Whether a home is humble or fancy, small home improvements brighten every day by making life a little easier. This article lists seven small home improvements that can lead to more efficiency, comfort, and security. Details on improvements help Texas homeowners select the best products for their needs.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to improve life in and around your residence. Some home improvements are reasonably priced yet give you extra convenience, comfort, and safety. Here’s a list of seven minor home improvements that create a better, more efficient lifestyle for you and your family.
1. Smart Thermostat
To save money on utility costs, do you often turn the thermostat up in summer and down in winter before you leave home? If so, you definitely help lower your electric and/or gas bill. You also come home to a place that’s not comfortable on extremely hot or frigid days.
A smart thermostat is the solution when you need to both stay on budget and greet a comfortable home after work or other activities. You control a smart thermostat at the thermostat itself or with apps you download on your smart devices, which can include your phone, laptop, or tablet. No matter where you are, you can turn up the heat or the air conditioning in advance of your arrival, so your home feels just right when you return.
Smart thermostats offer the following features, depending on the model you choose:
- Integration with connected smart-home devices
- Remote room sensor
- Voice control
- Large display
- Furnace monitor
- Programming for multiple days
As with any device, you get what you pay for in a smart thermostat. Low-end smart thermostats that cost under $100 won’t have the features of smart thermostats that cost several hundred dollars or more. For example, some high-end smart thermostats can manage your furnace, air conditioning unit, and ventilation systems, while more affordable models of smart thermostats are unable to manage complex climate controls like multi-stage heating systems.
Smart thermostats are generally integrated with specific smart-home platforms. Check out the details before purchasing and installing a smart thermostat, so you have the right connections and equipment to run the device.
2. Hooks for Essential Items
Stop rummaging through drawers and cabinets to find the tools and other items you need. Well-placed hooks around the home save you time and aggravation by putting essential items where you can easily see and grab them.
Hooks in the kitchen are useful for hanging the following items:
- Cup and spoon measures
- Bananas (on under-cabinet hook)
- Dish towels
- Pots and pans
- Beverage mugs
A well-placed hook under a desk is useful for holding a phone-charging cord out of the way of your legs and your cat. A strip of hooks in the laundry room or broom closet provides a tidy, safe way to store mops, sweepers, and other floor tools. Hooks in the bathroom make it easy to hang up hair appliances, toothbrushes, and damp towels.
In the garage, install hooks to organize tools, gardening supplies, and sports equipment. In the bedroom, use hooks to store jewelry, purses, assorted keys, scarves, and neckties.
Hooks for home use come in a wide array of styles, from trendy contemporary looks to durable utilitarian designs. Order hooks as single pieces or in systems with multiple hooks. Some hooks apply to walls with adhesive backing, while hooks for heavier items require hardware to fasten the hooks to walls or pegboard.
3. Motion-Sensing Lights
Stop stubbing your toes in the dark and straining to see what’s really inside that deep kitchen cabinet. Install motion-sensing lights that turn on automatically when the sensors detect your presence.
Make your life easier by using motion-sensing lights to illuminate the following areas:
- Laundry room
- Exterior entryways
- Cabinet interiors
- Porch or patio
Most motion-sensing lights include timers that automatically turn the lights off when no one is present after a certain amount of time. You can adjust or locate the sensors so that pets don’t activate the lights in the middle of the night.
Motion-sensing lights are available in plug-in, battery-operated, solar-powered, and wired-in versions. Most modern motion-sensing lights, including security floodlights with motion-detection features, use energy-saving LED bulbs. Shop for motion-detecting lights in simple, no-nonsense housing or in upscale versions made with elegant finishes and seeded glass.
4. Step-On Trash Can
Touching a trash can with bare hands isn’t on anyone’s list of favorite activities. Whether your hands are covered with flour, or you just washed your hands, opening a trash can lid with your bare hands can be messy and inconvenient. Contact with a dirty trash can is also an ideal way to spread germs.
Avoid contact with a dirty trash can by purchasing a step-on trash can that doesn’t need your hands to make the lid open. You simply step on a pedal, rim, or small pad on the bottom of the can, and the lid opens immediately to accept your trash. Step-on trash cans are useful in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, nursery, and any room where you want an easy, clean way to dispose of household waste.
Depending on the model and style of step-on trash can you select, your hands-free trash can may have one or more of the following features:
- Plastic arms or other bag-securing devices
- Tight seal to cut down on garbage odors
- Weighted base to prevent tipping
- Lid-control so the lid doesn’t bang on the wall
- Open-lid mechanism to keep the can open for longer tasks
- Plastic insert to capture leaks from torn bags
- Butterfly-style lid
- Fingerprint-resistant finish
Convenient step-on trash cans come in shapes from rectangular to cylindrical. Finishes for step-on trash cans include stainless steel, plastic in assorted colors, and enameled steel in assorted colors.
5. No-Touch Kitchen Faucet
Add a no-touch kitchen faucet to your home along with your step-on trash can, and you double your ability to keep germs from spreading around your household. With a touch-free faucet, there are no more greasy or soapy films on faucet handles to wipe away and no more poultry or meat juices on the faucet to sanitize.
Touch-free faucets make it easy to wash fruits and vegetables, fill a kettle for tea, and rinse soapy dishes. You can also wash bacteria and other germs off your hands without ever touching the sink fixture itself. Everyone in the household who uses the touch-free faucet is protected from contact with food-borne illnesses and other nasty microbes that often spread in kitchens via sink faucet handles.
A no-touch faucet is hands-free due to the motion sensor mounted on the fixture. Water starts flowing as soon as the faucet detects your presence at the fixture. You don’t have to wrestle with an awkward pot in one hand and a faucet handle in the other hand. Some no-touch faucets have two sensors. The second sensor enables you to control the water flow by waving your hand over or near the sensor.
Additional features of no-touch faucets may include:
- Automatic shut-off of water flow
- Easily disabled sensors for manual control
- Pull-down sprayer for convenient kitchen clean-up
- Easy do-it-yourself installation
- LED temperature display
- Battery or AC operation
- Spot-resistant finish
- Splatter-proof faucet and/or spray nozzle
Choose from no-touch faucets in stainless steel, brushed nickel, and gold-colored metal finishes. No-touch faucets are generally high-profile, curved faucets that allow you to place extra-tall pots under the water flow without banging the sides of the pots against the fixture or having to angle pots to fill them with water.
6. Towel Heater
On cold days and nights, getting out of the tub or shower when you’re wet can be almost painful, especially if your heating system isn’t very efficient. If you dread the after-shower chill, shop for a towel warmer to make your bathing time more cozy and enjoyable.
Towel warmers come in several varieties. Metal towel-warming racks are easy to install on walls, so they save space in tiny bathrooms. Towel-warming racks also come in free-standing versions. Metal towel racks double as towel drying racks, so you always have a dry, warm towel to greet you after baths and showers. Towels that are dried after each use are less likely to promote the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria.
Towel-warmer cabinets are a second type of towel-warming home improvement. Towel-warming cabinets come in smaller versions for hand and facial towels, while larger versions hold bigger bath towels and even bath sheets. Some towel-warming cabinets offer UV-heating that sterilizes towels.
A third type of towel warmer is the bucket-style warmer. Bucket-style towel warmers can accommodate towels and the following items:
- Terry or cloth slippers
- Bed sheets
With a bucket-style towel warmer, you don’t have to run a noisy dryer to have warm winter comfort in the bathroom and bedroom. Timers on bucket-type towel warmers keep the linens warm until you need them, whether you prefer your towels slightly warm or piping hot.
Be aware that some rack-style towel warmers can get very hot. Keep all towel warmers out of the reach of children and pets to avoid any unfortunate burns.
7. Humidifier or Dehumidifier
The humidity of your home’s air affects home energy use and the comfort level of household members. In winter, if the humidity is too low, you may have to turn the heat up higher to feel warm enough. In summer, high humidity makes your air conditioner work harder to keep you cool.
Low humidity levels can cause static-electricity buildup, itchy, dry skin, and dry throats. People with respiratory issues may have a harder time breathing in dry air, and even healthy people can develop scratchy throats and coughs when indoor air lacks adequate humidity.
Low humidity in the home can crack wood floors, doors, and cabinets. Overly dry air can also lead to chipping paint and damage to electronic items.
High humidity levels can cause problems with mold, swollen wood, and mildew on paper items. Spices and other dry staples may clump together in cabinets. Carpenter ants and other pests are attracted to increased moisture in the home.
Avoid the above problems by purchasing a humidifier and/or a dehumidifier. Both appliances condition the air to keep moisture levels at an appropriate level. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, while dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air.
You need a humidifier when the air’s humidity in the home falls below 30 percent. You need a dehumidifier when the air’s humidity in the home rises above 50 percent. In some locations, you may need both a humidifier and a dehumidifier that you operate at different times to keep your home’s moisture levels stable during seasonal changes.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers come in the following versions:
- Free-standing units
- Table-top units
- Whole-house systems
- Combination humidifier/dehumidifier appliances
Portable humidifiers and dehumidifiers require daily maintenance. Humidifier reservoirs must be filled with clean, distilled water and must be routinely sanitized. Dehumidifiers have reservoirs that must be emptied when full, or the appliances won’t run. On extremely humid days, you may need to empty your dehumidifier’s water reservoirs several times a day.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers keep you comfortable and help protect your home and your health, so the extra tasks are worth the effort. However, choose humidifiers and dehumidifiers with extra-large water capacity if your home is excessively moist or dry. Or, contact a heating and air-conditioning professional to install a whole-house unit in your HVAC system for trouble-free home moisture control.
Choose one or more of the above home improvements to smooth out some of the hassles of your daily life. While the above home improvements are simple and easy to achieve, they can immeasurably increase your satisfaction with your home, sweet Texas home.
Build By Owner can help you build your Houston TX custom home of your dreams. Please call us at (281) 331-3347 or email us today. We can save you money and time and make the home building process fun!