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Want to Save Money on Utilities in 2023? Consider These 5 Home Improvements

Want to Save Money on Utilities in 2023? Consider These 5 Home Improvements

by Ashley Maready | Published on Jan. 24, 2023

Key points

  • Energy improvements are flashy, but they can save you money in the short and long term.
  • You can save water by switching bathroom fixtures and implementing xeriscaping.
  • Save on heating and cooling costs by getting new windows or adding a smart thermostat.

I currently rent my home, although I am hoping to buy my own place in the not-too-distant future. For me, one of the most frustrating things about this is my limited ability to make significant changes to my rental. While home improvements certainly cost money, some of them can also save you money, either immediately or over the long term. This is especially the case when it comes to home improvements for greater energy efficiency and water savings.

It’s probably true that adding new energy-efficient windows or solar panels aren’t as sexy as, say, remodeling your kitchen. But these improvements will generally pay for themselves more reliably, both in lower utility costs as well as being able to command a higher price for your home if you sell in a few years. Saving money on utilities is a win for your bank account, and saving energy and water is a win for the planet. Check out these home projects to save money on utilities in 2023 — and beyond.

1. Water-saving fixtures

I have encountered many people who have a poor opinion of low-flow fixtures like shower heads and toilets. Thankfully, the technology involved has come a long way, and you can find highly rated shower heads and toilets that will also save you water (and therefore money). The EPA reports that standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, and the average American family could save 2,500 gallons per year by switching to an option using 2.0 gallons or less. Toilets account for 30% of a home’s water usage, so installing one that uses less water is a good way to save. The EPA says 1.28 gallons per flush is now possible — quite a difference from older toilets that could use 6 gallons per flush. On a related note, fixing leaks from your toilet and faucets will also help you save.

2. Smart thermostats

Getting a smart thermostat for your home will cost you money and time to install, but spending less on energy bills makes it worth it. These thermostats are programmable to the extreme — some can even sense whether you’re home or not and adjust the temperature accordingly. You can often control them from your phone, allowing for on-the-go tinkering with timers and heating/cooling schedules. CNET notes that many also provide home energy usage reports, which can show you where you might be able to save even more by turning down your heat or air conditioning.

3. Energy-efficient windows

This is the home improvement I dream about most often, as I live with drafty windows. I cover mine with plastic during the cold months, but if you own your home and have the option to switch out your windows for new ones, you should. This will be a more expensive fix (per HomeAdvisor, window replacement costs an average of $850 per window) than adding a new thermostat or toilet. You might consider funding it by tapping your home equity, say, via a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Imagine the money savings when you’re no longer letting your precious heated or air-conditioned air escape via your old leaky windows.

4. Landscaping upgrades

Your grassy green lawn is not doing you any favors when it comes to saving water. This can be an especially big problem if you live in a drought-prone area and value having a well-manicured outdoor space. In 2023, consider making some changes to your yard by bringing in elements of xeriscaping. This refers to putting in drought-resistant landscaping elements. This could be as simple as grouping plants that have lower water requirements or leaning on native plants that thrive in your specific climate, rather than maintaining a uniform grass lawn that consists of a non-native species that drinks water greedily.

5. Solar panels (if you can swing it)

Finally, you might consider investing in solar panels for your home, which can allow you to generate your own electricity and go “off grid.” Since solar panels take several years to pay for themselves, going solar might not be a home improvement you’re able to make. But if you intend to stay in your home for a good long while and want to make the investment, I’d recommend it. Be sure you do your research to see if your home is a good candidate based on panel placement and other factors before taking the plunge.

While some of these home improvements cost more upfront than others, all can help you save on your utility bills and will likely be attractive features for future buyers. Plus, you’ll be doing your part for our planet.

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