By Amy DeYoung
Updated Oct 28, 2022
Becoming a new homeowner is exciting. Walking through your new space and imagining what you’ll fill your home with and how it’ll look when you’re done is fun. Homeownership means you can decorate and paint whatever you want. The only thing holding you back is your budget.
Redecorating, buying furniture, and adding appliances to your new place will be costly, and you don’t want to rack up credit card debt just to decorate and renovate. There’s also a great deal of home maintenance and repairs you may need to make upon moving into your new abode. To help, we’re sharing our top 15 money-saving tips every new homeowner needs to know.
Did you know that the average maintenance costs of a home are $10,200 over five years? Unfortunately, this number will only go up if you ignore or put off repairs. For example, repairing your gutters can easily cost up to $2,500, increasing your overall maintenance and repair costs.
While your home inspection may have revealed certain repairs that need to be addressed, it’s a good idea to conduct your own review and look for anything that needs repairing. Remember, the longer you wait to improve parts of your home, the more likely you’ll need to completely replace appliances or make extensive repairs, which will cost you much more money.
Everyone needs an emergency fund, regardless of their life situation. However, homeowners are at risk of even more expensive emergency repairs. For example, your pipes could burst, or your old refrigerator could fail. While home insurance or warranties may cover some of the costs, having an emergency fund is also wise. We recommend using NerdWallet’s Emergency Fund Calculator to estimate how much you should save to cover emergency costs based on your home.
It may be overwhelming to think about saving thousands of dollars if you’re living on a tight budget. However, setting aside a little money from each paycheck can quickly add up and give you a financial buffer should anything happen to your home, car, health, etc.
LED light bulbs are more energy-saving than other types of lights, such as incandescent bulbs. Not only are LED lights a softer, brighter light than different types of harsh lighting, but they can save you a lot of money on your energy bill.
When shopping for LED lights, look for ones with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 80 or higher. These lights may not be available at your local hardware store, so you might need to go to a specialty lighting store.
Smart power strips can save you a significant amount of money in energy costs. Install a smart power strip in your home to avoid vampire loads. Vampire loads occur when your devices consume energy, even when they’re asleep. A smart power strip makes it easy to stop your sleeping devices from consuming energy. Some smart power strips can even detect when your devices are in standby mode and adjust the power accordingly to save you money.
Shaving even $10 off your electric bill each month can save you thousands during your time in your new home. Many utility companies provide free energy audits. They’ll send a technician to your home to look for energy hogs, problems, and possible fixes for reducing your energy consumption.
Something as simple as lowering your thermostat by a degree or two or installing a smart thermostat can save you hundreds of dollars.
Some utility companies will even offer you a rebate if you replace electricity-hogging appliances with new Energy Star appliances.
We all have the best of intentions. However, keeping track of all the household maintenance tasks you’ll need to keep up with can be difficult, especially if you’re a new homeowner.
Create a checklist to track monthly and bi-monthly chores, such as checking for leaks, cleaning your ceiling fans, and replacing your air filters. Then, create another checklist with a list of items that only need to be done once or twice a year, such as changing the batteries in your smoke detectors, assessing your air conditioner unit, or cleaning your gutters.
Keeping up with these maintenance tasks can save you from disasters like pipes bursting, shingles on your roof being broken from clogged gutters, or your HVAC system straining to work with filthy air filters.
Research the utility providers in your area, including other providers like Internet and cable. Automatically staying with your current providers can cost you a lot of money in the long run if they don’t offer the best deals. Call around and gather several quotes, then call your preferred provider and ask them to match the lowest quote. Many providers are willing to negotiate a better deal or offer added perks if you ask for it, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Home warranty policies are service contracts that cover the costly fees associated with repairing or replacing major home appliances or systems. If something in your home breaks, you can submit a claim to your home warranty company and pay a small service fee. Then, a contractor will come out and fix it, often within 24 hours.
An excellent home warranty policy can save you thousands of dollars in expensive repairs and replacements over the years. Having a policy in place can also give you peace of mind that you won’t be entirely responsible for pricey home repairs, which are bound to happen at some point, regardless of how meticulous you are with your home maintenance.
Many new homebuyers are shocked by how expensive their energy costs are each month. One way to reduce this cost is by regularly checking and reinforcing your home’s insulation.
Insulation is a barrier to heat flow and helps your home stay cool in summer and warm in winter. A well-insulated house will be more comfortable to live in year-round and reduce your cooling and heating bills.
One way to insulate your home better is to wrap exposed water pipes. As water pipes transfer water throughout your home, they lose heat. If you can wrap these pipes, you can keep them a few degrees warmer naturally, allowing hot water to reach your faucet faster and saving you money in the process by reducing strain on your water heater.
You’ll also want to regularly check your roof for missing flashing, leaks, sagging, and missing shingles. These factors can lead to lost insulation and other issues, like water pooling in your attic.
In addition to insulating your pipes and checking your roof regularly, we recommend examining your windows periodically. Windows with air leaks can cost you a lot of money in lost heat or cool air.
Stand by your windows and check for a draft and light around the edge of your doors and windows. If you notice these, you’re losing money in energy costs. Fortunately, fixing these problems is usually straightforward, often only requiring a bit of weather stripping and caulking to fill the gap.
If possible, consider replacing your windows entirely. Windows are frequently a weak spot in energy efficiency, so if your utility bill is still high, look into replacing your windows.
In addition, take a look at your windows’ blinds. Are they keeping the heat out effectively? If not, look for practical blinds and replace your current blinds.
What kind of plants does your new home have on the grounds? Are the plants native to your area, or do they take a lot of water to keep alive?
Swap out non-native plants for native plants that require less water and maintenance. Trees that provide shade to your home can help reduce your air conditioning bills in summer. In cold climates, strategically placed trees can even give your yard windbreaks.
Flowers can provide a beautiful pop of color and increase curb appeal. However, replacing short-lived annual plants each year is a costly and inefficient use of your time. So, we recommend investing in hardy perennial plants that are ideal for your climate.
Buying new items feels good. However, saving money feels even better and can allow you to purchase nicer furniture and appliances that will stand the test of time.
Consider what kind of furniture you are currently missing in your home. Take your time and visit thrift shops and secondhand stores. You never know when you’ll find a vintage and one-of-a-kind lamp, table, or holiday decoration that will last you years to come.
Some of us are more crafty than others. DIY projects allow you to transform your belongings and furniture into unique, beautiful decor for your home. Even a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in your room without putting you into debt.
Don’t be afraid to look online for a variety of DIY tutorials. The possibilities are endless and often much less expensive than purchasing new items.
The average American takes an eight-minute shower daily, which uses around 17 gallons of water. Cutting your shower down even one or two minutes can save you a lot of money on your water bill. Try timing your shower to a short podcast segment or song to help you stay on track.
In addition to taking shorter showers, consider installing low-flow fixtures, like a low-flow showerhead, to reduce water consumption.
You can also save money on your water bill by replacing an inefficient, older toilet with a WaterSense-labeled model. A WaterSense-labeled model can save you money on thousands of gallons of water each year.
Water leaks are common and can cost a lot of money if they aren’t addressed. When you move in, immediately check your shower heads, faucets, pipes, and toilets for any water leaks. Also, check for mildew, a common sign of a leak.
A running toilet often only requires a simple part replacement, like a new flapper, to be fixed and cut water costs.
Keeping up with repairs, home maintenance, and making smart swaps around your home can save you a lot of money by reducing your energy bills and the need to replace things around your home. While it may be tempting to immediately furnish every room in your home upon moving in, take your time and enjoy the process. You can save money by shopping around and buying secondhand. Your home will look just as lovely, and you’ll stay on budget.
Other Home Warranty Resources