If you’re one of those homeowners who believe that you should work on home improvement projects only in mild weather, think about this. You’re probably dreading the cold weather ahead, and you will be stuck inside many days. Why not cure some of that cabin fever with some inexpensive and rewarding interior projects. These improvements could increase your property value, save you money on utility bills and make your house look better.
What better way to start the New Year than with a list of post-holiday projects that will keep you busy until warm weather rolls around and you can head outside again. Here are five projects to get started. Each one will either brighten your home or save you money on energy costs. They’re fun and easy and if you’re budget-minded, inexpensive.
Repaint Your Interior
If you are stuck inside this winter and find yourself staring at your neutral-colored walls, why not add some visual interest by giving them a bright, cheery color. You could add stripes and patterns by using painter’s tape for an even more dramatic change.
A coat of paint will lift your mood and change the mood of the room. Add new trim and molding to the paint job to give the room a complete makeover without the expense of a major renovation.
While paint is inexpensive and easier to apply, you could also liven up a room with wallpaper. It can be a do-it-yourself project, or you can hire professionals to do it.
Try to time your project so that you’re painting when there is no rain or snow. That way you’ll be able to ventilate without worrying about damage from the weather.
This is a project that helps you save money. There is nothing visually exciting about adding insulation, but it will make your house more comfortable and lower your utility bills. Here are a few suggestions:
- Check all the places that something penetrates a wall. You’ll probably discover an air leak. Air vents, plumbing, and outdoor faucets are good candidates. Seal the leaky penetrations with expanding foam. Just don’t use it next to a gas flue; that would be a fire hazard.
- Make a visit to your attic. If you can see your floor joists, then you need to add insulation. Since heat rises, make sure your entire attic is protected by at least 16 inches of R-49 insulation to prevent warm air from escaping through your ceilings. You could save a lot of money just by properly insulating your attic.
- Check your crawlspaces and basement ceilings. Insulating them will also prevent heat loss.
- You can seal heating or air conditioning ducts with metallic foil or duct tape.
- Don’t forget to fill in all those cracks where your house’s foundation meets the crawlspace.
Update Your Lighting
Here is an easy and affordable improvement that, much like painting, can brighten and improve the mood of any room in your house. New lights, lamps, and ceiling fans will update your interior without draining your savings. And the new lighting will help accent those newly-painted or papered walls and your bathroom renovations, while the ceiling fans push rising heat back down to keep you comfortable and save you money.
If you install dimmers in areas like the dining room or family room, you can control the ambiance and save on energy costs at the same time.LED lights are also a money-saving option.
Unless you are proficient in electrical issues, it pays to hire an electrician to install your pendant lights and ceiling fans. You will get piece-of-mind from knowing they are wired correctly and securely fastened to your ceiling.
Winter is the perfect time to upgrade your bathroom. And if a complete renovation isn’t in your budget right now, there are still changes you can make to create an entirely fresh atmosphere. Some of the jobs are relatively easy and can be completed by almost any do-it-yourselfer. Others are more ambitious and should probably be left to a professional. Here are five ideas:
- Re-grout your tile: If your grout is messed up from mildew, now is a good time to re-grout.
- Replace your faucet: With all of the stylish faucets available today, why not get a new one?
- Repaint the walls: Tired of looking at those old green walls? Paint over them for a fresh look.
- Give the vanity a new look: You don’t have to replace it. You can give it a new look by refinishing or repainting the base, drawers, and doors.
- Update the hardware and fixtures: You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can achieve a new look simply by adding new towel racks, knob, pulls, and toilet paper rack.
If you are keeping your home warm while everyone is out, you’re wasting money. The solution: Install a thermostat that you can program to adjust the temperature in your house throughout the day.
Installing a programmable thermostat is a relatively easy project that most homeowners can complete without professional help. Most come with detailed instructions to assist you with installation and set-up. They are available at home improvement and hardware stores and come in a variety of models and prices.
The more sophisticated models help run your HVAC system more efficiently without compromising your comfort and can save you up to 20% on heating costs.
After it’s installed, you can program your new thermostat for more heat in the morning and evening and less heat when you and your family are gone during the day. Some models allow you to control them from a smartphone or tablet.
Choose Home Improvement Projects You Can Do
Most of the home improvement projects in this article are simple and inexpensive. Just remember that not every project lends itself to do-it-yourself. Don’t tackle major plumbing jobs, roofing repairs or any electrical work unless you have experience with them.
Saving money is an excellent idea—unless it comes at the expense of safety. There is nothing shameful in admitting that you don’t have the necessary skills for a major home improvement. As a matter of fact, professionals will often be able to save you money over doing it yourself. In those cases, you’re pretty smart for choosing them.