5 New Year's Resolutions for Your Home 5 New Year's Resolutions for Your Home

What You'll Need
Mastic tape Fiberglass insulation Low-flo shower heads Low-flo toilets Low-flo faucet fixtures Wrench Screw driver Air intake filters Ladder Batteries Vacuum Carbon monoxide detector Programmable thermostat Weatherstripping Door sweeps Energy-efficient curtains Large plastic container Blankets Candles Lighter Battery-operated radio Non-perishable food Bottled water Toiletries Can opener

When the new year rolls around people come up with all kinds of different resolutions for themselves, but this year take the opportunity to make a few for your home as well. Most home preventative maintenance projects only take a few hours as a DIY project and a few dollars invested now can have huge dividends by the next year.

Seal Leaks in Ductwork

Saving energy in your home starts with small projects like sealing and insulating all ductwork. An HVAC contractor can be hired to do the job, but will cost between $1,000 and $4,000. Most of the cost will come from finding access to ducts hidden in walls, basements, attics, and crawl spaces.

However, even sealing the areas you can get to will make a difference in the home's energy efficiency. Check any exposed connections and seal off leaks with mastic tape. Then, cover any exposed tubing with fiberglass insulation. Both materials can be bought inexpensively at a local hardware store. Keep your receipts and check with your local utility companies to see if there are rebates available for this type of home improvement.

Decrease Water Consumption

The average American household can save up to $200 dollars per year by changing all water entry points to the home to low-flo Fixtures. Low-flo toilets are easy to install with some basic plumbing know-how and can save up to seven gallons per flush.

Similarly, shower heads are quickly replaced with more modern versions that use less water by offering higher pressure settings. The same idea applies to sink fixtures throughout the house. Most installations will only require the new fixture, a screw driver and a wrench. In a matter of hours your home can be switched to a water saving machine.

Safety First

Walk through the house and check the following safety zones to make sure they're ready for another year.

  • Inspect all air intake filters and replace them with new ones that are the best quality you can afford. Keeping filters clean and in good repair will improve the air quality of your home and reduce fire hazards.
  • Check each smoke alarm to make sure the sensors are clean and replace old batteries as needed. Smoke alarms prevent thousands of death every year, but they will only work if they are kept in good working condition.
  • While you are at it, consider adding carbon monoxide detectors to your house as well. These sensors are installed near the floor and will detect harmful fumes from blocked flues and furnace vents. Smoke detectors will warn the household if this harmful gas builds up.
  • Finally, clean out the dryer vent and accompanying ductwork. The lint trap in the dryer should be cleaned out every two to three loads. Yet, most people forget to check the tubing and connection to the outside ventilation. Be sure the vent to the outside is not blocked by anything leaning against the exterior of the home. Then, clean out by hand or by vacuum the dryer vent tubing and connections. Lint is very combustible and this simple job can save a house from a devastating fire.

Trap the Heat and Air

Making a heating and air conditioning system work for the family is a great way to cut costs, reduce your carbon footprint, and keep the home more comfortable.

  • Start by installing a programmable thermostat that will keep the house at a set temperature throughout the day when no one is home. This means you will no longer forget to turn the heat or air down just before leaving and could save hundreds of dollars in the process.
  • Replace peeling or rigid weather stripping around all doors and windows. Most weather stripping has a five to ten year warranty, but depending on how much wear and tear it receives it may not last that long. It is easiest to go ahead and replace as much as you can at once. Also consider adding door sweeps to every exterior door to prevent floor drafts. Since heat rises, floors can feel chilly to begin with. Door sweeps will prevent a draft from blowing across the floor.
  • Next, replace mini blinds and sheer or light colored curtains with heavy darker curtains. There are many options available at a reasonable price that are energy efficient and reduce air temperature exchanges with the outside world. This means less heat is required to warm up a room in the winter and less AC in the warmer months.

Disaster Kit

Create an all-in-one disaster and emergency preparedness kit. Start with a large plastic container with a good lid, and then use this to store all your emergency items in one place. You will need enough bottled water and non-perishable food for each household member for three to five days. Include a hand crank can opener if any food items are in cans.

Also, pack away at least two to three days of any essential medications; this should include emergency medications such as spare inhalers and EpiPens for anyone with allergies. If there is an infant or small child in the house, be sure to include diapers and wipes.

Provide a warm blanket for every household member, candles, a lighter, flashlights, batteries, and a battery-operated radio. Finally, consider adding in a few fun items to help keep everyone distracted such as a board game, colors and coloring books, and family-friendly novels to share.

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