Inexpensive home repairs that can help save you money

If you’re trying to lower your energy bills, there are lots of different steps to take. Some big ones, like replacing your old windows, can earn you tax credits.1 But those updates can cost a lot of money up front – even if you get some of it back. 

On the plus side: You don’t have to make large changes to save. Doing small repairs and upgrades around the house can help lower your energy bills says Jennifer Amann, a senior fellow at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. They’re also affordable. Here are 7 money-saving fixes that may help.

Hang cellular shades

Cellular shades are also known as honeycomb shades. Their pleated design traps air between the shade and window.

Cellular shades help cut down on cold drafts in winter. In summer, they filter the hot sun. Swapping out your vinyl or metal blinds for these shades may save you 15% on your heating and cooling bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.2

Plug up cracks

You lose up to one-fourth of the heat in your home through small cracks and holes.3 Two ways to stop drafts are caulking and weatherstripping, says Amann. Caulk is a foam-like material that plugs up small gaps. Weatherstrips seal doors and windows so air can’t get in. You can find both at any hardware store.

“Caulking and weatherstripping are great low-cost ways to save energy,” says Amann. And your investment may pay off in a year or less.4 To get the biggest savings, focus on windows and doors.

Put in a few ceiling fans

About half of the energy in your home is used for heating and cooling.5 In the summer, ceiling fans can help you lower your A/C costs, says Amann. Ceiling fans create a cooling sensation as air flows across your skin. That way, you’re able to set the thermostat a couple of degrees higher and still feel cool, she explains.

But only turn them on when someone’s in the room. “They do nothing to actually cool the home,” says Amann. Like lights, leaving them on in an empty room is wasting money.

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members with a healthy food, OTC products and utility bills credit can download the UnitedHealthcare® app to view credit balance, use product scanner and more.

Get rid of the second fridge

Do you have a second refrigerator in the basement or garage? The problem is that these fridges tend to be older. And it might be using up to 35% more energy than your newer, more efficient kitchen refrigerator.6

“If you only use your extra refrigerator to hold extra drinks, then think about getting rid of it,” says Amann. “That is an easy way to help cut your energy bill.” Check to see if the utility company offers money for taking the old fridge away and recycling it, she adds.

Keep your primary fridge working better

The coils in the back of or underneath your refrigerator collect dust and pet hair. And dirty coils make your fridge work harder to keep foods cool. Clean the coils with a vacuum every six months. This can save 35% from your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.6

Another place to check? The seals on the doors, especially if the appliance is older, says Amann. “Are they cracked, and you feel cool air escape when you shut the doors? Then have them replaced,” she advises.

Consider investing in a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat lets you control temperature settings from a phone or other devices while you’re away from home. Getting a thermostat with an Energy Star rating can save you $50 per year, on average.7 They cost roughly $100 or more but there are rebates that can help lower the price. If you’re handy with home improvement projects, doing it yourself could help save you even more.

Insulate the attic

If your home isn’t well insulated, add more. And start with the attic, says Amann. That’s the place where you lose the most heat in the winter, she says. A well-insulated attic can also keep hot air from spreading all over the house in summer, she adds.

There are DIY insulation kits, Amann says. Or hire someone who can also caulk and weatherstrip the attic to keep it airtight, she advises. You also might qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program.8 It provides no-cost energy-saving services to older adults or others with limited income.

These home repairs may require a bit of an investment up front. But they could save you money on utility bills down the road.

Get more help with your everyday needs. Already a UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage member with a credit to pay utility bills like electricity, gas or water? Pay online or at a local Walmart MoneyCenter. Sign in to your plan website to learn more and check the balance.

Already a UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Advantage member?

Get more help with everyday needs. Have a credit to buy covered groceries, OTC products and pay utility bills? Learn how to shop in-store or online.