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Sitting by the mailbox, waiting for your tax refund? Stop waiting and start thinking about the best ways to invest that money in your home.

Your home is likely one of your biggest assets, so it makes good financial sense to take care of it. Keeping your home up to date will contribute to its longevity, heighten your enjoyment and help you sell your home if you ever decide to. So, instead of a fleeting ski weekend, why not consider investing at least a portion of your refund in your home?

Even modest investments can improve your home’s value and make it more livable. Drawing inspiration from Zillow Digs, here are five home improvement projects you may want to consider, all under $3,000:

New front door

TrueHome Design Build brought an urban feel to this farm house with a contemporary front door.

TrueHome Design Build brought an urban feel to this farm house with a contemporary front door.

First impressions mean a lot. A new front door can enhance curb appeal, improve security and lower utility costs. According to Remodeling magazine’s Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, a $1,162 steel entry door replacement project returns 96.6 percent of your investment. Fiberglass doors are generally more expensive, but they’re still a smart investment. According to the same report, a $2,822 fiberglass entry door project will yield a return of 70.8 percent.

Garage door replacement

Tuckahoe Creek Construction, Inc. gave this colonial home character with a new garage door.

Tuckahoe Creek Construction, Inc. gave this colonial home character with a new garage door.

The appearance and condition of your garage door also plays a big role in your home’s overall appearance. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, an uninsulated, 16-by-7-foot garage door costing $1,534 will increase your home’s resale value by $1,283, a return of 83.7 percent.

Weatherized windows

Lindus Construction windows

Lindus Construction uses a variety of custom-fit, maintenance-free, energy-efficient windows proven to reduce heating and cooling costs.

For just a couple hundred dollars, a do-it-yourselfer with the most basic of skills can install insulation, caulk and door seals, reducing household energy consumption by almost 35 percent in the typical weatherized home. Willing to invest more? Windows can allow major losses of heat in the winter and cool air in the summer, requiring more energy — and money — to keep your home comfortable. Replacing old windows with Energy Star-qualified windows can reduce household energy bills by 7 to 15 percent and will shrink your home’s carbon footprint.

Fresh coat of paint

House exterior by Isola Homes

Isola Homes used bold blue and green paint to give this Wallingford craftsman some Pacific Northwest flair.

This may be the perfect time to kiss your dated mint bathroom or mauve rec room goodbye. A gallon of paint typically costs less than $40 and will provide one-coat coverage for about 350 square feet. If you think you might be putting your house on the market sometime soon, opt for neutral colors that have more universal appeal. Even if you’re staying put, a fresh coat of paint can update and personalize your space for a fraction of the cost of a total remodel.

Lighting

Kitchen with cabinet lighting

Titled “Serenity in the Woods,” this TN home by Eddie Miles has a warm, yet contemporary feel with under-cabinet lighting.

Updated home lighting can enhance your decor, save on energy costs and increase your safety. Even if a new chandelier isn’t in your budget, dimmer switches will allow you to control the intensity of light throughout your home while saving electricity. A basic dimmer costs less than $15 while fancier, remote-control and programmable dimmers can be purchased for $40 and up.

Metal can or recessed lights will brighten dark corners while under-cabinet light strips can add much-needed light to kitchens, craft rooms and laundry rooms. Unless you have knowledge of electrical wiring, you’ll need to hire a pro to handle the installation.

Related:

Mary Boone is a freelance writer for Zillow Blog. Read more from her here.

About the Author

Mary was a newspaper writer/editor for 13 years and worked as spokesperson for a Fortune 500 Company before becoming a freelance writer. She has authored more than two dozen books for young readers and writes for a handful of regional home and garden magazines.

  • http://flipt.co/ Dayna – FLIPT | Invest Smarter

    Great ideas for putting your tax return to good use! Thanks for the post. [link removed by mod]

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