(ARA) - Today's consumers are under mounting financial pressure at every turn, and are forced to be much smarter in buying decisions, especially for major investments. One big investment every consumer needs protected is their house and property. From simple preparations like servicing your heating and cooling system units (HVAC), to protecting yourself against unexpected home emergency repairs, many homeowners often overlook simple measures that can end up having costly consequences.
"One challenge of home ownership is that the potential for expensive repairs is always out there," says Tom Rusin, CEO of HomeServe USA, a provider of emergency repair service plans. "While unexpected problems can never be completely avoided, there are measures homeowners can take to protect their home now, and avoid costly repairs later."
Here are five tips:
Service your air conditioner:
To ensure your system runs as efficiently as possible throughout the hot summer months, replace your air filters every 90 days. This will keep your air cleaner, reduce energy consumption and extend the overall life of your HVAC system. Another simple step is to clear away any debris from your outdoor AC unit, which will improve airflow around the unit. Also, make sure your vents are open and not blocked by furniture or any other items.
Check out your heating system:
Summer is the perfect time to make sure your furnace is in full working order before a winter emergency occurs. Consider heating system coverage for emergency repairs not generally covered by home insurance.
Curb unanticipated financial responsibilities with extra protection:
Homeowners insure their homes to protect it from unanticipated home emergencies - such as broken water service lines - as well as for peace of mind. However, homeowners often don't know where their utility company's responsibility ends and theirs begins. Many are surprised to find out they are typically responsible for repairs to the pipes and wires in and around their home (as the local utility is usually not responsible for these emergency repairs).
Look closely at your home insurance policy and check if your utility offers an emergency service contract. If not, consider signing up for an emergency repair service plan that covers gaps in your home insurance policy, which can range from exterior water and gas lines to plumbing and drainage systems to complete electrical and heating/cooling configurations. HomeServe USA offers affordable emergency repair service plans, starting around $5 a month, to cover plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems not typically covered by homeowner's insurance, and will dispatch a local, licensed and insured contractor to make the necessary repairs.
Ensure your home is properly ventilated:
Excess moisture in homes can tarnish expensive fixtures, cause paint to peel and accumulate in wall cavities which can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. To avoid moisture build-up, make sure basements and crawl spaces are free of water infiltration. Check that dehumidifiers or kitchen and bath ventilation fans are working properly to remove excess moisture. If not, a small investment today could not only save you money in the long run, but also provide cleaner indoor living environment for you and your family.
Prevent excessive energy bills:
Random air infiltration through gaps and cracks is a leading cause of energy loss in homes, accounting for 25 to 40 percent of energy loss in most residential structures, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Air sealing and insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to get the highest return on investment for the home, since the monthly amount saved on heating and cooling bills often exceeds the cost for these improvements. Home improvement retailers offer a variety of inexpensive (less than $15) insulating foam sealants that homeowners can apply to gaps and cracks around the home to literally "seal" against unwanted airflow to reduce energy bills.
As you start slathering on sunscreen this season, think about not only protecting your skin, but protecting your home with simple fixes that can keep it as healthy as can be.