Start The New Year Off Right With This Handy Home Checklist

Monica Gray - January 4, 2024

When the New Year comes around, it’s the perfect time to start fresh and revamp your home. You likely have new plans and new ideas regarding your career, your health, and your relationships. But let’s not forget about your home, too! We’re giving you a wonderful home checklist and some inspirational ideas you can use to freshen up your space and make your home look and feel brand new.


Donate Old Items

Do you have tons of extra clothing items and furniture lying around in boxes and in the corners of your attic? It’s time to get rid of them and freshen up your space! Those extra items around the home causing clutter can be put to use and donated to some of your favorite charities. Donating also helps with the consumerism and waste issues that we face as a society. Not only that but according to the EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, “Many textile manufacturing facilities [are considered] to be hazardous waste generators,” which means you’ll help reduce the number of textiles being used.

Users of Reddit also found that decluttering was more than satisfying, and said, “I’m finally taking better care of myself and got rid of more than 30 trash bags full of clothing that I had accumulated over the years. I cannot express how satisfying it was to see that first spot of the floor underneath all of that mess.” Decluttering can also reduce stress and increase happiness (Goodwill South Texas).


Bring The Outdoors Inside

As winter takes its icy grip, it’s worth considering that many of your outdoor items might not be fans of the cold. Safeguarding them from the elements is crucial for their longevity. If you’re lucky enough to have a shed or garage, that’s the prime real estate for your outdoor treasures during the winter chill. However, if you’re shedding tears because you lack storage space, fear not. Adding an extra layer of protection – like a snug cover – not only shields your items from winter’s fury but also fends off the pesky dust and potential water leaks.

Taking the time to properly store and clean your outdoor gear not only ensures they survive the winter blues but also guarantees they emerge looking as sharp as day one. So, when spring finally decides to do its thing, you won’t be stuck wrestling with worn-out furniture. Instead, you’ll be all set to effortlessly showcase your outdoor delights, ready to soak up the sunshine without a worry in sight. (Penn Dutch Structures).


Change Furnace Filters

One of the most common reasons for air conditioning systems and heating systems breaking down is dirty filters. By changing your filter regularly, you’ll extend its life and save money in the long run. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to save money and maximize the energy efficiency of your heating system. This will also keep your air clean and help purify the air.

To do this, simply turn off your furnace, locate the filter, determine its size, remove the old filter, and insert the new filter. The users of Reddit suggest changing your filters whenever it looks dirty and say, “There is no set schedule. Filter changes depend on how much you run the blower, how much dust is on your air if you have pets, the thickness of the filter and the MERV rating. 1″ filters change twice as often a 2″ thick. High MERV sooner than low MERV.” This is a great thing to do right after celebrating the New Year (Clean Alert).

Medfords Go Green

Do An Energy Assessment

Heating and cooling your home is costly. To tackle the problem and stay on top of your monthly bill, do an energy assessment to discover potential deficiencies in your home. The audit will identify energy-saving opportunities. This will help you figure out ways to use energy better, helping identify safety concerns when it comes to wiring, ventilation, and electrical systems.

Some people online suggest that doing an energy assessment is a great way to improve the living environment in your home. They write, “Just had an audit done and the blower test was very helpful. Discovered my closet door casings were leaking like sieves. I called it up later that day and the back half of the house was much less drafty. The thermal imaging showed that my top plates were also leaking badly. Decided to have them back to air seal the attic (low roof along the exterior plates that I would rather not futz with) and top-up the insulation. Because they were an authorized contractor through my energy company, I was eligible for some good rebates.” You can easily schedule an assessment right after the New Year (Reddit).


Winterize Your Space

Because it’s likely winter wherever you are, you need to make sure seals around windows are tight. This also means you need to winterize your outdoor faucets and protect your home from the elements to prevent any future issues that may arise with freezing temperatures. Winterizing also means cleaning out your gutters, inspecting the roof and attic, checking on your chimney, and making sure you have snow tools available.

Many people online have come together to give their best winter tips. One New Year tip includes: “Check all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in working order. This is THE most important thing to do; these cheap devices save lives! Bring in hoses, and turn off valves to faucets outside of the house so they do not freeze and burst. Same for any ponds/fountains/sprinkler system and make sure to blow out the lines bring in any liquids from the shed/garage that can freeze and put them in the basement. If you have a grill, make sure your tank and backup tank are full.” Starting the New Year winterizing will only make your life that much easier when springtime rolls around (Forbes).

Wager Mechanical

Check For Leaks

Did you know that undetected water leaks can lead to major damage in your home? This is the best time of year to make sure your home is properly sealed and free from potential leaks. A system, with even a small leak, could potentially waste 6,300 gallons of water every single month. One way to check for leaks is to open your cupboards and look behind your appliances to check for any mold or foul smells.

This is especially important if your home is over 25 years old. According to Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, “Inspect all accessible connections at the water heater, pumps, washing machine hoses and valves for oxidation or discoloration – clear signs of a slow leak.” To test your toilet for leaks, you can use food coloring and add it to your toilet tank. Wait ten minutes, and then check if your toilet bowl has coloring. If it does, then it’s leaking water without you having to even flush it (Benjamin Franklin Plumbing).


Clean the Range Hood Fan

It’s likely that over time, your range hood fan filter may become blocked with grease. This will make it lose its effectiveness. It’s especially important to check the filters. You can do this by boiling water, using baking soda, or using a good de-greasing dish soap. First, turn off the range hood. Then, take out your range hood’s filter. Wipe it down using a microfiber cloth to get rid of any exterior dust or grime. To loosen up the grease, soak the filter in soap for 15-20 minutes. After soaking, use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the filter, and for smaller crevices, use an old toothbrush.

Some clever cookies online have other ways to clean the range hood fan and suggest, “I clean mine when I clean the dishwasher. I put a small bowl of vinegar on the top rack and put the filters on the bottom. Just run a normal cycle and they should come out clean.” Whichever way you choose, this is a great morning chore to get the New Year started the right way (Reddit).


Run Water in Unused Spaces

If you have any unused spaces in your home, like in your basement or guestroom, it’s important to take a few minutes to run water through the sink and shower. It’s also a good idea to flush the toilet to keep your traps full. When your home has unused bathrooms, this can cause water to evaporate and allow toxic sewer gas to enter your home. It’s important to do this once per week to maintain the quality of water and the condition of the plumbing system.

According to a pharmacist on Quora, “It helps prevent microbial pockets from growing in quiet spots in the water lines and valves. An incident in a hotel where an occupant of a room that hadn’t used in a long time, took a hot shower, developed Legionella infection, was hospitalized, and died.” It’s a simple task to do in the New Year, and won’t take much time (via Quora).


Create a Relaxing Space

To counteract all the hard work you’re doing, you’ll need to designate a space or corner in your home as your relaxation space. You can do this by adding soft lighting, comfortable seating, plants, artwork, and other meaningful decorations.

According to these homeowners, other ways to make your home extra comfortable is to use “Weighted blankets, big fluffy duvets and lots of pillows on your bed. Make it like a big cloud to fall into. Make your bed a neutral color like black or grey…it just makes the bed look so inviting and calming. Soft lighting, twinkle lights around your bedroom for a small glow. Salt lamps are good too. Handsome tapestries up around your place. Get a diffuser for your room and have it going overnight.” You have a full range of creativity to make the space however you want (Reddit).


Change Batteries In Your Home

Changing the batteries on your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector might slip your mind, but it’s incredibly important to make sure everything is working properly. It’s an ideal time to make sure everything is working. You don’t want to find out when it’s already too late.

It’s recommended to check your batteries every time the clocks change, which means you’d check them every six months. If they need changing, then you’d change them. If you can’t remember the last time you changed these batteries, then this is a good way to start the New Year (Reddit).


Digital Detox

A digital detox never hurts anyone! It’s always a good idea to unplug from electronic devices, spend time outdoors, and put the screens away. You can use this time to have an adventure with your loved ones and focus on the present. You might even have some creative ideas on how to improve your home for the New Year.

One clever person turned off the notifications on his phone and said it changed his life. He wrote, “Living in the moment and being fully present, is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health and overall well-being. When you are truly present, you can appreciate the beauty of the world around you and the people you love. Technology can be a great tool, but it’s important to use it in a way that enhances your life, and doesn’t take you away from the important things.” This might be just the thing you need to improve your mental health and home space this New Year (Reddit).


Plan For Spring

With the holidays over and the New Year in full swing, it’s time to plan for spring! Get those spring outdoor projects up and running once the weather warms up. One of the best ways to start this is to put your plans on paper, and then tidy up outside. Start a compost pile for all the dead debris, remove weeds that could potentially affect your yard, tend to your trees and shrubs, and improve your soil to give it a boost of nutrients so it’s ready for spring flowers.

Some people that had some great home tips suggest, “This time of year I rake leaves and store them in garbage bags to be shredded in spring for mulch. It’s good to start a compost now if you can. It won’t heat up very well in the winter, but you’ll have the winter’s worth of scraps already accumulated. I also use this time to make a planting schedule, inventory seeds and order any that are needed. When I wait until spring, the seeds I want are often sold out.” It’s always a good idea to get a head start, especially if your garden is important to you (Miraclegro).


Refresh and Replace Dirty Toiletries And Other Items

This is the best time to refresh your space and swap out old or worn items. There’s nothing better than getting a fresh start on old items that don’t work properly. Some items need to be replaced more often than not. For example, a kitchen sponge is dirtier than a toilet seat and can harbor 54 billion bacterial cells. Because of this, you should replace your sponges weekly.

You need to replace your toothbrush every three to four months since it can harbor bacteria like E. coli. Makeup brushes are also full of bacteria from our dirty faces and should be replaced every three months. Purchase a mattress every ten years, or earlier if you’re having a hard time sleeping (The Zebra).

NBC News

Develop Healthy Eating Habits

Why not kick off the New Year with healthier eating habits? One way to start this is to clean out your pantry, stock up on delicious food, and experiment with new, nutritious recipes. Having a well-balanced diet contributes to healthier overall well-being. Drink more water, eat more vegetables, cut out sugar, and start eating more mindfully.

You don’t have to make major, drastic changes to feel better and eat healthier. Cutting out simple ingredients will completely change your diet and make you feel better. Boost your vegetable intake, do meal prep, and plan when you go to the grocery store (Southshore Health).


Tighten Any Knobs, Handles, And Racks

Think about how often you use your drawers, doors, and cabinets in your home. Over the years, these handles can become loose or easily damaged. It’s important to go through your home and tighten any handles, racks, or knobs that have a loose screw. This is a fun afternoon chore to start the New Year with a fresh home.

If you find any knobs or handles that are loose, it’s easy to fix. According to these homeowners, you can do this by using a “Knob washer cabinet washer nut. The first nut secured the knob, and the second nut acts as a lock, providing you tighten the second nut adequately it’ll stay tight. Although loctite will work it seems a bit much for cabinet pulls. I typically use clear nail polish. It works like Loctite but is easier to undo if you choose to change the pulls.” You’ll have a brand new space in no time (Reddit).


Vacuum Your Refrigerator Coils

To extend the life of your refrigerator, cut down on utility bills, and help your fridge run more efficiently, you need to vacuum your refrigerator coils. It’s important to do this more often if you have a pet that sheds a lot of fur. Fur can easily clog up the condenser coils, in the back of your fridge on the bottom. Your condenser needs to work extra hard if they’re clogged, costing you a lot of money. Not only that, but an efficiently running refrigerator maintains a consistent and safe temperature for your food, which is important to prevent food illness!

If the coils are clogged, it can lead to uneven cooling, potentially causing some areas of the fridge to be warmer than others and compromising the freshness and safety of your food, especially meat or dairy that needs to stay cool at a certain temperature. This was a helpful tip from one homeowner: “You need to clean the dust and dirt from your fridge coils at least every year, but more often if your home is dusty or full of pet hair. The coils are at the back or the bottom front. If you’re lucky, you can use your vacuum or a cheap condenser brush to clean off the matted dust.” If it’s been a while since you’ve checked them, you need to do so in the New Year. In an extreme case, the buildup of fur, dust, and other debris can become a fire hazard (Reddit).


Check Your HVAC Unit Filters

These filters get clogged because they’re simply not checked or changed regularly. Contaminants like dirt, animal hair, and dust can easily clog your HVAC system and build up over time. To produce the same amount of clean air, your HVAC system will need to work longer and harder.

To keep it in top shape, it’s important to replace it monthly. This will prolong its life and keep your house cooler and cleaner. Reddit homeowners say, “That’s true about the filter, and it’s something people commonly neglect. Down the line, the coil becomes caked with a debris crust and cannot do its frosty job. The system won’t keep the home cool and begins freezing up. That’s when my husband (HVAC for 30 years) gets a call and you get a choice: $900 to pull, clean, reinstall, and recharge (with Freon) your coil, or several thousand for a new system. (The system is the wiser choice because of newer, more energy-efficient tech & power company rebates & great financing options.) So change your filters… or don’t…. Mama needs a vacation.” You can certainly take a vacation during the New Year, knowing your HVAC systems are clean and working properly (Reddit).


Clean Garbage Disposal

Oftentimes, food particles can get trapped inside your garbage disposal. This is the perfect environment for mold and bacteria. It’s important to continuously clean and sanitize your garbage disposal. You can use natural items you have at home, like citrus peels, ice, and baking soda.

Some tips from online homeowners write, “Use dawn dish soap and some water and get to scrubbing in the disposal (gently) and on the flaps. When you’re done, add more hot water, some dawn directly into the disposal, and let it run for one minute. Then, get some disposal cleaning tabs. You can get them on Amazon and they’re pretty cheap.” This is an inexpensive way to stay on top of your garbage disposal (Reddit).

Housewife How-Tos

Establish Routines

One of the best ways to maintain order in your home and reduce stress is to establish routines. This includes setting up cleaning schedules, meal planning, and prep, or designating times for relaxation. In addition to fostering routines for cleaning schedules, meal planning, and relaxation, incorporating effective communication strategies within the household can further enhance the overall sense of order and reduce stress. Open and clear lines of communication allow family members to share responsibilities, discuss preferences, and address any challenges that may arise.

One Reddit user suggests cleaning for just 25 minutes per day. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time and is very doable. If you’re someone who struggles with setting up a routine, this might be the perfect way to finish your chores. They write, “I try to clean for just 25 minutes a day. I set a timer and race through, starting in the kitchen, and take the whole place down a level of chaos. In my “daily 25 clean” I do dishes, wipe counters, pick up laundry, run my Roomba, do litterboxes, stack or pack crafting stuff and work stuff that’s out in the open.” Make a checklist to save time and start cleaning (Reddit).


Refresh Decor

There’s nothing better than adding a bit of freshness! That’s what the New Year is for, which is why it’s important to make small changes to your home decor. This is the perfect time to rearrange furniture, add new throw pillows, or consider a fresh coat of paint in a room for an inexpensive, quick update.

“If you don’t have plants, you might want to consider buying one that’s low maintenance to keep alive. Plants and greenery are shown to improve your mood and I love adding a touch of nature to an indoor space. Intentionally set a theme. Just pick a theme and start swapping out furniture and decor to align with that theme. If you don’t have a big budget for buying new stuff, you can still apply this tip – just figure out what sort of themes your current stuff fits into and then organize it appropriately. Repaint your furniture. If you like the furniture you have but it’s starting to show its age or plain doesn’t fit the color scheme you’re going for, you can always give it a fresh coat of paint.” You can also change up the curtains, optimize your lighting, and add rugs for your hardwood flooring (Reddit).


Deep Clean and Inspect Your Basement

Oftentimes, basements can be overlooked. This is a great time to give your space a thorough cleaning and to inspect your home for any signs of moisture. If you do notice anything, call an expert. Because basements are damp and musty, they’re a breeding ground for pests and mold. Deep cleaning takes care of the problem before something like mold grows and spreads through your home.

You can make this a fun Sunday project for the New Year. Some homeowners suggest, “Don a serious mask. The kind you’d use to spray paint. You don’t know what you’re going to kick up, and not having to smell the basement makes a big difference. Get yourself something good to listen to – podcast, music, audiobook. Basic sweep. Shop vac up everything. If you don’t own one, get one because shop vacs are amazing. Vacuum up all those gross corners and the ceiling. If the walls are moldy or gross scrub them down with vinegar (or other cleaning agent). Clean the windows inside and out. Then, consider getting some permanent good lighting down there. It makes a HUGE difference with shadows, which is what makes a basement unwelcoming.” This is a great time to make your unwelcoming basement seem much more welcoming (Reddit).


Start A Gratitude Journal

Why not start your very own gratitude journal? This is a great way to put your mental health first. Do this by writing down what you’re grateful for, every day. By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you’ll completely shift your mindset and build a happier, more optimistic atmosphere in your home.

Adopting a positive mindset can significantly impact your home environment, as exemplified by the practice of some homeowners who actively cultivate gratitude. A Reddit user shares, “Every morning I write down three things for which I am grateful. It might be as simple as having gotten a good night’s sleep, or having a good fresh cup of coffee, but it helps me get into a positive state of mind.” With a positive mind, you’ll have a positive home (Reddit).

The DIY Playbook

Set Home Goals

Alright, let’s talk checklists, but spice it up with some future dreams! Take a moment to dive into what you want to rock at home in the next year. Maybe it’s conquering a home improvement project, giving a room a facelift, or just making sure your space is the epitome of organized coolness. These goals? They’re like your home’s game plan for the next 12 months – setting the stage for some serious wins.

No need to pull out your stress ball just yet. Keep it chill, do your thing, and go as wild as you feel like. Start simple, like unleashing the cleaning warrior within and kicking out stuff that’s overstayed its welcome. It’s like giving your home a fresh start, creating space for the good vibes and exciting adventures that are bound to roll in. Here’s to owning those home goals with a swagger. (DIY Playbook).


Regularly Check for Ice Dams and Icicles

If it’s winter where you live, it’s important to regularly check your home for ice dams and icicles that form when melting snow refreezes. If you don’t stay on top of this, ice dams might grow large enough and eventually prevent water from draining off your roof. This can create roof leaks, which is a costly problem. But if you catch it early enough, you’ll prevent a major, costly project.

If it’s too difficult to clean your roof because it’s winter, Reddit homeowners suggest “If you need venting work done and it is difficult it impossible due to winter, I’d keep the roof as clear of snow as possible until spring. It’s often hard to get the ice dams off without damaging the roof. The next best bet is to keep the roof relatively clear above the dams, it’s less snow to melt and back up under the shingles.” it’s always better to get a head start on these projects (Reddit).