The following is a guest post from Joe Pawlikowski.
Like most first-time homeowners, I was struck dumb by the unexpected costs associated with my house. If it wasn’t one thing it was another. Little by little, the costs started adding up, putting a big ol’ dent in my budget. Clearly, it was time to do something about it.
It took some planning — and quite a few trips to the Home Depot — but we eventually found several ways to cut our living expenses. Here are a few that anyone can do.
Replaced our windows. Sometimes a big up-front cost ends up paying you back. We decided to install new windows to help keep our heating and cooling costs in check. After all, we plan to spend quite a few years in the house. And wouldn’t you know it: we noticed a difference in the very first month. It’ll take a year or two, but the lower heating and electricity bills will pay back the cost of the windows. And from there we’re in the black.
Timed our oven. I’m quite proud of this one. One week my wife and I timed how long it took our oven to preheat. We tested it to 350, 375, 400, 425, and 450 degrees. Once we know the preheat time, we can make better preparations, so we’re ready to throw a dish into the oven exactly when it’s ready. That means no wasted oven time. And in case you didn’t know, ovens eat through electricity.
Changed light bulbs. Even though all of our lightbulbs were in working order, we decided to replace them. CFL light bulbs save money in many ways. They use less electricity, knocking down the bill. They also last much longer, so you don’t have to replace them as frequently.
Learned basic plumbing. Sometimes you can avoid big costs with basic maintenance. Learning to keep pipes in order and how to replace basic plumbing fixtures will save us hundreds that plumber visits would cost. And it’s really not that difficult. And, many times, it simply means running Dran-O through the pipes once a month. But you know what they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Started an emergency fund. Our water heater is going to break. We know this, because it has happened to all of our home-owning friends. If we just let it happen, we’ll have to put a new one on a credit card. That means paying interest, driving up the total cost. So we’re starting a household emergency fund, in an interest-bearing savings account, so we’re more prepared for future household happenings.
Joe Pawlikowski writes and edits several blogs across the web, mostly dealing with technology. He keeps a personal blog at JoePawl.com.