It’s that time of year when family and friends begin to think of ways they can improve their lives by committing to a few New Year’s resolutions. The most popular resolutions tend to focus on achieving a healthy lifestyle by losing weight or exercising more. If you’re a homeowner, consider committing to a few resolutions designed to improve the health of your largest investment – your home.
Plan your Home Maintenance for the Year
Whether you prefer a paper calendar or digital alternative, scheduling a year’s worth of home maintenance tasks at once can help ensure they’ll be completed versus remembering to do them as each season rolls around. Monthly tasks such as replacing air filters, testing smoke alarms, and grinding ice cubes in the garbage disposal to clean out a month’s worth of gunk, are more likely to be completed if they’re on the calendar.
There are many tools out there to help you plan your home maintenance for 2016 including handmade planners on Etsy and apps you can download to your phone or tablet. To build your own calendar, start with this list of tasks for every season – Better Homes and Gardens Home Maintenance Calendar.
If you’ve shied away from adding some technology to your home, this is the year to resolve to start making your home smarter. There are many new products on the market designed to make your home ‘smart’. Some are just gadgets, but most are designed to improve the energy efficiency of your home or increase home security. Check out some of the newest options in this article we posted last month.
One of the easiest ways to save a few hundred dollars on your energy bill each year is to plant a shade tree or two on your property. Trees planted on the east and west sides of your home can provide morning and evening shade to cool your home in the summer, and a buffer against cold winds in the winter. Tree shade can keep your air conditioning unit cool and help it run more efficiently. Be careful, however, not to plant trees too close to the house where they could fall on the roof and cause damage in a storm. Leave enough clear space so that branches can fall without impacting the house itself.
Inside, there are many simple things you can do to make your home more environmentally friendly that are relatively inexpensive and can actually save money on energy costs in the long run. If you have a task on your maintenance calendar to check for plumbing leaks, consider simply replacing faulty fixtures with water saving, low-flow alternatives instead. Purchase rechargeable batteries instead of alkaline batteries, and replace your incandescent bulbs with long-lasting compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs, or better yet light-emitting diode bulbs (LED), which last even longer. When something in your home needs to be repaired or replaced this year, resolve to find an alternative that is not only good for the environment but will increase your home’s energy efficiency. Over time, you’ll see the savings in your monthly energy and utility bills.
Check your Homeowners Insurance Policy
If you’ve made improvements to your home over the last year, check the limits of your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you’ll have enough insurance to repair or replace your home and any new additions or additional structures on the property in the event of a disaster. Update your home inventory and inform your agent if you’ve acquired new jewelry, artwork or other personal property items that should be included in your insurance portfolio.