Guest Post by Patrick Chism
The expenses associated with homeownership are no joke! There are mortgage payments, home insurance costs, and ongoing maintenance fees. On top of it all, you have to keep the lights on. It’s no wonder homeowners are constantly looking for ways to lower their next utility bill.
Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways to save money on your bills that can easily be worth looking into — options like a no-closing-cost refinance or home equity loan to pay down other debt and free up some extra cash to put toward your utilities. Finding other ways of refinancing your home is always on the table and can be a practical, beneficial decision over time to uncomplicate your monthly budget. Make sure costly utilities are a thing of the past and take your personal finance skills to the next level with these helpful tips to cut your average monthly homeownership bill.
Heading into the winter season, take the time to ensure your home is properly insulated. This is a surefire way to save on heating costs. While this project can be a challenging DIY endeavor or result in a hefty bill from a contractor, paying a bit up front will save you some substantial dough in the long run.
To start, you should assess your home based on its specific needs. Pay attention to common symptoms of poor insulation: a draft running through the house, uneven temperature between rooms, high heating and cooling bills, or a large concentration of dust throughout the house.
You may want to hire an efficiency expert to perform an energy audit of your home and pinpoint any problem areas. Among other things, they will assess your insulation levels and inspect your home for air leaks so you can learn exactly where you are losing money and how you can fix it moving forward.
Making small renovations that improve your home’s energy efficiency may also increase its current market value so when it comes time to sell, you reap the benefits in the form of a higher listing price.
Did you know that your electronics continue to use energy even when they’re not in use? Known as “energy vampires,” those gadgets you keep plugged in will suck any money you’re trying to save out of your pocket and into your next utility bill.
Walk through your home and check your outlets. Decide which electronics should be unplugged and which should stay constantly operating. Small appliances, charging stations and entertainment systems are all fairly easy to reboot after use — it’s as easy as putting the plug back in the outlet. Other electronics, like air conditioning units or your Wi-Fi equipment, actually use more energy while starting up again, so it’s best to leave them running at all times.
While keeping electronics you don’t commonly use plugged in is an obvious waste of energy, it can also be a safety hazard. One way to prevent fires or other malfunctions in your home is by upgrading your electronics to smart functioning. You can purchase smart power strips, outlets, or light bulbs that are both energy efficient and can be operated using an app on your phone. This way, energy is better conserved, and you’ll never have to worry about accidentally leaving the lights on while you’re away from home.
Downsizing your home may not be the simplest option on this list, but it’s certainly one of the most impactful ways you can save on your utility bills. A smaller home means smaller rooms to light and less space to heat in colder temperatures. This will have a substantial impact on the cost of utilities. Your mortgage will also likely decrease if you move to a home with smaller square footage. Before downsizing though, it’s important to consider things that may cause your home costs to increase, like property taxes or insurance fees, and weigh those potential gains and losses against one another.
If you’re not ready to move out of your home, you should also consider refinancing your mortgage while rates are low. Restructuring your mortgage to meet new terms and conditions can greatly reduce the cost of your home from month to month.
Reducing the costs of homeownership can come in many forms. But, if you’re cutting costs on utility bills, there are a couple key tips to remember:
Sealing your attic and spreading proper insulation will help your home stay heated during winter, allowing you to use less energy to keep your rooms and yourself warm. When you’re away from home, you should unplug any electronics that you don’t frequently use to save your utility bill from “energy vampires” or your home from dangerous safety hazards.
At the end of the day, it may make the most sense for you to downsize or restructure your mortgage so you can prevent more expenditures from leaving your bank account. Talk with a mortgage professional to see what options are available to you so you can lower your monthly payments each month.
For seven more great ways to save, visit the Best Company Mortgage Rates Blog for helpful information on the ownership, financing, and servicing of your home.
Patrick Chism is a Section Editor at Quicken Loans. Patrick’s expertise focuses on making the most out of homeownership and maximizing the return on investments while keeping a close eye on your wallet. Find more of his tips on owning and financing a home at the Rocket Mortgage Learning Center.
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