Here’s a Hidden Cost of Homeownership
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Here’s a Hidden Cost of Homeownership

Flickr / cocabong0

If you’re in the market to become a homeowner, you probably already know that you’ll face increased expenses for things like maintenance and lawn care. A new study finds that you’ll likely be shelling out more for utilities as well.

Utilities comprise an average of 25 percent of homeowners’ costs, according to the report from ATTOM Data Solutions. They amount to about 21 percent of housing costs for renters.

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The heavier burden of utility costs for homeowners can make a real difference in housing affordability, especially with home prices near records levels in much of the country. An extra few percentage points of income going toward utilities can strain family budgets that for many are already near the breaking point.

The ongoing cost of utilities can also eat into the profits for homeowners when they sell their properties. However, there are steps you can take to reduce such costs.

An analysis of homes in California found that home sellers who installed solar power realized profits that were more than two times those realized by home sellers who did not have a solar system installed.

The increase in profits may be larger in California due to more sunshine there and higher utility costs, but homeowners elsewhere might also look at the long-term return on switching to solar power.

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Even for homes that aren’t strong candidates for solar power, making small changes at home could trim your utility bills, which could add up to significant savings over time. Installing a programmable thermostat and getting an energy audit to reduce leaks are low-cost ways to make your home more efficient. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, upgrading your HVAC system or installing more efficient windows will make a significant dent in your energy use.