Streamline your stuff

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter. Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed, and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don't use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in!

  • Two important tips are to fill your home with the things that raise your energy level, and to make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken.
  • Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays for easy and organized area space.
  • Clear your counters of everything you don't use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.\

Drink less (curb home water use)

Our houses are thirsty. The average household uses about 400 gallons of water each day, or almost $700 per year in water and sewer costs. Making a few simple changes, such as installing EPA-certified WaterSense products, could trim up to $200 from your annual water bill. Add to that energy savings from reduced costs to heat water, and your yearly savings could reach $300 or more per year.

  • Low-flow showerheads include technology that reduces the amount of flow yet keeps pressure up, resulting in shower streams that are powerful and satisfying. They cost from $10 to $150, and installation is an easy DIY job that takes only minutes.
  • Replacing your pre-1994, water-guzzling toilet with a low-flow toilet prevents $90 worth of water costs from being flushed away. HE (high-efficiency) toilets use compressed air and electric water pumps to flush with less than 1 gallon of water; older models required up to 8 gallons.

Be less stressed (use maintenance-free materials)

If you want less to worry about, install low-maintenance materials and products designed for durability and long, trouble-free service.

  • Fiber-cement siding lasts for 50 years or more. It's weatherproof, and resists dents, fire, insects, and rot. It's exceptionally stable, even with changes in humidity, so that paint jobs last longer than on wood and wood-fiber siding products.
  • LED bulbs last a phenomenal 20,000 to 50,000 hours between changes, or about 18 to 46 years when used for 3 hours each day. Although the initial cost is high (about $40 per bulb), LED bulbs pay for themselves in energy savings in about 10 years.
  • Classic ceramic tile comes in many colors and textures, but at its heart it's incredibly tough, stain-resistant, and impervious to moisture. You can count on ceramic tile's good looks to last for decades on floors and walls without needing repair or replacement.