Every year, we make resolutions for ourselves. Even if we don’t follow through on all of them, keeping up with part of the list will usually make us happier and healther. It’s the same with our living spaces, especially our homes. It’s always a good idea to resolve to make our houses healthier and better places to live, so we’ll be happier. Here’s a few good ideas to resolve to do in the new year.
Trim Down Belongings
It’s easy to accumulate things in a house, especially during the holiday season. Once all the decorations have been put away and you’ve recovered from guests, cooking, and/or travel, take a good look at what you have. It’s especially important to look at storage spaces, such as garage, attic, basement, and your closets. What do you actually need? It’s a known fact that the more clutter you have around, the more oppressive your living space can feel. You want to find a good balance between the things you want and need, and having a lot of stuff that either gets in the way or you don’t know why you still have it.
Always remember the basic decluttering method: make a schedule to go through a room, and ask the hard question. Have you really look at or used these things in the past year? Do you remember why you’re keeping an item? If you don’t use it or love it, sort it either into a pile to donate, to sell, or to throw away. You don’t need to clear out much stuff to feel like your house is more open and airy, and you’ll also probably find that it’s easier to keep clean.
Clean What You Can’t See
It’s a good idea to check on the parts of the house you don’t examine very often. Getting a professional out to look at your heating and air conditioning is a good idea, especially since it’s easy to forget to change out filters. If you don’t want to pay a pro, you can still look at vents, find the air filter, and look at any visible ductwork to make sure there aren’t any obvious flaws.
The same principle applies to your plumbing. Make sure there’s no leaks under sinks, behind toilets, or any sign of mildew or corrosion near your plumbing. Get up into the attic or basement to double-check things. It doesn’t cost much to get a plumber out to check your sewer lines and drainage. Better to pay a small amount to take care of a small problem than deal with a flood down the line.
Clean What You Can See
Set up a regular cleaning schedule for each room. It doesn’t have to weekly; you can go decide to clean the kitchen this week, the bathrooms next week, and so on, to keep the house in nice condition. You can increase or decrease the schedule as suits your needs, so long as you stick to a schedule. Even unpleasant cleaning chores are easier when they’re part of a routine.
Increase Energy Efficiency
See if your appliances, including furnace, air conditioner, and water heater, are EnergyStar approved. You can get rebates and sometimes even tax credits for improving energy efficiency, so even hiring a professional to check your ducts, windows, chimneys, and other common ways energy gets lost can end up saving you money. Replacing just one old, inefficient appliance a year could end up saving you hundreds.
Think About the Future
While you’re looking around to declutter, clean, and check energy efficiency, keep an eye open for things you’d like to improve on. Do you need to fix up the fence? Is it time to redo the roof? Maybe you can repaint? Keep in mind things that haven’t been fixed up for a while, or feels like it’s an issue that could come up in the next year, like bent-up gutters or cracks in the driveway. At the start of the year, get an estimate of what it might take to fix things, and then start making a budget. Choose the most-pressing problem, or the thing you’ve wanted the longest, and figure out how much money you need to set aside every month for the next year to afford it. Even if you don’t have any concerns or things you want to do this year, come up with a reasonable amount to save in case there’s an unforeseen problem. Best case, you won’t need to spend the money which means you’ve got extra for an improvement next year, and worst case, you’ll have a safety net when you need it.