Fix it up: The light fixtures in your home are a reflection of your personal style and taste. Adding additional fixtures or replacing ones that aren’t your favorites can be a fun and creative way to brighten up your home!
Candlescaping: Candles are generally inexpensive and are extremely versatile. Adding various candle arrangements to different rooms in your home will instantly create an atmosphere of warmth and style. Get creative! You might also favor scented candles to add a pleasant aroma to different areas of the house.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Mirrors not only create the illusion that your rooms are even more spacious than they already are, they also reflect light! Make your house warm and cozy by adding a few inexpensive mirrors in hallways, bedrooms, and living spaces.
Light the way: Lighting isn’t just for indoor decorating—it’s also a valuable addition to the exterior of your home. Line your walkway or garden with cost-efficient solar light fixtures (no electricity needed!) to create a brilliant nighttime landscape outside your home.
Open up: During daytime hours, keep your draperies and window coverings open. This will not only allow your home to absorb heat, but it will brighten up the winter days that you spend at home.
Set the timer: Program your thermostat to reach lower temperatures while you’re sleeping or out of the house. This simple action can save you a lot of money—and will ensure that your house stays at a comfortable temperature at all times.
Open and shut: During daytime hours, keep your blinds, draperies and other window coverings open. This will enable your home to absorb the warm afternoon sunshine and will effectively add heat to the entire house. Close all window coverings at night to keep the heat in!
Installation time: If you have a window or two that feels drafty no matter what you do, consider installing tight, insulating shades to those particular windows. You’ll be surprised what a little bit of extra insulation can accomplish!
Light a fire: A fireplace is an easy solution to add extra heat to your home without adding to your energy bill. Capable of warming the entire room, you and your family can relax at home while keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature.
No leaks allowed: Check doors and windows for drafts and places where air might escape. Weatherizing windows and doors is a simple task that you can perform; your local home improvement warehouse will have all of the materials you need!
Roof repairs: If you can safely get onto your roof to inspect for missing shingles or other factors that may lead to a leaky roof, now’s the time to do it! If not, call in a professional organization and have them take care of the rooftop work for you.
Seal it off: Inspect doors and windows to ensure that the weather-stripping is in good condition. This will keep your house warmer and cozier in the winter months.
Hot stuff: Make sure that your heater and ventilation systems are in good working order! Clean out accessible ducts and replace filters where necessary.
Chimney sweep: Creosote, a black substance that builds up in the chimney when wood is burned, can cause chimney fires. Inspect your chimney for creosote and call a chimney sweep to keep your fireplace safe and functional.
Gutter check: Now’s the time to clean out those rain gutters again! If you want to do it yourself, make sure that you can safely access the gutters and then scoop out any debris, blast the drains clean with a high-powered hose, and repair any leaks you may find along the way.
Plug it in: Make sure that all of your appliances are in working order. The last thing you need with a house full of guests is a broken dishwasher or washing machine!
Make space: Clean out the dressers and closets in the guest room(s) to ensure that your friends and family will feel comfortable and at home.
Baby-proof: If your house isn’t already baby-proofed and if small children will be coming to stay or visit, take a little time to ensure that electrical outlets are safely covered, sharp edges are padded, and that valuable knick-knacks are out of harm’s way.
Light your fire: Make sure that your fireplace and chimney are clean and in working order. Gathering around the fire with friends and family is a cozy way to spend time reminiscing and chatting.
Knock knock: Take a walk through your home and inspect all doors and windows. If the doors, hinges or latches are sticky or squeaky, make any necessary repairs before your guests arrive. This will ensure privacy for them AND for you!
Barbecue: Nothing says summertime as much as an old-fashioned barbecue! Do you have friends or family who still haven’t had the chance to see your beautiful new home? Invite them over for an afternoon of sun, fun, and a tour of the house.
Campout fun: Another longstanding tradition is the summer campout—but this doesn’t mean you have to drive hundreds of miles to find a great location. Your backyard is a great camping spot! Dig the flashlights, tents, and camping gear out of the garage and thrill the kids with a backyard campout!
Cool and clean: It might not sound like fun, but having a neighborhood car wash is a great way to keep cool and make friends with the people who share your street. Rally the neighbors and make a day of it—the kids will have fun squirting each other with the hoses, and you’ll have a shiny, clean car!
Who dunnit: Throw a mystery dinner party, and invite your guests for an evening of fun and intrigue (and show off that dining room!). Kits can be purchased at most toy stores (or via the Internet) for a reasonable price, and you’ll have a wonderful evening that will be memorable for everyone!
Grab a mallet: While you may have once thought that croquet was a “sport” for fuddy-duddies, it is rapidly growing in popularity. Show off your perfectly manicured lawn by inviting a few friends over for an afternoon croquet party. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try some horseshoes as well!
Keep it green: Harsh summer heat can up the ante when it comes to caring for your lawn. Make sure to keep it watered and fertilized!
Fire it up: Get a head start for the upcoming winter and clean out your wood-burning fireplace and chimney. You’ll have one less winter task to attend to!
Carpet care: Now’s the perfect time to have your carpets professionally cleaned, which will protect your carpet and make it last even longer. Want to save a few bucks? Rent a quality carpet cleaner and do it yourself!
Touch-ups: Inspect your home—inside and out—and touch up any paint where necessary. This can be done quickly and easily, and will prevent future peeling!
Lock and key: Check all of the locks on your windows and doors and ensure that everything is working properly. Being proactive about safety is always a smart move!
Oil it: Anything squeaking? Add a squirt of WD-40 or similar product to door, cabinet and window hinges to keep them in top repair.
Park the car: If your garage is filling up with an abundance of stored items, take a day to reorganize and get rid of unwanted clutter. Give your unneeded items to charity, or have a fun summer yard sale!
Spin it: Ceiling fans are an excellent way to keep everyone cool, and they’re beautiful as well. But did you know that they can also help you save on your energy bill? By circulating cool air throughout your home, you won’t need to keep the thermostat set as low as you would without the help of one, two or more well-placed fans.
Green is good: There’s no debating how refreshing a large patch of shade can be on a hot summer day…so why not invest in some shade of your own? Planting trees is an excellent way to ensure shade and to keep your house cool in the warmer months. Already have some? Make the most of the summer foliage by relaxing beneath a large tree and sipping some cool lemonade.
Clear as a bell: Window manufacturing and supply companies now offer an invisible way to keep you cool: by installing a transparent coating to windows that effectively blocks heat. Adding this type of treatment to your sunniest windows is a smart and easy way to save a few dollars on your energy bill.
Program and relax: If you have a programmable thermostat but haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to use it, now’s the time. Setting your thermostat to regulate the temperature of your house and maintaining an average temperature can save you a lot of money. Can’t find the instructions? Most manufacturers provide free, downloadable guides via the Internet.
Block it out: Room-darkening blinds can reflect a great deal of sun and heat, so keep them closed during the morning and afternoon hours to keep things cool inside!
Water = Green: Water is one ingredient that your lawn cannot live without, so make sure that you’ve got a great routine in place for keeping the lawn damp. If you have a good sprinkler system installed, you’re already a step ahead of the game! If not, make sure that you’re reaching all areas of the lawn if watering by hand or by moveable sprinkler. Water in the evening or very early morning for best results, but don’t overdo it!
Know how to mow: Make sure your lawn mower has sharp blades; mowing with dull blades can tear the grass, altering its healthy appearance. Also, the more often you mow, the healthier your grass will be! Mow the lawn at least once per week for optimal results.
Fertilize and vitalize: Invest in a good fertilizer and use it regularly for the thickest, greenest grass. Ever wonder why the fairways and greens on a golf course manage to look beautiful throughout the year? Fertilizer is the key to the greens keeper’s success. For the greenest grass possible, purchase a fertilizer with iron content.
Weed it out: Weeds are an obvious eyesore when it comes to the care of your lawn, and you’ve probably noticed how quickly they can grow. With a good fertilizer program in place, you’ll get a step ahead of weeds in no time. For the pesky, hardier plants, manage the growth with a little weed spray (or dig them out by hand for best results).
Don’t get bugged: Lawn pests are not just annoying; they are bad for the grass. If you’re properly watering, fertilizing, and mowing your lawn, but still have an insect or pest problem, try aerating the lawn; this should help to eliminate the little buggers!
Maintenance means everything: Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice per year. Maintaining clean gutters will help you to avoid drainage problems that could potentially lead to more costly repairs.
Climb on up: Borrowing (or investing in) a good, sturdy ladder is the key to ensuring your personal safety and to making the task as hassle-free as possible. Make sure that the ladder is placed on a flat, steady surface, and follow the rule of two: never stand on the top two rungs of a ladder, as it becomes very difficult to maintain your balance.
Protect yourself: Thick, heavy gloves are a must when performing this kind of task. Gutters may have sharp or jagged metal pieces as well as screws or nails that may pose a danger to your hands and fingers. Want additional protection? Safety glasses are also a good idea!
Up on the roof: Santa might find rooftops to be a walk in the park, but for the rest of us, they aren’t generally ideal perches. However, if you have a flat roof or a roof with a low slope, you may find it easier to accomplish the cleaning by situating yourself up top. Always use extreme caution, wear non-slip shoes, and never opt for this choice in bad weather!
Scoop, blast and repair: Once you’re ready to start cleaning, follow a simple three-step process to get the most out of the task. Scoop out any debris, blast the drains clean with a high-powered hose, and repair any leaks you may find along the way.
Dance while you dust: This is the perfect time to fully indulge your musical interests; break out the iPod or turn up the CD player, and you’ll be singing along to your favorite tunes and won’t find cleaning to be a chore at all!
Clear out the clutter: Take the opportunity to dig into the closets, storage spaces, and of course, the garage. You’ve probably got a veritable treasure trove of old clutter that’s just taking up space—now’s the time for a yard sale! Turn that clutter into cash.
Room by room: Try to focus on just one room at a time, and try to complete one room each day. This will make the whole job seem more manageable, and you’ll probably get things cleaned more thoroughly than if you tried to tackle the whole house at once!
Just a little more laundry: One of the things that we rarely attend to is the state of our draperies, shower curtains, and rugs. Now is your chance: gather up every spare bit of linen in the house and have it laundered; you’ll be surprised at how much brighter your home will look!
A room with a view: It’s time to tackle those windows! Set aside a special day to give your windows a good scrubbing. Clean off any screens while you’re at it: your home will literally sparkle once you’re finished.