Home Savings Tips

Comparison shop for homeowners insurance. Before renewing your existing homeowners insurance policy each year, check out the rates of competing companies.

Refinance your mortgage. Explore if you have the option to refinance your mortgage to a lower interest rate. On a 15-year $100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, lowering the rate from 7 percent to 6.5 percent can save you more than $5,000 in interest charges over the life of the loan. And, you will accumulate home equity more rapidly, thus increasing your ability to cover large emergency expenditures.

Audit your home energy use. Ask your local electric or gas utility for a free or low-cost home energy audit. The audit may reveal inexpensive ways to reduce home heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year. Keep in mind that a payback period of less than three years, or even five years, usually will save you lots of money in the long-term.

Weatherproof your home. Caulk holes and cracks that let warm air escape in the winter and cold air escape in the summer. Your local hardware store has materials, and quite possibly useful advice, about inexpensively stopping unwanted heat or cooling loss.

Keep the sun out. Keep your blinds or curtains closed during hot summer days. Blocking the sunlight really does help to keep your house cooler.

Use less water. Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to reduce your water usage and water costs.

Cut laundry detergent and dryer sheet use in half. The laundry detergent sold today is usually highly concentrated and powerful. Use the smallest suggested amount, and often you can use less than what’s on the bottle and still get clean clothes. In many cases, using less actually washes more effectively because there’s no leftover soap in your clothes. And tearing your dryer sheets in half gives the same result for half the price.

Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. For every 10 degree reduction in temperature, you can save up to 5 percent on water heating costs.