If your four walls could talk…what New Year Resolutions would they make? Would it be more organization, and less clutter? More energy saving, and less bill paying? Here are some of our favorite home-goals for the new decade.
Resolution One: Safety First!
The look and feel of your home is important, but more important is the heath and safety of its occupants. There are a few things to check on at the top of the new year to ensure your family isn’t living with potential risks and hazards.
1. Get a Radon Test
It’s important to check your home for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe. And what’s super scary is that one in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. The good news is that test kits are readily available and very cost effective.
2. Instal Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house. And like a radon test, these detectors are easy to find and affordable.
3. Check your dryer vents and ducts
Most people know they need to frequently clean out the little trap inside the dryer door, but neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it's highly combustible and accounts for thousands of house fires per year.
4. Let things breathe
If your home isn’t properly ventilated, you are at risk for mold. Be sure your bathrooms and attics are ventilated to the outside, and that your vents aren’t covered over with shingles.
Resolution Two: De-Clutter
Clearing out excess clutter is instantly rewarding. Whether it’s the kitchen cabinets, or basement storage, or the garage, designating a day to getting rid of “stuff” you no longer use with be well worth your time.
(Pro-tip: De-clutter one room a month to keep from feeling overwhelmed. By the end of the year, your home will have a complete makeover!)
Resolution Three: Save energy (and money!)
When people think of “going green,” they often think it requires a major home overhaul. But there many different ways to reduce your household’s energy use, ranging from simple behavioral adjustments to extensive home improvements. Here are a few ways to conserve energy and save electricity in your home:
1. Adjust your day-to-day behaviors
To reduce energy consumption in your home, you don’t necessarily need to go out and purchase energy efficient products. Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you don’t need them. You can also use energy-intensive appliances less by performing household tasks manually, such as hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer, or washing dishes by hand.
2. Replace your light bulbs
Traditional incandescent light bulbs consume an excessive amount of electricity and need to be replaced more often than their energy efficient alternatives. Although energy efficient bulbs are more expensive off the shelf, their efficient energy use and longer service lives mean that they cost less in the long run. Energy efficient bulbs are the clear winners in terms of their environmental and financial benefits.
3. Install a programmable or smart thermostat
A programmable or smart thermostat can be set to automatically turn off or reduce heating and cooling during the times when you are asleep or away. When you install a programmable thermostat, you eliminate wasteful energy use from heating and cooling without upgrading your HVAC system or sacrificing any comfort.
4. Purchase energy efficient appliances
On average, appliances are responsible for roughly 13% of your total household energy use. When purchasing an appliance, you should pay attention to two numbers: the initial purchase price and the annual operating cost. Look for the ENERGY STAR label, which is a federal guarantee that the appliance will consume less energy during use and when on standby than standard non-energy efficient models.
Resolution Four: Create a system for house cleaning
The simplest way to keep your home reliably clean is to stick to a cleaning schedule. It may sound like a daunting idea, but in fact when set up correctly, it’s quite the opposite. The trick lies in creating a realistic schedule that truly works for you and your home. This may mean a weekly cleaning schedule or a monthly cleaning schedule. Some tips might include:
1. Keep all of your cleaners and supplies in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
2. Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. For instance, do all the floors at once. Then all the appliances and windows. Once that’s done, move on to the next project.
3. Many hands make light work! Enlist the help of family members. Perhaps one member is in charge of the dusting, another the floors, and another in charge of garbage. Younger children can help their parents change bedding.
By adopting some new resolutions, you may just find yourself happier, healthier, and wealthier. Happy New Year!