The National Association of Realtors has an advisory service called House Logic which dispenses all kinds of useful information. Very cleverly, it kicked off 2016 by issuing the top New Year’s resolutions for the home that normally would be associated with personal resolve. Paraphrased, I share them here.

1. Lose weight (cut energy use)

Surveys show that more than any other New Year’s resolution, people want to lose weight. In terms of our homes, the advice given here is to check your HVAC ductwork which can be a tremendous energy waster, leaking heating and cooling air through holes and loose connections.

According to Energy Start, sealing and insulating a home’s ductwork can improve the efficiency of a heating and cooling system by as much as 20%. While making your home more comfortable, added benefits of a more efficient system includes an extended lifespan for your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump.

Be sure to use duct sealant, called mastic, to seal the seams, holes and connections.   Sometimes the confusingly named “duct tape” is used, which doesn’t provide a permanent solution.

2. Quit Smoking (purify indoor air)

The Environmental Protection Agency identifies indoor air quality as one of the top environmental health hazards, and it’s the one that we tend to think the least about. Yet, 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 best way to deal with this is to change furnace filters regularly.

Interestingly, last year I bought a top of the line Dimplex electric insert fireplace that makes a flame that looks like the genuine item. When I was told it came with an air purification system, it really didn’t influence my decision one way or the other, but reminded of the hazards of indoor air quality, I plan to make use of it regularly this season.

3. Get out of debt (budget for improvements)

Here’s an interesting statistic that this advisory produced: LendingTree.com places average costs of yearly maintenance and upkeep at 1% to 3% of your home’s initial price. That means that the owner of a $500,000 home should budget between $5,000 and $15,000 each year for upkeep and replacements.

4. Learn something new (educate yourself on home finances)

A tip given here is to learn how to improve your insurance score. Letting credit card debt build up is a black mark on credit history and an indicator that an insurance claim is more likely to be filed. The more claims, the higher risk a person is to insurance agencies, lowering insurance scores and raising rates. It’s also important to keep payments on loans current. Delinquent payments also result in a lower insurance score.

5. Get Organized (declutter)

Declutter is probably the word most frequently used in real estate, certainly when it’s time to sell. It’s also not such a bad idea for those of us who are planning to stay put, but just want to live a more organized life.

6. Drink less (curb home water use)

Making a few simple changes can save you hundreds of dollars from your annual water bill. These include installing low-flow showerheads and high-efficiency toilets which use compressed air and electric water pumps to flush with less than 1 gallon of water, while older models required up to 8 gallons.

7. Volunteer (support your community)

My favorite aspect of community life is pitching in around the neighborhood while benefitting the value of my own property at the same time. My pet project is the battle against litter. For some years, I’ve put on my bright orange vest on a specified spring cleanup day to pick up litter. But I don’t limit that chore to that one specific day. Whenever I see litter on my street, I pick it up. It gives me great satisfaction.

8. Spend more time with family (share home improvement projects)

Spending quality time with your family takes quality planning. A really great suggestion is to make a home emergency preparedness kit. It’s a good, non-scary way to teach small children about what to do if there’s an emergency.

9. Get fit (exercise your DIY Skills)

Routine home maintenance and repair is a double win — you’ll burn calories while keeping your house and property in tip-top shape. My workout routine through the years has been gardening which is calculated to burn about 200 calories per hour.

10. Be less stressed (use maintenance free materials)

Recommended here is the installation of low-maintenance materials and products designed for durability and long, trouble-free service. And a revelation to me when I had recessed lighting installed was to choose LED. When I told my electrician that it looked like it would be difficult for me to get to the bulbs, he told me not to worry about it…that the bulbs would outlast me by at least 20 years.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.

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