If you own a home you know there is a never ending to-do list. Yes, it's totally exhausting, lots of times frustrating, and even more times what leads to a Saturday afternoon squabble with the significant other.
But some of those things on the to-do list can make everyone in the household happier -- once you pocket the hundreds of dollars in savings and put it towards a vacation.
Here are 15 things you can do to improve your home, conserve energy, and most importantly make yourself richer.
1, Plant a Tree
To provide shade, and lower your cooling bills plant a mature shade tree or three around your home. It will also increase your curb appeal when you put your home on the market.
2. Caulk It Up
Caulk is a versatile tool that can save you energy, money, and headaches. Around the tub and sink, you need to caulk to keep the moisture out of the walls, and to prevent leaks. Around the windows, you're weatherizing and saving energy. One of the least expensive, and least sexy things you can do around your house actually pays off in a multitude of ways.
3. Paint Your House
If you're trying to lower your cooling bills, paint your house a light color to reflect the heat of the sun. If you live in a colder climate, choose a dark color to absorb those fleeting rays of warmth.
4. Energy Efficient Light Bulbs + Dimmers
They last longer and save you money. Everybody's doing it, so invest in the CFLs. While you're at it, install a dimmer on your lights so you can control how much or how little light you want in your home. Keeping it at a lower level when you can will save you some cash.
You can save a whopping amount -- up to 30% on your energy bills if the floors and ceiling are properly insulated. Take a look around to see if yours is due for an update.
6. Check Your Fridge
To save energy, and money turn your refrigerator temperature up to 37 degrees (your freezer can be set on 3). If you have an energy saver switch, turn it on. Regularly check your seals and clean the vents for optimum efficiency, and lower bills. Also, an uncrowded fridge runs more efficiently, so toss out those bad foods.
7. Hot Water Heater
You can also save money and energy by turning down the thermostat to 120 degrees on your hot water heater. Additionally, some hot water heaters have "vacation" mode so you're not generating the heat while no one is home to use it. You can also buy a jacket for your water heater, which will save you up to 9% in heating costs as it keeps your heater from losing up to 45% of its warmth.
Always make sure the dishwasher is full when you use it, and allow dishes to air dry if you have the "energy saver" setting, and you'll cut down your energy usage by 20% each run.
9. Washing Machine
Skip the hot setting (unless you're sterilizing something) and only use cold or warm water settings when you launder your clothes for maximum savings. To save even more, cut your detergent usage in half, and add baking soda if you have any tough stains.
10. In The Shower
For under $20 you can install a low flow shower head that will reduce gallons of water waste, and bills.
The same idea goes with your faucets. If you've got a leaky faucet, money is going down the drain. Replace your washers regularly and consider a faucet aerator that cuts down on the water flow, thus saving you money.
Don't let your money go down it. If you hear your toilet running, that's gallons of water being wasted -- in addition to the annoying noise.
AC or furnace -- all filters need regular cleaning and replacing to work at optimum efficiency, rather than sucking up more energy than necessary.
Walk around your house every now and then to look for shifting or cracks. The earlier you catch any foundation problems, the less of a hit your wallet will take.
15. Bugs, mice, creatures
The same goes for these pests. The earlier you stop a hornet from building a nest, or a mouse infestation, the more likely you can handle it on your own and avoid paying big bucks for exterminators.
Image via R. Clock/Flickr