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6 Home Items Worth the Splurge 

And 5 products where going high-end can be a waste of money

spinner image Illustration of a smart programmable home thermostat
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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.” 

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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 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. 

4. Green appliances 

Washing machines cost as little as $500 to as much as $2,500. A dryer is in the $400 to $2,000 range. And a refrigerator will set you back between $600 and $2,300. Prices vary based on size, output and energy efficiency. But is it worth spending a small fortune to consume less energy? According to Davis, it is. “Eco-friendly smart appliances and tech are a surefire way to save money and energy in your home, while also being friendly to the environment — and they’re absolutely worth the investment,” says Davis. Depending on the model year, swapping out an old refrigerator for an Energy Star–certified one can save you up to $200 on your annual electricity bill, according to Energy Star. 

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5. Mattress 

A good night’s sleep is important for physical and mental health, and what better way to achieve that than with a good-quality mattress? Sure, you may have to splurge, but you’ll have it for years. The same applies to a sofa. If that’s where you and/or your family relax, make sure it’s sturdy and comfy. 

6. Flooring 

Whether you prefer carpet, wood or other types of flooring, don’t skimp, particularly for high-traffic areas. You want something that will last, and that you won’t have to repair or replace in short order. “Your floors will take a beating, especially if you have kids and/or pets,” says Hicks. She advises you make sure your flooring is durable and long-lasting, and can stand up to that.

Items to buy on the cheap

1. Accent furniture 

You don’t have to spend a fortune on an accent table, bar cart, bench or other piece of accent furniture. Tastes change. That coffee table you loved three years ago may be the bane of your existence today. “While it’s typically recommended to invest in quality pieces for larger items like couches, dressers or coffee tables, accent furniture is where you can find fun, affordable pieces for less to liven up your home,” says Kristin McGrath, a savings expert with RetailMeNot.

When deciding which items to go cheap on, McGrath says to think of those you rarely use and put them on the bargain list. “A coffee table in your living room might be something that needs to be durable and high quality enough to withstand kids and pets bumping into it and having drinks and snacks set down on it every day without becoming dinged up and scratched. But a small table in the corner that holds a lamp and a framed picture doesn’t need to be as high quality.”

2. Window decorations 

Expensive curtains may make your house look nice, but you better love them forever, especially if you spend hundreds of dollars on them. If you opt for inexpensive ones, you can swap them out as your taste changes. “Curtains are an item where you can find surprisingly great quality and chic styles for rock-bottom prices at a number of retailers,” says McGrath. 

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3. Area rugs 

If you have pets, kids, lots of visitors or all of the above, there’s a pretty good chance your area rugs will take a beating, which is why this a category you can cheap out on. “Many retailers and brands have upped their game [insofar as]providing quality and convenience when it comes to purchasing area rugs,” says McGrath. 

4. Bedsheets 

Sheets are part of a good night’s sleep, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on them. Sheets are available at all price points, and even the cheaper ones will provide comfort. Pro tip: When shopping for sheets online, make sure to check out the reviews. If they are overwhelmingly glowing and the price is good, go for it. 

5. Glassware 

Having a nice set of glassware might be at the top of your shopping list, especially if you entertain a lot. But you don’t have to drop a small fortune to look like you did. Thrift stores, flea markets and even garage sales are good places to hunt for bargains. “You can often find pieces for pennies on the dollar at your local thrift store — plus, they’ll be completely unique,” says McGrath.

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