Owning a house is a major responsibility, from hiring real estate agents and lawyers to handling the paperwork of purchasing one all the way to upkeep and repairs. Renters may take it for granted that the property’s owner will handle repairs and pay taxes on the house, but once a young adult buys their own home, they will face some new responsibilities. Fortunately, if they know just what to do, then they can save a lot of money and possibly get some tax returns, too. Owning a home does not have to break the bank if you know how to handle matters. Now, how can this be done?
Revamp Your HVAC System
On one hand, it is no secret that minimizing electricity use in the home can lower the electric bill and save money. But there is more to this than turning the TV and lights off when they are not in use. The single best way to save cash on the electric bill is through the HVAC system, which alone uses nearly half the electricity that a typical home needs. By extension, if your house’s HVAC utility is inefficient and old, then you are wasting a lot of money while operating it. In particular, the U.S. Department of Energy says that 25% to 40% of all electricity used to run a typical HVAC system is wasted, often due to dirt clogging up that system. Or, some components in the furnace burn out or wear down.
The blower fans are responsible for moving a lot of air for the HVAC system to work, but their output is greatly lowered if they’re coated in pollen, dust, and other grime. Intruding squirrels, rats, and other animals tend to build nests in the ducts, and your outdoor air conditioner unit might be clogged with dust, pollen, and leaves. Mechanical issues such as burnt-out furnace parts, weak blower fans, or leaking air ducts also lower the system’s efficiency, so it must work overtime to compensate. This is going to use up a lot of extra (and costly) electricity.
You can clean off the wall and floor air vents on your own, but professionals must be hired to perform more thorough work. HVAC experts can access the ducts to remove debris and clean them up, and they can also clean off the blower fans and unclog the outdoor air conditioner unit. What is more, these experts can fix or replace damaged air ducts and furnace components to fix any air leaks or replace burnt-out blower fans to restore full airflow. If the entire system is very old, such as 20 years old or more, it may be a better idea to overhaul the entire thing. This may cost a lot up front, but it will save a lot of money in the long run due to newer systems being much more fuel-efficient, and the new system will have minimal repair needs.
Use Your Tax Return For a Big Project
Once per year, you can make good use of your federal and state tax returns to finance a home improvement project, such as remodeling the kitchen or your master bathroom. It’s very common for Americans to receive tax returns; In 2018 alone, the IRS expected to process up to 155 million individual taxpayer returns. Once you get your returns for this year, draw up a budget and figure out if you can start a remodeling project to boost your property’s value and appeal. This is especially prudent if you are planning to sell your home soon and you want buyers to like what they see.
It is one thing to get a new rug or fix a cabinet handle; it’s another thing entirely to replace the kitchen’s tiles, swap out the countertop, or install a new sink. If your tax returns give you enough of a boost, find and hire some contractors who can remake any room of your choosing, or even all of them (30% of home remodeling projects span the entire house). In addition to new countertops and flooring, you can also have a more water-efficient dishwasher or sink put in, have new lighting fixtures installed, get a new stove, or have the cabinet doors refinished and repainted (or replaced entirely).
Meanwhile, it’s also popular to remodel the master bathroom, and not just the tile floor in there. Plumbers can install new and water-efficient toilets, showerheads, faucets, and bathtubs, which not only look nice but also save you a lot of money on the water bill in the future. As for the rest of the home, contractors can knock down walls to combine rooms, replace the floorboards or carpet, and repaint the walls, or overhaul faulty electrical sockets. All of this can generate a high ROI, or “return on investment”, since a remodeled home may sell for a higher price on the market. The kitchen and master bathroom, if remodeled, can yield an ROI as high as 70% to 80%.
Work With Professionals
By now, you are probably getting the impression that any big project calls for expert aid, and you are right. Roof repair experts, home remodeling crews, real estate agents, and more can fix or explain just about anything, and this can be very money-efficient in many cases. A repair expert can machine wood, metal, and plastic anywhere on your home; that is the three principal processes: turning, drilling, and milling. Don’t be afraid of all the loud power tool noises during remodeling; that means the workers are getting a good job done. On the roof, you can perform inspections on your own, but fixing leaks means hiring experts, and the same is true of replacing your house’s siding or gutters or having the foundation repaired or fixing the plumbing.
Often, you’ll find the right professionals for the job by looking online, and you should diligently check out the websites of each contractor crew in the area and compare and contrast them. A good website will include articles, videos, and photos of that crew’s expertise, and you should consult customer reviews as well. Your house and your money are on the line, so naturally, you should make sure you’re hiring the right people.
Let’s briefly touch upon other money-efficient repair jobs, especially if you’re going to sell the house soon. Don’t take the windows and doors for granted, since they can wear out and become faulty. Old, shoddy doors and windows fit badly in their frames and become fragile, meaning they admit air leaks (that disrupts the HVAC system) and they’re ugly and easy for burglars to break into. For the sake of safety, the HVAC system, and appealing to homebuyers, lookup window and door replacement crews who can remove the old hardware and install new models. In fact, double-paned windows are now available, and they can thoroughly insulate the home during cold weather. And don’t forget window treatments, such as screens, blinds, and drapes. In warm weather, closed blinds and drapes can block out hot sunlight, and thus ease the strain on the air conditioning (and maintain your privacy). In winter, closed drapes and double-paned windows keep the warmth in and thus lower your heater’s burden.
There’s also the matter of spray foam insulation, which is normally found in your home’s walls and up in the attic. If that foam is thin or missing, your house leaks too much warm or cool air, and that burdens the HVAC system. So, for small projects, you can buy chemical spray guns and protective gear to apply new spray foam yourself. If you wish, you may look up and hire a crew who will have their own spray foam rigs and make your home properly insulated once again.
A new homeowner may feel like they have a thousand responsibilities and ideas to juggle, but it helps to make a list of all routine repair needs and make a schedule for inspections. This allows you to diagnose any problems in your house early, and once you hire some experts for the job, that problem won’t last for long. After all, a busted air duct or pipe isn’t just leaking air or water; it’s also leaking your money. Don’t let it.