If you buy a house directly from a seller, without brokers, have an attorney keep your deposit in and escrow account. Too often, money held by the seller is spent prematurely. If the sale doesn't go though it's important that you can recover your funds.
If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house.