5 DIY Renovation Projects That Will Pay for Themselves

Posted by on Feb 05, 2016

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For homeowners in wintry climates, keeping warm is a must-have. The astronomical heating bills that often come with staying toasty? Not so necessary. Heating is one of the big costs of home ownership. However, there are plenty of ways for ambitious, clever and frugal homeowners to DIY those figures down. Here are five projects that will pay for themselves as they lower your bills. Since not everyone is a home-upgrade wunderkind, we’ve outlined both the traditional and DIY ways to tackle these challenges.

programmable arduino thermostat
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat 
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, it’s easy forget to turn it down before going to bed, heading to work or taking off for a weekend getaway. Get out of the dark ages of thermostats. Today’s market offers a wide range of programmable, adaptable thermostats for the savings-savvy homeowner. Look for a thermostat you can control with a smartphone app. Then if you get stuck working overtime or decide to add an extra day to your vacation, you can adjust your thermostat—and savings—accordingly, no matter where you are. 

Can you believe it’s possible to make your own thermostat? Materials can cost you a little over a hundred dollars, but if you do the right research, you can easily get those parts for less than half that price. You’ll be saving money, staying comfortable, and excelling at your tinkering skills along the way!
make a diy door snake
2. Seal Leaks 
You don’t want to waste money heating the great outdoors. Unfortunately, that’s what you’re doing if you leave air leaks unattended. Is your home sufficiently sealed? If you’re unsure, start by checking these notorious areas: 

● Weather-stripping: Proper weather-stripping around windows and doors can reduce your energy bills by 10 to 15 percent. Check to make sure your home actually has weather-stripping in these crucial areas and take note of the material. Felt, for example, should be replaced every few years. 
● Caulk: Caulking can be a messy, but this cheap fix will more than pay for itself. Use it to stop air leaks around window and door trim, outlets and other leaky areas. 
● Outlets: They may seem small, but outlets on exterior walls can leak a lot of heat. After caulking, be sure to add a foam gasket between the switch and plate to insulate against drafts and heat loss. 
● Pipes/Lines: Check where your pipes and lines enter your home and use expanding foam to block any gaps. 
● Thresholds: If you can see light under an exterior door, its threshold likely needs adjusting. Still think you feel a draft? A simple, crafty draft snake is a cheap but effective solution.
diy insullation
3. Add Insulation
You can add extra insulation to your home by keying into your DIY side. Newspapers and a farm-type hammer mill create an easily made, safe insulation material for less than one-fifth of what a manufactured one costs. Insulate everything you can. Insulate your pipes and your hot water heater. Add loft cavity insulation to reduce heat loss through your roof. Don’t forget to insulate attic access doors as well. Don’t assume your walls are insulated — check. You can also invest in an energy audit to find out where your home’s insulation needs improvement. There are a variety of materials and installation methods available for adding insulation.
4. Improve Existing Windows For many homeowners, replacing old windows may not be in the cards. Replacing windows is an expensive and recouping the cost may take several years. That said, windows are still a significant source of heat loss. If you can’t afford replacement windows, consider these projects as interim solutions: 
● Storm windows: Adding storm windows is easier and cheaper than replacing windows. These work to add another layer between your warm home and the cold outdoors, making it harder for heat to escape and drafts to invade. 
● Plastic: Many renters and homeowners swear by the energy saving powers of plastic films. Be careful not to damage anything during installation. 
● Window treatments: No matter your aesthetic—blinds, shades, curtains—the key is to add more layers to help insulate against heat loss. Keep curtains open and blinds up during the day to take advantage of the sunlight. As the sun sets, close them to retain as much heat as possible. 

Bubble Wrap Window Insulation
Yes, you can use bubble wrap to save yourself from draftiness! This is a very versatile, easily removable option, and it will save you from feeling cold and spending extra money!
replace your door to save heat
5. Replace Doors
A new door can pay for itself three times over by preventing heat loss, upgrading security, and improving curb appeal. 

A properly hung, structurally sound door with the proper threshold and weather-stripping will do a decent job of preventing heat loss. For those ready to invest in an upgrade, steel doors with insulated cores are a good investment. While some doors need the added help of a storm door, insulated steel doors render storm doors unnecessary. 

Any industrious homeowner with a willingness to DIY can tackle installing a new thermostat, sealing air leaks or hanging curtains. For those considering costly, more difficult tasks like window or door replacement, it’s important to take in the big picture. These improvements may not immediately pay for themselves via a lower heating bill, but they also bring crucial improvements to security, curb appeal and resale value.
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective. She graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can finder her on Twitter and PinterestThe Drifter Collective is An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us.

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