From considering career trajectories to investigating new exercise regimes, the start of the year is prime time to re-evaluate current lifestyle choices. One of the best ways to kick-start the next 12 months is to take a closer look at your finances, in particular areas where money could be saved. These low-impact home improvements will go a long way towards reducing running costs, meaning more disposable income to spend on achieving those resolutions.
Use appliances efficiently
Making savings in the home with the touch of a button is easier than you might think. For example, washing clothes on a cool cycle will still remove stains and cut energy bills considerably, and you can save water by only running the dishwasher when it's full. To keep your freezer operating at maximum efficiency, defrost it regularly – and only put leftovers in the refrigerator once they are completely cool.
Cover your windows
Windows can have a significant impact on heating and air conditioning bills. During winter they allow heat to escape, and the sun shining on them in summer quickly heats up a room. Thermal curtains are a great solution to cold winter nights, while specialist window treatments can reduce the amount of incoming heat on midsummer afternoons.
If you live in a country with high water rates, save money by investing in a low-flow shower head and limiting the amount of time spent in the shower. Water the garden at dusk, when there's low risk of evaporation, and turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.
Unplug what you don't use
Cut back on 'phantom' electricity usage by unplugging chargers and appliances when they're not in use. Also remember to switch off lights and air-con systems when leaving the house.
Shut the door
Keeping internal doors closed and only heating the rooms you are actively using will reduce heating bills. That way, radiators won't have to work as hard to warm up corridors, cupboard space and other vacant spaces.
Downgrade your TV package
Swap costly monthly television contracts for inexpensive online subscription services (such as Netflix or Amazon Prime) to maximise your entertainment spend. The majority of online services offer a free trial period, and don't tie customers into lengthy contracts.
Get an energy audit
While it is possible to lightly evaluate your home's energy consumption with a simple walk through the property, some organisations offer professional energy audits. As well as looking at which appliances are using the most electricity, a thorough audit will also consider factors such as insulation and air leaks. Lighting can account for up to 10% of an energy bill, so an action as simple as changing to energy-saving LED light bulbs can have a considerable impact on your month-to-month finances over their 20+ year lifespan.
The easiest way to save money at home is to invest in a house built with energy conservation in mind. If you're interested in purchasing a property with state-of-the-art energy saving features, contact Engel & Völkers. Our extensive real estate portfolio includes a range of cutting-edge properties, including homes with excellent energy-efficient credentials.