5 New Year's Resolutions for Your Home

Every year when January rolls around you vow to lose weight, save money or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home?

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3. Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint in the process)

When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference.

Not so, says Bob Schildgen, who writes the "Hey Mr. Green" column for Sierra magazine. It just takes a little old-fashioned common sense.

The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:

  • Remember your mom's advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.
  • Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads.
  • Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.
  • Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.
  • Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.
  • Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.


4.
Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean

Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control from Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning and owner of the Clean Team housekeeping service in San Francisco.

Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night - no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:

  • Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths - in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
  • Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder's apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)
  • Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It's faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that's done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
  • For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.


5.
Get your place ready for entertaining

Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?

You don't have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates says designer McCormick.

One easy update that makes your home seem more "finished" is the addition of plants, she says.

"They bring in new energy and help clean the air," she says. "And it's a great way to decorate if you're on a budget."

A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter that complements your existing color scheme will do the trick.

Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

 

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