Tips for your home for the new year!

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De-cluttering and organizing.

You hear it all the time, but even a little bit of de-cluttering and organizing things can go far toward improving mood and efficiency. Start with the things you see every day: on the counter tops, shelves that are in the main or entry rooms, etc. Books can be straightened up, odd sized things (useful things) can be stored in baskets on shelves, and counter tops can be cleared of things not used daily. Once you start, it will be easier to continue with more clearing or purging.

General home safety check.

Have your house tested for radon by a professional radon measurement company, for accurate results. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every bedroom floor in addition to smoke detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house, endangering your family. Go ahead and test your CO and smoke detectors, to make sure they are working correctly, and replace batteries if you didn’t in the fall. Replace any detector that does not sound loud enough to wake you. Both smoke and CO detectors are relatively cheap to replace, considering how important these are. Watch out for dryer lint. Don’t just clean the little trap inside the door, clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer every month or three (depending on how often you do laundry). Lint may seem innocent, but it’s highly combustible.

Conserve energy.

Here are some ideas to cut energy usage in your home:

– Switch off the lights when you leave a room.- Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down at night. – Install LED bulbs where you can. – Dry some of your clothes or towels on a clothesline and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them. – Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use. – Water your yard less. Plant or install drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary. – Try composting. Your garden will thank you.

Maintain your HVAC and appliances.

An annual cleaning spree is a good time to service HVAC systems and appliances you might not normally dig into.

Your heating and air conditioning system should be maintained by a professional at least once a year. Do you need new furnace filters? Go ahead and change them yourself on a monthly (if you have pets) or quarterly basis. Have you cleaned your ducts and register covers? Just removing the air registers and cold air return grates will reveal some opportunities to clean out some dust and debris. Taking good care of your home’s major appliances helps avoid unnecessary expenses. Dust off your ceiling fans while you’re at it. This can improve the air quality in your house, so don’t forget this part of the list.

Your appliances should also be in this cleaning list. Clean out your dishwasher and run it empty with a cup of white vinegar instead of detergent to break up hard water deposits. Clean and wipe out the microwave thoroughly, as well as your stovetop and oven. To clean out your washing machine; run it empty with a cup of bleach to kill any germs that might be growing in it and wipe down anywhere detergent or fabric softener might have spilled.

Cleaning out your refrigerator and freezer should be a regular event, to save money and for better health. Inventory the food you have stored inside. After throwing out anything that is expired, create a meal plan to start using up everything you have stored or frozen. Having meal plans will help you avoid buying things you don’t need. It will also prevent items from spoiling before you get around to using them.