As Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, I’ve completed my fair share of eco home improvements over the years, and I know all too well the importance of kickstarting the year with a well-maintained home.
January offers a golden opportunity to finally address those home maintenance tasks that have been lingering on your to-do list. By making your way through this checklist, you’re not only starting the new year with a sense of achievement but also ensuring that your home is working hard to meet your needs.
Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or just looking to make your living space more comfortable, consider adding these ten home improvement tasks to your January checklist.
Home maintenance tasks to complete in January
Though you may already have started to winterize your house in the month of December, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to get on top of home maintenance tasks that will refresh your home and protect your property from incremental weather.
1. Inspect and Upgrade Insulation
January’s biting cold makes it the ideal time to prioritize your home insulation. I always begin the year by inspecting my home’s insulation because proper insulation is a key component in keeping your home warm over winter.
When your heating bills start to unexpectedly rise, poorly insulated windows and attics are usually the prime suspects. Consider investing in high-quality attic insulation and make sure to weatherproof your windows and seal any gaps around your doors to prevent drafts.
2. HVAC System Maintenance
Don’t underestimate the importance of checking and maintaining your HVAC system in January – the last thing you want is for it to malfunction during a winter storm.
Start by replacing air filters and cleaning ducts to optimize airflow and air quality. If you haven’t done so recently, consider scheduling professional HVAC maintenance. A well-maintained system not only ensures your comfort but also lowers energy consumption, helping you cut your energy bills.
3. Drain and flush your radiators
Learning how to drain a radiator is a great skill to have. Each January, I drain and flush my radiators to release trapped air and eliminate cold spots. Over time, sediment and debris accumulate in these devices, which reduces their energy efficiency. By keeping on top of radiator maintenance, you can maintain a cozy atmosphere all winter long.
4. Upgrade Lighting
It’s usually around January that I start to notice some of my lightbulbs flickering or going out. I take this opportunity to replace outdated fixtures and bulbs with energy-efficient LED options.
Smart lighting not only reduces your energy consumption, it can also enhance the overall ambiance of your home. I maintain that layered lighting is the key to a cozy-feeling living room.
5. Tackle stains left over from the holidays
If your house is anything like mine, there are usually one or two Christmas-related stains that need tackling. Whether it’s sticky fingers on walls, soot from the fire, or red wine on carpets, I like to begin the new year by removing these marks and getting back on top of my regular cleaning routine.
When it comes to combating stains, I always like to keep a tub of baking soda around to absorb liquids. However, there are very few stains that can’t be tackled with regular dish soap and water.
6. Freshen up walls
We’ve all heard the expression ‘new year, new me’, and I like to take the same approach to my home by welcoming in the new year with refreshed walls.
Start by wiping and cleaning walls to eliminate any dust and grime. This process not only revitalizes your living space but it also reveals any imperfections that may require patching or repainting. Then you can refresh any walls that may have faded or yellowed over time with a new lick of paint.
Consider applying a fresh shade of paint to an accent wall to combat the January blues and give your home an affordable update.
7. Upgrade Your Thermostat
One of my top tips for lowering heating bills and keeping your home warm in winter is to install a programmable thermostat. This smart addition allows you to regulate your home’s ambient temperature and can be set to a specific schedule.
Plus, you can even control your heating while you are away, meaning you can program your thermostat to warm up your house as you return from vacation, ensuring it feels inviting and cozy when you step through the door.
8. Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys
After the holidays, it’s a good idea to inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney, if you have one. Check for any cracks in the bricks or mortar, as these could pose safety risks, and ensure that the damper operates smoothly and effectively.
I always advise hiring a professional chimney sweep. They can expertly remove soot and creosote, reducing the risk of fires and ensuring proper ventilation.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure you stock up on seasoned firewood and store it in a dry area. There’s nothing quite like the cozy warmth of a properly tended fire to keep you comfortable during the chilly months ahead.
9. Assess home security systems
If you have a home security system, I suggest you take the time to test the functionality of your sensors, cameras, and alarms. Check for any signs of wear or malfunction, give the camera lenses a good clean, and take the time to review and update any associated smart apps that control your security system
Additionally, now is a good time to triple-check your home locks and ensure garden security lighting is in good working order.
10. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you only complete one of these tasks in January, make it this one. You should regularly test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are operational. Replace batteries promptly to safeguard your family from potential hazards. A few moments spent on these checks can make all the difference in an emergency!
Finally, I always kick off the year with a good post-Christmas cleaning blitz. Pay attention to often-neglected areas (reach for those top shelves and give your oven a much-needed scrub), clean your windows inside and out, and refresh your floors.