1. Check the Plumbing
Inspect each toilet, under-sink plumbing, faucets, and visible pipes to make sure there are no leaks. If you find any, get it fixed right away—wasted water means wasted money.
2. Find the Fuse or Breaker Box
These are generally located in the basement or the garage of a house, and sometimes in the closet or laundry room if you live in an apartment or condo. If it’s a breaker box, there’s usually labels on each switch indicating a certain part of the house. If there aren’t any, make some. You can usually identify a tripped circuit breaker because it is in the “off” position.
3. Change the Locks
This is probably the very first thing you should do when preparing to move in to a new home. Buying new locks and doorknobs is pretty cheap, but gives you invaluable peace of mind by ensuring no one else has a set of keys to your house. It’s also helpful to make an extra copy or two to give to a trusted friend or neighbor in case you ever get locked out—and don’t forget the back door!
4. Replace the Air Filter
Chances are, the seller hasn’t replaced this for a year or so. Find your furnace or AC unit and note the measurements so you can buy the correct kind. When you replace the filter, place a piece of masking tape on or near the unit and write down the date. Ideally, you should change the filter every three months, but it depends on the type you buy—it’s always a good idea to ask your local hardware store.
5. Find the Shutoff Valve
Don’t wait until you have a home emergency—the main water valve is most likely in a basement or an exterior wall, attached to the meter. Some houses also have smaller valves called fixture supply stops that are located on pipes leading to toilets, faucets, or any appliance that uses water.
6. Install a Digital Thermostat
You can find one at pretty much any hardware store or superstore, but make sure it’s programmable. Even the most basic thermostat models allow you to program the system to adjust temperatures while you’re asleep or away, which can help you save hundreds on your energy bill. If you’re willing to fork out a bit more cash, there are now Smart thermostats that run on Wi-Fi, and can be controlled from a computer, tablet, or smart phone.