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Save money with these home maintenance tips

Our homes require regular upkeep and maintenance to stay in top condition. By taking care of smaller items before they become big issues, you’ll save money in the long run. Here are some home maintenance items you may be able to handle on your own.

Seal air leaks.

Air leaks usually occur around windows and doors, but they can also be found in less obvious places around electrical outlets, cabinets, or any place where something – like a cable or gas line – enters your home from the outside.

Leaking at the base of a doorway can make your floor 20 degrees colder. Sealing the base of your doors can have a significant impact on keeping the warm air in, and cold air out. You can find door sealants at your local hardware store, or replace old door thresholds when necessary.

Window and door leaks can be fixed with caulk, or a rubber sealant or film. For leaky outlets, an outlet insulation can be simply installed to prevent or cut the flow from the leak into your home.

You can also sign up for a Home Energy Audit, which will identify leaks. These can be free, or up to $500. More information about home energy audits can be found here.

Seal water leaks.

Water leaks can lead to higher water bills and also result in damage or mold in and around your home. It’s easy to avoid these issues by performing regular check-ups on your water lines and faucets 2-4 times per year. Start by making a list of all the places where water comes in and out of your home including faucets, washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, toilets, and showers. Then check them for any noticeable moisture or water droplets. Check the connections where a line meets the device by running your hand around the connection with a dry tissue, and inspect the area below the connection for potential pooling of water droplets.

If you notice a leak, it is best to fix it quickly to keep leakage to a minimum. Learn more about how to fix water leaks yourself and proactive tips to conserve water from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Sense page.

Laundry room maintenance.

Check your dryer vents

If you haven’t had your dryer vents cleaned in the past 5 years, they are likely clogged to the point where it takes longer to dry a load, which means wasted energy and money. A clogged dryer vent may also be a fire hazard. A dryer vent leads to the outdoors where heated, moisture-laden air is easily dispensed away from the dryer and your wet clothes. But when it’s clogged, the moist air is unable to be dispensed outdoors and is kept within the dryer, extending the drying time of your clothes. This accumulated lint within the walls of your ventilation builds up over time and can be extremely flammable.

You can fix this yourself by purchasing a dryer vent cleaning kit for around $30-40, or calling a vent cleaning company to have your vents cleaned out professionally for about $250-500.

Check your washer

While you are behind your washer and dryer inspecting the vents, you can perform a simple check of the water line leading into the washing machine. Any noticeable water or moisture should be attended to immediately. A leaky water line can cause damage and mold if left unattended.

HVAC maintenance.

Your HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system needs regular check-ups and maintenance to perform at peak efficiency.

If you have heating vents on your floorboards, clean them regularly and check the fans that usually reside in an attic space. These fans can keep stagnant hot air in the summer months from building up and unnecessarily heating your home.

Check and replace your furnace filter quarterly, if not every month. When the filter becomes clogged with dust and dirt, the flow of air is obstructed and less efficient. It can shorten the lifetime of your furnace. A properly maintained furnace with good ventilation can prevent this. Every couple years, you should hire a furnace or HVAC expert for a regular check-up to make sure everything is running safely and efficiently.

For an air conditioning unit on the exterior of your home, it is good practice to regularly clean the vents with a spray hose, which will provide a clear path of ventilation, better efficiency, and less drain on your utility bill. You should also clear other obstructions around the vents, like overgrown bushes and tree limbs. Obstructions can lead to higher cooling costs, and decrease the life of your air conditioning unit. It is recommended to check this at least twice per year.