Money-Saving Home Improvements You Can Do Yourself
You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to lower your utility bills
With the rising price of oil and natural gas, utility costs are higher than ever. Particularly if you have a large family, every little bit counts; and these tips to cut your gas, electric, and water bills can make a real difference to help you save money.
Install gray water irrigation
Watering lawns is by far the largest drain on public water supplies; but you can reduce your impact and save water by rerouting water from your shower, dishwasher, and washing machine to irrigate your lawn. If you’re interested in ripping into walls and digging, it’s easier than you’d think to route pipes directly to your sprinkler system with some PVC.
If you’re renting or just looking for a simpler option, you can install taps in a few large barrels. Place one under your kitchen sink to catch drainage from the dishwasher and sink, and prop your washing machine’s drainage hose over another. When they’re full, you can take them outside, place them in an elevated position, and screw a hose into the tap to water your lawn. (Note: if you want to reuse the gray water from your dishwasher or washing machine, first switch to non-toxic, graywater-friendly detergent)
Tune up your furnace and air conditioner
Just keeping your furnace and A/C well-maintained can really cut the cost of heating and cooling your home. Go over this checklist to keep your appliances in good shape. Make sure to turn them off (and shut off the gas) before you attempt any maintenance.
- Gently vacuum out the furnace blower and burner with your vacuum’s hose extension. Vacuum out your air conditioner’s condenser fins and coils, and spray your coils down with a garden hose periodically to remove dust.
- Scrub your furnace’s blower blades with a stiff-bristle brush. Make sure to get the entire mechanism clean—half-measures can unbalance the blades and cause damage to the entire system.
- Install a fiberglass air filter keep your furnace blower clean. Before you buy a filter, check your furnace owner’s manual to make sure it won’t put undue strain on the blower motor.
- Clean your pilot light with compressed air to remove dust that might interfere with ignition. Never touch the igniter itself; it’s very fragile.
- If you suspect a problem with your gas lines or coolant, call a professional—attempting to modify them yourself can cause dangerous leaks and exposure to toxic chemicals.
Install water-saver fixtures
Installing a faucet aerator and water-efficient shower head is only slightly more complex than screwing in a light bulb, and if you select the right type, it shouldn’t interfere with the comfort and usability of the flow. Water softeners also save water by getting your clothes and dishes cleaner the first time, as well as making it easier to take a brief shower.
Insulate your pipes
If you have exposed pipes in your house, much of the energy that is used to heat your water is radiated out through the metal and wasted. You also waste water, because it takes longer for the water from your shower and sinks to warm up. Pipe insulation is cheap and easy to apply—you simply clean the pipe, wrap it completely with fiberglass or foil insulation, and secure it with duct tape along seams and corners. It’s a small fix, but if you have a larger home, it can make a big difference.
Repair leaks and drips
Check under your sinks and around your washer/dryer hookups for signs of leaks. Faucet drips and pipe leaks are wasteful and expensive, but also an easy fix. For most faucets, a screwdriver and crescent wrench are all you need to tighten things up. Before trying to fix your dripping faucet, check online to identify the type of faucet (ball, disc, cartridge, or compression), so you know which parts might need to be secured or replaced.
Today’s guest post comes from a fellow blogger who wanted to share some ideas with us! Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.