Now that we are finally getting some relief from crazy mother nature and her mood and temperature swings, here are 10 things you can be doing both inside and outside your home to keep it looking good, and possibly saving you some money in the long run. Who doesn't like to save money?!

1. Install a smart or automatic thermostat in your house. Cooling and heating costs can make up more than half of your energy bill. Programmable thermostats can reduce energy consumption for cooling and heating by as much as 15 percent a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. They help reduce the amount of time your air conditioner or furnace is operating meaning less maintenance, and repair costs in the long run. Minnesota Valley Electric Coop is offering a $50 bill credit if you install and enroll one.

2. Check your roof for damage. Rather than those fly-by-night people who claim they can see damage from the road...ok Superman. Get up there yourself and look for missing or damaged shingles. While you've got the ladder out you might as well de-gunk your rain gutters and downspouts. Any trapped water can seep into your home and cause tons of damage, plus you don't want to be the RICHARD who is assisting the local mosquitos population.

3. Check your fireplace/wood burning stove. You're a man, you heat your home/workshop/man cave with wood you hand split. The scent of a burning wood heating a home/workshop/man cave is awesome. Now that it's warmed up though, time to check the flue and chimney for creosote. Not sure what you are looking for? Call an expert, rather than calling 9-1-1 when Cheryl's She-Shed starts on fire next winter.

4. Childproof your electrical outlets, even if you don't have kids or grandkids. Seriously, do it. You could save something like 5% on your electric bill just by putting one of those plastic plugs in the outlet. How? If it is an outlet facing an exterior wall you could be leaking warm air from your house outside which can cost you something like 2% to 5% in energy losses per year. A good way to tell is if the outlet cover is cool to the touch in the winter.

5. Change your air filters. Make sure you are changing out your HVAC filters on a regular basis. If you can't remember the last time you changed probably should change it. I have it set up in my phone and on our Amazon Alexa to harass me quarterly to change it. A dirty filter can make your HVAC work harder, which may result in something breaking. Next thing you know you've got the guy in the white van in the driveway and your shelling out money and paying extra because it's Sunday.

6. Pull out your refrigerator and clean the back of it. According to, you can eliminate more than 70 percent of service calls with this simple cleaning step. Do it twice a year or more often if you have shedding pets. Their fur clogs up the coils faster, which makes your fridge run warmer, and no one wants a warm beer.

7. Clean out your dryer vent. Quick story, my wife, had no idea that there was a lint trap when it came to the dryer. After she complained about clothes not getting dry in the dryer, I decided I'd save the day, pulled out the lint trap and Chewbacca came out. I also didn't know that under the dryer drum, you can get lint build up and in that hose running outside. Dryer lint is extremely flammable if you let it build up in the vents. You can hire someone to do this for you, or you can do it yourself and buy a vacuum attachment made specifically for cleaning out dryer vents.

8. Maintain your pumps. Got a sump pump? Most are equipped with water level or flood alarms, usually, battery powered, that alert you if the pump isn't working properly and water is backing up. Make sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear. And test it on a regular basis by dumping a bucket of water down in the hole and see if it starts working, if not call a technician.

9. Flush your water heater. Regularly flushing out your water heater is an important task. Getting rid of the gunk and mineral deposits that accumulate will help your hot water heater run more efficiently as well as prolong its life, saving you money in the long run. It's pretty easy to do, here are the steps.  

10. Swap out those old light bulbs for new LED ones. They don't use as much electricity and you won't look like Mr. Magoo in your garage squinting to see where that nut went after you dropped it working on your lawn tractor.

Well, I hope you found this helpful, and it saves you some money. I'm not Tim Allen from Home Improvement, but I am cheap and like to save money.

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