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Stephany Williams

ABR, CLHMS, NHC
Area Pro Group North Lake
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Top-10 List of New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

December 27th, 2019


When the new year arrives, promises and resolutions abound. Here’s the top-10 list of what the resolute home owner should accomplish this year. This time, it’s going to be different. A brand new year, brimming with possibilities, and you’ve resolved to move through your house like a whirling tornado of can-do, fixing, painting, and organizing. This year, nothing will stop you. Welcome to your home improvement New Year’s Resolutions. Based on the most-common top-ten resolutions gathered by Time magazine, USA.gov, and other sources, we’ve put together an inspiring list of home management goals.

1. Lose weight (cut energy use)

Your house is a glutton, gobbling energy like a starved elephant. Gain control by trimming energy use.

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 heating and cooling system by as much as 20%, saving you $200 per year or more, according to Energy Star. You’ll 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 and time-consuming DIY job. If you can’t reach all your ducts, concentrate on those that are accessible.

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. Be sure to seal connections at vents and floor registers — these are likely places for leaks to occur.

After sealing your ducts, wrap them in fiberglass insulation. Most hardware stores and home improvement centers have insulation wrap products made for ducts.

A professional heating and cooling contractor will charge $1,000 to $4,000 for the work, including materials, depending on the size of your home and accessibility to your ducts. 

Insulating your ductwork may qualify for a rebate from your state or local municipality. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

2. Quit smoking (purify indoor air)

The EPA lists indoor air quality as one of the top environmental health hazards. That’s because indoor air is full of potential contaminants, such as dust, mold spores, pollen, and viruses. The problem is at its worst during winter, when windows and doors are shut tight.

You can help eliminate harmful lung irritants in your home with these maintenance and improvement tips:

Note that each type of air cleaner is designed to remove specific pollutants; no portable air cleaner removes all pollutants. Be wary of air cleaners that generate ozone — a known lung irritant.

3. Get out of debt (budget for improvements) 

Creating a yearly budget for home improvement and maintenance helps prevent overspending, and encourages you to put aside money for major replacements — such as new roofing or a kitchen appliance — that come up every few 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 yearly maintenance and upkeep at 1% to 3% of your home’s initial price.

That means the owner of a $250,000 home should budget between $2,500 to $7,500 each year for upkeep and replacements. Have extra at the end of the year? Save it for more costly upkeep and replacement items down the road — you’ll probably need it then.

4. Learn something new (educate yourself on home finances)

Want a little education that goes a long way toward your financial health? Learning how to improve your insurance score can help you keep your home insurance premiums from getting out of hand. Here are a couple of easy lessons:

Need some Home Owner 101? Any time is a good time to bone up on basic home maintenance skills.

5. Get organized (de-clutter) 

No excuses — that clutter has got to go! Start by creating more storage space so you can stash stuff easily.

At wit’s end for new storage space? You’ve probably got storage solutions you didn’t know you had. Put up a high shelf between the walls of a narrow hallway, and tuck storage in out-of-the-way nooks, such as under-stairs spaces and between wall studs. 

If your small home is pinched for space, don’t despair: There’s still room for storage. Shoe organizers ($20) do more than hold shoes — use them to store keys, notepads, and cell phones. At about $300 per drawer, have a cabinetmaker install drawers in the toe kicks of your kitchen cabinets for napkins, cookie sheets, and appliance manuals. 

More: Resolution: Put Your House on a Diet

6. Volunteer (support your community)

In a world that often seems topsy-turvy, a little altruism helps restore balance. You can volunteer your time and energy to help others, and at the same time help promote safety and preserve the value of your neighborhood.

7. Drink less (curb home water use) 

Our houses are thirsty. The average household uses about 400 gallons of water each day, or almost $700 per year in water and sewer costs. 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.

8. Spend more time with family (share home improvement projects)

Spending quality time with your family takes quality planning — but it’s worth the effort. Rally your family around these fun-to-do projects to make every minute count:

9. Get fit (exercise your DIY skills)

Looking to trim a little of the old spare tire? Routine home maintenance and repair is a double win — you’ll burn calories while keeping your house in tip-top shape. Try these essential fix-ups and improvements from CalorieLab:

10. Be less stressed (use maintenance-free materials)

If you want less to worry about, install low-maintenance materials and products designed for durability and long, trouble-free service.


John Riha has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.


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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®

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