Did the holidays drain your bank account? If so, here are some tips to help you save money on the costs of homeownership this year.
1. Claim all your real estate tax exemptions – one of the easiest ways to reduce the taxes on your Spring Texas home is to claim the homestead exemption offered by the state. Go to the Harris County or Montgomery County appraisal district websites to see what exemptions are currently being applied to your account and to determine if you are eligible for any additional exemptions such as the over 65 or disability exemption.
2. Check the settings on your programmable thermostat – Adjust the heat settings to lower temperatures while you are at work and at night. Turning your thermostat down 10° – 15° for 8 hours will reduce your heating bill by 5% to 15% a year.
3. Shop your kilowatt hour rate – In Texas, electricity is deregulated giving you more than one choice of provider. Go to Powertochoose.org to compare the rates of the electrcity providers that service your area. Last summer I changed our electric provider and reduce our rate by 30%.
4. Install insulation or a radiant roof barrier – If your home is more than 5 years old there is a good chance it was not built with a radiant roof barrier. Installing a radiant barrier which can be done in existing homes will lower the temperatures in your attic and lower your cooling bill by 5% to 15%.
5. Eliminate unnecessary water usage – Last summer, the cost of water in Spring Texas increased and it increased again on January 1, 2010, and it is going to increase again by the end of March. Our days of cheap water are gone and its time to get serious about conserving water. By setting your sprinkler systems to water during the early morning hours or late evenings you will be increase the effectiveness of your watering and be able to reduce your watering times.
6. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy – Call your insurance agent and review your homeowners insurance coverage and deductibles. Next call 2 or 3 other insurance agents to get quotes for comparable levels of coverage. The rates for homeowners insurance varies greatly from company to company. You may be surprised how much you can save by changing the homeowner’s insurance companies.
7. Replace older inefficient appliances – If you have an old refrigerator or a washer and dryer that you have been meaning to replace this could be the year for you to do it. Due to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Program, you will get an additional incentive / rebate ranging from $45 to $1,600 for replacing old appliances with qualified energy efficient appliances. Not all of the details of the program have been released but the rebate is only available for purchases made from April 16 to April 25, 2010.
8. Unplug and turn off – When you leave a room turn off the lights and the television. My Dad instilled this money saving practice into us when we were very young. As I don’t think nothing made my Dad as mad as coming into an empty room and seeing the lights and television on. In addition to turning off the lights and television, you should turn off the home computers and printers when not in use.
Unplug the toaster oven, coffee maker, toaster, electric can opener, and clock in the spare bedroom. All of these still use electricity even when they are not in use.
If you have a great way to save money on the costs of homeownership, please share it with us by adding it in the comments section.