Home-related expenses are the single biggest financial drain for people 50 and older, according to a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. People between the ages of 50-64 spent an average of $13,486 on housing (36% of their total expenses), and those aged 65 – 74 spent $9,449.
With that in mind, Encore asked Lynn Jurich, the president of solar energy company SunRun, which has a series of money-saving initiatives for homeowners on their site, some of the ways she’s seen homeowners save money on their housing costs. Here are a few:
1. Get your home’s value reassessed
If, like in many areas, sales prices of in your area have fallen since your home was assessed for tax purposes, you can petition the county to reduce the home’s value. To do this, get the number for your county tax assessors office from your property tax bill (or Google the number if you can’t find the bill) and call to ask about the process. This could reduce your property taxes by thousands per year, says Jurich.
2. Lower your electricity costs
Electricity costs can add up to hundreds of dollars each month. To lower bills, consider doing a thorough check of your home to make sure all windows and doors are sealed properly, buying energy-efficient appliances, and taking these 11 other steps. It may also be time to consider alternative power sources like solar, which can help you reduce and stabilize your monthly electricity costs. A popular option is a solar power service, which means homeowners don’t have to spend a lot, if any, money to buy the panels, says Jurich.
3. Refinance your home
With mortgage interest rates hovering around 4%, now may be the time to refinance your home. “Reducing the rate on a 6%, $300,000 mortgage to today’s rate of 3.87% can save a homeowner nearly $33,000 over seven years,” says Jurich. Furthermore, even buyers who are underwater may now be able to refinance through the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program.
Finally, if you’re renting your home, you can do things like help out the landlord with maintenance work in exchange for lower rent or negotiate a longer-term lease.