When the hustle and bustle of the holidays are at an end and all the décor has finally been packed away, it’s time to welcome the new year. With the arrival of January, it feels like a fresh start full of new possibilities and opportunities.
Savvy homeowners will use the lull after the holidays to make changes that save time, money and effort. Tackling smaller projects early can head off bigger issues later and can also help you be more comfortable in your home. Here are six tasks to consider adding to your January to-do list.
1. Lower your bills
Making simple changes around the house can add up to big savings. LED bulbs consume 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than their incandescent cousins. Plan to swap out a couple a month to trim your electricity use over time.
Find and fix air leaks that are causing uncomfortable drafts, then turn down your thermostat a degree or two for even more savings (you can always add an extra layer). You can also invest in a smart thermostat to help automatically regulate the temperature in your home, which some sources say could save you 10 to 30% on heating and cooling expenses.
low-flow shower heads to conserve water and reduce the demands on your hot water heater. Finally, washing your clothes in cold water not only saves energy but also reduces shrinking and fading to help your clothes last longer.
2. Fix things that annoy you
Now is the time to address those pesky things that drive you crazy, yet you never seem to find the time to repair or change. Do you have dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be fixed? What about squeaking floors or doors, loud cabinets or scuffed walls that could use a fresh coat of paint? Figure out what’s needed and whether you can DIY or if it’s better to call in a professional. Either way, make a list and commit to fixing one a week so you can start enjoying your home again without the irritations.
3. Schedule home maintenance pros now
Seasonally, your home may benefit from a professional touch. But by the time you think of it, chances are everyone else is needing those services, too, and the professionals are already booked. Make a list of all the services you’ll need for the year and see how many of them can be arranged now, in advance. Here are a few to consider:
- Furnace/AC service
- Chimney inspection
- Septic tank pumping and maintenance
- Gutter cleaning
- Roof inspection and moss treatment
- Backflow device testing
- Swimming pool preparation
By pre-planning now and adding reminders to your calendar, you can have those appointments already scheduled by the time the next season rolls around.
4. Pay your mortgage on time
This might sound obvious but paying your mortgage on time every month is an important part of home ownership. Not only does it help keep your credit score healthy, but it also prevents unnecessary penalties and late fees. If you’ve struggled with this in the past, use technology to help take the stress out of this monthly chore. With Solarity’s online banking or mobile app, you can schedule recurring electronic payments that go out automatically at the same time every month, so you never have to worry about late payments again.
5. Get serious about safety
We think of home as our safe space. But every year, more than 50% of all accidental injuries occur in homes. So, the new year is the perfect time to evaluate your home with fresh eyes to make it as safe as possible. Inspect your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, which should be in every bedroom and entryway. The batteries should be checked at least twice a year. Invest in radon and carbon monoxide detectors, a simple solution to prevent unintentional poisoning caused by a colorless and odorless gas. Safely dispose of or store chemicals out of reach from children and pets. Fix handrails and staircases and ensure you have adequate lighting. These small changes can help prevent some of the most common household injuries.
6. Refinance your mortgage
Rates are still remarkably low and are likely to go up in the future. If you’ve been thinking about refinancing your mortgage, don’t put it off any longer. Get in touch with one of our expert Home Loan Guides to see if refinancing makes sense. We can run the numbers for you, and there’s no obligation to apply. Lowering your interest rate could decrease your monthly payment and save you a bundle over the life of your loan. With enough equity in your home, you could also consider a cash-out refinance to help cover large home improvement projects or pay off higher interest debt to free up more of your monthly income.
As we head into a new year, resolve to focus on taking care of your biggest investment. A little time and effort now can reap great rewards in the long run.
Sources: Energy.gov, National Safety Council