Note from The Thrifty Couple: We hope that this article is helpful to you as you strive to save money on and also help your home retain or even gain value from little (or big) things that you can do!
Upgrading Your Home for Now and the Future
The downside of owning a home is that you are responsible for the upkeep, repairs and expenses that come along with all the advantages of having a place you can call your own. But why not look at the situation this way? Most of the money you spend keeping your house in tiptop shape will come back to you in energy savings, tax credits and, eventually, in profit when you sell your house. If you plan carefully and spend wisely, you can upgrade your home now and recoup your investment if you ever decide to put it on the market.
Look at the Big Stuff First
Your first move should be to repair or replace the parts of your home that will receive the most attention from potential buyers. Fortunately, upgrading the following items will also save you energy costs, make your life more comfortable and, in some cases, provide you with tax breaks.
- The air conditioning and heating system
- Wiring, especially in older homes
- The sewage system
- The garage door and the garage door opener
- The roof
- Outside doors and windows
Repairing or replacing these items can be expensive, especially if you choose to hire professionals to handle the work rather than doing it yourself. However, upgrading the doors, windows and heat and air system will certainly cut your energy expenses, and federal income tax credits are available if you install items such as geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, solar water heaters and solar panels that convert energy from the sun into electricity.
Add to the Resale Value
You can make several other improvements to your home that will boost its resale value and make life easier for you as well.
- Add a bedroom in the attic – You’ll be using space that otherwise may be wasted. The new room can be a guest room, a bedroom for the kids or an office.
- Finish the basement – In most cases, your basement is little more than a storage area. Wouldn’t it be better as a man cave, complete with a big screen television and a wet bar? Maybe you could buy a pool table, or turn it into a poker room. It also could serve as a playroom for the kids. A finished basement certainly would increase the home’s resale value.
- Another bathroom couldn’t hurt – Even adding a half bath will make your home worth more when you sell it. If that’s a budget buster, you can upgrade your existing bathrooms with new paint, plumbing fixtures and flooring.
- Brighten up the kitchen – A modern, updated kitchen will be a great selling point if you decide to sell your home. You can totally remodel the room, adding wood, tile or laminate floors, replacing the cabinets, fixtures and lighting and installing granite, quartz, marble or Corian countertops. Or you can add value to your kitchen simply by sanding and painting or staining the cabinets or adding new hardware.
Inexpensive Ways to Save
While new floors, countertops and rooms will increase the value of your house, there are several home-improvement options that will save energy and make your home more comfortable both in the summer and winter. Don’t underestimate the value of having lower-than-average utility bills. If you are selling your house, potential buyers will want to know how much they will have to spend to heat and cool it. Here are some inexpensive ways to slash your energy and water expenses.
- Add insulation to your attic
- Seal leaks around your doors and windows with caulk or spray foam
- Install a programmable thermostat so you won’t be cooling or heating an empty house while you’re at work
- Seal your heating and cooling ducts
- Change your heating and air conditioning system’s filter regularly
- Consider installing a tank-less water heater, which saves water and lasts longer than a traditional water heater
- To save on your water bill, buy low-flow toilets and low-flow showerheads
- Install ceiling fans to help reduce the cost of cooling your home
- Install smart switches for your outdoor lighting so the lights will be on only after dark
One more way to increase both the usefulness and the resale value of your home is to add storage space. A lack of closet space is a problem, especially in older houses. You can put together wire and laminate closet systems yourself, or you can even build your own closet and drywall it in, turning a den into an additional bedroom and instantly adding value to your home.
In most cases, much of the money you spend on your home will be returned to you if you sell the house. And even if you don’t sell, you’ll be saving on energy costs and enjoying upgrades that make the home a better place to live.
Chris Long is a store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs and is a frequent contributor on plumbing topics for Home Depot. Among plumbing topics, Chris writes on toilet repairs, plumbing supplies and water heaters for the Home Depot website.