It’s that time of year again… time to put your New Year’s resolutions in to action! Why not take your usual resolutions and focus them on your home and neighborhood?
- Lose weight (in other words… cut energy use!)
A good place to start is your HVAC system. Ductwork is a notorious energy-waster if not sealed properly. Sealing, or resealing, and insulating your ductwork can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent, according to Energy Star. Bonus: a more-efficient system helps extend the life of your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump.
- Quit smoking (purify your indoor air)
The Environmental Protection Agency lists indoor air quality as one of the top environmental health hazards. That’s because indoor air is full of potential contaminants, such as dust, mold spores, pollen and viruses. The problem is at its worst during winter, when windows and doors are shut tight.
The North Carolina Division of Public Health says too help eliminate harmful lung irritants in your home try the following tips:
Change HVAC and furnace filters regularly. Use the highest-quality filters you can afford ($10-$20) and change every month during peak heating and cooling seasons.
Use localized ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms to remove cooking fumes, smoke and excess humidity. Make sure ventilation systems exhaust air to the outside of your home, rather than your attic crawl space or between ceiling joists.
If you have a traditional fireplace or wood burning stove, burn real firewood rather than pressed wood products that may contain formaldehyde.
- Get out of debt (budget your home improvement projects)
Creating a yearly budget for home improvement and maintenance helps prevent overspending and encourages you to put aside money for major unexpected replacements — such as new roofing or a kitchen appliance — that come up every few years.
Estimate how much you will probably spend each year. The North Carolina Regional Realtors Associations suggests a good rule of thumb is to set aside 1-3 percent of your home’s initial price.
- Spend more time with family (share home improvement projects)
Get the family involved with your home improvement projects and increase your home’s value at the same time.
Plant a tree. Trees help filter Carbon Dioxide from the air and produce Oxygen. According to Helm’s Tree Service in Durham, the top five trees to plant in North Carolina are: paper birch, Southern sugar maple, winged elm, nuttal oak and dogwood.
Make a home emergency preparedness kit. Gather together all necessary supplies, such as flashlights, toilet paper and duct tape, and assemble your kit. Put the kit in a place that is easily accessible and easy to remember.
- Volunteer (support your community)
Make time to give back and add value of your neighborhood.
A neighborhood watch program fosters a sense of community and can help deter crime. Set up a meeting with neighbors to discuss their concerns and priorities. Ask a local police representative to come to your first meeting to answer questions.
Volunteer at a nearby hospital, nursing home or Meals on Wheels program.
Start a community garden. Bring together neighbors for bonding, eating healthier and saving on groceries. Bon appétit!