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Jan 112013
 January 11, 2013  Posted by  At Home, Home Improvement, Hot Deals

One way to preserve your home value is to keep your house in good repair. Complete one simple task each month to save money throughout the year.

January: Vacuum refrigerator coils and test the seal on your refrigerator door.

Accumulated dust on the coils behind your refrigerator compromises the appliance’s efficiency. Keep the coils clean by vacuuming twice a year. To make sure your refrigerator door seals properly, close it over a strip of paper and give the paper a gentle tug. If it slides out easily, you may need to replace the seal. Here’s how.

February: Clean out closets and storage areas.

Get rid of clothing that no longer fits and any items you haven’t used in the last 12 months. Sort into piles to resell, donate and hand down. Taking an annual inventory can unearth items you’ve forgotten and decrease the desire to buy more stuff you don’t need.

March: Resell items unearthed during your closet clean-up.

List big-ticket items on Craigslist. Take clothing, books and sports equipment to a consignment shop or a resale store like Once Upon a Child, Half Price Books and Play It Again Sports. If you have the time, you’ll generally make more money selling your own items on eBay or at a garage sale than you will at a resale store. For a middle-ground option, check your area for an eBay drop-off store, where an established eBay seller lists and ships your items for a percentage of the sale price.

April: Inspect your plumbing.

Replace leaky dishwasher and washing machine hoses and the washers in leaky faucets. If your toilet leaks, calling in a plumber will pay off in the long run. According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), a leaky toilet can waste 50 gallons of water or more each day! Use the MWRA’s tips to test for leaks, and get recommendations for a good plumber if necessary. Or, if you feel brave, use the Family Handyman’s illustrated guide to do your own toilet repairs.

May: Plant some veggies.

Many vegetables and herbs are easy to grow and require little space. Read our tips on growing money-saving herb gardens and lettuce patches or find how-to books at your local library. Your area Cooperative Extension Office is an excellent gardening resource as well.

June: Set your ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise.

A ceiling fan spinning counterclockwise cools your house by creating a wind chill effect, pushing air downward. Changing the direction of your ceiling fan generally involves flipping a switch on the wall or on the fan itself. Consult your fan’s user manual or search your manufacturer’s website for instructions.

July: Vacuum refrigerator coils and test the seal on your refrigerator door, following the same steps you completed in January.

August: Seal drafty heating and cooling ducts.

According to Energy Star, sealing and insulating your duct work can increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by 20% or more. Seal ducts with mastic or foil tape and then wrap them with insulation. See Energy Star’s Duct Sealing Guide for instructions.

September: Adjust your thermostat timer for cooler weather.

Proper use of a programmable thermostat can save you as much as $180 a year on your utility bills, according to Energy Star. Program the thermostat so your furnace and air conditioner run less while you’re away from home or sleeping. And don’t counteract your energy savings by cranking up the heat or AC when you’re home.

October: Weatherproof windows.

Replace screens with storm windows or insulate your windows with plastic film to retain indoor heat. Check out Green Dream Group’s video tutorial for tips on insulating windows.

November: Set your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise.

A ceiling fan spinning clockwise helps keep your house warm by drawing cooler air upward and forcing warm air down and outward. Once again, consult your fan’s use manual or the manufacturer’s website for instructions on changing your fan’s direction.

December: Insulate your water heater.

The Department of Energy reports that water heating represents approximately 18% of household utility costs. An insulating blanket, available at hardware stores, will improve the efficiency of your water heater and decrease your energy use. Visit for more water heating tips.

What home-maintenance practices do you employ to save money?

Kim Kankiewicz

Kim Kankiewicz writes fundraising and marketing communications for nonprofit organizations and ghostwrites executive articles and speeches. Her byline has appeared in Brain, Child magazine, The Saint Paul Almanac, MinnPost and Denver’s Westword weekly. Kim is a seasoned re-user, upcycler, and secondhand shopper. Her favorite discount purchase was the wedding dress she found for $25 at Savers, which she wore when she married her equally frugal husband.

  One Response to “Money-saving home maintenance tips by the month”

  1. Check and change furnace filters every month. A good way to remember is to do it when you pay the utility bill.

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