Contractors Say You're Wasting Money If You Aren't Making Any Of These Easy Upgrades Around Your Home

Listen to the pros and save your cash.

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Home may be where the heart is, but making it look good is rarely a cheap endeavor. While saving up your money for renovations might sound like the most obvious solution, that’s not always the case. With a little effort and creativity, you can make big upgrades around your home that’ll actually save you some green in the long run.

That’s why I’ve reached out to a handful of contractors, all of whom were happy to share their favorite tips when it comes to easy, affordable home upgrades. From using LED bulbs to swapping your faucets, there’s a tip in here for every home.


Adding This Door Stopper To Help Prevent Drafts Even More

This draft stopper is another affordable option to help prevent wind from entering your home. Simply peel off the adhesive backing, then press it onto the bottom of your door — it’s that easy. And with five colors to choose from (white, black, brown, grey, or transparent), you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that blends into your doors for a seamless look.


Using Weather Stripping To Insulate Drafty Doors

If you have a drafty home, Alexakis suggests taking things a step further by adding some weather stripping to your doors. “Install weather stripping around doors, windows, door frames and other areas of the home that are vulnerable to air infiltration,” he tells Bustle. “It's an inexpensive way to reduce drafts and help keep your energy bills low. I suggest using foam strip weather stripping for the best results.”

This weather stripping is not only made from foam, but it’s also incredibly flexible, making it easy to bend and trim to fit your door frames. The best part? Its adhesive backing allows you to press it into place just like you would with a sticker — no need for any tools or nails.


Protecting Your Walls From Door Knobs With These Stoppers

Once your door knobs have been swapped out, grab a pack of these stoppers that’ll make sure they don’t go slamming into your walls. They’re made from soft silicone, allowing them to absorb shock so that your drywall remains unscathed — and the strong adhesive backing makes installation a total breeze.


Sealing Drafty Cracks & Gaps Using An Insulating Spray Foam

If your home still feels drafty after sealing up your windows and doors, the problem could be coming from elsewhere. Specifically, Anthony Giampapa, owner of RWC Contractors, says, “Seal any gaps or cracks in your home's foundation, walls, and windows to prevent drafts and reduce energy loss.” Luckily, this can of insulating foam isn’t just easy to apply — it’s also designed to work with gaps up to 1 inch wide, making it suitable for heavy-duty jobs that would otherwise require a contractor. Plus, the spray nozzle makes it easy to apply, as it eliminates the chances of any drips or spills.


Installing New HVAC Filters To Help Prevent Future System Repairs

Not all home upgrades have to cost an arm and a leg. According to Dylan Evans, an HVAC and plumbing expert, one of the easiest upgrades is swapping out your air filters. “If you let the filter become so dirty that it restricts airflow, your system experiences stress which can lead to costly repairs and an inefficient system, impacting your monthly energy bills,” he tells Bustle. As for what to look for in a new filter? “Your filter size will depend on your system, but we generally recommend having a filter with at least an 8 MERV rating, which can be purchased at your local home improvement store or on Amazon,” he explains.

These filters in particular not only have an 8 MERV rating, but they’re also so powerful that they can help remove lint, dust, and pollen from the air in your home. You only need to replace them once every three months for the best results — and many reviewers raved about the “great price” in comparison to other retailers.


Insulating Your Heating & Cooling Pipes To Help Prevent Bursts

If you’ve noticed your energy bills are on the higher side, Evans has some easy-to-implement advice. “My next tip is to insulate wherever you can,” he explains. “This includes but is not limited to water lines, refrigerant lines from indoor units to outdoor units, garage doors, garage walls, and attics. Insulation helps to keep water and air the ideal temperature, helping you to avoid frozen pipes, costly water damage from burst pipes, and increased energy consumption and higher monthly bills from an overworked system.”

But if you aren’t sure how to get started? He tells Bustle, “For pipes, we recommend using foam insulation tubes, which can be purchased on Amazon as well as your local home improvement store.” Speaking of foam tubes, these ones are available for pipes up to .5 or .75 inches in diameter — and they’ll work regardless of whether the air pumping through is hot or cold. The best part? Each one has already been sliced open, making it easy to squeeze them onto your pipes without any adhesives or tools necessary.


Keeping Drafts Out Of Your Garage With This Insulation Kit

Now that your pipes are covered, it’s time to use this insulation kit on that drafty garage door. Each order includes double-sided tape, so there’s no need to drill into your door when installing it — and the insulation even helps soundproof your garage against the outside. “I'm in the process of converting the third stall of my garage into a workshop, and needed a way to insulate the metal door to help with climate control in the new enclosed area,” explained one reviewer. “This product was the perfect solution - easy to cut all the pieces to fit perfectly and get them installed on the inside of the door.”


Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal With These Realistic-Looking Garage Magnets

You don’t have to spend hours planting trees and maintaining gardens in order to improve your home’s curb appeal. “A Super easy way to upgrade your home's curb appeal is to add faux door hinges and handles to your garage door,” suggests Matt Stone, a professional painting contractor of Hometown Painting LLC. “These magnetic add-ons require no drilling and are as easy as putting a magnet on your refrigerator. They make the front of your home look more high-end.”

With their rust-iron finish and protective RSF coating, these garage hinges are sure to stay looking good for years to come. Installation is just as easy as Stone described: simply place them onto your garage door, and the magnetic backing will keep them held right in place.


Rejuvenating Dull Kitchens With Gold Cabinet Pulls

If round knobs don’t suit your kitchen, try taking a look at these gorgeous cabinet pulls. They’re available in a variety of sizes, ranging from single knobs to 8 inches — and each one is even individually wrapped to help prevent scratches during shipping. “These are very cute and go well with other gold accents in the kitchen,” wrote one reviewer. “Super easy to install and they look amazing!”


Decorating Bare Walls With These Wainscot Panels Under $20 Each

Looking for inexpensive ways to update your walls? Bill Samuel, Illinois licensed general contractor and full-time residential real estate developer, has a suggestion: “I think that installing a custom wainscoting on an accent wall is an easy upgrade any homeowner can complete inexpensively that will have a huge impact on the overall aesthetics of their home,” he tells Bustle.

And if you aren’t confident in your DIY skills? Not a problem, as he goes on to say that “the only materials you will need to complete a custom wainscoting are paint/ caulk and wood trim.” Not only are these wainscot wall panels already pre-cut so that they’re ready to install, but they’re also made from lightweight polyurethane that’s suitable for indoor as well as outdoor use. Plus, these ones arrive pre-primed so that they’re ready to paint right out of the box.


Giving Panels A Seamless Finish With Help From This Caulk

If you’re going to install panels on your walls, you’ll definitely want to grab this caulk to fill in any small gaps between the panels and your walls. It dries within about two hours, so you won’t be stuck waiting around all day to finish your project, and the long-lasting formula even resists discoloration as well as staining.


Refreshing Your Walls With This Affordable Paint

Whether you’re hoping to paint your wainscot panels or the wall on its own, this bucket of paint is still a cheap way to revamp dull walls in your home. The long-lasting formula is tough enough to handle being scrubbed clean when dirty, and one gallon is enough to cover up to 400 square feet of wall. Choose from interior or exterior formulas, as well as four finishes: flat, satin, semi-gloss, and eggshell.


Painting Precise, Clean Lines With This Angled Brush

You always want to make sure you have the right tools on hand before starting any DIY project — so grab this paintbrush. The bristles are angled to help you paint straight lines along corners, wainscoting, crown molding, and more, while a short handle makes it easy to work inside tight spaces. Choose from three sizes: 1.5 inches, 2 inches, or 2.5 inches.


Lowering Your Energy Bills By Insulating Windows

A drafty home can lead to higher energy bills — luckily, Chris Alexakis, the co-founder of CabinetSelect, has an easy solution. “Replacing old single-pane windows with modern insulated double or triple-pane windows can cut your energy bills significantly,” he explains. “When properly installed, they keep out drafts and dampness while reducing noise from outside your home. Think of it as an investment that will pay for itself over time.”

But if purchasing new windows doesn’t fit your budget? This insulation kit is an easy-to-install alternative that costs less than $20. It comes with enough material to insulate two windows — and many reviewers raved about how it was “easy to install.”


Refresh The Outside Of Your Home With A New Coat Of Paint

Sometimes the easiest solution is right under your nose — like using a new coat of paint to revamp the outside of your home. “A fresh coat of paint can significantly impact curb appeal,” Alexakis tells Bustle. “Repainting your home's exterior will make it look brand new and protect the underlying structure from weather damage.” And if you aren’t sure what type of paint to choose? Alexakis goes on to say that you should “use high-quality paint that is designed specifically for exterior use.”

Not only is this paint formulated so that it’s resistant to mildew, but the flat finish also delivers a smooth, even look — though if you’re looking for something flashier, it’s also available in satin and semi-gloss options.


Using This Under-$20 Brush Kit To Paint Like A Pro

Using a regular brush to paint your walls will likely take a long time — instead, use the rollers that come with this kit. Each order includes two different sizes (4 inches and 9 inches), making them suitable for use on walls both big and small. “I was pleasantly surprised when I received this set; the quality of the items inside exceeded my expectation given its price, and it even included a paint can opener,” raved one happy shopper.


Swapping Outdated Light Fixtures With These Stylish, Yet Affordable Sconces

Even the most modern homes can look crummy if your lights are outdated. “Old light fixtures can make a room look dated and dingy,” explains Gulshan Hajara Banu, home contractor and the founder and CEO of Pest Keen. “Replacing them with new, modern fixtures can instantly update the look of your home and add a touch of elegance to any room.”

With that in mind, these wall sconces aren’t just stylish — they’re also incredibly easy to install, as they can be plugged into any regular wall outlet without any need for an electrician. And since the heads can be adjusted up to 240 degrees, you can point them in any direction you like.


Brightening Up Dark Rooms With A Sleek Floor Lamp

If those wall sconces didn’t suit your style, this floor lamp might be more your speed. The narrow base makes it easy to fit into cramped spaces, and assembly only takes about 10 minutes — no tools required. The shade is also shatter-resistant. Choose from three finishes: black, silver, or nickel.


Making Over Your Bathroom With Some New Fixtures

Even if your bathroom is already looking good, a new faucet can only make it look and work better. “Old faucets can not only be unsightly but also can cause water leaks, which can be costly in the long run,” explains Banu. “Consider replacing your old faucets with new, modern ones that not only look better but also can save you money on your water bill.”

This faucet in particular comes in five different finishes (matte black, oil-rubbed bronze, chrome, brushed nickel, and gold), making it easy to match with your pre-existing bathroom decor. Plus, the rust-resistant design means you won’t have to worry about it corroding — even if your bathroom is on the humid side.


Upgrading Your Kitchen Sink With A Sleek Pull-Down Faucet

Now that your bathroom sink is looking good, why not upgrade your kitchen with this sleek pull-down faucet? Two water settings (spray or stream) help you wash away all sorts of food residue when cleaning dishes, while a 360-degree swivel spout makes it easy to point the water in any direction you like. Plus, most reviewers were able to get it up and running in less than 30 minutes.


Changing Out Old Cabinet Knobs With Stylish Updates Under $15

Believe it or not, you don’t have to shell out for a contractor if you want to redo your kitchen. “If a full kitchen renovation isn’t in the budget, we recommend refreshing specific areas such as the backsplash with a tile that has subtle variations in color, or replacing cabinet hardware in an updated finish such as matte black,” explains Briana Gershenzon, the Chief Design Officer at Renovation Sells. “Even small updates can make your space feel fresh again.”

Speaking of small updates, these cabinet knobs are likely all you’ll need to make any old kitchen feel new. They’re made from zinc, making them just as fashionable as they are durable — and you even have the choice of four finishes: matte black, champagne bronze, satin nickel, or soft iron.


Using This Cover To Insulate The Stairs Leading To Your Attic

Once your foundation and walls have been properly sealed, Giampapa suggests taking a look at your attic. “Insulating your attic can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, reducing your heating and cooling costs,” he explains — so grab this cover. It fits over your pull-down attic stairs, helping seal up any gaps so that cold/hot air doesn’t leak into the rest of your home. Installation is also a total breeze — simply place it over the opening, then staple it into place. The zipper running around the edges will allow you to open it up so that you can access your attic whenever need be.


Installing Decorative, Solar-Powered Pathway Lights In The Yard

According to Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, “Making small updates to your lawn can have a big impact on the value of your home.” He continues, “Even small tweaks, such as planting new bedding flowers or trimming bushes, can give your home an instant facelift. If you're looking for a bigger bang for your buck without breaking the bank, consider investing in hardscaping features like a decorative garden pathway or a modern deck patio. These upgrades work to elongate the life of your lawn and will definitely boost the overall value of your home.”

These pathway lights are an easy-to-install alternative that’ll still guide guests to and from your front door. Simply press them into the ground, and the solar panel built into the top of each one will keep them lit for hours at night — no hardwiring required.


Gardening With The Help Of This Tool Set

If you’re willing to put the time and energy into maintaining a garden, you’ll want to make sure you have the right equipment on hand — and this set of gardening tools covers all the bases. It comes with two trowels, a pair of cut-resistant gloves, a spade, a weeder, and more — all of which come packaged in a heavy-duty tote bag. Many reviewers also raved about how the tools are “well made” for the price.


Installing These Tamper-Resistant Outlets Throughout Your Home

Your wall outlets may not be the most glamorous part of your home, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth an update. “Installing GFCI outlets in areas of the home that are at risk for electrical shocks, such as the kitchen and bathroom, can help to protect you and your family from electrical injuries,” explains Jeff Brandlin, licensed residential, commercial, and industrial electrician.

Not only are these GFCI outlets available for just $8 each, but they’re also tamper-resistant. And since every order comes with wall plates included, there’s no need to purchase any additional hardware in order to achieve a seamless, smooth look.


Creating An Extra-Fertile Garden Using Homemade Compost

No matter how much time you spend in your garden, those flowers won’t blossom unless they’re planted in fertile soil. The solution? “Building a simple compost area to recycle yard waste and improve soil quality is an easy way to save money and make your yard look great,” explains Shawn Denny, earthwork contractor and owner at Specialty Grading. “The cost of building a compost area is about $50-$100, depending on the size. You can find many different designs online, but you don't need anything elaborate — just a bin will do.”

Thankfully, this compost bin is available for less than $25, making it a much more affordable alternative to building a compost area in your yard. A built-in charcoal filter also works to trap odors, helping keep them inside. And if the filter starts to lose its efficacy over time? Just soak it in soapy water, then give it a quick rinse to get it working just like new.


Giving Doors A Touch Of Chic With Newer Knobs Under $15

There’s nothing wrong with using the door knobs that came with your home. But if you want a more expensive feel, Ben Neely, a custom home builder and the president/ owner of Riverbend Homes, suggests swapping them out with heavier options. He says, “While replacing all the doors in your house may not be something you want to do, you can at least upgrade the hardware to a heavier handle set. These heavy handles make your house feel more luxurious.”

With its universal design that fits both right- and left-handed doors, this doorknob is an undeniably chic upgrade — and one reviewer wrote that it’s “heavy duty.” A six-way adjustable latch allows it to fit into most doors, and installation is so easy that the only tool you’ll need is a Phillips head screwdriver. Choose from two finishes: matte black or satin nickel.


Opting For A Peel & Stick Backsplash If You’re Sticking To A Budget

Can’t quite figure out why your home feels outdated? You may want to take a closer look at your kitchen. “If you live in an older home one of the reasons it can feel older is the tile in the kitchen area,” explains Neely. “While you may not want to pay to upgrade it or even attempt to do it yourself, you can buy the textured peel-and-stick tile for your kitchen backsplash.”

With their tough adhesive backing that keeps them firmly held in place, these peel-and-stick tiles can be a total game-changer when redoing your kitchen on a budget. They’re heat- as well as moisture-resistant, making them suitable for use behind your stove — and you even have the choice of nine different colors to suit any style.


Using A Smart Thermostat To Keep Track Of Energy Usage

If the idea of painting your roof seems a little too challenging for your DIY skills, consider opting for a smart thermostat instead. “Installing a smart thermostat can help you control your home's temperature remotely and save on energy costs,” explains Ollie Creevy, the managing director of Solar Panel Grants — and this one is even available for less than $90. Once paired with Alexa, you’ll even be able to control it using voice commands, as well as via the downloadable smartphone app.


Replacing Incandescent Bulbs With Energy-Efficient LEDs

Looking for the easiest way to save money on your utility bill? Creevy tells Bustle that “replacing incandescent bulbs with LED lights can save you money on your energy bills in the long run” — and these LED bulbs are also smart. That means you can adjust their brightness, turn them on/off, as well as set them to one of 16 million different colors using their downloadable smartphone app. Or, if you connect them to Alexa, you can even control them using convenient voice commands.


Brightening Up Dark Areas With These Easy-To-Install LED Puck Lights

Speaking of sleek lighting, these LED puck lights are perfect for all sorts of dark spots in your home — from dim closets to the space underneath your kitchen cabinets. Installation is as easy as pressing them into place using the included adhesive. Plus, they only need three AA batteries (which are not included) in order to provide up to 100 hours of light.


Install This LED Light Bar Instead Of Spending Big On New Light Fixtures

If those puck lights didn’t suit your fancy, consider taking a look at this LED light bar. It’s dimmable up to one level, which can easily be adjusted using the included remote — and there’s even a built-in timer that can be set from 15 all the way up to 120 minutes.


Choosing A Low-Flow Shower Head To Cut Down On Water Costs

Water bills can be no joke — especially if you enjoy a good soak in the tub. Luckily, Creevy has an easy way to cut down on costs, as he tells Bustle that “installing low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets can help you save on your water bills.”

With that in mind, this rainfall shower head brings a touch of the spa to any bathroom without giving you spa-like water costs. It’s made from rust-resistant stainless steel, and doesn’t require any professional help for installation — many reviewers were even able to get the job done in less than 20 minutes. Choose from three finishes: chrome, matte black, or brushed nickel.


Opting For An Electronic Deadbolt Over Pricy Security Systems

While it may be tempting to spend big on a hardwired security system, landscaping business owner Jacob Thomlinson has a cheaper alternative. He tells Bustle, “Installing new door locks or upgrading locksets can add security while updating light fixtures and plumbing fixtures saves energy and water costs over time as well.”

Not only is this electronic deadbolt incredibly affordable, but it also has enough memory space to hold up to 20 different codes so that friends, family, and even delivery people can access your home. Plus, the weather-resistant design helps keep it looking good from season to season.

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