1. Give your house some time off (make systems work less).
Your house works hard to keep you cool in the summer and warm in winter. Repay the favor by saving energy — your house will be grateful for a lessened workload, and you’ll save money.
Tune up HVAC. Keeping your heating and cooling system running efficiently reduces the stress on mechanical parts and helps your HVAC last longer. You can inspect the HVAC yourself or have a pro do it for $50 to $100. Also:
- Change furnace filters.
- Vacuum out floor registers and cold air return grills.
Upgrade attic insulation. Boosting attic insulation from R-11 to R-49 trims about $600 from your energy bill. An insulation contractor will charge about $1,500 to add insulation to an 800-sq.-ft. attic, so you’ll recoup your investment in three years. Plus, with your home nice and toasty, your HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard trying to warm up your rooms.
2. Keep your house high and dry (stop moisture).
Your home’s No. 1 enemy? Moisture — rain, plumbing leaks, and dampness all spell trouble for your house. Beat back moisture baddies with smart preventative maintenance that heads off costly repairs.
Re-grade foundation soils. So essential! The dirt next to your foundation walls should slope away from your house about 6 inches in 10 feet. That ensures rain and melted snow don’t accumulate in the soils around your foundation, where hydrostatic pressure can cause (very expensive) cracks in foundation walls.
Seal bathroom caulk. If the caulk around your tub and shower is looking dingy, or if you can see gaps, it’s time for a quick repair. Remove the old caulk (use a caulk removing tool, $5) and reseal seams with mold-resistant bathroom caulk. That’ll prevent moisture from getting inside walls, where it can cause mold, mildew, and rot.
Clean out rain gutters. Do you really have to be reminded of this every spring and fall? For shame! Pull out a ladder, crank some tunes through the earbuds, and get the gunk out of your rain gutters.
3. Give your house a facial (clean & paint).
Let’s face it — everybody just feels better when the house gets a little cosmetic pampering. Not only that, a clean house means you’ll save money on repairs — a dirty house contributes to floor scratches, clogged vents, and reduces the lifespan of carpets and rugs.
And did you know that getting rid of clutter helps fight depression?
Spruce up floors. A few quick, inexpensive fixes for floors will put a smile on your house.
- Stick down the curled-up edges of vinyl flooring by covering the spot with aluminum foil and pressing with a medium-hot iron. That’ll melt the glue under the vinyl and reattach the flooring to the subfloor.
- Repair scratched wood floors by rubbing scratches with a color-matched crayon.
Paint trim. Over time, the trim mouldings around your house — baseboards, door casings, chair rails — take a heap of abuse from everyday bumps and bangs. Repair trim by cleaning it with a microfiber cloth, filling nicks, and painting it.
Green clean your kitchen and bath. Yup, time to take a deep breath and do some cleaning. But your house will breathe easier if you green clean and avoid harsh chemicals and VOCs that can cause respiratory problems.
- Make a homemade cleaning paste from baking soda and liquid castile soap that erases bathtub rings (add a couple of drops of essential oils for a soft fragrance).
- To remove soap scum from shower walls, combine equal parts water and vinegar. A bit of disinfecting essential oil — lemon or orange work fine — adds germ-fighting power and a clean scent.