One of the best habits you can develop as a homeowner is keeping a budget. By raising your awareness of how money comes in and goes out of your bank account, you can better understand your financial picture.

For example, let’s take a look at 2019, when single-family homes sold across Massachusetts at a median price north of $400,000, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. 

The average fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Massachusetts is $1,758 per month, according to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Based on a 40-hour work week, for 52 weeks a year, you need to earn $33.81 per hour to pay rent.

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Now, if you can save, inherit, or crowdfund a 20% down payment (to avoid PMI) on that median home sale price, you can finance the rest at 3.92% for 30 years and pay $1,513 a month to live in your $400,000 home, according to MortgageCalculator.org.

Hold on! That just pays your mortgage. You need to heat your home, use electricity and Internet, and pay for maintenance and repairs. To be prepared, set aside up to 3% of your home’s purchase price every year specifically for home maintenance and repairs, recommends HGTV.

Now, to get the most out of your repair and maintenance budget, here are 5 DIY projects that will save you money this winter:

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1. Start your snow blower.

A snow blower makes clearing your driveway, walkways, and sidewalk much easier—as long as it’s running! Don’t wait until the first snowfall to find out if your snow blower won’t start, according to Consumer Reports.

While it’s still warm, make sure you have a full canister of gasoline and your snow blower will turn over. Check the owner’s manual for annual maintenance your snow blower needs.

HOW YOU SAVE: You won’t have to pay a snow removal company top dollar to shovel you out. You can potentially save yourself a doctor office copay getting your back checked out if you have to shovel.

2. Switch the spin of your ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans do more than simply circulate air—they direct the air. Heat rises to the ceiling of rooms. By setting your ceiling fan to spin clockwise, it will push the warm air down into your living space, says ENERGY STAR®.

HOW YOU SAVE: With the heat pushed down into the room, you won’t have to waste energy heating the unlivable space just below the ceiling. In rooms with high or cathedral ceilings, the savings can be big.

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3. Furnace or boiler tune-up and thermostat upgrade.

Like any major appliance, scheduled maintenance is essential to get the best performance and longest life from your equipment. Boilers and furnaces are no exception, and you can read about how you save money by tuning up your boiler by following this link to an article.

You’re going to need a professional boiler technician for your boiler or furnace tune-up, but there are a few DIY projects you can do yourself.

Give your boiler or furnace a visual inspection. Check the batteries in the thermostat, change the air filter, and make sure the water level in the steam system (for boilers) is at the appropriate level in the glass gauge.

Also, consider upgrading your thermostat. The reason you want to upgrade your thermostat is to lower the temperature when you’re not home. You can get a cutting-edge smart thermostat that learns how you live that automatically adjusts the temperature to the times you’re home, awake, and sleeping. Another affordable option is to get a programmable thermostat.

HOW YOU SAVE: You can pay as much as 15% less annually by turning down your thermostat 15 degrees for 8 hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

4. Eliminate drafts.

Windows and doors are big “holes” in your building. Necessary—yes—but they can also be a major drain on your budget if your heat and air conditioning fights against drafts.

There are a number of solutions for drafty windows. You can buy shrink window kits to seal up windows in winter, and if you rent, this may be a simple, affordable option.If you own your own home, finding a more permanent solution is a better investment in the long run. A little caulk and weather stripping can go a long way to seal drafty wood windows immediately. This easy DIY fix gives you time to research the ways Mass Save® helps you save money