Top 10 Most Expensive Mistakes You’re Making on Your Home

Posted on Oct 25 2016 - 1:23pm by Housecall


Editor's Note: This post was originally published on October 25, 2016. Housecall continues to share this piece due to ongoing requests and reader interest.

By Cary Teller

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. But are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are the 10 most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.

1. Using Traditional Light bulbs

If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its life span, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home's bottom line.

2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet

A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.

3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size

We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won't regret it.

4. Not Customizing Temperature

Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you're away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you're gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.

5. Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly

Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.

6. Over Watering Lawn

Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you're never around to see what you're actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you're not around.

7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High

Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. If you don't keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.

8. Leaky Windows and Doors

Leaky windows and doors are great places for cold, winter winds to enter your home. Many homeowners simply ignore them and crank up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seal around doors to keep winter winds out and warmth in.

9. Paying a Handyman

Don't pay a handyman for a job that is simple enough to do yourself. If you're unsure of how to do something, look up video tutorials online. Doing simple tasks yourself can save you a lot of money.

10. Ignoring Curled Shingles

It may be easy to ignore problems on your roof, but it will only lead to bigger problems later. If you see any possible issues with your roof, repair them as soon as possible, as this will save you significant costs later.

Use these 10 tips to cut maintenance costs on your home today.

27 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jay Seier November 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm -

    Great article, but i disagree on hiring a handyman. Its been my experience that getting the job done right the first time is a lot less expensive than doing a half hearted job yourself.

    • Herb Schwabe November 11, 2016 at 5:20 pm -

      And you can prospect, if you are a Realtor. If they are great, add them to your list of vendors to share with your clients.

  2. Herb Schwabe November 11, 2016 at 5:16 pm -

    No. 7 about hot water heater caused me to wonder why don’t water heater have programmable controls like heating system?

    They are heating the water during the night and while we are out of the house.

    • Allan Wulff November 8, 2018 at 6:58 pm -

      If your water heater is electric you can put a 220 volt timer on your water heater line. My heater is off all night, on at 6 a.m, off 8:30 a.m, on 4:30 p.m, off 10:30 p.m. till 6 a.m. in the morning. Even after it goes off there is sufficient hot water for a long shower. There is an override on the timer so you can turn the heater on at any time and at the next time interval it reverts to the timer sequence. It saves a lot of money. I have done it for 25 years. Timer costs $50.

      Same thing can be done on a gas heater that has an electric interrupt control. Check with HVAC contractor.

      • Bill September 21, 2019 at 2:47 pm -

        If you live in AZ and have a gas water heater, gas is so cheap that it would save you pocket change to worry about the temp or a timer.

  3. Theresa November 12, 2016 at 9:44 am -

    Jay, it said to forego the handyman when it’s a simple fix or the things that really any homeowner should know how to do themselves. Example, replace warn out parts in a toilet tank, replacing faucets, caulking windows/doors, etc. These types of tasks do not require a handyman.

    I love the note about the water heater. We recently purchased a second home and when the gas company came put to light the heater he set it really high. Told me, well cold weather will be here soon enough, so I set it for winter. It was July. Not something I really would have thought about .

  4. Joe Garcia November 13, 2016 at 2:18 pm -

    I prefer a licensed contractor vs a handyman done right the first time and accountability.

  5. Susan Chambers November 14, 2016 at 9:09 am -

    Jay, being a Realtor I couldn’t agree more with a homeowner watching a youtube video and trying to fix property repairs themselves. Very often leads to unintentional problems down the road.

  6. Richard Bagnell November 22, 2016 at 9:37 am -

    Nice list! I love my tankless water heater and it is a big deal for reducing the electric bill. Also, don’t forget the LEDs in your outdoor lighting, you will see the results in your bill.

    When you’re ready to save water, get at least one water barrel on a gutter down spout. This water is FREE, not treated, and great for the potted plants and veggie gardens…….When I sold my last house the buyer insisted I leave my water barrels.

  7. Ruven January 2, 2017 at 7:28 am -

    Thank you for reminding us. As responsible adults, homeowners, and investors (all tenants too ) we should know in how to save the resources and avoid waste them. More importante teach, others specially the kids the importance of this message. Starting in how to use water in the shower, clouse and open do not keep runing water entire time. If we do not learn as we grow later is going to be difficult. Let’s do it, follow the instrucción.

  8. Ruben January 2, 2017 at 7:33 am -

    From Miami Lakes 305-790-3131
    I will help you to fallow the instructions in how to avoid the most expensive mistakes at your home.

  9. laminate countertop @expresskitchen April 17, 2017 at 3:28 am -

    During home renovation of after that there are several mistakes that we do but are still ignored and later on that mistake can cause a big problem. Thanks for sharing the common mistakes that we do on our homes, now it will be a bit easy to avoid such mistakes.

  10. wilmer May 17, 2017 at 10:37 pm -

    This is an eye opener. Thank you for reminding us. I will definitely follow all these.

  11. mike morell February 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm -

    With the water crisis here and worldwide, I can’t understand why the keep making water-gushing shower-heads. Gallons are wasted while soaping up or rinsing with torrents pouring down the drain. No-one needs so much water to bathe. They’ve come up with water-saving-toilets; why not showers? Don’t complain about water crises; California,for example.

    • Bill September 21, 2019 at 2:50 pm -

      It would seem that in many parts of the US there is no water crisis, unless it is too much. The only reason that municipalities even charge for water is to pay for sewage costs. And as for showers, there are water reducing shower heads available for anyone wishing to shower under a trickle. I personally like a bracing stream.

  12. Tom Sklopan February 23, 2018 at 8:06 am -

    As a Property Manager of about three hundred houses, this list needs to be shared with both Owners and Tenants. Dirty furnace filters are one our number one problems when it comes to the HVAC system working properly.

  13. Jim Jones April 11, 2018 at 11:35 am -

    I agree about the handyman. IF you look forward to selling your home, if the non-professional job LOOKS like a non-professional job, buyers are going to see it and be negatively impacted by it – EVEN PAINTING. Just think about how good your skills really are before going at that project.

  14. Steve May 6, 2018 at 11:45 am -

    This is insane. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Myers & Myers Real Estate October 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm -

    Great list and some great ideas.

    Here a few more, install low flow toilets, and don’t forget to have your entire roof maintained occasional;y. Here in New Mexico, the UV is really bad and causes damage the roof. Make sure your penetrations in the roof are maintained on a regular basis.
    We have really hard water and it is a good idea to flush your water heater annually. Draining and flushing your water heater are not the same. Just google it or you tube it.


  16. Tuckpointing Oak Lawn June 4, 2019 at 11:16 pm -

    All really helpful tips. I’m in my kitchen right now and i’m looking at all the bulbs I can change out and save money on – that’s quite a few bulbs!

    I also have the nest and it’s great to be able to control the temperature of my house remotely, I wouldn’t replace it with anything else.

  17. Michelle Chase November 19, 2019 at 11:35 am -

    Great article but add cleaning your dryer vent. Not only will your dryer run more efficiently you may find a few dollar bills you laundered over the years!

  18. Vincent Real Estate February 18, 2020 at 6:43 am -

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!
    this will be very helpful for my website, Thank you for this!

  19. Donna Kuehn February 26, 2020 at 11:58 am -

    These are all great ideas and when selling your house it’s good to fix even the minor things that might come up in an inspection if not picked up in the showings.

    I especially like the one on the Water heater, great idea to get a timer.

  20. Martha L Dent April 22, 2020 at 11:46 pm -

    Can lights are another consideration for change. A lot of heat and air is lost to the attic. New LED flush mount can lights will solve that issue and save on electricity as well.

  21. Roofing contractors fort worth tx April 30, 2020 at 3:35 am -

    Great post!
    Southern Roofing & Construction is best to help you with all your roofing contractors fort worth tx and replacement needs.

  22. Carly Hull May 2, 2020 at 4:36 pm -

    These are great tips! There are definitely a lot of simple things you can do before calling someone up. Great share.

  23. Drywall Repair June 17, 2020 at 1:18 am -

    I appreciate the tips on saving money. Good article!