With Old Man Winter around, many people get stuck indoors wishing for Spring to arrive soon. It is a perfect time to take on a small home improvement project, that can lift both you and your home out of the winter doldrums.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Upgrading to a programmable thermostat is fairly easy and can trim abot $180 annually from your home heating bill, according to the EPA. Simple models that only control heat can be purchased at most home centers, and high end models that can handle many functions are usually purchased through contractors, but also can be purchased online.
By turning your thermostate back 10° to 15° for 8 hours a day, you can save 5%-15% a year on your bill. Setting the right schedule will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you return home. There is a misconception that your furnace works harder than normal to warm the home back up. Actually, when a house drops the temperature, the heat loss slows down. The longer the home is at a lower temperature, the more energy is saved.
Make sure you research based on your type of heating system. Programmable thermostats are not recommended for heat pumps, where maintaining a moderate setting is actually more cost effective. And while the slow response time of steam and radiant heat systems make setback insufficient, some manufacturers offer thermostats that track the performance of the system to determine the best times to turn the system off and on.
Update Lights and Light Fixtures
Humans love light. How many times will a client tell you they like a room because it is so "open and bright?" There is no better way to brighten and warm your spirits durin the winter than with new lights, lamps, or ceiling fans. It is an easy and affordable way to update a room.
Take down dated fans and fixtures. Add a bold or dramatic fixture for a contemporary look. Put in a delicate chandelier for a romantic look in the bedroom. Add dimmers to dining rooms and family rooms to set ambience or enhance TV viewing.
And updating your lights can literally lift your mood! Some manufacturers are offering "natural" or "daylight" versions of compact flourescent light that will improve your mood during the bleak winter months.
According to Statistic Brain, getting organized was the second most common New Year's Resolution this year. But how many people actually go throught with it? The key to getting organized is starting small and changing key daily habits.
Instead of letting things pile up in the entry or mud room, start thinking about tomorrow and not next week. Only leave out the items you and your family will need for the next morning and keep all the extra stuff put away.
Rethink your utensil and junk drawers. Change your utensil drawer into your "Kitchen Workhorse Drawer." Instead of just tossing the small tools you use every day into the open spaces, reconfigure the dividers and make dedicated space for these items. Rename your junk drawers your "Really Useful Items Drawer" and get rid of the actual junk! Keep only the useful things and upgrade the drawer with dividers or an organizer. These things deserve a nice home too!
Establish house rules for stray socks. Banish them from the drawer and give them a time frame to wait for a mate. If nothing shows up in the next wash cycle, toss them! Reward the matches with dividers in the drawer. Give each pair a nice cozy home!
Books, magazines, and notebooks all make their way to your bedside table every day and can pile up. Add a small vase of flowers, artwork, or a candle to the table. Having something pretty to look at may encourage you to tidy up the space before turning off the light.
Maybe what seperates the organized from the rest of us is how thse little things are handled. By starting with a commitment to keep these small areas tidy, you may be able to create a domino effect that will extend to every room.
Makeover Your Doors
Refurbishing your doors, both inside and out, can be another easy way to upgrade your home. Simply painting the doors can change the feel of a room or home. Dark colors can give a more expensive look and adding whimsy or a contemporary feel can be as easy as playing with fun colors.
Adding molding to flat doors can transform them into a much more expensive look. Change up the door knobs for a new look as well.
When it comes to your front door, you don't have to stick with what the builder or previous owner chose. Change up the color, add intereste with stenciled patterns or maybe the house humber, or upgrade to a whole new door to add interest and energy efficiency.
Whatever small project you chose, there are a myriad of ways to make little updates to your home that can also pick up your spirits during the winter, and keep you from going stir-crazy with cabin fever!