5 Home Maintenance Projects that Will Save You Money

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Keeping your home in top condition goes beyond curb appeal. Done right, it enhances the livability of your space, prevents costly repairs and safeguards your home’s value.

And sure, coming home to a beautiful house after a long day is motivation enough to give it some periodic TLC, but there’s also a practical advantage. Many maintenance projects can help you save money in the long run — and in today’s economy, every penny counts.

Most experts recommend setting aside 1% to 4% of your home’s purchase price annually for upkeep, though older homes and fixer-uppers will require a larger safety net. Regardless of the age of your home, keeping a well-maintained home will reduce your chances of needing to sock away thousands of dollars (if not more) into major repairs later on.

“Staying on top of routine home maintenance projects is one of the best ways for homeowners to help prevent unexpected issues and their associated costs and headaches,” Courtney Klosterman, home insights expert at Hippo Home Insurance, says.

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1. Check for gaps around your windows and doors

Inspect the caulking around your exterior doors and windows. Even small gaps or missing sealing material can lead to significant energy loss. According to Energy Star, this forces your heating and cooling system to work harder, increasing your energy consumption by up to 15%.

If you notice gaps in the caulking, you can solve the problem yourself by filling them in. Be sure to use the appropriate material: exterior-ready caulks are resistant to sun, rain and changing temperatures — and typically last longer — while interior caulks decay quickly when exposed to the elements. If significant strips of sealing material are missing or the existing caulk needs to be entirely replaced, you may want to hire a professional.

2. Do regular HVAC tune-ups and inspections

Cars aren’t the only things that work more efficiently with regular tune-ups. Critical systems like heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units also need occasional servicing. This will probably run you a few hundred dollars, but replacing a damaged heating or A/C unit can cost several thousand.

A clogged HVAC filter forces your unit to work harder, which increases your utility bill. Experts recommend replacing filters at least every three months, but during summertime and other periods of heavy use, you may need to install new filters every month.

HVACs also have a drip line or pan that collects the condensation. These drainage systems should be checked regularly to prevent water buildup. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your HVAC unit (and significantly reduce your energy output), so it’s good to bring in an expert once a year for a cleaning and inspection.

3. Plug leaks

A small leak in your kitchen faucet, toilet or hose bib may not seem like much, but according to Josh Rudin, owner of the Phoenix, Arizona-based ASAP Restoration LLC, these drips are “a sign of impending failure.” Often, these small leaks lead to progressively larger ones that, over time, cause water damage, mold and a skyrocketing water bill.

Some small leaks just need a washer replaced, others require a plumber’s expertise. You should periodically have an expert inspect all the water hoses that lead to your home’s major appliances, like washing machines and refrigerators. Over time, these hoses can become brittle and break, leading to water damage that will be much more costly to repair.

4. Replace old appliances

The old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to outdated appliances. They may work well enough, but they won’t be as efficient as newer models. According to Green Building & Design (GB&D), replacing an outdated exhaust fan with an Energy Star-certified model will cut your energy consumption by 50%, while an Energy Star-rated clothes dryer uses 20% less power, on average, than its standard counterpart.

Your local government or utility company may offer incentives to homeowners who undertake energy-efficient improvements, which can help offset the cost. If this is your first time upgrading outdated home appliances, you can always request a home performance assessment from an Energy Star home expert to pinpoint ways to make your home comfortable, safe and more efficient.

5. Don’t neglect your garden

Keeping your yard in good shape reduces potential damage from heavy rains and wind. Keep trees trimmed if they’re close enough to your home to damage the roof, and tidy up shrubs that rub against your windows or siding.

There are other advantages to keeping a well-maintained (and well-appointed) yard. According to GB&D, planting the right tree in the right spot can reduce your energy consumption by as much as 25%. Deciduous trees offer the most bang for your buck, since they cast shade in the summer — reducing the heat your home absorbs — and lose their leaves in winter, allowing more solar heat to enter the house.

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