When preparing taxes or simply reviewing your monthly household budget, you might realize that maintaining your home is costing more than you realized. Whether older or newer, homes of all sizes and styles can rack up expenses that you don't even realize until an informal assessment is made. Here are five ways your home could be eating up your budget.

Hidden utility costs

Make a point of checking each month's utility bills. While some may be the same month after month, others, like the electric bill, will likely change. Look for spikes in billing, which may indicate new service fees, which may not be warranted. You also might find that additional or expanded services have been added without your knowing consent. Contact the utility provider to discuss any new or suspicious changes.

Aging appliances

Even if you love having your mom's fridge in the kitchen as a nostalgic reminder of home, it may be costing more than you know in operating costs. Older appliances tend to use energy less efficiently. Newer models, on the other hand, often cut costs substantially. Do some price comparisons before buying your next model.

Inefficient HVAC

Furnaces and air conditioners can consume large amounts of energy, raising your home energy costs. They should be periodically updated to get the maximum effort at minimal cost. Newer systems are more energy-efficient, and many are designed with energy-saving features that turn off or on when the home reaches the designated temperature. Contact an HVAC company like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc. for more information.

Unscheduled maintenance

If you are the do-it-yourself type of homeowner, you might try to handle all your home's maintenance needs in your spare time. The problem is that we often don't have enough spare time to manage everything that needs done. Failure to have appliances inspected and cleaned routinely, with minor repairs if needed, can save hundreds or thousands of dollars over the long run, not to mention the inconvenience and frustration of arranging the work, in preventing a major repair later.

Limited upkeep

Not keeping up with upkeep is a mistake that can cost you plenty down the road. For example, keeping lawn equipment in good operating condition is essential for cutting repair costs and optimizing service. Cleaning the gutters and downspouts helps to prevent wear and tear, as well as moisture seepage that can damage the roof or walls, requiring expensive repairs. The bottom line for cutting home costs is to keep equipment well maintained and upgrade when needed.

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