Spring Cleaning: Getting Your Home in Order

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SpringCleaning2016

Spring is nearly here, which means now is the perfect time for a good, thorough spring cleaning. Inside and out, you can get your home ready for the spring and summer months while also protecting and maximizing your investment in your home. Take advantage of this winter’s mild weather and any upcoming spring vacation days to give your home the thorough spring cleaning it deserves. Here are five top areas to consider this spring.

1. Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning Your Interiors

House Beautiful Magazine recommends giving some attention to your stainless steel appliances, countertops, closets, carpets, and flooring.

Keep your stainless steel appliances shiny and clean with a wax-based aerosol spray. Give your countertops a thorough cleaning with either an ammonia-water or hydrogen peroxide-water solution, depending on cleaning needs. Avoid abrasive sponges or cleaners that can scratch, but if used carefully a fine steel wool can buff out small scratches.

Organizing your closets, giving away old clothes, and having a yard sale can help free up space and simplify daily routines. Give high-traffic carpets a deep cleaning with a professional cleaning at least yearly. Neutral pH cleaners work great for cleaning tile flooring while wood floors benefit from regular mopping with a mild soap.

If you don’t have time to put these tips to work yourself, don’t skip them – outsource them to a professional cleaning service. The time saved and money spent will be well worth it.

2. Put Your Tax Refund to Work

Last year, the average IRS income tax refund amounted to $3,120. That’s no small amount of change. Homeowners can put that value right back into their home, even increasing its value, with the right updates and maintenance. That’s particularly true when it comes to roofs, gutters, windows, doors, chimneys, concrete slabs, and driveways. Keeping these essentials in top condition will protect your home from the elements and maximize its value.

Dwight Barnett, a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors, recommends checking these areas in the spring and fixing any problems before summer. From your yard, look for damaged or missing roof shingles or tiles. Cracked, buckled, loose, or missing roof coverings should be replaced. Check windows, doors, and other exterior woodwork for cracks, leaks, rot, or other damage. Clean, seal, and paint or stain the woodwork to prolong life. Survey chimneys for damage and have the flue cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Inspect driveways and concrete slabs for cracks and other damage. Keeping these in top condition can help drainage and ensure basements and foundations stay dry during the rainy months.

Click here to learn how to maximize your mortgage-related tax benefits.

3. Make the Most of Energy Efficient Options

Your spring cleaning sweep shouldn’t neglect energy-efficient steps that will save you money during the warmer spring and summer months. Schedule a routine maintenance checkup with an HVAC specialist for your air conditioning unit. A good cleaning of the coils of your outside unit and a fresh set of filters will have your unit running at peak performance and efficiency, according to Barnett.

If it’s time for new appliances, spring is an excellent time to buy. Buying an Energy Star-rated appliance can save you up to 30 percent on energy bills, according to energystar.gov. You’ll want to save your receipt for next tax season, as you can qualify for up to a 10 percent or $500 tax credit for a purchase of an Energy Star product. You can also save on the purchase of these and other home improvements during your state’s sales tax holiday weekend. Maryland, Missouri, and Texas all have a qualifying spring weekend.

Lastly, don’t neglect the little things. The cost of LED lighting has come a long way down in the last few years, from over $100 to around $5 per bulb. While your compact fluorescent light bulbs use a quarter of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs, their trace mercury content makes them difficult to dispose of, they’re still rather fragile, and they will burn out in five years or less. LED light bulbs use a tenth the energy of traditional bulbs and are built to last up to 23 years.

Does an energy efficient home impact the property’s value?  Read about it here.

4. Landscaping

Spring is also a great time to start thinking about your home’s outdoor spaces. According to Garden Design Magazine, there are a number of new trends and old favorites to choose from this year. Now is the best time to plan for a summer garden that will offer fresh produce or vibrant colors all summer long. Start seedlings indoors now and move them outside as it warms up.

As for sprucing up your outdoor areas, there are several new trends to consider. Fire pits, grill stations, and outdoor living spaces are continuing to grow in popularity. LED technology is making lighting for outdoor spaces more flexible and durable. Rich and colorful paint palettes, including deep blues, greens, charcoal gray, and even black, are the newest trend coming over from Europe for homes, fences, and accent structures.

Need some trendy landscaping ideas that can add value to your home?  Click here.

5. Lock in Low Refinancing While It’s Still Here

While it’s not necessarily the same as washing the windows, locking in a low refinance rate could be just as important for your home investment. While you’re on a spring cleaning roll, check with your lender for the latest rates you qualify for. You may be able to save thousands over the life of the loan with still historically low rates. As of March 8, Yahoo Finance reported a 30-year fixed-rate loan stands at an average of only 3.53 percent.

 

However you choose to do it, don’t neglect giving your home a good spring cleaning this year. Your family, home, and wallet will thank you for your efforts.