Although there are a lot of expensive upgrades and improvements that owners could do on their homes this fall, there are also several others that can have just as big an impact on comfort, energy efficiency and how well the property will hold up through the coming months that will cost a lot less.
These five fall home improvements all cost less than $500 and will still give homeowners and sellers a lot of bang for their buck.
1. Insulate the attic
The vast majority of homes today are under-insulated, leading to higher energy bills, colder interiors in the winter and hotter interiors in the summer.
And even in homes that do have adequate insulation, it’s important to remember that older insulation does break down over time, and it may become displaced by rodents, pests or workman, all of which can reduce its efficiency.
Insulation often tops the list of things homebuyers like to see because it means they’ll have lower utility bills, while staying more comfortable year round.
Adding the insulation before the cold weather sets in, when homebuyers have it in mind and are questioning the utility bills, gives it a chance to shine during the home inspection, while at the same time allowing the seller to recoup a whopping 116.9 percent of the costs at time of resale, which is an extremely attractive selling point.
Project timeline estimate: DIY homeowners can tackle this project over a weekend. Hiring a pro to handle the job can get it done in less than one day.
Cost: The average cost of insulating an attic is around $400.
Money saving tips: Invest in batts that don’t use fiberglass, and have them installed DIY to save on labor costs. Purchase the highest R-value insulation available to allow the new homebuyers to save more on their energy bills going forward and to get the best ROI.
2. Put in storm windows
Once the warmer days are over, cool air starts seeping in around your existing windows and doors. This is due to an air gap that is present in many homes, which can account for a loss of as much as 40 percent of the energy used to heat the home.
Putting up storm windows before a home is being shown will eliminate drafts and make it more comfortable for buyers walking through.
Best of all, according to Energy.gov, installing them will save the homeowners 12 percent to 33 percent of their energy costs, while installing any new windows can help recoup as much as 73 percent of the cost at time of resale, which means that this simple project can help them save, while making a better impression on buyers at the same time.
Project timeline estimate: It takes just a few hours to put up storm windows all around the home, seal them in and insulate them.
Cost: The cost of installing storm windows is around $275.
Money saving tips: Install storm windows in the draftiest rooms to make them feel more comfortable for buyers walking through.
3. Seal an asphalt driveway
Tiny cracks that appear in the driveway over time both detract from the house’s curb appeal and can lead to big holes and bigger expenses if left alone over the winter.
The cooler fall days are the perfect time of year to seal an asphalt driveway because the lower temperatures both mean that the asphalt will cure more quickly and that the VOCs and scent it gives off will be lower and less likely to put off homebuyers.
Having the seller seal up these cracks now means that there won’t be major pot holes showing up in the spring after the freeze-thaw cycles are complete, and it means that the driveway will look fresh, attractive and likely to increase curb appeal for the whole property.
Sealing the driveway protects it, which in turn helps it maintain its value; failing to seal the driveway means that the property could lose value over the winter when the damage is done.
Project timeline estimate: It takes about three to four hours to seal a driveway, and another one to two days for curing.
Cost: The cost to seal a driveway is around $200.
Money saving tips: Tackling this job DIY will get the biggest ROI and save money in the process.
4. Hydroseed the lawn
The cool nights and warmer days of fall make it the perfect time of year to seed a lawn. Grass seeds grow and take root better in cooler weather, so sowing new seed at this time of year will create a richer, fuller lawn in the spring.
Hydroseeding is one of the least expensive ways to seed a lawn, nourishing it for the coming winter months. It can be done DIY by the seller as well, as a way to cut costs.
Improving the landscaping and lawn of a property can have an impact of as much as 20 percent of the value of the home, making this a smart fall decision. The landscaping is also one of the first things a buyer sees, which makes it an important part of the home’s curb appeal.
Project timeline estimate: Hydroseeding takes a few hours to a full day depending on the size of the lawn.
Cost: The average cost to hydroseed a lawn is $0.50 to $1 a square foot.
Money saving tips: Seed the lawn DIY to save the most. Fertilize at the same time to add additional nourishment and ensure that the grass grows properly.
5. Install an electric fireplace
As the weather turns cooler more people begin spending time indoor, which can lead some people to begin thinking about cozy, warm spaces, such as rooms with built-in fireplaces.
Electric fireplaces are clean, energy efficient additions to any home that will add instant visual appeal and warmth at the same time, something that both the buyer and the seller can appreciate.
They range from plug-in units to built-in features so it’s easy to find one that fits the room’s decor, and the seller’s budget, easily.
And according to realtor.com, adding any working fireplace, including electric and nicely kept mantel to a home can add as much as $12,000 to the home’s value, which makes it attractive to current homeowners and new buyers alike.
Project timeline estimate: Plug-in electric fireplaces can be installed in just minutes, particularly if there is an existing firebox. Otherwise, they can be built into a wall or alcove in one to three days.
Cost: The average cost to install an electric fireplace is around $300.
Money saving tips: Opt for a plug-in unit to save the most on building or installation fees. Use an existing fireplace to convert.
As chilly weather sets in, it’s important to leave an impression of a warm, cozy home that’s welcoming to everyone that enters.
Upgrading and improving a home to include these features, doesn’t need to break the bank either; to find out more about what things cost, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.
Yuka Kato is a media analyst for Fixr.com in Wilmington, Delaware.
This article originally appeared on Inman.com.