It's January, the ideal time to tackle these important annual tasks.

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It’s that time of year where we resolve to make our lives better. From eating healthier to getting more sleep, now is when we declare our intent to step it up a notch.

Would it surprise you then to hear your house has a list of its own to resolve in the new year? We’re not talking about daily maintenance routines or quarterly checkups — these are four tasks you only need to tackle on an annual basis.

1. Conduct an energy audit

Lowering the thermostat and swapping out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs and CFLs is a great start to reducing your energy bill, but what other steps can you take to make your house more energy efficient? Try conducting a DIY home energy audit.

Start by checking windows, doors, chimneys and electrical outlets for air leaks. If the draft isn’t obvious, use a lit candle or stick of incense to detect unwanted air flowing into your house. Resolve by using caulk around windows, a sweep seal on doors, draft plug in the chimney and foam insulated pads behind outlet covers to help eliminate the drafts.

Also, unplug unused appliances and devices to prevent phantom energy sapping. Wrap an insulating cover around the water heater and make sure to seal visible air duct joints with new tape to keep air from escaping.

2. Review your insurance policy

An annual review of your homeowner’s insurance policy is a must. Fingers crossed you’ll never need to use it, but you want to make sure you have adequate coverage on both the structure and your belongings.

It’s important to understand what’s covered and what isn’t, as well as whether you have replacement value coverage (doesn’t account for depreciation) or actual cash value coverage (allows for depreciation), which is typically less desirable. If you’ve remodeled or added a pool or storage shed, make sure that’s noted on your policy.

If you’re interested in saving money on your homeowner’s insurance, ask your agent for a higher deductible, which should lower your payments.

3. Clean the dryer vent

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, dryers cause more than 15,000 household fires each year — most of which ignite due to a clogged vent.

To properly clean the vent, detach the dryer and use a flexible brush, air compressor or vacuum/Shop-Vac to remove the buildup. Make sure you clear the entire length of the vent. Also clean the area around the dryer for better air circulation. Visually inspect the vent opening outside your house to ensure there are no obstructions.
Inspect and clean the dryer vent at least once a year depending on the machine’s usage. If you have a large family or do a lot of laundry, consider a biannual cleaning.

4. Flush the water heater

Draining the water heater is something we all need to do on a regular basis — especially if yours makes a banging or clanking noise every time it kicks on (which is the sound of water percolating through calcium and lime deposits).

Sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank means it takes longer for the flame to heat the water, preventing the unit from working efficiently. Sediment also causes cracks in a water heater and with enough buildup, the tank might stop working altogether.

The best way to remove the sediment is to flush everything out of the tank. While this can be a DIY project, licensed plumbers are at the ready to help you as well.