Before you settle into that wonderful new home or yours, this is your chance to consider any DIY home improvements you could make now that will pay off later. Chances are, you can make at least a few fixes that will save you either money or headaches (or both) in the days to come.
Before you fill the attic space with boxes, consider adding or upgrading whatever insulation is there.
Blow-in products need professional attention, but installing bats of pink fiberglass is something the layperson can do (with the right safety gear, including gloves and goggles). To get you started, read our primer with more insulation tips.
Check out the basement.
Free-standing hot water tanks should be wrapped in an insulating blanket; exposed water lines (look up—they’re in the ceiling) should be wrapped as well; and forced air furnace ducts should be taped so that hot air makes it to the upper floors before escaping into the basement.
Seal drafts around doors and windows…
… and electrical outlets, too (if they’re on an outside wall, drafts often come through). These small changes increase the efficiency of your new home’s insulation envelope, which will save you money on heating and cooling and make you more comfortable.
Clean your gutters and repair eves.
Water that pools, drips, sits or otherwise stays close to your home is bad for the foundation and can cause expensive damage if left for long. You have to keep water moving from the building and that’s what gutters are designed to do. Get up on a ladder (make sure to have someone steady it from the ground) and check them out: are they still affixed to the building or do they need to be refastened? Are they full of leaves or can water move freely through them? While you’re here, make sure your siding is in good shape too.
Waterproof at ground level.
Big foundation problems and re-grading need to be handled by pros, but smaller issues, like cracks in exterior walls or in concrete walkways, can be DIY. Scope out the perimeter of your building, inject small cracks with epoxy or other recommended material.
Install a low-flow toilet, as well as low-flow showerheads and sink faucets.
Homeowners pay for water, and while the price varies by municipality, it’s not free. The less you use, the better it is for your bank account and the environment. Unless your house is a new build, the fundamental fixtures may be older and less efficient than newer models.
Think about lighting.
Replace all light bulbs with higher efficient options—they last longer, use less energy and emit less heat. Installing dimmers reduces energy use and is a fix that can be done in minutes. Ceiling fans not only cool down a room or house, but many models are designed to draw warm air up in the winter, helping to increase energy efficiency.
Check out the dishwasher and the fridge.
Older versions of these appliances can be energy hogs. Even models made in the last five years have money-saving features (shorter washing cycles; multiple cooling settings; etc.) that may not exist on the model in your new home.
Add a programmable thermostat.
They allow you much more control of the heating and cooling in your home. High-tech versions can even be controlled via your smart phone or computer, and can learn your habits, automatically reducing energy consumption when you are out of the house. Manually programmable thermostats are easy to use too, and relatively inexpensive.
Clean the outdoor unit of your air conditioner and replace furnace filters inside.
A clean and well-maintained unit works more efficiently and if there are any problems that require a professional, best to find out now, before the dog days of summer.