Tips on insurance, indoor health and residential emergencies.
The holiday rush is over and the decorations are put away, but you still have plenty of New Year’s resolutions to make. Besides the diet, here are 10 resolutions that will make your home a better place to live in 2010.
1. Change the batteries
on your smoke detectors.
Rather than waiting for your smoke detector to go off in the middle of the night when the battery goes out, get in the habit of replacing the batteries the first weekend of each year. If you have a fireplace or gas appliances, it also would be wise to install a carbon-monoxide detector to avoid deadly leaks.
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2. Update your insurance
Many people buy new items over the course of the year, especially at the holidays. If you have purchased a new computer, jewelry, art or other major item, check with your insurance company to determine whether you need to increase your insurance.
Review your policy to determine if you have “full-replacement value” coverage. If your policy doesn’t have this coverage and you experience a major loss, the insurance company can give you the prorated value of your appliances and other items. The net effect is that you will lack the funds necessary to restore your home to its original state before the loss.
3. Take pictures and/or video.
If you haven’t done so already, take pictures and/or video of every nook and cranny in your home. Store this in a safe-deposit box away from the property. (It’s also smart to save it online.) If you do experience a major disaster, you have proof of the quality and the condition of your home before your loss.
4. Eliminate toxic
You can clean most of your house with vinegar, water, baking soda and a microfiber cloth, according to the Spring Cleaning Guide at HouseLogic.com. The orange-based cleaners also work well. Use microfiber on your stainless-steel appliances to make them shine. Best of all, not only will you save money, you will avoid mixing your food with toxic chemicals.
5. Change the filters on your heating/air conditioning systems.
During the winter, we generally don’t have the luxury of leaving our windows open to air out our homes. Changing your filters not only helps your system work more efficiently, it also reduces allergens and other irritants.
6. Check your emergency preparedness.
If you live in an area where you may experience an extended power outage from an earthquake, hurricane, snowstorm, tornado or even a terrorist attack, make sure that you have sufficient amounts of water, food, a generator and propane or charcoal for cooking during an emergency.
The usual guidelines are to have at least one week’s worth of everything you need. This includes medications.
You may want to consider purchasing some of the wilderness-supply products including a solar generator that fits in a backpack.
7. Don’t just vacuum your carpets.
The next time you vacuum, be sure to also get your refrigerator coils, the lint filter in your dryer and your tiled surfaces. Apparently, water helps small particles bind to the grout rather than washing them away. If you vacuum before you wash the tile surfaces, you will prevent grime buildup in your grout.
8. Check your chimney and/or wood stove.
Chimneys are designed to carry toxic fumes away from your living area. Many people believe that chimneys are maintenance-free. They are not. Check your flue to make sure it’s operating properly.
Also, depending on how much wood you burn, you should have your chimney cleaned on an annual basis. If you’re burning more than four cords per year, it’s advisable to have your chimney cleaned twice a year. There are more than 25,000 chimney fires every year.
For additional prevention information on chimney maintenance, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
9. Check for air leaks.
A cold, windy day is a great time to discover where your house is not properly sealed. In many cases, all you need to repair the leak is some caulking. If your windows need replacing, research what types of rebates are available for installing energy-efficient windows. There are also energy rebates for insulation and for radiant barriers for your attic. A radiant barrier prevents heat loss during the winter and keeps heat out during the summer.
10. Kill dust mites
Like the other flat surfaces in your home, dust accumulates on your bedspreads, drapes and other fabric surfaces. If you’re not ready to haul these to the cleaners, many experts suggest running them through your dryer. (Caveat: Some fabrics such as rayon may melt in your dryer, so check the labels.) A different option is to vacuum and then steam the fabrics using a portable steamer.
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it is an excellent way to make your house more livable throughout the upcoming year.