Contractors Say Almost Every Home Needs These Little Things — Otherwise You're Wasting Money
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Contractors Say Almost Every Home Needs These Little Things — Otherwise You're Wasting Money

Jul 15, 2023


Save money like the pros do.

Contractors know that saving big around your home doesn’t have to mean spending big, too. Almost every dwelling could use a few little additions to keep you from spending unnecessary money and even help you save your hard-earned dollars in the long run.

There are draft stoppers and weatherstripping tape that can help reduce heat transfer and save on the electric bill. And there are smart lightbulbs and power strips to control your devices remotely, so you’re don’t pay for them when you’re not using them. Whether you’re looking to lower your bills, be more energy-efficient, or just make sure the outside draft stays out, here are 40 little things almost every home needs to save money.

“Especially if you live in an older home with drafty doors and windows, investing in a few draft stoppers for exterior doors can really help save you some money when it comes to energy bills,” says Ryan Farley, CEO of LawnStarter.

This draft stopper is made of super durable silicone and includes 1-inch of waterproof adhesive tape to make sure it securely attaches to the bottom of your door, no matter how many times it’s opened and closed. The stopper can be easily trimmed to the exact dimensions you need and the stopper’s three layers help keep the drafts out and your bills low.

This retractable clothesline can be installed anywhere — inside or outside — to hang dry your clothes in style. CEO of Improovy Painters Naperville Andre Kazimierski says, “You'd be surprised how much money it adds to your energy bill to run your dryer, and moving most of my clothes drying to the outdoors during the summer has really taken the edge off...” The clothesline can expand to 13.9 feet and can hold up to 40 pounds of your favorite clothes. Plus, the line retreats and the device comes in a variety of neutral colors to seamlessly blend in, no matter where you hang it.

Along with the retractable clothesline, Kazimierski recommends a drying rack as a way to reduce dryer usage and save some dough. This one is waterproof and made of a super lightweight steel that has a stain- and rust-resistant coating to keep it looking good as new. It features 11 rods for hang drying and a four-rod top shelf for flat drying. The accordion style design folds up, so it can be easily tucked away when you’re not using it.

If you’re short on space, this hanging drying rack is another alternative. The three-tier rack is made of breathable polyester to flat dry your clothes quickly and efficiently, so you can skip the dryer and save a little money. The rack just hooks onto the top of a door and can be folded for easy storage.

Another way to save money on your energy bill? A programmable thermostat. “The programmable thermostat I have is pretty basic – it’s the Honeywell Heating and Cooling Programmable Thermostat [...]” CEO of Lawn Love Jeremy Yamaguchi explains. “I’ve found that although this thermostat doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that newer models or more popular brands have, it still does exactly what I need it to do.”

This thermostat features separate weekday and weekend programs to adapt to your changing schedule, and each day features four periods: wake, leave, arrive, and sleep. Each period can be programmed to a specific temperature so if you like it super cold when you sleep and then warmer when it’s time to wake up, this thermostat can do it for you. It’s compatible with a wide variety of heating and cooling systems and the display is backlit so you can read it easily, no matter when you want to adjust the temperature.

Another programmable thermostat that Yamaguchi recommends is the Google Nest. “[Thermostats] are one of the best, easiest ways to optimize your energy usage, which in turn can help you save money on your energy bill,” Yamaguchi continues. “With a programmable thermostat, you are able to set certain temperatures for specific times of the day, which will ensure that you are comfortable inside your home while also not wasting money while you’re gone.”

The Google Nest can be programmed with the Google Home app, which also allows you to adjust the temperature from anywhere, but it also adjusts itself when you leave the house. It’s compatible with 85% of heating and cooling systems, and it can monitor the HVAC system and send an alert to your phone if something is off. Plus, it even has a savings feature that examines your temperature schedule for small changes you can make to save more on your energy bill.

A water aerator is an easy and budget-friendly way to save on your water bill. Manny Sahmbi, director of London-based moving company Happy 2 Move Ltd says, “By installing these inexpensive devices onto your faucets, you can reduce water usage without compromising water pressure. They mix air with water, creating a steady flow while simultaneously saving water and money.”

This aerator includes an adaptor to make sure it fits with male or female faucets, so you can simply twist it on and in minutes you have a money-saving solution. The chrome finish is rust- and corrosion-resistant, and the aerator features two flow settings — spray and stream — so you never have to skimp on water pressure while keeping your wallet happy.

When it comes to your water bill, you can also save money with adjustable shower heads like this one. Sahmbi recommends looking “for models with adjustable settings to reduce the flow of water.” This shower head features eight settings — including a pulsating massage, soft mist, rain, and even a total pause. It also has two power wash settings to make cleaning your shower and tub so much easier. It has self-cleaning anti-clog nozzles, and a 72-inch stainless steel hose to bring the spa home without breaking the bank.

Sahmbi also recommends “applying window film provides insulation to your windows, reducing heat transfer in summer and heat loss in winter.” This insulator kit includes window film that will cover up to five 3-by-5-foot windows, and double-sided mounting tape that creates an airtight seal. Just measure the invisible film to the size of your window, stick on the mounting tape, install the film, and use a blow dryer to remove wrinkles. Plus, it can be used with aluminum, vinyl-clad, or painted/varnished wood molding.

“A surprisingly critical item that's often overlooked is a dryer vent cleaner kit. I've seen homeowners save hundreds on energy bills by improving their dryer's performance,” realtor and owner of Bramlett Residential Eric Bramlett notes. “A quick cleanup of trapped lint can dramatically enhance efficiency, costing you less than $10.”

This dryer vent cleaner comes with adaptors to attach its 3.5-foot plastic hose to your vacuum. All you do is stick the hose down your dryer vent, turn your vacuum on, and there you have it — the lint that’s slipped through the cracks will be sucked right up.

“A great way to save money is to....actually save money,” says founder of NYC-based home organizing company Urban Clarity Amanda Wiss. This M&R digital coin bank counts your coins as you put them in so you can save — and know exactly how much you’ve saved — down to every last penny. It’s made of durable plastic, has a large opening to remove money, and features buttons to manually adjust the digital amount, if necessary. It accepts all U.S. currency, and even fits a folded up dollar bill.

Wiss advises you to “place a change jar in your home in a convenient spot, and encourage everybody in the household to drop the change from their pockets, wallets, and purses into it when they get home. You'll be surprised how quickly it adds up!”

Another way to save and store your spare change is by using these coin wrappers. Every wrapper is labeled for the type of coin it fits — penny, nickel, dime, quarter — so you can take them to the bank without getting a coin exchange fee from an automatic counting machine. They’re made with durable paper that can be easily folded on each end to keep everything in place. One reviewer wrote, “Sturdy Paper, easy to load and wrap, durable, didn’t rip once.”

Weiss notes that buying in bulk and keeping your excess well organized — like keeping food in these airtight containers — is another way to save money, especially on groceries. Weiss recommends “storing bulk goods in clear bins, so you always have an easy view of what you have and what you need (and don’t need!).”

These clear containers are made of shatterproof BPA-free plastic and allow you to always see how much you have left at a quick glance. They feature an airtight seal and an easy open and lock-closure system to keep your food fresh longer. The set includes four sizes and 24 reusable labels to for maximum organization.

Another simple storage solution for your perishable bulk items is this set of stackable organizers that can go in your pantry or fridge. “[Proper storage] is especially important for perishable food,” Wiss says, “American households throw away thousands of dollars worth of expired food every year, which is bad for the planet and bad for your wallet.”

These organizers are clear, so you can always find what you’re looking for, and they are stackable when not overfilled so you can take advantage of horizontal and vertical storage space. They’re made of BPA-free, shatterproof plastic and are super easy to clean with soapy water. Plus, they feature built-in handles so you have easy access to everything you need.

“The key to making [bulk-buying] effective is to make sure that the bulk items are well stored and organized,” Wiss says. These large bins are a great storage option for bulk storage because with a 16-inch width, they can hold a ton of stuff. They are clear so you always know what you have and feature a large dip in the front so you can easily grab whatever’s inside. Plus, their straight sides make them easy to store beside other bins without wasting space.

“To take your organization to the next level, get a handy label maker and label your bins,” Wiss recommends. So, keep your clear bins organized with this label maker. It features three fonts, five patterns, 14 frames, more than 250 symbols, and a QWERTY keyboard to type exactly what you want super easily. The tape is laminated so it’s resistant to water, fade, temperature, and abrasions.

“Weatherstripping is a simple–yet effective–way to save money on heating and electricity costs,” says Ludovic Chung-Sao, founder of Zen Soundproof. “Their primary purpose is to keep outside air and water from leaking inside your home through the small gaps in your windows and doors.”

This adhesive tape is a great way to weatherstrip that won’t break the bank. The foam strip seamlessly blends into your door and window frames to fill in any gaps in the seal to reduce hot or cold transfer during the most extreme months. It’s flexible, waterproof, and can withstand temperatures from -50 degrees to 150 degrees. As a bonus, Chung-Sao notes it’s “also a cheap way to soundproof your home.”

“When thinking about updates to make to your home I highly recommend investing in blackout curtains or blinds,” says John Antill, co-founder of SaaS firm Brightchecker, which provides property inspection software for real estate sectors.

These paper shades can be trimmed to fit the width of your window, stick to the frame with sturdy adhesive tape, and smoothly lower to block out 99% of light and lift to let the sun in when you want it. “These are not only great for blocking out light and ensuring a good night's sleep, but they also provide insulation, helping to regulate the temperature in your home,” Antill says.

This blackout curtain has two layers of fabric for maximum darkness — when you want it. The front comes in 30 colors so you can find one that fits your style, while the back features a black liner to keep the light and weather outside where it belongs. “This means you won't have to rely as heavily on your heating or cooling systems, saving you money in the long run,” Antill explains.

A basic toolkit like this 148-piece one “can help you fix minor household repairs [...], saving you from costly professional services,” according to Antill. This top-selling set includes everything from a hammer and measuring tape, to various sized screwdriver heads and Allen wrenches, that will help you DIY most simple projects around the house. All the tools are heat-treated and corrosion-resistant for extra durability, and the kit comes in six colors.

Antill also suggests a sewing kit as a way to mend small clothing problems and save money on a tailor. This 106-piece kit comes with scissors, needles, pins, clips, a threader, a thimble, a seam ripper, measuring tape, snaps, 24 color threads, and other necessary accessories. The case folds and zips up compactly, making it super portable so you can fix a button even if you’re on-the-go.

Having an upholstery kit to fix snags in a couch or tears in a chair is another great way to save money around the house. The kit comes with eight threads, seven leather needles, nine big eye needles, a sewing awl, a hook awl, a tape measure, a thimble, a needle bottle, yarn scissors, and two seam rippers. “Everything I need for sofa repair and small projects,” one reviewer raved.

“Stocking up on non-perishable items like canned goods” is an easy way to save money, Antill says. And, if you do that, you’ll need something like this can shelf to keep them all organized. The three-tier metal shelf can hold up to 36 cans and features plastic dividers that can be adjusted to fit both a tiny tuna can or a large soup can. Plus, it’s stackable so you can really stock up and maximize storage space vertically and horizontally.

Antill also says frozen foods are a good thing to get in bulk to “help you avoid impulse buying and reduce food waste.” But, to also avoid a giant pile of frozen veggie bags in your freezer, these clever racks can keep everything organized and visible so you always know what you have. The plastic base includes six removable dividers to adjust to the size of your frozen goods, and the built-in handles make it easy to grab whatever you need.

Another way to save money — and help the planet — is investing in a reusable water bottle like this stainless steel one. “Having a reusable water bottle and coffee mug can eliminate the need for disposable ones, saving you money on constantly buying single-use containers,” Antill says. This sporty bottle has a double wall insulation that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. As a bonus, it comes with three lids: a carabiner straw lid, a flip lid, and a stainless steel lid, which makes it great for everything.

If your daily cafe visit is making your wallet unhappy, this travel mug is an easy way to brew your coffee at home drink it anywhere. The stainless steel mug has a leakproof lid and can keep your hot coffee hot for six hours and your cold brew chilled for 20 hours. Plus, it comes with a filter that allows you to make a nice pour over directly into your new travel mug, which saves you from turning on that coffee maker.

“Smart outlets allow you to control your devices remotely, ensuring they're not left on unnecessarily,” says Ben Dhesi, creator of the energy-saving mobile app HUGO. “With a simple app on your phone, you can turn off appliances or lights that were accidentally left on, even when you're away from home, saving you money on energy you’re not benefiting from.”

The set of four plugs work with an app so you can control electronics anywhere — whether you’re home or on vacation. The app also has a timer option, scheduling option, and even away mode that can group lights in your home and turn them on and off to make it seem like you’re home.

“With a simple app on your phone, you can turn off appliances or lights that were accidentally left on, even when you're away from home, saving you money on energy you’re not benefiting from,” Dhesi says about smart outlets.

This smart dimmer switch works with Alexa voice commands and the Alexa app to control your lights from anywhere. With this three-way dimmer switch, you need to do is press a button on your phone or say, “Alexa, set brightness to 30%” and your lights change instantly. You can schedule lights to turn on and off based on your routine so you can be sure things are turned off when you’re not using them.

“Switching to LED light bulbs, for example, can significantly reduce your energy consumption and lower your electricity bills,” Dhesi recommends. “These bulbs are not only more energy-efficient but also have a longer lifespan, so you won't have to worry about constantly replacing them.

These energy efficient LED bulbs are best sellers on Amazon. They’re available in three color temperatures — soft white, bright white, and daylight — to fit into whatever environment you want to use them. Each bulb requires less energy to run compared to regular lightbulbs, and they last between seven and 13 years, which saves you money on replacements.

Another lightbulb option that goes the extra mile in savings and convenience are these smart bulbs. “When it comes to saving money, one of the best investments you can make is in energy-efficient products,” Dhesi says, and these definitely fit the bill.

Everything about these bulbs can be controlled — individually or as a group — through an app. You can adjust the brightness, change the bulb color to one of 16 million options, or even sync it to play with music. And, on top of all that fun stuff, the bulbs can be turned on or off from anywhere and have a lifespan of 20,000 hours, to reduce your energy bill and replacement costs.

Adding a smart power strip is another way to control devices from afar and save on your electric bill. “These strips are equipped with energy-saving features such as timers and motion sensors, which automatically turn off power to devices that are not in use,” Dhesi says.

This power strip features three outlets and three USB ports to charge a total of six devices at once. Each outlet can be controlled via an app or by voice commands with the Alexa, to adjust your appliances and devices no matter where you are. It has a timer function, which is great for lights, coffee makers, and other power-hungry things, to make sure they’re off when you’re not using them. Plus, it’s a surge protector to keep your devices safe.

This smart power strip is compatible with Alexa and an app to control your devices from anywhere. It features three individually-controlled outlets and two always-on USB ports, and it’s a surge protector to keep your devices safe.

With a 4.7-star rating after nearly 13,000 reviews, this power strip also has schedule and timer functions, to turn each outlet on and off, no matter where you are. “This can help eliminate energy waste from devices like TVs, gaming consoles, and chargers, ultimately saving you money on your electricity bill,” Dhesi elaborates.

Brett Johnson, owner of and licensed real estate agent in the state of Colorado, recommends USB power adapters as money saving solutions. “These adapters allow you to charge your devices directly from a wall outlet without using a separate charging block,” he says. “They are more energy-efficient than traditional chargers and can help reduce electricity consumption.”

This USB outlet receptacle features two USB ports and one USB-C port commonly used with modern Apple devices, as well as two outlets. On top of that, a built-in smart chip automatically optimizes charging for each individual device, to make things extra energy efficient.

This outlet extender plugs right into your existing wall outlets and features three USB ports and one USB-C port, as well as five traditional outlets to charge multiple devices at the same time. Plus, it has a fire-resistant casing and surge protection to keep your devices safe while charging. It has over 11,000 reviews, a 4.7-star rating and buyers raved that this charger is “just what I needed” and “easy to install and secure.”

“Installing low-flow shower heads can help reduce water usage during showers without compromising the water pressure,” Johnson says. “This leads to lower water bills while still providing a satisfying shower experience.”

This luxurious shower head gives you a spa-worthy shower that keeps your wallet happy. With a rainfall-style head, it provides maximum water pressure with 90 easy-to-clean rubber jets, while still controlling the water outflow to 1.8 gallons per minute to keep your water bill low. Plus, it can be installed into your existing plumbing in under five minutes.

Heat rises, so Johnson recommends taking a look at the insulation in your attic, and in the access point to your attic, to “prevent heat transfer between the attic and the living space.” He says, “This helps with keeps your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, reducing the workload on your heating and cooling systems.”

This attic door cover tucks right into the attic hatch to create a thermal barrier. Just fit into into the access, staple it in place, and let the two layers of bubble insulation and reflective foil block heat transmission.

Besides saving money by making your morning brew at home, a good coffee maker can also help you save energy. It “should have an automatic shut off feature and be easy to use and clean,” says Shaun Martin, owner and CEO of We Buy Houses In Denver.

This fan-favorite, 12-cup coffee maker has over 35,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star average rating. It includes a removable brew basket and a glass carafe to serve. It can be programmed to auto brew a pot of coffee at a certain time so it’s ready for you when your alarm goes off, and it features a 2-hour auto shutoff, to make sure you’re not paying to run it after you’re done using it.

“A coffee maker can save money by allowing homeowners to make coffee at home rather than buying it at a cafe,” Martin says. And with a French press that looks this good, you’re going to love DIY-ing your morning brew.

With a gorgeous copper design, this French press is made of heat-resistant glass and a stainless steel frame for the perfect brew every time. It holds 34 ounces, features a spout for easy pouring, and even comes with a scoop to measure and pour your coffee grounds. Just put course grounds in the carafe, add boiling water, cover and wait four minutes, and then press down slowly to separate the grounds from the coffee. It’s that easy.

“A water filter pitcher is a great way to save money on bottled water while also improving the taste of tap water,” Johnson says. “A good filter pitcher should be easy to use, reliable and efficient at removing contaminants from the water.”

This water filter pitcher by fan-favorite brand Brita does it all. It can hold six cups of water, is made of BPA-free plastic, and features an easy-to-read alert that tells you when it’s time to replace the filter, which is usually after about two months. Most importantly, it reduces chlorine, cadmium, mercury, benzene, asbestos, microplastics, and more from your water supply for delicious and clean water.

An alternative to a water filter pitcher is this water filter that attaches directly to your sink’s faucet. “This will help ensure that homeowners always have access to clean, safe and tasty drinking water without having to buy expensive bottled water,” says Johnson.

Easy to install, this filter can be twisted right onto your existing faucet and allows you to choose between filtered water — for drinking or cooking — or non-filtered water — for boiling or washing dishes, for example. The filter needs to be replaced every 1,000 gallons which is about every four months, and it reduces lead, chlorine, asbestos, particulates, benzene, and more from your water.

Amanda Pellegrino