If you’ve just moved into your new home, and you’re still reeling financially from the move and the house purchase, you’ll be wishing there were ways to cut down on the maintenance and running costs of living there.
Fortunately, there are ways of doing so, especially about cutting back on energy costs. As for general maintenance, the sooner you look for trouble (and find it) the cheaper it usually is to fix it.
1. Do a walk-through
Check the house thoroughly, including outbuildings. You may have done so before you bought it but this time, you get a chance to check for anything left behind by the previous owners – both in terms of actual items, and in maintenance problems that need attention now or could need attention in the future. Make a list as you go, so you can deal with the problems while they don’t cost a lot.
2. Don’t rush the revamp
You may be tempted to start turning your new house into your dream home straight away and want to call in the contractors immediately. However, it makes more sense to live in the house for a while before deciding what improvements are needed.
While you’re acclimatizing, there’s plenty to keep you occupied if you want to live comfortably and economically while you make up your mind on changes.
3. Step up access control
It’s not a case of being paranoid, but who knows how many copies of the keys to your new home are floating around out there? It’s worthwhile, and not very expensive, to replace the locks on the front and back doors and any others that lead outdoors. Also, reprogram any remote controls that give access to your garage or home, or alarm control systems. It will make you sleep comfortably at night.
4. Check the insulation on your roof
Up there among the beams, you should find at least six inches of insulation material. If there isn’t enough install some – it’ll save you a lot of money on heating bills and depend on which state you live in, you might even find you get an excellent refund for insulating your home so that it meets specifics for your area.
5. Make sure you’re not landing yourself in too hot water
You are going to want to have hot water, but it doesn’t need to be too hot. Be sure to check the setting on your water heater and turn it down if necessary. A temperature of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit of 55 degrees Celsius is more than adequate. Over that, it will be just wasting expensive energy supplies.
While you are at the water heater, cover it with a blanket to prevent heat loss into the space around it. That way you will also save energy and money.
6. Get with the program
A programmable thermostat could be just the answer to cutting your utility bill. You can program in the changes, so you don’t waste energy while you’re sleeping or away at work, but things warm up when you’re about to get out of bed or come home.
7. Keep the air circulating
Install ceiling fans wherever possible. They are not too inexpensive and require relatively little electricity. Provided you change their reversal settings, so they blow down on you in summer and draw the air up and away from you in winter, the resultant air circulation should allow you to adjust your thermostat by a couple of degrees either way. You should see quite a significant saving in energy costs as a result.
8. Check the vents
Unless you want the heating and cooling system in your new home to work overtime – and charge you big time for it – make sure that the vents in all the rooms of your new home are clear of dust and any form of obstruction. This will allow the air to flow more freely, and the system will have an easier and cheaper job.
9. Get rid of drafts
In older houses it is important to check for any gaps around doors and windows which could allow the heat you are paying enough money for to escape into the cold night air outside or give that same cold air access to your home. Caulking and weatherstripping are not that difficult or expensive to do, and it will save you on your energy bills.
10. Take a safety check
Make sure you know where everything is so you can find it in an emergency, and make sure everything is working. This includes:
- The Fuse Box and main disconnect which controls the supply of power to the house.
- The water pipes which controls the water supply.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers: It’s probably best to replace the batteries in the detectors and service the fire extinguishers unless you know for sure this was done recently by the previous owners.
- Planning the best emergency exits for you and your family in case you should need them.
11. Take care of any leaks
Give your kitchen and bathrooms a thorough going over to check for any dripping faucets, leaking pipes or paint and plaster damage that could indicate pipe damage within the wall. Leaks might contribute to structural damage in the long term and as well as causing a leak in your bank balance. Check outside faucets and piping for leaks, too, as even the smallest hole in a pipe can lead to considerable water wastage and is often the cause of mold starting.
12. Plant some shady trees
It’ll take some time to reap the benefits of this energy-saving exercise. However, the sooner you plant some deciduous trees close to your house, the sooner they will be big enough to save you on cooling costs by providing shade during the summer. In the winter they will lose their leaves so will not make the house even colder. Don’t plant them too close, though, or their roots could interfere with your sewer pipes or undermine your walls.
13. High and dry
Consider putting up clotheslines in the laundry room and outside. When the weather’s good, you can use genuine solar power to dry the laundry, and if it’s not so fine, you can hang them inside. It’ll save you a lot of money on energy and help your clothes last longer. Use the dryer only when the weather is awful or you are in a rush.
14. Wrap up to keep warm
Wrapping any exposed water pipes will help the water retain its heat until it reaches the faucet. This means you won’t be wasting as much water running it, while you wait for the hot water to come through from your water heater
15. Check on incentives and credits
All sorts of incentives and tax credits are available to encourage energy saving in homes. They are available at all levels of government, from federal through state and county to your city or town. Check out which apply to you in your city and state. The installation of solar power is especially encouraged.
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