Do you know how much your home is costing you? Sure, mortgage payments and utility bills eat up most of your paycheck, but understanding why you’re paying so much is an important way to help you save. According to the United States Department of labor, the average American family has 2.5 members and makes around $62,000 a year. The average amount they spend? Over $50,000. If your goal is to save a bigger chunk of your household income, the first place you can look for opportunities to cut back on bills is around your home. Replacing items in your house might take some extra money at first, but the savings over time make it well worth the investment. These are some great places to start.
1. Your Refrigerator
In 2011, the Department of Energy changed efficiency standards for refrigerators. By 2014, all new refrigerators will use about 25 percent less energy than existing models. It’s one of the best upgrades to appliance standards the DOE has issued so far, and it’s expected to save home owners 3.4 billion dollars in electricity bills. Refrigerators today use one fifth of the energy they did in the 1970s, so the newer your fridge, the less it will cost you to own.
2. Your Insulation
That old, papery insulation in your attic could be costing you money when it comes to your heating and cooling bills. Replacing insulation might seem like a big job, but it doesn’t have to be. Even focusing on one area of your home can make a difference. And if you stick to fiberglass and mineral wool insulation, you may even be able to do it yourself. Older homes that haven’t had their insulation evaluated and replaced in decades can lose up to 40 percent of their energy.
3. Your Mattress
You’ve probably heard all the good reasons to replace your mattress – dust mites, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up over the years. But you might not realize just how many health problems old mattresses can cause. If you suffer from asthma, allergies, or chronic back pain, an old mattress will aggravate these conditions. And if you’re sensitive to chemicals in your mattress, your headaches and joint pains can stop you from getting enough sleep. This adds up to missed work, over the counter medications, and even doctor bills.
4. Your Security System
Home security is one more bill in the pile every month, and yet protecting your family doesn’t seem optional. If you’ve had the same alarm system or a while, try shopping around at http://www.securitysystems.net/companies.php for a cheaper plan. Nowadays, security is using cellular technology and requires much less equipment and maintenance, so it’s easier to find an affordable option. Plus, many systems come with environmental controls which also save you money on energy bills by regulating how often you use your air conditioner or turning off lights in an empty room. Technology has made it possible to practice smart habits easily.
5. Your Cable Provider
Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for channels nobody in your family even watches, research options in your area for local cable companies you may not have heard of. You might find that installing a satellite dish gives you some slightly cheaper options for cable packages, as well. But do you really need cable at all these days? Forbes Magazine reports that over 5 million Americans have zero TV at all, and most get their media from streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus which are a whopping $7.99 per month. It definitely pays too look into how much you are spending on a service versus how much you use it.
6. Your Doors
Another way to save energy and money is to get rid of your old wooden doors, which have probably been warped over the years and can make your home significantly cooler or warmer than it should be. Older doors should be replaced with fiberglass or steel. Steel is the cheapest, and it creates a tight seal that holds energy in, especially when you install your new doors with floor sweeps that block airflow and also keep out insects. The installation costs of new doors usually pay for themselves in under a year by saving you money on utilities.
7. Your Light Bulbs
Now is a perfect time to take advantage of LED technology, which is expanding and improving every day. Second and third generation LED lights are brighter and more efficient, and they last 25 times as long as a traditional light bulb. Any lamps, bulbs, and fixtures that can be replaced with LED should be. Light bulbs lose 80 percent of their energy as heat, but LEDs are directional, dimmable, and cool. They’re also becoming more widespread, so the cost of purchase is rapidly falling. They are guaranteed to save you a lot of cash in the long run.
It’s easy to put off making simple upgrades to your home when you’re living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have time to stop and worry about household items, But new and energy-efficient appliances, features, and services will save you an exponential amount of money in the future. When you’re budgeting, don’t just think about tomorrow, think about what happens down the road. That might make getting there a little easier.