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 tick—and that doesn’t even include spending on any fun purchases like art or décor. Fortunately, there is no shortage of ways to reduce your expenses and save money on your monthly budget (and use that saved money toward experiences like vacations!).
I’ve outlined five simple methods that helped me lower my utilities bills long-term when I purchased my own home.
Home 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, snuggle up under a blanket, watch your favorite show on Netflix, and forget about the pending energy bill. Hold on though—before you crank the AC or heat, keep in mind that up to 45% of the average home’s energy consumption comes from heating and cooling. That’s a significant portion of your monthly budget that could go towards something else—like an awesome vacation or the newest tech product.
When I got my first energy bill after moving into my own home, I was shocked. It was nearly triple what I’d paid living in an apartment. So, I decided to invest in a smart thermostat. While it came with an upfront cost, the savings are worth it. Some smart thermostats can provide up to nearly $150 a year in utility savings, paying for themselves within two years. Best of all, these devices require very little user input. In fact, it’s hard to find an argument against them. Smart thermostats learn your preferred temperatures and what times you regularly come and go. After a week or two of learning, they can automatically adjust themselves to your preferences when they expect you home from work, and while you’re away they’ll turn the AC or heater off to save energy. They can also be controlled remotely via smartphone apps.
Home Tip #2: Make Smart Use of Coupons
Couponing is a great way to save a little money in your monthly budget. If you know where to look, and have the time to invest, the savings can really add up. The trick to couponing is balancing the time invested in gathering and organizing the coupons with the amount of money you’re actually saving. Dave Ramsey gives a great example: if you spend three hours gathering all the 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 may seem like a better deal. Whichever camp you fall in, it can still be beneficial to glance through the various ads that come your way in the Sunday paper. 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 Tip #3: Shop Around for Deals on TV Service
When I lived with roommates, we split the cost of all utilities. When I bought my own home, I wanted the same amenities, like high-speed internet and cable, without the high price tag and impact on my monthly budget. What’s home without a great space to stream Netflix?! Shortly after moving in, I shopped around for different cable and internet packages and pricing. Don’t get locked into a plan and then never even consider that there might be a cheaper alternative out there. Looking around is always a good idea, especially if you have a contract ending soon—cable service agreements often carry promotional pricing that goes up significantly when the contract term ends.
Home Tip #4: Set Up a Home Security System
As a woman, my personal safety is my top priority. So, when I bought my own home, I immediately installed a home security system. Installing a home security system is probably not the first thing that crosses your mind when thinking about ways to save money, but it can actually lower your homeowners insurance by as much as 20 percent. The biggest benefit for me is the fact that I feel safe in my home, but it’s great saving a little extra money on my insurance plan, too.
Home Tip #5: Invest in Rooftop Solar Panels
Installing solar panels is the next item on my home improvement list. It’s 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 from $15,000 to as high as $43,000. While I’m not financially able to purchase solar panels yet, it’s definitely an item I’m saving for in my monthly budget.
These five tips should get you off to a great start lowering your monthly expenses. And this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Pick your favorites and start saving today.
What has been the easiest savings choice you’ve implemented?