While you’re making your New Years Resolution list to better yourself in the coming year, why not also resolve to improve where you spend the most time – your home. Photo by Tim Mossholder/Unsplash
We know all too well what the most common, and most promised, New Year’s Resolutions are that we pledge to follow starting every Januarys 1st -eating better and losing weight , exercising more and getting in better shape, making more money … but what about having a list of New Year’s Resolutions for our homes? To help prevent common household problems and costly repairs in the coming new year, here’s a list of a few things we can do to help protect our homes in 2023.
Check and Change Air Filters Regularly
As a general rule of thumb, your home’s occupancy determines how often you should change the air filters inside your home, but if anyone in your house suffers from allergies or asthma, or if you have young children and/or pets, you should change your air filters more often.
When to change your air filter:
● Every month – Multiple pets and/or people with allergies or respiratory conditions:
● Every 2 months – Families with young children, or average family with one pet.
● Every 3 months – Average family with no allergies or respiratory conditions.
● Every 6-12 months – Single person or vacation home with no pets or allergies
Inspect and service your HVAC System – If you can’t do this yourself, have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service your heating and cooling system about a month before regular use, or before each summer and winter seasons begin.
Other Important 2023 Home Maintenance Resolutions
Besides checking and changing your home’s air filters regularly, there are some other important home maintenance tasks that you can do yourself throughout the year. Nothing is designed to last forever, but with a little routine home maintenance you can help get your home ready for the new year and running smoothly for many years to come.
• Check and clean your home’s gutters and downspouts and make sure they are not clogged, corroded or disconnected.
• Check, clean or replace your furnace’s filters.
• Check and clean your bathroom and kitchen range hood exhaust fans.
• Check your home’s foundation and outside walls for cracks and holes and repair them. Clean and seal your foundation.
• Inspect concrete driveways and patios for cracks or loose parts, and repair them with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. Pressure wash and seal the concrete, if needed.
• Weather-strip and caulk exterior doors and windows to prevent drafts, and also seal interior wood trim.
• Inspect outdoor steps, decks, railings and porches for any loose boards or fixtures.
• Trim overhanging branches and secure all outdoor furniture that could fall onto your home.
• Insulate crawl spaces and the attic to save energy and help improve indoor air quality.
• Insulate the water pipes to help prevent from freezing, and seal or caulk anywhere pipes, dryer vents or electrical wiring conduits enter the house.
• Test and maintain your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and always have fire extinguishers accessible on each floor of your home, and especially in the kitchen where a fire is most likely to start.
Cut Down on Your Home's Energy Use and Utility Bills
Saving a little money here and there can add up to having more money over a year, extra cash that you should be spending on more worthwhile things, or saving. Check around your home and see what simple things you can do this year to help cut down on energy use inside your house.
• Program your thermostat, or buy a smarter thermostat that you can program.
You will save up to 10% a year on heating and cooling costs by adjusting your thermostat 7-10 degrees from your normal setting for just eight hours each day. With a smart thermostat, you’ll be able to change the temperatures from your smartphone when you are away from home.
• Unplug Electricity Leeches
Plugged in devices – like TV’s not in use, gaming consoles and stereo/CD players, are “Energy Vampires”. They are always sucking your power even when a device is not turned on. You can help trim your monthly electricity bills by unplugging these unused devices throughout the new year.
Also unplug any “wall wart”, or power adapters that contain the plug. They’re called “warts” because they also cover up the socket next to it, making it unusable. And don’t forget to unplug those power “bricks”, the big black boxes attached to the plug, usually found on television and computer power cords.
• Fix water drips or leaks
If your bathroom faucet drips at just 10 drops a minute, you’re wasting over 300 gallons of water a year. And even more expensively, a running toilet will waste about 200 gallons of water every day, or around 6,000 gallons a month. Replacing the toilet tank “guts” and the rubber flapper valve with an inexpensive toilet repair kit is a skill every homeowner should know how to do to avoid unnecessary costly plumber service calls.
• Replace all incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs
Another simple thing you can do this year to save energy is to replace all older incandescent light bulbs in your home with newer LED bulbs. LED bulbs use over 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and are usually rated to last up to 50,000 hours, about 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
De-clutter Your Home (or Garage/Attic/Basement)
Whether it’s just a junk drawer (or two), or an entire room (or two ;), if you found yourself at the end of the year with a lot more stuff than you had before the Holiday season began, it might be time to de-clutter you house.
The first step of decluttering is choosing what area of your home you’ll remove the clutter from, then decide on how much time you can devote to the mission. Don’t try to declutter your whole house all at once, it can be overwhelming. Taking small, incremental steps instead of making it one monumental task will lead to bigger change over time. But if your house isn’t that cluttered, go through each room periodically and remove whatever you don’t need or use and donate it to charity.
Donate to charity or give away anything you don’t use or wear, or have a yard sale. One technique to help declutter your house is to use the “Four Box Method” – just get four boxes and label each of them to either give it away, throw it away, keep it or put it somewhere else.
Don’t clean as you declutter, wait until after you’ve decluttered an entire room before cleaning it. To help keep your home clutter free in the future, design a home cleaning routine and keep all of your cleaning supplies somewhere you can easily find and use them. Schedule daily, weekly and monthly routines to keep your home clean and clutter free. And remember the phrase, “there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place.”
Prepare for Emergencies, Have an Emergency Kit Ready
The power will always go out. Unless you have a reliable stand-by generator to power your entire home during power outages, it’s wise to have an emergency preparedness kit in your home in the event of a sever storm or natural disaster. An emergency kit should include a first aid kit, a solar or hand crank emergency charger and backup battery for your cell phone, candles with matches or lighters, flashlights with fresh batteries, a battery operated FM or NOAA weather radio, dry blankets, and any necessary prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, along with an ample supply of water – at least one gallon of water per person per day, and non-perishable food that will last at least three days for every member of your home.
Put together a “go-bag” to carry if you have to evacuate on foot or on public transportation, and if leaving by car make sure to fill your gas tank if an evacuation seems likely, and keep a portable emergency kit and supplies in your car for traveling longer distances, or if you get stuck.
Get a Home Energy Audit in 2023
Finally, resolve to getting a home energy audit this year to help determine where your house is losing energy, and how to correct the problems and make your home more energy efficient. Upgrading your home to save energy can save up to 30 percent off your home’s annual energy usage .
Another reason you should get a home energy audit in 2023 is to take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act incentives. By defining the areas of your home that need improving for energy efficiency, you could receive tax incentives or rebates hat will bring down the improvement costs substantially, while helping you save money on your energy bills. For instance, you can receive up to $1,600 to insulate parts of your home that need it.
While you should hire a professional energy auditor to thoroughly inspect your home and perform the energy audit, the U.S. Department of Energy helps walk you through how to perform some of the steps yourself in a helpful video, including how to check for leaks, examine the insulation, inspect the furnace and ductwork, how to perform a blower door test and tips on using an infrared camera.
To finding an energy assessor in your area, check with your energy utility company. They may conduct residential energy assessments themselves, or recommend a local auditor. The Residential Energy Services Network also provides a directory of certified professional energy assessors near you.
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