Contractors say you're wasting money if you aren't making any of these easy upgrades around your home

Prices start at just $4.

ByJenny White
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Maintaining your home can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to cost a ton to make big improvements. I reached out to trusted contractors for the scoop on easy-to-pull-off upgrades you can make around (and outside of) your home that will save you money over time. The list contains everything from simple swaps to save on your energy or water bill to preventative picks that’ll keep larger issues at bay, and more. Everything is DIY friendly and prices start at just $4.


Repairing damaged seals around windows with silicone caulk

According to Kelly Hoven, the brand president at Gatsby Glass, you should be checking for cracks or gaps in the seal around glass windows. If you spot a problem area, “a tube of caulk can go a long way in sealing off drafts and is very inexpensive.” Not only will this mold- and mildew-resistant silicone caulk do that, but it can also protect against water and moisture. Plus, it won’t crack, shrink, or yellow over time.


Illuminating outdoor spaces with solar-powered lights

You don’t need to utilize electricity to brighten outdoor spots. “Solar-powered path lights are an affordable and energy-efficient way to illuminate walkways, driveways, or garden paths,” explains Mike Marlow, the founder of Blingle! Premier Lighting. This 12-pack of lights charges via the sun during the day, then will flip on at dusk and stay lit for up to 10 hours straight. The lights are waterproof.


Covering your windows with energy-efficient privacy film

While this window film will improve the overall appearance of your windows, Luke Schwartz, the brand president at Bumble Bee Blinds, adds that it’s also “a simple way to improve the energy efficiency of your windows.” The best-selling film blocks up to 96% of the sun’s UV rays but still allows some light to filter in. It installs with just water and can be repositioned until it’s perfect.


Keeping your gutters clear with mesh guards

Craig Ricks Jr., the president of Acadian Windows, stresses the importance of keeping your gutters clear to “prevent potential water damage to your foundation or roof.” This gutter guard will stop leaves, sticks, and other debris from getting in there in the first place. It sits on the top of your gutters (it can be trimmed to the exact size and shape needed) and the plastic mesh won’t rust or corrode over time.


Removing leaves, dirt & debris from your gutters with a scoop

Another way to clean out your gutters per Ricks Jr.’s suggestion? Use a gutter scoop. This one is precisely sized (with an extended length) to fit in your gutters, allowing you to remove debris with one swoop. The high handle position protects your hands from scrapes and scratches.


Cleaning your siding & other outdoor areas with a sprayable stain remover

Removing stuck-on debris from your siding is a cheaper way to “refresh the look if you are not currently in the market for new siding,” notes Ricks Jr. This two-pack of cleaner removes staining caused by dirt, algae, mold, mildew, and moss. And the sprayer head connects to a garden hose to reach up to 24 feet.


Hanging blackout curtains to insulate against heat & cold

Putting up new curtains will give any space an instant refresh. But Ricks Jr. says that blackout curtains can also “control temperatures inside your home to cut down on energy consumption.” This pair of panels block up to 99.9% of the sun’s rays and increase privacy as well. Choose from various colors and lengths via the listing.


Sticking some draft stoppers onto doors to lower energy bills

One upgrade that Dan Bailey, the president of WikiLawn Lawn Care, has done in his own home that’d be helpful for yours? Installing draft stoppers like these on interior and exterior doors to prevent drafts. “This means my home is heated and cooled more efficiently, which means less money spent on climate control,” he adds. Each of the draft stoppers in the pair are 39 inches long (but can be trimmed if needed) and they install via adhesive on the back.


Installing a low-flow rainfall showerhead to save on water

This rain showerhead feels amazingly relaxing, yet it’s efficient thanks to a design that injects air bubbles into the stream. This “will help you save on water bills and the energy costs of heating the water,” explains Quinn Babcock, the head of construction at Block Renovation. The showerhead will connect to any standard shower arm in minutes. And it comes in various sizes and finishes in the listing.


Switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs that are long-lasting

Make sure you’re using LED light bulbs around your home. “LEDs are more energy-efficient and last longer than traditional bulbs, so you don’t spend as much on replacements or energy bills,” notes Babcock. This value pack includes six bulbs that put out a soft, warm glow. They’re dimmable, too.


Cleaning out your dryer vent to improve efficiency

The owner of SAT Stained Concrete, Michael Campbell, commented that spending just a few bucks on a dryer vent cleaner is worth your while. It “helps maintain optimal dryer performance, saving homeowners money on energy costs and potential repairs,” he says. Plus, it helps to minimize the risk of fires associated with built-up lint. The cleaner’s nearly 2-foot-long hose connects to almost any standard vacuum for power using the included adapters.


Protecting your floors from damage with furniture leg covers

It’s no secret that swapping out flooring can be costly. With this in mind, Dan Walker, the owner and contractor of Walker Home Remodeling, stresses that protecting your existing floors to begin with (to delay having to replace or repair them) is a good idea. These leg covers are made from stretchy silicone to fit on furniture legs and the felt bottom shields against scratches and other damage. Various colors and sizes can be purchased in the listing.


Installing a bidet attachment to save on toilet paper

“A bidet attachment is a quick and easy way to save money around the house, especially if you choose one that doesn't require any electrical work,” says Walker. And this specific bidet attachment is straightforward to install, with no batteries or electricity needed. The bidet boasts dual nozzles for a thorough clean and the pressure can be tweaked with the controls on the side.


Repairing wooden furniture with a touch-up set

If you have scuffs, nicks, scratches, or other damage on wooden furniture pieces in your home, Walker suggests touching them up with a marker and crayon set like this one rather than replacing it. The best-selling kit includes six markers and six crayons — in oak, cherry, maple, walnut, mahogany, and black shades to match most furniture — plus a sharpener. Results are permanent and they can be blended for a perfect match.


Opting for reusable lids to reduce aluminum foil & plastic wrap use

“Environmentally friendly reusable lids are a great place to save the cash that you would have spent on foil or plastic wrap,” notes Walker. These seven lids are made from stretchy silicone — which is microwave-, oven-, and freezer-safe — to create an airtight seal. They come in various sizes to work on various containers. Once dirty, toss them in the dishwasher to reuse them.


Placing protective clear bumpers on drawers & doors

While it may feel like a small-scale improvement, sticking these rubber bumpers on spots like cabinet doors or drawers “can help protect your investment” (shielding against scratches, dings, and nicks) and prevent “the need for repairs,” according to Walker. The set includes 128 clear bumpers that are half an inch in diameter.


Sealing gaps around your doors & windows with weather stripping

The brand president of iFOAM insulation, Vince Vigneri, indicates that you should seal gaps around your doors and windows with weather stripping to “prevent cold drafts from entering your home and lower energy bills.” Each of the two rolls in the set is 13 feet long and there is adhesive on the back to hold it securely in place. The foam stripping is waterproof and shock absorbent.


Insulating pipes against freezing temps with this unique tape

One of Vigneri’s tricks is insulating hot water pipes using insulation tape “to help reduce heat loss and prevent pipes from freezing in cold weather.” The weather-resistant roll contains 11 feet of tape and it’s just as easy to utilize as any regular roll of tape — wrap it directly around the pipes for protection and cut off any excess.


Using low-flow aerators on your sinks to slash your water bill

Jay Sanders, a licensed contractor and the owner of Castle Dream Construction and Maryland Contractors, explains that installing these low-flow faucet aerators on your kitchen and bathroom sinks can cut water usage in half to save you money. Made from brass with a chrome-plated body, the attachment should fit on most faucets without issue. The set comes with two aerators.


Installing this split flush activator on your toilet to cut back on water usage

Another way to save water in your home? Sanders says this split handle “can convert your existing toilet into a dual-flush system” to do either a quick flush (which uses less water) or a full flush when needed. It’s straightforward to install without tools and is constructed of durable plastic with a polished chrome finish for a high-end look.


Switching to this smart power strip that monitors energy usage

This smart power strip connects to the free Kasa app so you can monitor the amount of energy each plugged-in device uses, allowing you to “save electricity costs by cutting power to devices” that aren’t necessary, notes Sanders. The strip has six smart outlets plus three USB ports. It can also be controlled via voice with Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant.


Hanging these solar-powered string lights to illuminate outdoor spaces

String lights are great for brightening outdoor areas like a patio, porch, or deck. And these ones in particular are a favorite of Sanders since they are solar powered — they’ll charge via the sun during the day, then flip on automatically at night. The strand is 35 feet in length with 11 shatterproof bulbs that can be adjusted to five brightness levels. The lights are waterproof and come with a remote.


Collecting rainwater in a barrel for garden upkeep, car washing & more

Instead of constantly running the garden hose, utilize this rain barrel “to collect water, which can be used to water your garden,” explains Sanders. You could also use it to clean your car or for any other outdoor water-related needs. The tank has a large 66-gallon capacity and it’s made from durable PVC that won’t corrode over time.


Replacing costly paper towels with these machine-washable microfiber cloths

Swap out single-use paper towels for these reusable cleaning cloths to “save money and reduce waste,” notes Sanders. The 100 cloths in the set are made from soft, lint-free microfiber to clean pretty much any surface imaginable and soak up spills as well. The cloths are machine washable.


Putting up some infrared motion sensor lights to save on electricity

Lance Sinclair, the president of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky, describes occupancy motion sensors like these as “more sophisticated versions of motion detectors” since they utilize infrared technology to detect motion and subsequently turn the lights on. The sensors are straightforward to install (a grounding connection is needed) and once in place, they use minimal energy.


Positioning these solar-powered lights in dim areas as an added safety measure

Position these solar lights to shine on areas like your front porch or back deck that are likely quite dim when night falls. They can serve as “an effective security system without being a drag on your energy consumption,” says Sinclair. Each of the lights features 120 high-power LEDs for superior illumination (the brightness can be tweaked as desired). And the lighting area is wide, covering 270 degrees.


Plugging in motion-sensor night-lights that only flip on with movement

Sinclair advises using motion-sensor night-lights to save energy — they only flip on when movement is detected at night and will turn off automatically after 60 seconds of inactivity. The lights put out a soft white glow (though other choices are available via the listing) and there are two different brightness settings to select from.


Unclogging your drains with flexible snakes before it turns into a larger issue

“It’s easy to take your drains for granted, but when they clog or get backed up, you notice,” stresses Sinclair. And those situations can be pricey to remedy. To keep your drains clean in the first place, grab this three-pack of drain snakes. They’re 25 inches long with a flexible barbed design to hook onto hair, debris, and other blockages, and pull it all out with ease.


Eliminating ant issues with these low-cost liquid baits

Ant issue in your home? John Target, the owner and founder of Target Pest Control, suggests these liquid ant baits to get rid of these pests. “The pre-filled, ready-to-use bait stations are easy to set up and use, making it a hassle-free solution for ant control in and around your home,” he explains. The set includes 12 bait stations that will significantly decrease the ants in your home within days.


Keeping your indoor plants happy with a self-watering planter

Indoor plants are nice but keeping them alive takes work and they can be expensive to replace. Luckily, this self-watering planter makes it easier — it can store a week’s worth of water and gradually dispenses it as needed. “Plus, it can actually save you water too by only requiring the exact amount needed to keep your plants healthy,” adds Jeremy Yamaguchi, the CEO of Lawn Love. The rectangular planter comes in white, dark gray, and coffee colors in the listing.


Watering your lawn or garden with this water-efficient soaker hose

Ryan Farley, the CEO of LawnStarter, explains that this flat soaker hose is more efficient than a traditional sprinkler for watering a lawn or garden — in fact, it’s estimated to save up to 80% of water. “They splash water around less, leading to less evaporation, and they put water right on the roots where plants really need it,” he says. The 25-foot hose has a double-layer design for durability.


Installing puck lights in your kitchen to avoid using overhead lighting

Hannah Jones, a realtor and home improvement expert, has put up puck lights like these in her kitchen. They “can give a luxe feel to your kitchen and make it a designer space,” she explains. Plus, they prevent you from having to turn on the overhead lights. The three lights in the set put out a warm white glow and they can be controlled with a tap or the included remote control.


Investing in high-quality furnace filters to prevent costly breakdowns

Allan Lake, the president of Good Guys Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, doesn’t want you to skimp on your furnace filters. “Using a high quality furnace filter will help prevent dust from entering your system which can increase utility costs and cause premature breakdowns,” he explains. Lake calls out these furnace filters as a favorite, explaining that the MERV 11 rating makes them “effective at removing finer particles of dust.” Various sizes can be purchased in the listing to fit your machine.


Using these smart outlet plugs to put electronics on a schedule

According to Asif Bux, the co-founder of Comfort Union, utilizing smart outlet plugs for electronics around your home (like lamps, fans, humidifiers, and more) can cut back on energy waste. The plugs can be set to turn off automatically after a certain duration, plus they can easily be controlled with the free Kasa app or your voice via Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant.


Grabbing this outdoor smart outlet that’s app & voice controllable

Bux stresses that there are smart outlets for the outdoors, too. And these “can help reduce [...] energy consumption significantly,” he says. This specific smart outlet features three outlets to control three devices simultaneously. Operate it with the free BN-LINK Smart app or via Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant.


Sprucing up your bathroom without spending a lot by swapping in a more modern faucet

If your bathroom faucet has seen better days, replace it for only $25 with this modern one. “Not only do new fixtures [...] take the worry out of relying on old ones to prevent water damage and other issues, but the new unit will make the entire bathroom look like it’s been given special attention,” suggests Deborah Lamberton, the general manager at ASAP Restoration LLC. The single-handled faucet comes in short and tall options in the listing, plus four finishes.


Freshening up a room with a coat of this all-in-one paint & primer

Brandon Walker, the superintendent at ASAP Restoration LLC, says that painting even just one wall can give a room new life without spending tons of cash. “Paint it with an accent color, or something bold that completely contrasts the rest of the space to make it stand out,” he adds. For this, utilize this paint and primer combo, which can cover up to 400 square feet. A range of colors and four finishes can be selected in the listing.


Protecting your chimney against water damage with this flashing sealer

As Brendan Anderson, the founder of Brix Systems, explains it, “if your chimney flashing is cracked or damaged, it can lead to leaks and water damage.” For a DIY repair, utilize this waterproof flashing sealer. It swipes on with a paintbrush and creates a flexible seal to keep water out. The half-gallon container will cover 14 square feet.


Upcyling older furniture with bold paint colors

Instead of replacing old, outdated furniture, Barry Krall, the brand president of Groovy Hues, recommends upcycling it instead with a fresh coat of paint. “You can use bold colors to make a statement,” he adds. This chalk paint is ideal for this since it’s a primer, paint, and top coat in one — and it self-levels for a smooth finish. It’s a low-VOC pick.


Installing a smart thermostat to reduce energy usage

“Having a smart thermostat can save thousands of dollars a year in energy costs if used properly,” says Josh Rudin, the owner of ASAP Restoration LLC. This smart thermostat connects with the Amazon Alexa app so you can adjust the temperature from anywhere — turn it down or off when you know you’ll be gone for long periods of time. It’s voice controllable, too.