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New Year, New Home? 7 Resolutions to Keep Your Place in Tiptop Shape

OK, we’ll be your mom for a moment: When you own a home, it’s high time you form good habits to properly maintain your property. After all, it’s your biggest investment, and in the same way you brush your teeth twice a day (or at least we hope you do, and floss too!), you should do what it takes to keep your home in great shape, too.

“Good habits mean setting a regular maintenance routine and sticking to it,” says John Riha, author of seven books on remodeling. “A house is like a big animal that needs constant care and attention. Your house will reward you with lower energy bills, smaller repair costs, and a more comfortable, beautiful home environment.”

So, it’s time to make—and keep—some New Year’s resolutions, homeowners. Let others nag you about working out regularly, cutting back on the nightly Singapore slings, or volunteering regularly at the Retired Magicians Assisted-Living facility. No, we’re asking you to focus on your biggest and most beloved asset. Trust us, your home will repay your TLC big-time.

Resolution No. 1: I will turn off the lights

When incandescent bulbs were in every home, everyone knew to turn off the light when they left the room, for heaven’s sake. But now that good-quality, energy-conserving options like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have arrived, the money-saving game has changed. The CFL lifetime is shortened each time you turn the bulb on and off, according to the U.S. Energy Department. To save money on bulbs, keep the CFL light on if you’ll return to the room within 15 minutes. LEDs’ life span, on the other hand, is not affected by turning them on or off. That’s why they’re a good candidate for lights that work with motion-detecting sensors.

Resolution No. 2: I will remove my shoes, and compel others to do the same

The best thing you can do for your floors, carpets, and overall home hygiene is to remove your shoes and boots before you enter your house. A 2014 study by University of Houston researchers found that Clostridium difficile spores, which cause difficult-to-treat gastrointestinal problems, were found on almost 40% of shoe bottoms tested. Gross! Shoes also track in mud, allergens, and other nasties that are best left at the door.

Resolution No. 3: I will put money regularly into a maintenance fund

It’s a fact: Appliances break, water drips, HVAC systems fail, and they all cost money to fix or replace. In general, experts say you should stash 1% of your home’s purchase price annually for a maintenance fund, or put aside $1 per year per square foot. Automate the payment so you don’t have to think about it, and that way once your boiler breaks, the money will be there waiting for you.

Resolution No. 4: I will conduct mini-inspections

Just because your ceiling isn’t dripping and your house isn’t leaning off-kilter doesn’t mean all is well. In the spring and fall, inspect your place to get a firm grip on what needs attention.

  • Inspect your home’s exterior, and look for worn and peeling paint, rotting wood, and cracked caulk.

  • Before the weather grows cold, turn on the heat to make sure it works as it should.

  • If you burn wood in the fireplace, have the chimney cleaned before you start building fires in winter. (If you’ve never used the fireplace, be sure to have it inspected first.)

  • Climb a ladder and look for missing or buckled roof shingles.

  • Walk around the yard and see which trees and shrubs aren’t leafing out, a sign they are dead or dying.

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