“This time, it’s going to be different…” A brand-new year, brimming with possibilities, and you’ve resolved to move through your house like a whirling tornado of can-do, fixing, painting and organizing. This year, nothing will stop you. Based on the most-common top-ten resolutions gathered by Time magazine, USA.gov and other sources, we’ve put together an inspiring list of home management goals to help you come up with New Year resolutions for your home.
Cut Energy Use
Your house is a glutton, gobbling energy like a starved elephant. Gain control by trimming energy usage. A good place to start is your HVAC ductwork. Ducts are notorious energy-wasters, leaking your heating and cooling air through holes and loose connections. Sealing and insulating your ductwork can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%, saving you about $200 per year or more, according to Energy Star. You’ll make your home more comfortable, and a more-efficient system helps extend the life of your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Because ducts are usually hidden inside walls, ceilings, attics and crawl spaces, sealing and insulating them may be too difficult and time-consuming for a DIY job. If you can’t reach all your ducts, concentrate on those that are accessible.
Use duct sealant — called mastic — or metal-backed tape to seal the seams, holes and connections. Don’t use the confusingly named “duct tape,” which won’t provide a permanent solution. Be sure to seal connections at vents and floor registers — these are likely places for leaks to occur. After sealing your ducts, wrap them in fiberglass insulation. Most hardware stores and home improvement centers have insulation wrap products made specifically for ducts. A professional heating and cooling contractor will charge anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 for the work and necessary materials. The price varies depending on the size of your home and accessibility to your ducts. Insulating your ductwork may qualify for a rebate from your state or local municipality. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
Budget for Improvements
Creating a yearly budget for home improvement and maintenance helps prevent overspending and encourages you to put aside money for major replacements — such as new roofing or a kitchen appliance — that come up every few years. Protect your home finances by knowing roughly how much you’ll spend each year. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau says that average annual maintenance and home improvement expenditures are about $3,300 per household. Leading lending institutions agree; HSH Associates and LendingTree.com place average costs of yearly maintenance and upkeep at 1% to 3% of your home’s initial price. That means the owner of a $250,000 home should budget between $2,500 to $7,500 each year for upkeep and replacements. Have extra at the end of the year? Save it for more costly upkeep and replacement items down the road — you’ll probably need it then.
Learn something new (educate yourself on home finances)
Want a little education that goes a long way toward your financial health? Learning how to improve your insurance score can help keep your home insurance premiums from getting out of hand. Here are a couple of easy lessons:
Letting credit card debt build up is a black mark on your credit history — and an indicator that you’re likely to file an insurance claim. The more claims, the higher risk you appear to be to insurance agencies, which lowers your insurance score. Low scores mean higher rates for home insurance.
Keep payments on loans up-to-date. Don’t miss payment deadlines; if you do, notify your lender that your payment is forthcoming. Delinquent payments signal insurers that you can’t manage your money — resulting in a lower insurance score and higher rates.
Need some Home Owner 101 skills? Any time is a good time to learn about some basic home maintenance skills.
No excuses — that clutter has got to go! Start by creating more storage space so you can stash stuff away easily. At wit’s end for new storage space? You’ve probably got storage solutions you didn’t know you had. Put up a high shelf between the walls of a narrow hallway, and tuck storage in out-of-the-way nooks, such as under-stairs spaces and between wall studs. If your small home is pinched for space, don’t despair; there’s still room for storage. Shoe organizers, which run at around $20, do more than hold shoes — use them to store keys, notepads, and cell phones. At about $300 per drawer, have a cabinetmaker install drawers in the toe kicks of your kitchen cabinets for napkins, cookie sheets and appliance manuals. More: Resolution: Put Your House on a Diet
Get fit (exercise your DIY skills)
Looking to trim a little of the old spare tire? Routine home maintenance and repair is a double win — you’ll burn calories while keeping your house in tip-top shape. Try these essential fix-ups and improvements from CalorieLab:
Building a fence: 340 calories per hour
Caulking windows and doors: 280 calories per hour
Cleaning rain gutters: 272 calories per hour
Installing ceramic tile: 238 calories per hour
Interior painting: 136 calories per hour
Chopping firewood: 340 calories per hour
Mowing the lawn: 306 calories per hour
Planting shrubs: 238 calories per hour
General gardening: 204 calories per hour
Be Less Stressed (Use Maintenance-Free Materials)
If you want less to worry about, install low-maintenance materials and products designed for durability and long, trouble-free service.
Fiber-cement siding lasts for 50 years or more. It’s weather-proof and resists dents, fire, insects and rot. It’s exceptionally stable, even with changes in humidity, so that paint jobs last longer than on wood and wood-fiber siding products.
LED bulbs last a phenomenal 20,000 to 50,000 hours between changes, or about 18 to 46 years when used for 3 hours each day. Although the initial cost is high (about $40 per bulb), LED bulbs pay for themselves in energy savings in about 10 years.
Classic ceramic tile comes in many colors and textures, but at its heart, it’s incredibly tough, stain-resistant and impervious to moisture. You can count on ceramic tile’s good looks to last for decades on floors and walls without needing repair or replacement.