Your home is likely the largest investment you own, as well as your greatest yearly expense. While there isn't much you can do to reduce your mortgage short of paying it off, there may be a number of small changes you can easily make to your home to save on monthly energy expenses. If you're unsure about what is costing you the most money, or you just want more advice on how you can save, get a home inspection for more guidance.
1. Energy-efficient windows
You lose a lot of heat through your windows in the winter and gain a lot in the summer, which leads to expensive bills. By investing in energy-efficient windows you can cut down on these costs. A double-paned window contains gas in the middle - usually argon - that reduces heat transfer. In addition, by choosing a wood-framed model over aluminum, homeowners can cut down on heat transfer even further, Paul Zuch, the president of Capital Improvements, told U.S. News & World Report.
2. Seal your ducts
About 20 percent of hot air from the average home's heating system escapes via holes in the house's duct system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It would be costly and difficult to seal up the ducts all throughout your house, but check any exposed ducts for places where they could use patching. If you find any holes, seal them up with foil tape for a quick fix.
3. Buy low-flow fixtures
Low-flow fixtures for your shower and sinks will maintain water pressure while reducing the water used. Energy Star reports that the average home can save from 25 percent to 60 percent by investing in these fixtures, which cost very little. A low-flow shower head can be found in most home stores for about $20.
4. Add insulation
One of the best ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs is to add insulation to your home. The attic is a common choice for adding insulation because much of the heat a home loses is through the roof, but the basement is often a good choice as well. Insulation is relatively cheap and easy to install, meaning that you will probably see a return on your investment in just a few years or less.
5. Invest in a tank-less water heater
Buying a tank-less water heater is a sizeable investment, but it's worth it in the long run. According to Energy Star, buying a tank-less water heater will allow you to save 10 percent to 20 percent of your water bill - plus they last an average of five to 10 years longer. As an added bonus, there's no store of hot water to run out of, meaning that everyone in your family can enjoy a hot shower.
6. Get a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats let you automatically adjust the heating in your home when you're not there, saving you the cost of heating or cooling an empty home. This will save you a bundle on your energy bill, plus they are reported to be more accurate than regular thermostats.
7. Add weather stripping
Weather stripping around doors and windows will prevent heat and cooling loss due to leaks. Much of the this loss in your home is due to air seeping out of tiny cracks around windows and doors, and with the extremely low cost of weather stripping, there's no excuse not to patch it up and save this money. Weather stripping is as easy as measuring, cutting and pasting it around your cracks to install.
Once you've finished your home projects, get a home inspection. A home inspection professional can identify areas that you might not see where your property can be improved in cost-effective ways to save you money.