The home is an exceptionally important concept in society. Its primary function is to provide protection from the elements. It keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, dry from the rain and safe from the thunder.

When your home starts to display areas of problems and distress, it can be similar to having your comfort bubble popped. A once warm and cozy den now feels drafty, or the immaculate white walls of the bathroom are now plagued with the early signs of mold and water damage.

In order to keep your home functioning as it should, and to increase its overall value, you should always look for areas to improve. There are a few aspects of your home that if left alone can rack up your utility bills and make your home begin to feel like a prison, both aesthetically and financially.

The typical homeowner will spend around 1% to 4% of their home’s overall value on maintenance and repair each year. In other words, for a $200,000 home, you will likely spend a minimum of $2,000 in annual repairs. That percentage will also usually increase as the house ages. However, by making smart, energy-conscientious decisions now, you can ultimately cut down on those costs significantly.

1. Install New Windows

One of the biggest things you can do to help your home and your wallet is by replacing old, single-pane windows. Faulty windows that are no longer able to perform efficiently will allow air to escape, which equates to money flying out the window.

Drafty windows can actually raise your energy bills between 10% and 25%. Replace old windows with new, energy efficient double-pane models to keep air and money in-house.

You can also splurge on UV resistant windows that use sunlight to help heat or cool your home as well, further enhancing your home’s energy efficiency. If you’re unable to do a full replacement, then there are other means of minimizing your window’s energy leakages, such as adding a window film or caulk.

2. Fix Any Leaks

With your home comes a maze of pipes and hoses that make up the circulatory system of your house. Unfortunately, unless it’s an overt or obvious situation, you’ll almost never release you have a leak somewhere until it’s too late.

These leaks can not only cause significant and sometimes irreversible damage, but they can also drain your wallet. By fixing simple leaks, the typical American household can save almost 10,000 gallons of water each year.

3. Update Appliances

Modern appliances are profoundly more energy efficient than their predecessors, and upgrading your appliances is a great way to minimize energy costs as well as increase the value of your home. Switching to Energy Star appliances can save you hundreds of dollars every year.

There are numerous other ways to help reduce your home’s energy consumption, although you should focus on areas that deal with the house itself. Lighting, appliances, insulation, and air ventilation are all possible areas for improvement. Once you’ve mastered the art of energy conservation in your home, you’ll begin to translate that into your daily life as well.