Upgrade Your Home: 5 Projects to Tackle in 2013

January 28, 2013

in Home Improvement | Tagged , , , , ,

The start of a new year provides many with the motivation they need to start or resume home improvement projects. These upgrades accomplish several things. They can make your home a safer place, increase its value, help it be more energy efficient, and make it more pleasant, both inside and out. If you are looking to improve your home in 2013, read to learn about five relatively inexpensive, rewarding upgrades you can make.

Install an Alarm System

Painters Butt 200x300 Upgrade Your Home: 5 Projects to Tackle in 2013According to The New York Times, only around 18 million U.S. homes had security systems installed in 2010. The residents of the millions of homes without security systems were missing out; having one provides protection from break ins and can reduce the cost of homeowner’s insurance premiums. For instance, American Family Insurance offers a three to 20 percent discount on homeowners insurance policies for homes with qualifying burglar alarms installed. Nationwide Insurance offers a similar discount of up to 15 percent off homeowners insurance premiums.

To review: installing a security system will make you and your family more safe and helps you save money. Why would you not want to get one installed?

Check out alarm system reviews before you choose a company. Many of the alarm system reviews you can find on the web provide insight into the services offered by each company. It is wise to hear about the experiences of others so you can judge if the company is reliable, if they charge a reasonable amount, and what consumers’ overall impression their security system is.

Put up a Fence or Railing

“Good fences make good neighbors” isn’t just a cliche. Fences offer privacy and can protect any children or pets you have. When there’s a fence around your backyard, you can worry less about your toddler or pet wandering into the street or onto someone else’s property. Fences also prevent other people’s pets and even wild animals from entering your yard; families living in areas close to parks and other wilderness areas would benefit most in this regard.

If you’re considering selling your home in 2013, installing a railing or fence can bump up its value by improving its curb appeal. Though the exact dollar value associated with having a fence around your house is hard to estimate, it certainly will not be lower than the cost of installing it.

Don’t overlook the details if you are genuinely interested in having your fence add beauty and complexity to your landscaping. You can decorate the top of the fence with planters or hang pretty lanterns from it to accentuate it.

Install New Windows

Older windows don’t keep heat trapped inside your home as well as newer, more energy efficient models. Having better windows entails an immediate reduction in the amount you must spend on heating bills. They also mean up to an 81 percent return on your investment, according to women’s interest magazine Real Simple.

The process of replacing windows is pricey, so make sure you really want more energy efficient windows before you incur the expense of installing them. Replacing windows costs around $12,000, depending on the size of your home. Consumer Reports home improvement experts found that savings on utility bills and federal tax credits given to homeowners who install energy efficient windows are ultimately fairly small, making the payback period on this kind of project quite long.

Upgrade Appliances

Investing in new appliances, like a stove or washing machine, boosts the value of your home. Real Simple found that improving your kitchen by replacing its appliances can lead to an 83 percent return on investment.

New appliances have the added benefit of helping you save money right away, as they use considerably less energy than older models. Get the most bang for your buck by choosing appliances that have the Energy Star label. Energy Star products meet strict requirements when it comes to efficiency, ensuring that every appliance bearing its label is truly energy efficient.

Improve Lighting

Better lighting both makes your home more appealing and safer.

If you haven’t done so already, install outdoor lighting that responds to motion. A light that switches on when someone walks up to your porch or pulls into your driveway helps make you home less appealing to burglars, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Changing the fixtures inside your home can immediately boost its aesthetic appeal and is usually inexpensive, according to Bankrate.com; this added appeal can make a big difference in how much potential buyers like it. Aside from traditional lamps and chandeliers, try adding accent lighting to highlight family photos or artwork. Replace the blades on ceiling fans to make them look more fresh.

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