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10 Smart Ways to Protect Your Home and Save Money at the Same Time

Nadav Shemer
Smart Ways to Protect Your Home and Save Money
If you own your home, having a home warranty plan will save you money on repairing your home’s systems and appliances. But that’s not all you should be doing.

Here are 10 things you can do to protect your home and save money:

1. Homeowners Insurance

Home insurance, also known as homeowners insurance, is a type of property & casualty insurance for homeowners. Traditional coverage encompasses one or more of the following: damage to your home, damage to belongings, liability protection, and temporary living expenses. It kicks in when your home suffers damage from one of the 16 ‘perils’ of home insurance, e.g. theft, vandalism, fire or lightning, explosion.

Home insurance providers may offer additional products and services, such as:

  • Extra coverage for valuables, e.g. jewelry, musical instruments, electronics.
  • Home office coverage.
  • Coverage for rebuilding or reconstruction (for cases where cost of rebuilding is higher than expected).
  • Green rebuild coverage.
  • Third-party coverage for house cleaners, babysitters, and other service providers who work in the home.
  • Full coverage for an item’s current value, not its future depreciated value.
  • Coverage for increased costs due to local laws and regulations.

Why get home insurance: To protect you from the astronomical costs of rebuilding or repairing out of your own pocket.

2. Home Warranty 

Home insurance is important, but it won’t cover repairs to systems within your house such as an A/C system or hot water heater that breaks down or fail. This is where top home warranty companies come in. A home warranty covers repairs and replacements of your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), plumbing, and electrical systems when they give out.

A home warranty is basically a service contract. In exchange for an annual fee of a few hundred dollars, it covers most of your home’s major appliances and systems. In the event that a major appliance or system requires repairs or needs to be replaced, you're only responsible for a small service fee, which for most companies is at about the $60 mark. Different companies offer varying coverage, so be sure to read the fine print. The rest of the cost of the repair or replacement is covered by the home warranty company. 

Why get a home warranty: Makes it more affordable and more predictable to maintain your home.

3. Give Your House an Annual Physical

Home insurance and home warranty are kind of like medical insurance in that they’re there to protect you from going broke when you actually need something (your home, your body) repaired. We can reduce the chance of medical problems by eating well, staying fit, and having an annual physical. Likewise, giving your home an annual or twice-annual physical can help prevent serious issues.

This Old House has a very detailed home physical checklist. It recommends conducting a home physical each fall. It divides its checklist into the following categories: electrical, exterior, plumbing (including bathrooms and laundry), heating, interior, doors and windows, attic, garage, and kitchen.

Why do an annual physical: It helps you detect conceivable problems before they occur.

4. Get a Home Security System

There are around 2.5 million home burglaries reported every year in the United States, equivalent to around one every 13 seconds. Whether you are a homeowner or just renting, a reliable home security system is a must-have if you care about keeping your home, your belongings, and your family protected.

There are many types of home security, the basic rule being: the greater the level of security, the more expensive it is. The best home security systems involve a combination of one or more manned patrols, video surveillance, wireless cameras, and motion sensors. We’ve even seen home security systems that include remotely controlled lights and speakers so that a remote surveillance team can warn off would-be intruders.

Why get a home security system: There is no better defense against intruders and potential intruders.

5. Do Some DIY Home Security

A home security system can protect your home from burglars, but there are still a few things you can do yourself to give your property an added level of protection. Top10.com offers a list of DIY home security hacks that you can easily do to help deter burglars from approaching your property.

For example, plant thorny bushes under windows so burglars have nowhere to hide and keep the bushes neat and trimmed to give the impression you’re at home. Think carefully about who you let into your home and who you notify of your movements. And never post vacation plans on social media. (Just wait to share the experience after you return home).

Why opt for DIY home security: It offers an extra layer of protection from burglars.

6. Get a Smart Home Device

‘Smart’ technology is a kind of catch-all term for tech products that talk back to us (and, increasingly, for tech products that talk to each other). Smart home devices let you do a bunch of different things, each serving the same purpose: to protect your home and reduce the cost of homeownership.

A smart home device will help you use electricity more efficiently, lowering your electricity bills. Another important thing smart home devices do is they let you control your locks and lighting from afar, helping to secure your home. Smart home devices are becoming more sophisticated, and soon they will enable us to do things we can’t even imagine now.

Why get a smart home device: It’s a cool and effective way to lower your bills and protect your home.

7. Insulate your home

For many of us, when it comes to running our home, the cost of gas and electricity is one of our most significant costs. Luckily, you can drastically reduce your energy bills by investing in insulation for your property. In fact, the EPA estimates that the average homeowner could save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by adding insulation in their properties.

Insulation reduces the amount of heat lost from your home by capturing pockets of air in materials such as wool, fiberglass, and polystyrene. Common areas to insulate include lofts, walls, windows, and pipes.

Loft insulation can be as simple as placing rolls of material such as mineral fiber onto the floor of the loft, while those who sleep in their lofts could consider placing solid insulation boards between the flooring joists. 

Other forms of insulation can be more complex. If you decide to install cavity wall insulation in your home, for example, contractors will drill small holes into your outside walls and then insert insulating materials such as polystyrene beads into the gaps between your outer and inner walls. 

On the home maintenance front, thoroughly insulating your home is one of the most effective defenses against unsightly—and expensive-to-remove—mold or condensation. With regulated and controlled temperatures inside, this damaging invader will have less opportunity to take hold in your home.

Why insulate your home: It can prevent your home from hemorrhaging heat...that is, cash.

8. Throw away your boxes carefully

OK, this one isn’t really about what to do, but what not to do. Whenever you buy a new smart TV, laptop, or the latest must-have toy for your child at Christmas, your first instinct is probably to take your new gadget out the packaging, get it installed, and throw away the box.

While this may seem a perfectly harmless way to declutter, discarding the boxes for expensive items in plain sight could make your property more attractive to opportunist thieves by alerting them to the fact you have valuable goods inside. 

Besides the cost of replacing any stolen items, a break-in at your property could significantly push up the cost of your future home insurance premiums. Insurers calculate your premiums based on the level of risk you represent and, statistically, you are more likely to be a victim of a burglary in the future if you have previously fallen victim to the crime in the past.

Something as simple as breaking down boxes and making sure the lid of your trash can is all the way closed could make all the difference when it comes to preventing a home invasion. Holding on to those boxes could also make it easier to return your gadgets if you have a problem with them down the road.

Why throw away your boxes carefully: Nobody wants to give thieves a helping hand.

9. Watch out for your WiFi

Not all threats to our homes are physical. With more and more of us relying on technology to manage parts of our lives, some of the most serious risks to our home security—and especially our finances—now occur in cyberspace. If your home’s WiFi network is unprotected, cybercriminals could easily gain access to your financial data and other personal information that could lead to identity theft.

Likewise, there is a risk that thieves could hack into your family’s smart devices and find information such as vacation plans, which they could then use to plan a burglary at a time when your home will be unoccupied. 

According to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity theft cost people in the US $56 billion last year, with victims losing an average of $1,100. By installing a reliable threat protection system and password managers on your home network, you can radically cut your vulnerability to hackers. 

Even if you can’t afford the full bells-and-whistles protection, you may be interested to learn that many of the most well-known tech giants offer useful free versions of this software.

Why protect your WiFi: Doing so can protect you from the very real—and costly—threat of hackers.

10. Take precautions when hosting a party

With coronavirus restrictions easing up for many of us, it’s pretty natural that we’re eager to invite our friends and families into our homes—while still using common sense when it comes to the virus, of course. 

When you invite guests onto your property, however, there are certain steps you should take to protect your property and safeguard yourself against legal liability.

Don’t stop at hiding your grandmother’s antique vase and putting a cover over the new sofa. It’s also wise to check the fine print on your insurance policy. Although most standard policies should offer some coverage if a house guest is injured or damages your property, your policy may not be adequate in the event of a large occasion. In this case, you may want to consider more coverage in the form of special event insurance.

Depending on the state you live in, you may also be bound by social host liability, which means you, as a party host, may be legally responsible for any property damage or injuries caused by underage drinkers who attend your party. Remember that serving alcohol to minors is against the law and you could face criminal charges if you’re caught doing so.

Why take party precautions: We all want to avoid unwelcome expenses and damage in our homes.

Bottom Line

There you have it: 6 ways to protect your home on Home Warranty Day. Some of these steps are proactive, in that they prevent accidents or burglaries from happening. Others are reactive, in that they cover the expenses of having an accident or burglary. When used together, these 6 steps provide all-around home security and protection.

Nadav Shemer
Nadav Shemer specializes in business, tech, and energy, with a background in financial journalism, hi-tech and startups. He writes for top10.com where he discusses the latest innovations in financial services and products.