Sometimes a bargain isn’t a bargain if it will cost you more over the long run. That’s particularly true in your home. Sure, buying something on the cheap may seem like a deal, but if you have to fix or replace it, the savings will soon disappear.
“The things you splurge on and invest in should be based on the durability of the item,” says Angie Hicks, chief customer officer of Angi (formerly Angie’s List), the home repair referral company. “For structural and mechanical things, you want to buy items that will last.”
Your furnace is one place it pays to splurge. These heating systems typically last 15 to 20 years. You can get one on the cheap, but it may not yield any energy savings. Plus, it may need repairs or replacement sooner than a pricier model. Water heaters, heating and cooling systems, and any other mechanical items vital to running your home all are areas where an up-front investment is worthwhile, says Hicks.
But that’s not to say everything in the home is worth a hefty price. For some items, cheaper tends to be the better deal. Often they’re products you will swap out or won’t use much. With that in mind, here are six home products where going high-end is worth the investment and five where you’ll be fine with a no-frills option.
Items worth the splurge
1. LED light bulbs
Although LED light bulbs typically cost 400 percent more than traditional incandescent bulbs, they tend to be well worth the extra money. Not only do they use as much as 90 percent less energy — they have a 25-times-longer life span. “You might pay more for the bulbs, but they last a heck of a lot longer,” says Hicks. “You save money over the long run, and they’re better for the environment.”
Soon you may not have a choice. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last year issued a rule to ban the production of energy-sucking light sources in 2023. At some point after that, manufacturers will be able to sell only energy-efficient light bulbs.
2. Smart programmable thermostat
Energy Efficient vs. Non-Eco
LED light bulb: $5 to $10
Incandescent bulb: $1 to $2
Non-programmable electronic thermostat: $20 to $50
Electronic programmable thermostat: $20 to $150
Smart thermostat: $130 to $300
Properly controlling your heating and cooling is a surefire way to keep energy costs down. An easy way to do so is with a smart programmable thermostat. These Wi-Fi-enabled devices let you control your home’s temperature remotely. Sure, they cost 550 percent more than traditional thermostats, but energy savings, and thus the return on investment, can be quick. You can save 8 percent on energy costs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DOE’s Energy Star. Savings may be greater in parts of the country that experience cold and long winters. “A smart thermostat can control everything in your house to keep you comfy,” says Lisa Davis, an Offers.com shopping expert. “It can learn your schedule, balance temperatures throughout the day and, best of all, ensure your home will use less energy, saving you money on your electricity bill.”
3. Energy audit
Leaky windows, doors and outlets are only a of the few energy sappers that, left unchecked, can waste a lot of money. That’s why Hicks says an energy audit can be worthwhile. Energy audits cost between $208 and $676, depending on the size of the home and the level of the audit, according to Angi. “An energy audit returns money right away. It’s one of the low-hanging fruits that let you save on every utility bill,” says Hicks. With an energy audit, you get a full assessment of where your home is wasting energy. It will identify drafts, temperature inconsistencies, heating and cooling system breakdowns, and any other energy deficiencies.