Owning a home is expensive. Not only do you have the mortgage to deal with, but you also have the seemingly endless string of utilities, services, and equipment needed to make your home function—and that doesn’t even include spending on any fun purchases like art or décor. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to increase your home savings and decrease your monthly spending (and you can use that saved money toward your next vacation!).
Here are five simple strategies that helped me lower my utility bills after I purchased my own home.
Home Savings Tip #1: Install a Smart Thermostat
Nothing is worse than being too hot or too cold in your own home. So you a crank up the heat and settle in to watch your favorite show on Netflix, and forget about the pending energy bill. Hold on though—before you crank the heat or air conditioning, keep in mind that up to 45% of the average home’s energy consumption comes from heating and cooling — and consumption costs you money. If you want to to work on your home savings, then you need to work to reduce your energy consumption. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s good for funding your next vacation as well!
When I got my first energy bill after moving into my own home, I was shocked. It was nearly triple what I’d paid while living in an apartment. I decided to invest in a smart thermostat. While it came with an upfront purchasing cost, the savings were well worth it. Smart thermostats can provide up to nearly $150 a year in utility savings. With those savings, the device will pay for itself within two years.
In fact, it’s hard to find an argument against installing a smart thermostat. These devices require very little work on behalf of the owner, as they can be programmed with your preferred temperatures and which times you are around the house. After a week or two of learning, smart thermostats can automatically adjust themselves to your preferences when they expect you home from work. While you’re away, they turn off the heat or AC to save energy. For ultimate convenience, smart thermostats can also be controlled remotely via a smartphone app.
Home Savings Tip #2: Make Smart Use of Coupons
Couponing is a great way to make home savings a priority. If you know where to look and are willing to put in the time, the savings can really add up. The trick to couponing is making sure that the time you invest in gathering and organizing coupons is worthwhile for the amount of money you’re actually saving. Dave Ramsey gives a great example: if you spend three hours gathering coupons and save a total of $52, you “earned” $17 an hour for that work.
For some people, $17 an hour to clip coupons is great. For others, putting in an hour or two of overtime at the office is a more worthwhile use of their time. Whichever camp you fall into, it never hurts to check for coupons before you make a purchase. Check for promo codes or big sales running for the items on your list at sites like SlickDeals or RetailMeNot. It’s also a common practice for big box stores to send a coupon code to your inbox after you sign up for their email list. You’ll also want to make sure you actually need the items you’re buying, of course. It’s almost never a good idea to buy something just because you have a coupon for it.
Home Savings Tip #3: Shop Around for Deals on TV Service
Living with roommates was a built-in home savings strategy because we divided up all of the home-related costs equally, including all of our utility bills. However, when I bought my own home, I wanted the same amenities I had before — like high-speed internet and cable — but without the high price tag of paying it on my own. What is even the point of owning a home without the ability to stream unlimited Netflix?!
Shortly after moving in, I shopped around for different cable and internet packages and pricing. Don’t commit and forget – cable and internet packages are always changing and running promotional specials. There will be a cheaper alternative out there if you keep an eye out for it. Shopping around with different providers is always a good idea, especially if your contract is ending soon. Internet and cable providers are well aware of the stiff competition on the market, so they are likely to offer you a deal in order to keep you as a customer.
Home Savings Tip #4: Set Up a Home Security System
Especially as a woman, my personal safety while living alone is a top priority. So when I bought my own home, I immediately installed a home security system. You might not think that installing a security system would have a positive impact on your home savings, but it can actually lower your homeowners insurance by as much as 20%. For me, the biggest benefit of installing a home security system was the fact that it made me feel safe in my home, but I certainly don’t mind that it also saves me a little extra money on my insurance plan as well.
Home Savings Tip #5: Invest in Rooftop Solar Panels
Installing solar panels is the next item on my home savings list. It is such a great way to provide some, if not all, of your home’s energy. Solar panels come with a large upfront investment, but over time you can easily recoup the cost in savings on your energy bill.
The price of solar panels has gone down considerably over the last several years. The average cost to install 5 kW of rooftop panels is now around $11,760 after tax credits. The average lifetime savings for homeowners after installation ranges anywhere from $15,000 to as high as $43,000 and up. While I’m not financially able to purchase solar panels yet, it’s definitely an item I’m saving for in my monthly budget. It would be great to save money AND be doing something good for the planet!
These five tips should get you off to a great start lowering your monthly expenses. This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Do some online research, ask your friends for tips, or pick one of your favorites from this list. With all of the opportunities for home savings that you are bound to discover, you might just be booking that next vacation before you know it!
What has been the best home savings strategy you’ve implemented in your life?