Home … it's where you spend a substantial chunk of your time and live out many of your best moments. Think birthday parties, snowball fights in the backyard, summer cookouts. It's also likely the most expensive possession you'll ever own (someday), as your mortgage statement keeps reminding you. So the question is, "With all that your home has got going for it, couldn't you take care of it a little better?" Well, starting Jan. 1, you can. It's all a matter of making the right home improvement resolutions; the ones that work for your needs will be the ones you won't want to break. Feel free to use our eclectic list for inspiration.
Put safety first. Clear up any fire hazards and position a smoke detector and fire extinguisher on every floor of your home, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm. Attach bookcases and other potential tipping hazards firmly to the wall. If little ones live in or visit your home, move cleaning products, medications, and other dangerous substances to a high shelf of your kitchen or bathroom cabinet and install cupboard and toilet locks.
Take at least one baby step toward realizing the home of your dreams. How about visiting tile suppliers to check out hot flooring trends for next year or setting up a board on Pinterest to keep track of deck designs you love?
Dedicate a single convenient storage spot for all your paperwork related to home improvement or repair: Receipts, contractor agreements, warranties, and instruction manuals. Squeezed for space? Locate user guides for your large appliances on the internet.
Cut down your carbon footprint. There are so many (relatively painless) ways to use less energy in the home, it's easy to find a few to get started with in the coming year. Here are three: Turn the thermostat just a degree or two lower than usual, insulate your ductwork, and set your water heater at 120 degrees rather than 140. An energy audit will help you see where power is being wasted.
Try your hand at DIY. Painting is a good newbie project, because it doesn't require a great deal of specialized equipment, goes satisfyingly quickly, and makes a big difference on a dime. Hanging curtain rods and a room-brightening window treatment is another.
Do your homework. If you're planning to spend some serious cash on your house, research home improvements and major household purchases to find the best deal; then use this information to make a budget for the year. Use a handy online organizing tool like Google calendar or the HomeZada home management platform.
Cover yourself. Make sure you have adequate insurance for your home and its contents, including flood and earthquake coverage where appropriate. Inform your insurance provider if you make upgrades such as a kitchen remodel to make sure that their additional value is covered. And a pleasant surprise … some home improvement projects (roof replacement, for instance) may actually lower your premium. Woohoo!
Grow something green. Whether it's a stately oak tree on your multi-acre lot or a teeny basil seedling on your condo windowsill, plants will make your house feel more like home. And while the fringe benefits of that indoor herb garden are obvious, did you know that planting trees can shelter your home from the elements and, over the long run, reduce your HVAC bills?
Add curb appeal -- and ROI -- if you plan to sell your home in the new year. When your home is going on the market, creating an attractive well-kept appearance is a non-brainer. Beyond that, consult a local real estate broker to see what type of improvements are most in demand by home buyers in your area.
-- Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.