Reduce the Cost of Homeownership with These 5 Tips

A house is often an individual’s single most expensive purchase, and therefore, most valuable asset. But the costs of ownership, including ongoing maintenance and taxes, can be a considerable undertaking. The good news is that there are many ways that owners can cut costs.

Following are a few recommendations, and don’t hesitate to connect with an agent who can provide invaluable advice on cost-saving ideas.

Bring your lighting into the 21st century

Incandescent bulbs emit as much heat as they do light, as the process requires warming the filament to a point where it radiates warm light. While the soft lighting is pleasant, the bulbs are inefficient and can become costly for homeowners with lots of lights and lamps. Instead, homeowners would be best served switching out all obsolete incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs with newer LED ones.

LED lighting sips energy, using a fraction of what older incandescent bulbs do. And not only have prices on LED bulbs dropped significantly in recent years, helping lower the initial purchase cost, but there’s the added benefit of reducing electricity costs through their incredibly low energy use. Additionally, LED lights come in all sizes and colors, giving homeowners more flexibility in personalization and customization.

Replace old kitchen and bath fixtures

Wasting water leads to increasingly expensive water bills. Fortunately, newer faucets and shower heads are designed to reduce water use while functioning just as good as older style models. Almost all new shower heads have switches which can change the mode, allowing for even less water waste. Meanwhile kitchen and bathroom faucets come in all different styles and finishes, ensuring homeowners plenty of options.

Another big source of water waste is the toilet. With older models, you’re literally flushing money down the drain as outdated bowls and tanks use several gallons of water each use. Newer models are more efficient, using nearly half as much water as those from 30-plus years ago.

Upgrade air filters and thermostats

Heating and air systems with clogged, dirty filters and air ducts have to work much harder to pull and push air through your home. New filters and frequent air duct cleanings will reduce electricity costs, ensure that your HVAC system will operate at top performance, and help extend the lifespan of your equipment.

Additionally, newer “smart” digital thermostats (essentially miniature computers controlling your HVAC system) have the ability to be programmed and controlled remotely over WiFi and can even “learn” your habits and usage of heating and air conditioning on their own. Not only do the devices save you money on energy bills, but utilities frequently offer rebates to homeowners who purchase them directly through the power company.

Challenge your property taxes

It seems like property taxes are going up every year, and for many Chicago-area homeowners, it’s their reality. Property owners do, however, have the ability to appeal their property assessments to the county.

When you tap the expertise of an @properties agent, you gain an important resource to help guide you through this process. In fact, @properties has a relationship with a service that increases the likelihood of a successful appeal and ultimately helps contribute to greater savings. Reach out to an agent to learn more.

Join online communities

One huge perk of websites like Facebook and Nextdoor is the ability to explore and participate in online community groups. Nearly every Chicago neighborhood has at least one or more groups dedicated to keeping neighbors informed and serving as online marketplaces. Need a spendy power tool for only one job? Post on your local community group page and ask to borrow one for the day. Or maybe you’re seeking recommendations for a reliable handyman — reach out to your neighbors with a simple click.

Speaking of contractors, sites like Angie’s List, Thumbtack, and BuildZoom allow property owners to search for highly-ranked local contractors. The services take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and oftentimes even provide coupons or other deals for various home improvement projects from top contractors. Meanwhile, @properties’ 2,800-plus agents use an internal app where they can post and search for recommended vendors and service providers. Need a recommendation but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

Written by AJ LaTrace
AJ LaTrace is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer covering Chicago real estate, architecture, and neighborhoods. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Time Out Chicago, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Curbed Chicago, Block Club Chicago, and others.