3 Home Improvements That Can Ultimately Save You Some Money

There are a few money-saving home improvements you might want to put on your spring to-do list.

Spring has officially sprung, which means plenty of house hunters and home sellers are ’tis-ing the season. But if you’re settled in your humble abode, the warm weather can serve as a different inspiration. Yup, it’s the home improvement season, too.

Of course, major renovations aren’t in everyone’s budget and it’s best not to go into debt if your home doesn’t actually need repairs. (That’ll just hurt your bank account and your credit — you can see how your scores are doing for free on Credit.com.)

Still, homeowners hankering to get handy will be happy to hear there are a few simple projects that can actually save them some money — at least in the long run. Here are three projects you might want to put on your to-do list.

1. Go Green

Going green and becoming more eco-friendly is great for those interested in reducing their carbon footprint, sure, but, you can also benefit financially from making your home more energy-efficient.

Yes, you’ll have to have to make an initial investment, but green upgrades tend to pay for themselves by lowering your monthly utility bills. Plus, by incorporating eco-friendly solutions into your home improvement plans, you may also be eligible for tax rebates on the local, state or federal level next year. You can check with an accountant to determine if you can save on your taxes by going green with renovations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the top suggestions for making your home more energy-efficient are:

  • Insulated windows using low-emissivity coatings
  • Energy efficient refrigerators using advanced compressor technology or magnetic refrigeration
  • Water heaters using electric heat pumps
  • Loose-fill fiberglass insulation

2. Spring Clean

Sure, it’s cliche, but checking some tasks off your annual homeowner to-do list (get yours right here) can prevent a major repair and save you money down the line. As part of a deep spring clean, be sure to check your drains and gutters, service your A/C (which can keep it from breaking on the hottest day of the year), replace any window screens you removed during the winter and repair any shingles or bricks that came loose due to bad weather.

Of course, this also a good time to clean our your closets, cabinets and crawl spaces. Fewer things means less stuff to worry about. Plus, you may be able to make a buck or two selling your wares online.

3. Smarten Up Your Home

The idea of programming your home and all of its appliances to answer your every verbal command is certainly not one the average homeowner is going to entertain. However, there are some simple ways to smarten up your home that won’t break the bank — and, in fact, can save you in the long run.

For instance, you could look into installing smart thermostats, which can be programmed or learn to change the temperature in your house throughout the day. They’re designed to ensure you don’t heat or cool your house unnecessarily and, thus, can wind up saving you on utilities. Similarly, consider changing out all your incandescent light bulbs for Smart (and energy-efficient!) LEDs. You’ll have to put out some cash to do this, as LEDs bulbs cost much more than your regular old light bulb, but the swap should pay off in the long run because they also last longer and use less energy.  

Looking to lower more monthly bills? We’ve got 7 easy ways to lower your cable bill right here.

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4 Colors You Should Never Paint Your Home

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A fresh coat of paint is a fairly inexpensive way to refresh the look of your home; the average exterior paint job costs about $2,600, while interior paint costs $1,660, according to Home Advisor. But choose the wrong shade and you could wind up regretting it later. Paint your home with a weird color either inside or out and buyers might turn up their noses, even though repainting is a relatively easy fix.

Fears of hurting a home’s selling price are likely one reason why many homeowners play it safe when it comes to paint colors, especially for a house’s exterior (restrictive HOA rules, which affect 20% of Americans, might be another). Favorite exterior color combinations include white and gray, beige and taupe, and slate and black, according to the 2013 National Home Color Survey.

Neutrals also win inside the home. Hot interior paint colors for 2016 include grays and shades of white, along with natural-looking greens. The love for neutral or natural shades extends to buyers. When Zillow Digs analyzed photos of 50,000 recently sold homes, they found those with rooms painted in certain colors tended to command higher selling prices than expected. Homes with creamy yellow or wheat-colored kitchens, light green or khaki bedrooms, dove or light gray living rooms, and mauve or lavender dining rooms sold for $1,100 to $1,300 more than properties decorated with less popular colors.

“A fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to improve a home’s appearance before listing,” Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, said. “However, to get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with colors that have mass appeal so you attract as many potential buyers to your listing as possible. Warm neutrals like yellow or light gray are stylish and clean, signaling that the home is well cared for, or that previous owners had an eye for design that may translate to other areas within the house.”

Light grays and yellows may have been popular with buyers, but they had a much cooler reaction to other colors. Some of the interior paint colors they disliked might surprise you. Before you grab the paintbrush, check out this list of the four worst colors to paint your home.

1. Off-White or Eggshell

Shades of white might seem like a safe bet when you’re at the home improvement store, but they aren’t guaranteed to be a big hit with buyers. Homes with off-white or eggshell kitchens sold for $82 less than Zillow estimated they would. Instead, people loved kitchens with a coat of wheat yellow paint on the walls, which boosted a home’s selling price by $1,360.

You don’t have to give up gallery-white walls entirely, though. Painting a room white isn’t always a bad choice, especially if the space has great natural light, according to designer Emily Henderson. But if a space is small or dark (like some kitchens), white walls can make a room look “dead” and “flat.”

2. Dark Brown

Dark brown walls didn’t resonate with buyers in Zillow’s study. Bedrooms painted dark brown sold for $236 less than expected, while using the same shade in a bathroom lowered the selling price by $469. The color is so disliked by some people that the Australian government considered using it on cigarette packaging to make smoking less appealing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. (They went with a brownish olive green instead.)

3. Terracotta

It’s not quite as jarring as traffic cone orange, but even a more muted terracotta shade could depress your home’s selling price. Homes with living rooms painted the same shade as an inexpensive flower pot sold for $793 less than Zillow’s estimated price. Light gray was the preferred color in that room.

The negative reaction to orange walls isn’t too surprising, considering surveys have found it’s one of the least-liked colors in the world. (Blue is the most popular color by far, followed by red and green.)

4. Slate Gray

Gray is trendy color right now, but all grays aren’t created equal. While dove or light gray was a hit in living rooms, helping to boost a home’s selling price by $1,104, dark gray was a dud. Paint your home’s dining room a slate color and you could lose $1,112 when it comes time to sell. Instead, buyers favored shades of mauve, eggplant, and lavender in the dining room.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

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12 Questions Every Contractor Should Be Able to Answer

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Image: Steve Debenport

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4 Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money

happy_home_repair

Winter is the perfect time to tackle important home projects. But why stop at just improving your home? There are tons of great DIY projects out there that can improve your living situation and save you serious dough. Here are some simple winter projects to help you get started.

1. Update Your Insulation

Insulation helps keep the heat you generate inside your house, allowing rooms to stay warmer for longer. If you think you’re losing heat too quickly after you turn down the thermostat, you may want to inspect your insulation. Replacing old batches or adding pipe and tank insulation is a relatively easy way to help your home maintain its warmth and shorten how long you run your heater.

2. Seal Pesky Drafts

Another great way to keep heat inside (and energy costs down) is to eliminate any drafts you find in your home. Using a caulk gun to seal gaps in walls and windows can help minimize the amount of warm air escaping your house. You may also want to consider checking your doors’ weatherstripping for any openings. Replacing weatherstripping is a relatively simple process and shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet.

3. Buy Energy-Smart Lightbulbs

One of the easiest home improvement projects you can tackle this winter is to swap out your old incandescent bulbs for efficient LEDs. While the initial cost may be rather steep — LED bulbs tend to cost three times more than traditional incandescents — the lifespan of an LED is significantly longer and uses far less energy. If you’re unable to afford the initial cost of LEDs, though, you can look into Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). These offer similar energy savings to LEDs, albeit without the same lifespan and high upfront cost.

4. Install a Programmable Thermostat

By automatically adjusting your temperature when you’re sleeping or at work, programmable thermostats can help you drastically cut down on your energy use. Models run at a variety of price points and installation should only take a couple of minutes. Some versions even allow you to adjust your thermostat from your phone, giving you extra control over when your heat or cooling kicks in.

While you might not see huge returns on your winter projects immediately, the savings you’ll make over the following years should be more than enough to make the investments worthwhile. Of course, improving your financial situation during the winter doesn’t have to stop at home improvement projects. You may also want to consider making a budget, work on creating good financial habits and improving your credit score this year. (You can see where you credit stands by viewing your free credit report card on Credit.com.) No matter what you decide, making the best of your time indoors during the winter could really pay off throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

More on Mortgages & Homebuying:

Image: Cathy Yeulet

The post 4 Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money

happy_home_repair

Winter is the perfect time to tackle important home projects. But why stop at just improving your home? There are tons of great DIY projects out there that can improve your living situation and save you serious dough. Here are some simple winter projects to help you get started.

1. Update Your Insulation

Insulation helps keep the heat you generate inside your house, allowing rooms to stay warmer for longer. If you think you’re losing heat too quickly after you turn down the thermostat, you may want to inspect your insulation. Replacing old batches or adding pipe and tank insulation is a relatively easy way to help your home maintain its warmth and shorten how long you run your heater.

2. Seal Pesky Drafts

Another great way to keep heat inside (and energy costs down) is to eliminate any drafts you find in your home. Using a caulk gun to seal gaps in walls and windows can help minimize the amount of warm air escaping your house. You may also want to consider checking your doors’ weatherstripping for any openings. Replacing weatherstripping is a relatively simple process and shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet.

3. Buy Energy-Smart Lightbulbs

One of the easiest home improvement projects you can tackle this winter is to swap out your old incandescent bulbs for efficient LEDs. While the initial cost may be rather steep — LED bulbs tend to cost three times more than traditional incandescents — the lifespan of an LED is significantly longer and uses far less energy. If you’re unable to afford the initial cost of LEDs, though, you can look into Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). These offer similar energy savings to LEDs, albeit without the same lifespan and high upfront cost.

4. Install a Programmable Thermostat

By automatically adjusting your temperature when you’re sleeping or at work, programmable thermostats can help you drastically cut down on your energy use. Models run at a variety of price points and installation should only take a couple of minutes. Some versions even allow you to adjust your thermostat from your phone, giving you extra control over when your heat or cooling kicks in.

While you might not see huge returns on your winter projects immediately, the savings you’ll make over the following years should be more than enough to make the investments worthwhile. Of course, improving your financial situation during the winter doesn’t have to stop at home improvement projects. You may also want to consider making a budget, work on creating good financial habits and improving your credit score this year. (You can see where you credit stands by viewing your free credit report card on Credit.com.) No matter what you decide, making the best of your time indoors during the winter could really pay off throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

More on Mortgages & Homebuying:

Image: Cathy Yeulet

The post 4 Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money appeared first on Credit.com.