With properties at nearly half the value they were just three years ago, now is definitely the best time to buy a home. However, if you already own your home, there is good news despite the recent drop in housing prices. It’s estimated that roughly half of homeowners are overpaying on their property taxes. For many homeowners, this means losing thousands of dollars that could be going towards a mortgage payment or other living expenses.
Spring is here!
Wait, no it’s not. Winter is back – and there are 3 inches of snow on my car. Wasn’t it just 70 and sunny yesterday?
If you, too, live in a place where this year’s polar vortex has played games with your heart, there’s a chance that wicked weather system made its mark on your home’s exterior as well.
Once Mother Nature finally gives us the go-ahead to start dining al fresco, mowing the lawn, planting perennials and all that other stuff you might enjoy doing in your yard, it could be hard to resist slacking on the spring chores and maintenance calling your name. But resist you must: This upkeep not only preps your pad for warmer weather, it also serves to cut down on rising energy bills and potentially high repair or replacement costs in the future.
Here are five ideas to get you started – all quick, cheap DIY fix-ups guaranteed to get you back in the hammock with an ice-cold glass of lemonade in no time.
Freshen Up Your Wooden Fence
Just as sunlight can cause our skin to age prematurely, those rays can affect the overall appearance and condition of your fence, too. Staining might sound like a pain now, but it’s a wise preventative measure that can diminish the likelihood you’ll be stuck with expensive remedies – or total replacement – later down the road. Just think of that gallon can of stain as sunscreen for your fence.
Average cost to stain a wooden fence: $175
Average cost to install a new wooden fence: $2,200
Bonus! Staining your wooden fence can significantly boost curb appeal and, if you’re looking to put your home on the market, add value in the eyes of a buyer.
Vanquish Future Vent Dwellers
If you aren’t sealing your exterior vents, you may as well put out a welcome mat and invite unwanted creatures in for tea and cucumber sandwiches. And once you invite them in, you’d better believe they’ll be bringing their whole fam-damily – warm months mean breeding season for birds and many other critters who may want to call your abode their forever home.
Average cost of one vent closure: $10
Average cost of pest removal: Varies per species, but can be well over $1,000
Bonus! Sealing your vents can avert conditioned air from getting out, saving you cold-hard cash.
Give Your AC a Little TLC
Picture this: It’s mid-July and temperatures are near triple-digit territory. You’re enjoying the crisp, air-conditioned comfort of your home, when suddenly – [insert expletive or angry fist shake here] – your AC unit has conked out on you due to poor upkeep. Remember, it’s a finely-tuned machine: It needs a little love in the form of a thorough cleaning and inspection once in a while! Leaves, pests, sticks and all kinds of other nasty stuff can get lodged in a unit and, coupled with general wear and tear, may lead to high repair (or replacement!) costs if left unattended.
Average cost of general AC cleaning and upkeep: FREE to very minimal
Average cost of general AC repair: $420
Bonus! Keeping your air-conditioning unit in tip-top shape can diminish high summer cooling costs.
Weatherproof Your Windows
Caulk is a really cool word to say. Caulk is also really cool because when applied to exterior windows, it can prevent that above-mentioned cold, conditioned air from leaking out. According to the smart people over at GE, caulking can save you an average of 14% on heating and cooling costs – or about $150 a year.
Average price of outdoor caulk: $5
Average price of new energy-efficient windows for an entire home: $12,000
Bonus! Caulk is a really cool word to say.
Trim Trees with Troublemaking Potential
Along with its barbecued hot dogs and pool parties, summer also has its storms – some of which could have serious damage potential, depending on where you live. It may be tough to predict if a giant oak, cottonwood or any other behemoth backyard tree might come crashing down on or near your home – or someone else’s – mid-storm, but it’s simple to prevent overgrown or weakened branches and limbs from creating minor to moderate damages should they detach due to rough weather. Start trimming, dear homeowner!
Average cost of tree trimming: FREE as long as you have the right tools, like a chainsaw (or a friendly neighbor who’ll let you borrow one)
Average cost of tree-related storm damage: Varies based on type and severity of repair needed, but as you might imagine, it could get pricey! (You may also want to ask your homeowners insurance agent about the specifics of your coverage, especially if you have a large tree within striking distance of your abode.)
Bonus! Curb appeal, of course. Besides, overgrown trees are a total eyesore (and remind me of the house in my childhood neighborhood I always believed to be inhabited by a witch).
Now, I’ll bet if you thought those five tasks were a breeze or a no-brainer, you’ll know of some other DIY money-saving fix-ups that your fellow Zing readers might like to hear about this spring. Help another homeowner out: Share your tips in the comments section below!