New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

CalendarMany of us make resolutions to better ourselves in the new year and that concept may carry over well into our homes. Here are a couple of home-related resolutions you to consider for 2015.

1. Declutter/Organize
People typically wait for spring cleaning to clean out that closet or catch-all room; but why wait for spring? With cold weather and potential snow, January can be a great time to stay inside and get organized. If the job seems overwhelming, start small. Pick one room a month and work on it an hour or two a week. You might be surprised how much difference you’ll make by the time spring comes around.

2. Weekly Cleaning System
A couple of tips I’ve found helpful to keeping my home clean all the time include:
– Keeping all cleaning supplies in one location
– Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster. Instead of cleaning room to room,      vacuum, dust or clean windows in the whole house, one task at a time.

3. Become More Energy Efficient
Easy things like turning off lights and unplugging unused electronics can go a long way over a year. Programmable thermostats, low-flow shower heads, and energy efficient light bulbs are also easy and relatively cheap changes too. Newer energy efficient windows and appliances are bigger projects, but may offer the biggest savings and reduction in energy usage.

4. Remodel a Room
A room remodel can seem like a tall (and expensive) task to tackle, but starting with a fresh coat of paint can be a cheap and quick start. Also imagine your dream kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, then create a budget so you can decide what features are most important.

So what’s your Home New Year’s resolution?

Save Energy and Make Your Home More Enticing to Buyers

It’s a buyer’s market and you might be thinking of ways to make your home more attractive to sell. Why not consider an energy redo?

Energy costs have risen steadily over the past 10 years. Making your home more energy efficient could give you that edge to make it even more attractive to a buyer.

According to Energy  Star, the average American household spends $2,200 yearly on utilities:

  • Heating costs – 29%
  • Air conditioning – 17%
  • Water heating – 14%
  • Appliances (refrigerator, washer, dryer) – 13%
  • Other electric appliances (TV, computer, lighting)  – 27%

Consider upgrades on things that use up most of your utility budget — heating and cooling:

New Furnace – Energy-efficient furnaces are very appealing for energy savings and resale. Energy Star rated furnaces are known to to b 16% more efficient. Installing a new furnace is not inexpensive, but if you’re trying to sell your home with a furnace that is 20-30 years old, a new furnace might lead to a quicker sale.

If you do not purchase a new furnace, remember to change your air filter regularly (especially during high-use months in winter and summer).  A dirty filter slows down air flow and makes the system work harder, wasting energy. A yearly tune up of your HVAC can improve your efficiency. Also, if you do not have one already, consider installing a programmable thermostat. Monitoring the heating and cooling temperatures automatically cam save you about $180 every year in energy costs according to Energy Star. Sealing your heating and cooling ducts can also improve the efficiency of your heating and air systems up to 20%.

Windows – Windows are important because old or unsealed windows and doors can lose up to 30% of energy dollars. Installing new windows is expensive and you will not recoup all of your money spent. (Reports state that you can count on recouping 65% of the investment.)

Seal and Caulk Cracks – Although not a fun job, sealing cracks and caulking doors and windows is something you can probably do yourself and save energy costs. You may need to point out these improvements to potential buyers, but this type of improvement can save 10%+ off your utility bills. Your cost would be a minor expenditure for supplies and your time. This improvement will be noticed by the home inspector!

Other Energy Efficiencies to Consider:

Refrigerator – After heating/cooling, the refrigerator is the biggest user of energy (at 14%) because it is constantly running. (Many people have two refrigerators in their homes that are in constant use.) Save money with an energy-saving, newer model.

If you have a second refrigerator that is used mainly for parties, keep it unplugged when not in use to chill drinks or food. By not constantly using that second refrigerator, you can save $400-700 for the life of that appliance. Or, if you really do not use that second refrigerator, get rid of it and make your home less cluttered. Go to Earth911.com to find a place where you can recycle this appliance.

Tax Credits – The Federal Tax Credits for windows and furnaces have expired. There are still tax credits available for solar panels, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines. (These are all large expense items.)  However, some states offer tax rebates for energy-efficiency upgrades. Use the U.S. Department of Energy’s DSIRE web site (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) to find out what types of credits are  available.