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New Year’s Resolution for Home Owners

HOSS Real Estate Editor Scott McGillivray spells out simple goals to set yourself up for a great year at home

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. But that’s because people make them too big. As a homeowner, there are plenty of small things you probably overlook that, if you took care of them, could easily save you money, improve your health and safety, and even increase the value of your home. So this year, scale it back and make household resolutions that are manageable and easy to keep.

Lower Your Energy Bills

Make this the year you get an energy audit. Also known as a home energy assessment, a professional energy audit will determine where your home is losing energy so that you can take the steps to fix it and save yourself money (and reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it). It will cost you a few hundred dollars and a couple hours of your time, but if your home is found to have some correctable problems, it could save you significant money over time. Also, if you set it up through your utility company, you may be eligible for rebates.If a professional audit isn’t on your list, at least try the DIY version. Do a careful walkthrough of your entire house and make note of where you think energy is being lost. Then take steps to correct problems such as sealing drafty doors and windows, installing programmable thermostats, or cutting power to “phantom” appliances and electronics (those that use power even when not in use).

Stop Mould Before it Starts

Mould is a common problem that affects many homes. Rather than waiting until it becomes dangerous to fix it, stop it before it starts. If you’re going through a renovation this year, use mould-resistant building materials. Products such as CertainTeed M2Tech moisture- and mould-resistant gypsum board, and RoxulCOMFORTBATT and SAFE’n’SOUND insulation will help keep your walls dry and mould-free. I also use DryBarrier subfloor, a product that contains no organic materials and therefore can’t harbourmould. And if you’re doing a bathroom renovation, it’s really important to use waterproofing materials behind the tile in order to keep things dry. My preference is Schluter’s KERDI-BOARD, which replaces drywall in the bathroom. If you’re not doing a renovation, you can still keep mould at bay by using fans (whether it’s in the bathroom after showering or in the kitchen while cooking), squeegeeing walls and shower doors after showering, and keeping the humidity throughout your house low—about 50 per centin summer and 30 per cent in winter.

MAKE YOUR HOME SAFER

There are all sorts of hidden dangers in your home and it’s important to be vigilant about health and safety.

  • Check for Radon: Radon is a colourless, odourless gas that causes thousands of lung cancer deaths every year. And, unfortunately, many homes have elevated levels. But the good news is that you can purchase a DIY test kit for about $20 at most hardware stores.
  • Clear Dryer Vents: People usually remember to clean the lint traps, but they don’t always remember to clean the dryer vents. One of the best ways to know if your vents need cleaning is if you notice it’s taking longer than usual to dry a load of laundry. This could mean there’s a serious venting issue and it could be a fire hazard. Dryer vents should be cleared at least once a year—more if you have a large family or use the dryer more than average.
  • Maintain Smoke and CO Alarms: Everyone knows how important smoke and CO alarms are to keeping your home and family safe. But having them in the right places isn’t enough. This year, resolve to maintain them by testing and vacuuming them at least once a month. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for battery replacement, and never ever remove the battery. Many deaths have occurred because people removed the battery from their smoke or CO alarm and forgot, or never bothered, to replace it.