When you live in the same home for a long time, you start to notice all the little things that could be made better. But with so many to choose from (and sometimes, so few hours in the day or dollars in the bank), how do you decide what’s actually worth improving?

Here are four home improvements that are worth the time and money—both for your own enjoyment and when you eventually decide to sell. 

#1: Deck or Patio Add-On

Hello and welcome to patio season! But wait… what if patio season could be every season? That’s a real possibility when you build one right into the side of your home.

This is a large and somewhat pricey addition, but you’ll use this space for hosting parties, lounging in the sun, and enjoying dinner outdoors during those warm summer evenings for many years to come. To save some cash, you can buy supplies in-store and do a lot of the groundwork (no pun intended) yourself. 

Plus, adding a wood deck will greatly increase the overall value of your home. You get to enjoy the patio now and the additional money later—a win-win!  

#2: New HVAC System

This upgrade is literally worth every penny—and then some.

Old, leaky heating and AC units are inefficient and expensive. They’re costing you way more in monthly electricity bills than a quick tune-up or even replacement would. 

Here are two energy-efficient (and therefore cost-efficient) options:

  • Geothermal heat pumps – Talk about using the earth’s natural resources to your advantage! Geothermal systems utilize the renewable heat from within the earth to warm your home, then pump the heat back into the ground to cool it down. You want an efficiency rating of at least 35 EER for a closed-loop system.
  • Split heat pump system – These popular, affordable systems circulate heat from one place to another—usually between an indoor and outdoor unit—to either heat or cool your house depending on the season. Very little energy is required to maintain a split system, which keeps your bills (and environmental guilt) down.   

#3: A Better Mattress

Yes, you can spruce up your house six ways from Sunday, but the best improvements are the ones that benefit you, not some potential future you that wants to sell their house and return a better profit. Do something to make your life better now.

That something is buying a truly supportive, comfortable, and sleep-promoting mattress.

Thankfully, shopping for a mattress online makes it simpler than ever to introduce unparalleled comfort into your bedroom. You can find the perfect type of memory foam for your sleeping position based on expert recommendations—no more awkward trips to Mattress World where the staff watches you try out every single bed. Sorry, Brian, I need to find the one! 

#4: New-and-Improved Lighting Fixtures

And as your fourth home improvement, you said, “Let there be light!” Or, at least, you will soon.

Light fixtures can change the entire feel of a room, for better or worse. To ensure its the former rather than the latter, here are a few key ways to upgrade from those hideous, bright lights and dark, dingy corners to a soft, warm glow and even distribution everywhere you need it:

  • Install some under-cabinet lights for better visibility while cooking and cleaning, plus a nice, soft wash to your kitchen. You can choose between light bars, a row of puck lights, or super-easy-to-install strip lights (basically plug-in LED lights on a roll of tape).
  • Upgrade some of your most prominent light fixtures for a sleeker vibe. This could include an outdated foyer chandelier, a set of harsh bulbs over the breakfast nook, or a centerpiece fixture in the master bedroom.
  • Switch from all overhead lights to classy wall fixtures in some rooms. Use LED or compact fluorescents for better energy-efficiency in your indoor wall sconces. These subtler light sources will illuminate a room without blinding its inhabitants (that’s you).  

A Little Improvement Never Hurt

When money’s tight, there are always minor adjustments and improvements you can make, even if that just means tidying up and donating old clothes to Goodwill. 

Start small until you’ve saved up enough pennies to put towards something a little bigger—these upgrades will be worth all of them!