7 Tips for Improving Your Home That Take Less Than 20 Minutes to Do

We all watch HGTV or the DIY Network because they’re both entertaining and helpful at showing us new ways to better our homes.

But maybe you don’t have the design touch like Joanna Gaines does. Or maybe your home improvement skills are about as good as Tim Allen’s. In either case, it’s not a problem. The following 7 tips are simple home improvement tasks that anyone can do—and they take less time to complete than the time you spend watching your favorite show.

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  1. Install water detection sensors.

Water detection sensors are easy to install and completely reliable. They take roughly 15 minutes to install and alarm you if an appliance breaks or water is detected. You can place them on your water heater, under the kitchen sink, by toilets, in crawl places, etc. For something that’s so easy to install and that could save you thousands of dollars in flood damage, it’s surprising why more people don’t use these nifty sensors.

  1. Drain your water heater.

All water contains sediment, and that sediment can collect at the bottom of your water heater. Over time, this creates insulation, which then makes your water heater work harder than it should to produce hot water for your shower. And then the extra temperature puts unnecessary stress on the tank’s metal, which can cause leaks. A reported 69% of water heater failures result from a slow leak, and the average cost of failure is $4,444 after paying the deductible. So to prevent sediment buildup and paying thousands of dollars, take a few minutes to drain 1 quart of water from your water heater every 3 months. Look at your owner’s manual to learn how to do it for your specific model.

  1. Replace incandescent lights with LEDs or CFLs.

If you’re still using old incandescent lights, do yourself and your wallet a favor and go to the store and buy yourself LEDs or CFLs right now. CFLs and LEDs require between 50-75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and they both last longer. In fact, LEDs typically last between 20,000-50,000 hours. While these better bulbs cost more than traditional incandescents, in the long run you’ll save more on your utility bill because you’ll use less energy and on the number of light bulbs you buy every year.

  1. Replace air filters more often.

During the spring, fall and winter you should replace your air filter every 3 months. Also during the winter, you should check your air filter for dirt and clean any off. But in the summer, contrary to what you may have heard, it’s smart to replace your air filter every month, especially if you live somewhere where it’s really hot and humid so the air flows better and can cool your home faster. Air filters are cheap, and it takes less than 30 seconds to remove your old one and put in a new one. Plus, you can save $40 or more on cooling costs during the summer with monthly changes.

  1. Cover your windows with plastic film.

Windows account for roughly 25% of heat loss in your home. But if you can’t afford to buy more energy efficient windows, you don’t have to. Instead, buy clear plastic film, for less than $10, and spend a half hour covering your windows and patio doors. The film won’t hurt your trim, you’ll barely notice it’s there when you do it right and it will save you about 14% on your monthly heating bill.

  1. Upgrade your hardware.

If it’s the look of your home you’re wanting to improve, this is a simple project that goes a long way. Go online or head to your nearest Home Depot and buy yourself some newer, prettier cabinet pulls and/or doorknobs. To replace them, simply loosen the screws on your old hardware, drill in new holes, fill any old holes with wood putty and paint over them and then screw in your new hardware. Depending on how many you have, this may be a project where you do one room at a time to make the time spent completing shorter. It’s amazing how much better and nicer your home will look and feel with this simple upgrade.

  1. Install a home surveillance system.

The actual setup will probably take longer than 20 minutes—but you’re not the one doing that. All you have to do is find the right company in your area and give them a call. And while a home surveillance system doesn’t improve the look of your home, it does improve the safety of your home, as burglars are 2.7 times more likely to target homes that don’t have security systems. Some systems also protect you from the hefty costs of flooding and fire damage.

As a homeowner, it’s up to you to take the necessary steps and precautions to improve your home. And these 7 tips will have you feeling just as smart and thrifty as any fixer upper you see on TV.