Let Your House Work for You

Housing costs can often accumulate and lead to you could be spending more than you should. Instead of throwing that extra money into the black hole that is your mortgage, ensure you take advantage of the various ways that you can save on your mortgage and have money you had previously written off to invest in making your house more energy efficient, so you’ll save on utilities too. Read on to learn all about how to save on your mortgage and invest it so you save on utilities.

Shop around to get the best rate

Since lending agencies are interested in getting your business, they will often offer lower rates as a means of attracting customers. You may be able to negotiate a better rate with your lending agency. However, you will need to research the latest news on mortgage rates and be familiar with the current climate of the housing market. Then you’ll be able to tell if the rate you are getting is fair and perhaps do a bit of negotiating.

Take an existing mortgage

If you’re looking at buying a house, you can also assume an existing mortgage instead of getting a new one all together. This is a particularly attractive option if the rates on that mortgage are lower than what you would currently get. For this option to be available, the mortgage must be transferable and you must be able to pay the difference between the purchase price and the outstanding debt.

Make an extra payment each year

Making an extra payment at the end of each year will help you pay off your mortgage faster because the extra money is applied to your principal, so your balance will decrease. You’ll also save because a portion of this payment won’t be going toward interest. Several free mortgage calculators available on the Web, such as this one from Bankrate.com, will give you a feel for how this might work in your favor.

How to save on utilities by going green

Once you have gotten your returns from saving, invest them in green alternatives to help you save on heating and electricity. With fossil fuels becoming ever more expensive, you’ll want to start building the infrastructure to liberate yourself from these finite resources. Here are some ways to go green and save money on home energy costs.

To save on lighting, replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. While they may cost more initially, these bulbs use electricity more efficiently and also don’t wear out as quickly, so you won’t have to replace them as often. They use about a quarter of the electricity an incandescent bulb uses and can last up to ten times as long.

You can also trade your car in for a hybrid that uses less gasoline by running on electricity. Popular models like the Toyota Prius may help consumers reduce their fuel bills while also reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.

Finally, for a long-term project, you can consider converting your home heating system to a geothermal system. Geothermal heating relies on the temperature of soil underground to distribute heat through your home through a geothermal heat pump. While the upfront costs are significant, a geothermal system can save you thousands in the long run.

They say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” When applied to your mortgage and home improvement investments, this saying takes on gigantic terms. You can save thousands of dollars if you play your cards right on your mortgage and then make the right investment choices in your home.

This post is contributed by writer Matt Morgan. Matt is a recent graduate from Southampton University, an aspiring writer who blogs at www.thebookofmatter.com.

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TB at BluecollarWorkman January 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

Great tips! I installed a woodburning fire place in our home (a lot of work!). We keep down heating costs because our fireplace keeps us very warm for most of the night… we don’t have to use much heating at all.

funny January 22, 2013 at 9:39 am

How do you keep the house’s warm air from wafting up the chimney? Do you have glass doors in front of the fireplace, with one of those gadgets that channels warm air into the house?

Mine just has a flue (sp.????), which doesn’t stay closed reliably and which looks like it’s prob’ly pretty leaky even when it is closed. It has an ordinary fire screen, not a glass barrier. I suspect it of sucking the air-conditioning up the chimney during the summer!

budget glamorous January 23, 2013 at 8:15 am

How do you toss CFL bulbs? That’s been my new conundrum…can’t find a place to take them and I’ve been told not to put them in the trash?

funny January 23, 2013 at 9:42 am

Check out this EPA site for some ideas along those lines: http://epa.gov/cfl/cflrecycling.html

Turns out a number of retailers will collect the things for recycling, among them Ace, TruValue, Lowe’s, HD, and Ikea — they say to call before dragging the things down there, though, because not all local branches can accommodate the plan.

Some recyclers, according to the same site, have mail-in services in which the recycler foots the shipping charge.

The latest, greatest thing, however, is apparently LED bulbs. Tho’ they’re astonishingly expensive at this time, they’re proving popular enough that prices are dropping. They last a jillion years (uhm…well, a very long time), the light is said to be far less ghastly (you can even change their colors), they’re shaped like a real Edisonian lightbulb (can you imagine one of those uglee curlicue things lighting up in the thought balloon over your head every time you have a bright idea?), they’re said to be spectacularly energy-efficient, they incorporate no toxins, and because they have chips in them, they can be programmed to speak to your mobile devices.

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