out the windows and doors, therefore, can help you to reduce your utility bills and increase the resale value of your property.
High-end sliding windows typically cost between $800 and $1000 each. Cheaper alternatives come in at between $300 and $500, depending on the size and the manufacturer.
If you have installed new windows before, you may be able to do it yourself. If, however, you’re not an expert, then it is best to leave it to professionals. Failing to install windows correctly can mean that you let in cold air, upping your utility bills.
Shade Your Property With A Shade Tree
If you live in a part of the country that experienced hot weather for a large chunk of the year, you could benefit from a shade tree. Where possible, choose a species that grow quickly and offers a thick crown that will block out the sun’s rays, especially during the summer months. Popular choices include willows, birches, poplars, and maples.
Just remember not to plant the tree too close to your property – the roots could cause foundation issues.
Build A System For Harvesting Rainwater
Every year, hundreds of gallons of waterfall on your property in the form of rain, but how much of it do you actually collect? If you’re like most people, the answer is very little. Collecting rainwater, though, is one of the easiest ways to slash your water bills and protect the environment.
The best way to do it is to collect the water than falls on your roof using your existing guttering system. Just modify it so that you feed water into a rain collection barrel.
These barrels come in a variety of sizes, but the most common is the 55-gallon type. It provides ample water for the garden on hot summer days.
Barrels cost in the range of $50 if you buy them new, although there are more budget-friendly options for the frugal among you. You can also get rainfall collection systems that water your garden using underground pumps and channels, although these are considerably more expensive.
Seal Your Woodwork And Decking
Woodwork and decking have an annoying habit of degrading over time, forcing you to replace them every ten years or so to keep your home looking great. That’s a problem. The average price of installing a new wooden deck is between $1,500 and $3,500, so it’s not cheap.
Wood sealant, however, prevents the weather from taking hold in the first place, protecting the delicate wood underneath. Decking requires the reapplication of wood stain every two to three years to keep it in good condition. If you happen to live in a particularly harsh climate with lots of frost-thaw cycles, then you may need to add protection more often than this.
Change Your Air Conditioning Filters
Changing your air conditioning filters is a relatively straightforward DIY task for most homeowners. The majority of systems provide a set of easy-to-follow instructions for removing it and replacing it with a fresh one.
The fact that replacements are so easy is a good thing. Data from the Department of Energy suggest that dirty or broken filters can increase household air conditioning costs by between 5 and15 percent.
The type of filters that each system has varies from one manufacturer to another. Most modern air conditioning systems rely on multiple filters throughout. The main one is usually in the return duct, but they could be elsewhere in your system too. For wall units and windows, for instance, you’ll often find the filter behind the fresh air vent.
Buy More Low-Flow Fixtures
In many parts of the world, like the desert or Southern California, fresh water is scarce. There just isn’t a huge amount of it.
People living in these regions, therefore, need to conserve water by whatever means they can. One of the best approaches is to buy low-flow fixtures and fittings. These are mostly just the same as the rest of the water-using products in your home but use less water.
Toilets that have the WaterSense label on them use less water than their traditional counterparts. Estimates from the EPA suggest that a low-flow toilet could save the average family $110 per year and around $2,200 over its twenty-year lifespan.
Low-flow faucets can reduce water usage by around 30 percent, and low-flow showers by an impressive 70 percent. Installing low-flow fixtures throughout the house can potentially save the average homeowner $30 off their bills per month.
Stop Using Wasteful Appliances
The amount of energy that dishwashers, dryers, and washing machines use varies dramatically from model to model. Some of the best makers offer designs that use fifty percent less energy than their rivals.
Top-loading washing machines with the best Energy Star ratings, for instance, use about half of the electricity of the same model a decade ago. They also use around 40 percent less water per cycle, reducing the cost of utility bills on two fronts at once.
The returns to upgrading your old appliances are substantial. New washing machines, for instance, fetch between $300 and $1,000 to buy new. The savings, however, can add up to $360 per year, meaning that the utility recoups all the sunk costs in just a few years, even if you purchase a top-end model.
Put Sealant Around Leaky Windows And Doors
If replacing your windows and doors is not an option for you, then you can try putting sealant around them instead. Single-pane windows are around 25 percent less efficient than their modern, double-pane counterparts. Still, the costs of upgrading can reach many thousands of dollars – sums of money than many homeowners can’t afford.
If the main problem with your windows is the gaps between the window unit and the wall, you can fix it much more cheaply than opting for wholesale replacement. Weatherstripping your windows and doors can help you close the gap between single and double-pane windows by 5 to 10 percent, and it costs a heck of a lot less.
Data indicate that weatherstripping windows and doors costs between $3 and $30 per unit. If you’re really stuck for cash, you could add sealant to sections of windows and doors across your home over several months. Uliumtaley, you’ll make your money back in the form of lower heating costs.
Sink Waste Disposal
Sink waste has a nasty habit of building up in your pipes and causing blockages, forcing you to call out the plumber.
The main problem is food that goes into the plughole, bypasses the filter, and then just rots in the U-bend beneath the sink, clogging it up.
Now, though, you can get sink waste disposal devices that automatically chew up waste food as it comes through the plughole, grinding it up before sending it off to the water treatment plant. These systems aren’t always cheap, typically costs more than $100, but they can improve your quality of life and cut long-term maintenance costs.