New year’s resolutions are usually based around self-improvement. But why can’t home-improvement be included in the new year fun? After all, your home is where you spend most of your time, making it an important part of your day-to-day health and happiness.
1. Safety First: Home safety should be at the top of your home resolution list each and every year. Here are a few key areas to review:
Review (or create) your family’s fire escape plan, detailing how to prevent fires, what to do in a fire, and where all fire extinguishers are located. Visit the Red Cross website to learn more about home safety plans.
Test smoke detectors monthly and invest in carbon monoxide detectors if necessary.
Clean dryer vent(s) to prevent lint build up.
Review your home's security and inspect all entry points of your home from both the interior and exterior, ensuring all doors and windows latch properly and locks show no signs of wear. Keep shrubs, trees, and bushes trimmed and add motion lights to both the front and back yard. For added peace of mind, install a security alarm, video door-bell, or surveillance cameras.
2. Conserve Energy: Heating and cooling account for nearly half of the average home’s utility costs. A programmable thermostat can reduce overall consumption by lowering or turning off your home’s HVAC unit when you’re not home or asleep. Smart power strips can reduce 'phantom loads", or the energy consumption of plugged in electronics that are currently not in use. Lastly, inspect your home for air leaks where warm or cool air could be entering/escaping, paying special attention to gaps around windows, doors, vents, plumbing, and electrical outlets.
3. Pick a Project: Repaint the kitchen. Fix the backyard fence. Update the bathroom tile. Install shelving in your closets….Most likely you have multiple items on your home’s to-do list. And, most likely, the thought of tackling your home’s to-list is mentally, physically, and financially overwhelming. Keep your to-do list simple this year and just pick one project to focus on. Yup, just one. There will be less intimidation when starting (and finishing) the project, and the feeling of accomplishment may inspire you to take on another project before the year is up!
4. Kitchen Clean-Out: Cleaning out your fridge and pantry is an effective and simple way to give your home a fresh start in the new year. Take out every item, throw away anything that is old or expired, and reorganize the space for better functionality. Donate any unwanted boxed or canned food that has yet to expire.
5. Review Expenses: Take some time to review your home’s monthly and yearly expenses. What is your average power, water, and gas bill? How much are you paying for cable, phone, internet, alarm system, yard maintenance, housekeeping, pest control, etc… In doing a thorough review, you may find services or expenses that can be reduced or eliminated entirely.