Every year when January rolls around we make vows to lose weight, save money, learn something new or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home?
In the spirit of new beginnings, I have surveyed dozens of home owners on what their goals are for the coming year. These are the top ranked resolutions that will make your home more beautiful, efficient, clean and green in the coming year.
Top 5 Home New Year's Resolutions
1. Lose Weight (cut back energy use)
Most homes devour energy like a starving elephant. Make a goal to gain control of how much energy your home is using. 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 HVAC system by as much as 20%, possibly saving you $200 per year or more, according to Energy Star. This will 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 a difficult DIY job. If you can’t reach all your ducts, concentrate on those that are accessible.
Be sure to 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.
Creating a yearly budget for home improvements and maintenance not only gives you peace of mind but it also helps prevent overspending. Having a yearly budget encourages you to set aside money for major replacements like a new roof or appliances that should be replaced every 5-8 years.
Protect your home finances by knowing how much you’ll probably 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 annual maintenance and upkeep around 1% to 3% of the homes initial price.
3. Drink Less (curb water use)
It’s no secret that our homes are very thirsty! On average each person in your home uses around 80-100 gallons of water a day. That’s nearly 400 gallons daily for a family of four! Are you surprised that the largest use of household water is to flush the toilet, and after that, to take showers and baths?
Making a few simple changes, such as installing EPA-certified WaterSense products, could trim up to $200 from your annual water bill. Add to that energy savings from reduced costs to heat water, and your yearly savings could reach $300 or more per year.
Replacing your pre-1994, water guzzling toilet with a low-flow toilet prevents up to $90 worth of water costs from being flushed away. High-efficiency toilets use compressed air and electric water pumps to flush with less than 1 gallon of water. Older models can require up to 8 gallons!
4. Spend More Time with Family (tackle projects together)
Quality time with the family can sometimes require quality planning, but it's well worth the effort. Rally the family for some group projects and great bonding time.
Christmas doesn’t have to be the only time that you pile everyone in the car and go shop for a tree. Planting a tree is often a memorable project for the whole family. Have the kids name it and help care for it. You might have to dig the hole, but everyone can take turns adding mulch and watering. Be careful of your placement though. Planting a tree too close to the home can create foundation issues down the road. Large trees (70 ft or taller) should be placed at least 20 feet from the home, medium trees (up to 70 ft tall) 15 feet from the home and small trees (30 ft or less) can be planted 10 feet away from the home. It’s also important to check in with your Home Owners Association if you have one as there might be restrictions on how many trees you can have or where they can be placed. Check out Home Guides for more information on adding trees to your landscape.
5. Reduce Stress (use low-maintenance materials)
You can reduce the time you spend up keeping your home by installing low-maintenance materials and products designed for durability and longevity.
Fiber-Cement siding, also called Wonder Siding, can last 50 years or longer. It’s weather-proof, and resists fire, dents, insects and rot. Not to mention it is exceptionally stable even with changes in humidity, so those paint jobs will last longer than on wood and wood-fiber siding.
Ceramic tile is a classic that comes in a variety of colors and textures but at its heart it’s incredibly tough, stain resistant and impervious to moisture. You can count on ceramic tile to hold its aesthetic value for years without needed repair.
LED bulbs last an unbelievable 20,000 to 50,000 hours between changes, or about 18 to 46 years when used 3 hours a day. Although they are more costly upfront at around $40 a bulb, LED lights can pay for themselves in energy savings.
Do your resolutions include goals for your home? Whatever is on your to-do list, I wish you and yours a healthy and blessed New Year!