Contractors say if you want to save money, you should be making these clever home upgrades

Bid farewell to high monthly bills and costly repairs.

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It’s no secret that maintaining a home is expensive — but improperly maintaining your home can be even more expensive. Thankfully, by staying on top of things and making strategic, clever upgrades here and there, you can prevent many problems before they start. We spoke to contractors from across the country to get their recommendations for easy and budget-friendly upgrades you can make now, which will help you save your hard-earned money later on.

01

A dryer vent cleaning kit for maximum drying efficiency & safety

Rassan Grant is the Director at Norstone USA, a natural stone veneers company in central Florida. He says, “Clogged dryer vents can increase drying time and your energy bill.” His recommendation is to pick up a dryer vent cleaner kit to stay on top of your dryer maintenance. He adds, “This kit includes a long brush and extension rods to remove lint buildup easily, potentially reducing drying time and saving you money on both energy and dryer repairs.” Not to mention, keeping those vents clear can also help prevent fire hazards.

02

These tablets that keep your washing machine in tip-top shape

Home appliances are expensive investments, so it’s important to do all you can to properly maintain them. Maxine Fraivillig, Operations and Marketing Manager at Malta Sotheby's International Realty says, “Washing machine cleaning tablets are a great addition to your cleaning experience and help in getting rid of mold, mildew, and any hard water buildup [...] If you're using bleach to clean, then I highly recommend switching to tablets.” These washing machine cleaning tablets are compatible with both top- and front-load washing machines. They’re a fan favorite, having racked up nearly 300,000 glowing reviews.

03

A gutter scoop for removing leaves & other debris

For when the time comes to clean your gutters out, don’t do it barehanded. Opt for this gutter scoop that makes it a bit easier and a whole lot less gross. It’s constructed with an elevated handle for easy maneuvering, and the flexible material molds to your gutter for maximum efficiency and quick scooping.

04

These energy-efficient light bulbs that save money & energy

Toner says, “Brighten your space and your savings with energy-efficient LED bulbs. They're a cost-effective way to illuminate your home while keeping your electricity bill in check.” This four-pack of LED bulbs by GE is a great option for eco- and budget-conscious lighting, emitting a soft white light that’s designed to help you relax. According to the brand, you’ll save an estimated $84 on energy costs per bulb.

05

A smoke alarm that’s a must for any home

Having a functioning and up-to-date smoke alarm is a non-negotiable, too. This smoke alarm by First Alert utilizes an ionization sensor to effectively recognize smoke from fires, and uses a backup battery feature just in case there’s a power interruption. It also has an end-of-life signal, so you know when it’s time for replacing, too.

06

These gutter guards that help to keep the gunk out

Keeping your gutters clean is not the most fun, but it’s definitely necessary. Quinn Babcock, Construction and Design Operations Lead at Block Renovation says, “Clogged gutters can lead to water damage to your roof, soffits, siding, or even windows. Regular cleaning can prevent water from overflowing and damaging your foundation or roof, and installing gutter guards can prevent leaves from clogging the gutter.” To prevent some major costs in the long run, install these gutter guards that prevent debris from getting stuck in the first place. The guards can be cut to size and secured with the included clips.

07

The electronic pest repellers that keep unwanted guests at bay

Babcock recommends that everyone, “Take measures to prevent pest infestations, and regularly inspect your home for signs of pests like termites or rodents, which can cause significant damage to the home's infrastructure.” You can also keep pests away before they become a problem with these ultrasonic pest repellers. They use ultrasonic sounds that are silent to humans to drive unwanted critters away. Just plug them into your wall outlets and you’ll see results in two to four weeks.

08

This waterproof caulk to prevent leaks & costly water damage

Babcock says, “Apply silicone caulk in bathrooms and kitchens to prevent water leakage. Leaks around bathtubs, sinks, and backsplashes can cause mold and structural damage.” He recommends this silicone caulk by GE Advanced. It’s easy to apply, dries in as little as 30 minutes, and is 100% waterproof for a watertight seal.

09

A mold & mildew stain remover to remedy previous water damage

If you’ve already had small instances of damage caused by water — specifically mold and mildew — you’ll want to take care of that problem with a cleaner designed for the job. This instant mold and mildew stain remover spray will eliminate stubborn spots with just a few spritzes — no scrubbing needed. It works on all kinds of materials, including wood, drywall, and concrete.

10

This water leak detector that alerts you at the first sign of trouble

Preparation and prevention are key to preventing most costly issues around the home, and water-related ones can be particularly tricky to spot early on. But thanks to this water detector you can be alerted of any potential leaks with the sound of an alarm. Boasting a 4.6-star overall rating, the detector uses probes to sense leaks, drips, and other signs of unwanted water presence — potentially saving you hundreds if not thousands in repairs.

  • Available options: 2

11

These pathway lights that are solar powered

Babcock recommends harnessing the sun’s power to protect your pocketbook. “Solar lights, chargers, and water heaters can reduce electricity use and lower your energy bill,” he explains. You can start with these solar-powered pathway lights. They stake right into the ground (no wiring necessary) and offer up to 10 hours of illumination a night. Available in cool white and warm white options, they’re constructed to be waterproof, so they’ll stand up to inclement weather.

  • Available options: 2

12

A smart power strip that cuts electricity when you don’t need it

A great way to save on your energy bill? Use a smart power strip. Babcock says, “Electronics left in standby mode can inadvertently drain energy, but with smart power strips, they’ll cut power to devices when they aren’t in use.” This highly rated version features two USB ports and three sockets that can be individually controlled via a smart phone app or by voice commands if you have an Alexa or Google assistant. You can set schedules or toggle the outlets to “off” mode when you want to cut power to certain appliances — and save on your electricity bill.

13

This carbon monoxide detector that keeps your family safe from invisible harm

It goes without question that every home should have certain safeguards in place, especially smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Babcock calls them an “essential for safety” that “can prevent fire and gas-related accidents.” Aside from saving you money by alerting you to could-be-catastrophic events, they can help to save lives, too. This carbon monoxide detector plugs into any outlet in your home and produces a loud 85-decibel alarm if carbon monoxide is detected.

14

The stand-up weeding tool that’s easy on your back

When it comes to upgrading your home landscaping while saving money, Mark Marino, owner and operator of Lawn Phix in Bellingham, Massachusetts says, “I recommend Papa's Stand Up Weed Puller Tool to my customers because it's easy on the back and can pull all types of weeds – from crabgrass to the large taproots of dandelions...” The tool digs deep into even tough soil and has a four-claw design to grab weeds by the roots — much easier than getting down on your hands and knees (and much cheaper than hiring professional help).

15

These moisture-absorbing boxes that help reduce indoor humidity

Sol Kruk, licensed home inspector and owner of Property Inspection Pros in Baltimore, highly recommends moisture absorbers to lower the humidity throughout your home. He says, “Reducing moisture can help with the growth of mold and mildew, which can be be costly to get rid of. While they may not save you much initially, they will help reduce the chances of a mold infestation and all the bills that will come along with it.” These absorbers use calcium chloride to soak up water and they’re available in both scented and unscented options. Use them in humidity-prone spaces, like bathrooms, basements, and closets.

16

An easy-to-use drain protector that prevents clogs & costly plumber visits

“A hair catcher for the shower or tub prevents plumbing problems down the line,” says Ryan Farley, CEO of LawnStarter, a lawn services booking site. And we all know plumbing problems can be quite costly. Farley adds, “There's a good variety of brands on Amazon that go for as low as $13, which is significantly better than the cost of scheduling a plumber.” A fan favorite is this TubShroom drain protector which fits most standard tub drains, is easy to install, and even easier to clean. It traps hair by wrapping it around the cylinder, but still lets water flow freely.

  • Available options: 6

17

This transparent weather-stripping tape that helps keep cold air out

“Seal the leaks and save the bucks!” says Karina Toner, Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning in Washington, D.C. She recommends weather-stripping tape to ensure “your home stays cozy without letting dollars slip through the cracks.” This transparent weather-stripping tape provides an airtight and watertight seal on your windows to keep air and water out, all while using weather-resistant materials and without leaving a sticky residue behind.

  • Available options: 3

18

A programmable thermostat to control the temperatures in your home

By controlling the elements in your home wherever you can, you’ll save money and energy — it’s a win/win. Toner says, “Take control of your heating and cooling expenses with a programmable thermostat,” adding, “This one-time purchase can lead to consistent savings on your energy bills.” This programmable thermostat by Honeywell offers separate options for programming on weekdays and weekends, precise temperature control, and an easy-to-use backlit digital display. It’s compatible with most heating and cooling systems and doesn’t cost a lot.

19

This water-saving showerhead with multiple modes for a luxe experience

Toner says, “Conserve water and cut down on water heating costs with this high-efficiency showerhead. It's a small change that makes a big impact on your monthly utility bills.” The showerhead can help save up to 30% water consumption when compared to more standard versions, and it only takes one minute to install. It has six different spray modes to customize your showering experience and comes in three finishes: matte black, brushed nickel, and premium chrome.

  • Available finishes: 3

20

The door draft stoppers that help keep your home at the temperature you want

Take better control of the temperature in your home by stopping drafts before they start. Toner says that by using a door draft stopper you can “bid farewell to chilly drafts and high heating bills.” Door sweeps like this are a “cost-effective solution to keep your home cozy and energy-efficient,” while cutting down on your heating and cooling bills, too. Made with a flexible silicone material that won’t damage your floors, these strips adhere right to the bottom of your door and covers pesky gaps to prevent unwanted air leakage.

  • Available colors: 4

21

These reusable food wraps that are cheaper (& more eco-friendly) than plastic

Jonathan Faccone, founder of Halo Homebuyers in New Jersey gives great advice when it comes to budget- and eco-friendly alternatives in the kitchen, recommending we make the swap to reusable kitchen wraps. He says, “These are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap and can save you money in the long run as they can be used multiple times.” As for specifics? “Go for beeswax or silicone wraps for a durable option.” These cotton and beeswax-based food wraps are available in 13 different prints, with sets that include multiple sizes.

  • Available prints: 13

22

An easy-to-use caulking gun for DIY repairs

Faccone also recommends keeping simple tools on hand at home for quick and affordable DIY repairs. He says, “Investing in simple tools like a plunger, drain snake, and caulking gun can save you from expensive plumber visits.” Owning something like this highly rated caulking gun and having it on hand is exactly what he’s talking about, adding, “You need to just put in a little effort to save money on maintenance.” Using the caulking gun for quick shower, drain, or window repairs will save you money and make you feel good about your DIY skills, too.

23

The flexible drain snakes that tackle tough sink & shower clogs

A drain clog remover is another handy tool Faccone recommends you keep handy in the home, like these drain snakes made with a flexible, barbed material to easily grip debris like hair and soap buildup. Measuring 25 inches long, each one reaches deep into the drain pull out pesky clogs before they can become big problems.

24

An effective toilet plunger because, well, you know why

Another must-have tool to add to your collection? This toilet plunger and holder by OXO Good Grips. The no-touch holder pops open when you lift the plunger out and has a sanitary drip tray that lets any excess water evaporate away. It’s a simple, aesthetically pleasing combo you won’t mind leaving out next to your toilet for when the (inevitable) time comes.

25

These versatile drain sticks that help prevent clogs in the first place

Another way to be proactive instead of reactive is to use these enzymatic drain sticks to prevent clogs in the first place. Just one stick per month can help prevent clogs and unpleasant smells by dissolving and deodorizing grease, scum, and other buildup. They’re safe to use in sinks, showers, garbage disposals, and toilets. Just drop it in the drain, and it will get to work right away. .

  • Available options: 2

26

These wool dryer balls with multiple money-saving benefits

Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy Painters of La Grange, Illinois, has an easy way to upgrade your laundry game — dryer balls. He says, “One of the best product purchases I've made recently was a pack of wool dryer balls off Amazon. I originally bought them to save some money on dryer sheets, but have also found they dramatically cut down on how long my clothes need to be in the dryer for, especially for larger loads.” This six-pack of wool dryer balls is made from 100% natural New Zealand wool, and each one works to fluff and soften your clothing without any synthetic fragrances.

27

This cleaning spray that helps maintain your HVAC system

Kevin Goude, owner of First Choice HVAC in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina stresses the importance of maintaining clear air filters within your HVAC system. He says, “This spray cleaner can be applied to washable and reusable filters of air conditioners and furnaces, effectively removing dust and dirt.” The spray is made to be eco-friendly and free of harsh ingredients. Goude continues, “The cleaner the filter, the better the airflow and HVAC system performance, and consequently, the lower the utility bills.” Seems easy enough.

28

These insulated curtains that help maintain your home’s temperature

Goude says, “One thing that every homeowner should consider, regardless of the climate in their area, is thermal curtains. Thermal curtains can improve a home’s insulation, serving as a barrier between the home and outdoor environments. They reduce heat loss in cold winters and prevent hot air and sunlight from passing through windows in summer.” These thermal-insulated curtains are available in a whopping 34 sizes and 29 colors so you can find a color and size to suit your preference. They’re a fan favorite, boasting a near-perfect 4.8-star overall rating on Amazon after 68,000 reviews.

  • Available colors: 29
  • Available sizes: 34

29

These gardening gloves that still let you use your phone

Constantine Anest, owner of Ethos Roofing and Restoration in Colorado, reminds us that protecting you hands while doing maintenance tasks is key. He says, “Gardening gloves, which cost $10 to $15, are a small investment that can prevent injuries when cleaning your roof.” Plus, they’re also protective while completing other home improvement tasks. These gardening gloves are made with cooling bamboo that feels like a second skin, and are even touch screen-friendly.

  • Available sizes:5

30

This tool set that has everything you need in one handy case

Anest also stresses the importance of having the right tools on hand at home. He says, “Small hand tools like a multi-bit screwdriver, a compact pry bar for removing nails, or a utility knife might be available under $35 and can be very useful for quick repairs.” This tool set by Cartman includes many of the most commonly used household tools, and for a great price. Plus, everything is nestled compactly in the included carrying case, so it won’t take up excessive storage space.

  • Available options: 8