New Year’s resolutions. You make (and break) them every year. But this time it’s going to be different, right? Right! This year, take those seemingly impossible to keep personal resolutions and apply them to your home instead. Who knows, you just may keep them.
Based on some of the most common resolutions, here’s a list of five ways you can improve your home – and your own wellbeing – for the new year.
1. Slim Down (Cut Energy Use)
Ever heard of the game “Hungry, Hungry Hippos”? Well, your home is essentially the same, gobbling up energy like a famished hippo. Take control of your home’s life by trimming energy use. A good place to start your home’s workout is the HVAC ductwork. Ducts are one of the top culprits for being energy guzzlers, leaking your heating and cooling air through holes and poor connections. According to Energy Star, sealing and insulating your ductwork can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%, saving you upwards of $200 a year. Another energy (and money) saver is installing a programmable thermostat like Nest. You can cut your home heating and cooling costs by 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling…an average savings of $131 to $145 a year. And with Nest, the smart thermostat shows you how much energy you use every day so you can see when you use more energy and gauge how to use less.
2. Stop Smoking (Purify Indoor Air)
Indoor air is full of potential contaminants, such as dust, mold spores, pollen, and viruses making indoor air quality one of the top environmental health hazards. During the winter the problem is at its worst because doors and windows are usually shut. You can help get rid of harmful lung irritants in your home with these maintenance and improvement tips:
- Maintain your HVAC system and change your filters regularly. Use the highest quality filters your pockets can support and change them regularly during peak heating and cooling times.
- Use localized ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms to eliminate cooking fumes, smoke, and excess humidity. Make sure your ventilation systems exhaust air to the outside of your home, rather than your attic or crawl space.
- If you have a fireplace, burn real firewood as pressed wood products might contain formaldehyde.
- Clean your carpets thoroughly by hiring a professional or renting a cleaning machine from your local hardware or grocery store.
3. Drink Less (Reduce Your Home’s Water Usage)
Our homes are parched. The average household uses nearly 400 gallons of water every day, costing up to $700 a year in water and sewage costs. Making a few simple tweaks, like installing EPA-certified WaterSense products, could take off up to $200 from your yearly water bill.
Another great way to save water is to go low-flow. Low flow showerheads reduce the amount of flow all while keeping the water pressure at a desired level. If your toilet was made in the mid-90s, it’s time to replace it. Low-flow toilets prevent about $90 worth of water expenses from literally being flushed down the toilet.
Other ways to reduce water usage:
- Wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them
- Water your yard less and put in drought-tolerant landscaping
- Don’t pre-rinse your dishes. Many modern dishwashers do not require pre-rinsing of dishes – a good scrape should suffice. Read your manual and see if yours suggests the same.
- Compost rather than running the garbage disposal
- Wash vegetables and fruit in a bowl (not under the tap) and use the leftover water to water house plants
4. Save Money (Create a Healthy Budget for Improvements)
Creating a budget for inevitable home improvements or maintenance helps prevent overspending and encourages you to set aside money for major replacements that can occur. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household spends about $3,300 per year on home improvements or maintenance. The average cost of yearly maintenance totals about 1-3% of the cost of your home. So, budgeting that amount at the beginning of the year will allow you to save money for future, more expensive upkeep and/or replacements.
5. Get in Shape (Kick Butt on Home Improvement & DIY Projects)
Need some exercise? There’s no better way to get fit and improve your home than DIY projects. Here are a few calorie burning activities that will improve your health and your home:
- Caulking windows and doors – 280 calories/hour
- Chopping firewood – 340 calories/hour
- Cleaning rain gutters – 272 calories/hour
- Finishing or refinishing furniture – 238 calories/hour
- Painting, papering or plastering – 136 calories/hour
*Information is from CalorieLab. All calorie counts are estimates based on a 150-pound person, and will vary with intensity, body composition and weight.