10 for '20: Top New Year's Resolutions for Homeowners
Ten tactics, big and small, to improve your home and the way you live in it in the new decade.
It's that time of the year again! A new year (a new decade, even!) and resolutions and promises abound. Here are ten of our top “Homeowner Resolutions” to try for 2020. You can help make your neighborhood brighter, your step(pier) peppier, your home healthier, your pocketbook happier, and your corner of the world a little bit greener with these easy tips…and no dieting involved!
Boost your home’s curb appeal
Whether you’re planning to put your home on the market or you’re just looking to add value, enhancing your home’s curb appeal is a great place to start for homeowners in the New Year. For most, the exterior of a home is an afterthought when it comes to upgrades, when actually, some of the most cost-effective and easiest upgrades a homeowner can make happens on the outside. Here are seven ideas to get you started on your home’s exterior face lift.Be more energy efficient
With climate-change concerns rising, homeowners should see what they can do to become more energy efficient in the coming year. In 2020, we’re challenging folks across the country to become more energy conscious—it’s good for the environment AND your utility bills. And it doesn't have to be big changes.
Consider switching to energy efficient LED light bulbs and make sure your fireplace is properly outfitted with dampers, doors, and fireplace inserts to reduce heat loss. Try using one of the new "smart" thermostats--you'd be surprised how intuitive and easy to use they are, and what a change they can make. (And many you can easily install yourself in minutes)
Consider upgrading certain features of your home such as your thermostat, large appliances, and windows to energy efficient products. Want a tip? Look for the ENERGY STAR label. Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows has been shown to lower household energy bills by an average of 12% nationwide.1
Simple changes to your daily routine can make a difference, too! Turn the lights off when you leave the room, take shorter showers, and turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Unplug the “energy vampires” in your home when they aren’t in use: plugged in electrical devices like TVs, stereos, microwaves, and other small appliances draw electricity even when they aren’t actively running. Make it easy by using a power strip for electronic devices and flipping one switch to power them all down.
Admittedly, most of us aren't gaga over housecleaning...so the idea of a resolution to dust, wash, scrub, sweep, and spitshine everything probably is harder to stick with than...well, most everything. So why not commit to something more manageable? Housecleaning doesn’t have to mean major projects. Sometimes you just want a chore you can tackle in an afternoon—or even quicker...say, during the commercial breaks. This year, resolve to tackle a couple of 10-minute projects every week. You'll be surprised at what a difference it makes. De-mineralizing your showerhead, scrub your refrigerator door, vacuum out your light fixtures... there are tons of small wins that can give a big feeling of accomplishment. Want some inspiration? Check out our infographic on 5 easy ways to get your gleam on!
Plastic is the most prevalent type of pollution in our oceans and in the Great Lakes—and it takes a toll on the denizens of our seas and waterways. And while some of the plastics floating about are large, much of it is extremely tiny.
Microplastics—the name for these tiny bits of debris—are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long and can be harmful to aquatic life—and may even make its way up the food chain (through a process called bioaccumulation) into other organisms, including humans.
Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including the gradual degradation of larger plastic chunks, or from plastic-based fabrics such as polyester and nylon that shed plastic fibers when washed.
The good thing about all of this is there is a lot we can do in our everyday lives to cut down on the amount of microplastics in our waters. Practicing the 5R’s: Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, and Remove is a great way to help cut down on the Plastic Pollution Problem.
• Reduce the amount of plastics you use—for example, at the grocery store, if you are faced with choosing between two similar products, select the one with minimal (or no) plastic packaging. Grab individual bell peppers, for example, instead of the three peppers packaged together in a bag and on a tray. Transport your produce in a reusable mesh bag, instead of using one of the plastic bags from the dispenser.
• Refuse plastics you don’t need. Think about the plastic you see in trash—much of it is frequently discarded, short-lifecycle items that are those given to us for free. Think of plastic straws at a restaurant or plastic bags at the grocery store. Next time you sit down for dinner at your favorite eatery, tell the waitperson “hold the straw” before they bring out your water or soda. Buying a pack of socks or a sweater at a department store? Tell them “no, thanks” when they put that single item in a plastic bag.
• Reuse and repurpose common household items. Use mesh or canvas bags at the grocery store. Buy a refillable water bottle instead of buying bulk cases of bottled water. Hold a clothing swap—it can be a fun, free way for friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and the like to find new wardrobe finds. If you’re crafty, find a way to re-use or upcycle your items into something new altogether. Try making a flower planter out of an old tire.
• Recycle the plastic you DO use when you are done with it. Make sure you are following the rules of the community, town, or city in which you live and only recycle items that are truly recyclable. If you are unsure about an item, don’t try to recycle it as it will only slow the sorting process. Recycling rules are not uniform, and can vary quite a bit—even within the same city. Before recycling, make sure you understand your local programs, what can and can’t be recycled, and if you need to sort and/or wash recyclables first. Check out Iwanttoberecycled.org to learn more about options in your area.
• Remove plastic pollutants from the environment when you find it. Get a group of friends together, don your reflective vests and gloves, and pick up litter (and recycle what you can) in your neighborhood or in a park nearby.
Forget the yearly (empty) promise to go to the gym or to exercise more. Why not treat your body and your soul by simply resolving to play more. No one said being active means you have to be a gym rat…and no one ever said you have to act your age all the time. We grownups can, and should, play. In fact, there are studies that show the many benefits of playing for adults, which include increased creativity, productivity, and feelings of well-being.
Join a sports team or rec league (pickleball, anyone?). Try a new hobby like tennis lessons, ice skating, or horseback riding. Walk a neighbor’s dog. Take a nighttime hike to look at the stars. Run through the sprinklers. Resolve to make a date night every week—and go somewhere active…TopGolf, Lasertag, paintball, even bowling.
Get in the routine of regular home-safety checks. Lists like this one from Redfin can help you get started.
What are some key dates during the year to remember to help keep your family safe? Fire Prevention Week is observed the week of October 9 every year. Take some time to review these tips from the National Fire Prevention Association.
Early April marks National Window Safety Week. Andersen Corporation and Renewal by Andersen encourage homeowners to familiarize themselves with ways to help prevent window-related accidents and to read more about our LookOut For Kids® window safety program.
Want to see more easy fixes for household hazards? Check out our article on essential home safety.
Grow with it
Starting a garden might be one of the most beneficial resolutions you could make. Gardening can cut your grocery bill, reduce your carbon footprint, keep you active, and help reduce stress. Plus, it’s something the whole family can take part in and learn from.
Are you a gardening beginner? The Old Farmer’s Almanac can help get you started.Don’t have a lot of space? Not to worry! Check out these seven ideas for crafty container gardens and perfect patio pots—they’re small in space, but big on taste!
And I know we promised no diets… but this is a non-diet way to use up all those garden veggies! Try a Meatless Monday and eat vegetarian one day a week. Meatless doesn’t have to mean bland, either. You can make delicious versions of almost all your favorites—lasagna, tacos, pizza, quiche, grilled kebabs…you name it. Check out some of these easy weeknight meals from Southern Living to get you started.
Donate what you don’t use
"Kondo Method" or not...on the list of popular resolutions, “decluttering” is right up there. If you’re thanking your belongings and sending them on, consider donating your gently used items to a local charity. You free up space, and the organization provides for those in need or is able to re-sell items and earn much-needed cash.
Not sure where to take it? Here are a few places looking for donations:
How to decide if you should keep it or send it on to a new home? A good rule of thumb—if you haven’t used it in the past year, you’re not going to miss it.
You could also consider repurposing items--give new life to an old pair of jeans by turning them into a handbag; upcycle an old wheelbarrow or bicycle into a cute planter; or take an old folding chair and make a cute chalkboard display...get crafty!
Go low (maintenance)
When we’re ticking off common resolutions, reducing stress is right up there with losing weight and decluttering. Help your home “destress” with low-maintenance materials and products that are designed to be durable, resilient, and long-lasting.
Go gutter-guilt free
Okay…if there is a homeowner resolution equivalent to the dreaded “go on a diet” New Year’s resolution, it may be “clean gutters.” But hear us out…there’s method to the madness.
Your gutters help keep your home dry and safe. By directing water away from the house, gutters reduce the chance of hefty water damage to your basement, siding, roof, wall, foundation, and more. Those are some big bucks you’re putting on the line if clearing a little debris away doesn’t get done. So resolve to keep those trusty trenches tree-debris free and clean them at least twice a year. Want to learn more? Check out these tips for gutter maintenance.
BONUS TIP! Take 10 for yourself!
When it somes right down to it, we can't tackle All The Things, all the time. Sometimes we need to start small. We all have big goals after New Year's. But sometimes, real change can come in tiny ways. While committing to rising before dawn or promising yourself you'll get up an hour earlier every day can be losing propositions, simplly setting the alarm for a few minutes earlier is easy--and chances are you won't even notice the time. And you would be surprised--you can do a lot with 10 extra minutes!
Whether your resolution is to be more organized, get more exercise, pamper yourself, learn a new hobby, get more exercise... a seemingly small extra 10 minutes a day can make a big difference.
Use that 10 minutes to add stretching or a set of planks to your workout. Spend 10 minutes every day doing one small household chore—tackle the junk drawer, one compartment at a time, purge your old magazines, etc. Or, take 10 minutes to do something mindful entirely for yourself—meditate, read a chapter of a book, play with your cat or dog.
*See limited warranty for details. Based on testing of 10 double-hung units per ASTM E2068 20 years after installation.