Make your next snowbound day a productive one by using the free time to tackle one of these easy home improvement projects. Upgrade your house with one of these easy-to-install devices to make it more energy efficient and secure and to protect it from fires and floods. You’ll be amazed at the advanced technology now available to you at these very affordable prices.
Key Benefits: Save energy and control temperature remotely
If your home has a full-time Internet connection, swap out your old thermostat for a WiFi-enabled thermostat like the Venstar ColorTouch with WiFi. This decorative programmable thermostat allows you to monitor and adjust the temperature in your home from anywhere in the world using your Smartphone. The ColorTouch can be used to control both your central A/C and heating system. It also lets you limit temperature highs and lows and restrict access via a passcode.
Installation Time: Because it communicates wirelessly, installation is fast and easy and should take approximately 30 minutes; programming should take about the same amount of time
Cost: About $170; Mobile apps are free
Key Benefits: Customizable and affordable option to pricey professional security systems with no monthly service fees
There’s no reason to leave your home unprotected when you can get a do-it-yourself home security starter kit like the SkylinkNet Connected Alarm System. Experts gave the Internet-connected Skylink system rave reviews when it was introduced in September 2014 because it’s so advanced yet easy to set up and use. Best of all, it can be expanded down the road by adding components such as a solar powered outside alarm, video cameras, telephone dialer, appliance control modules and more.
Installation Time: Only 10 minutes to get the starter kit up and running
Cost: Under $140 for the basic system which includes a motion sensor and two door/window sensor
Key Benefits: Prevent dangerous chimney fires, improve stove efficiency and save money vs. hiring a professional chimney sweep
Whether you have a traditional fireplace, wood burning stove or pellet stove, you can clean your chimney, flue and stovepipe yourself without going up on a ladder. These easy-to-use tool kits by SootEater come with specially designed brushes, flexible extensions rods (for up to 18 feet of reach) and adapters that hook up easily to any cordless power drill to remove soot and creosote buildup.
Approximate Time to Clean One Chimney: About 30 minutes
Cost: Under $25 for pellet stove kit; about $50 for chimney kit
Key Benefits: Control and monitor devices and appliances in your home from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or computer; no contract or monthly fees
Even if you’re not a techie or control freak, you’ll appreciate the power and convenience a smart home system provides. Adjust thermostats, turn lights on and off, open door locks and more from just about anywhere. For a very affordable and easy-to-use smart home system, we recommend the VeraEdge Z-Wave Home Automation Controller that controls over 220 devices and is compatible with over 1,200 leading brands of Z-Wave devices.
Installation Time: Only minutes to set up controller; time to install optional components will vary
Cost: Under $150 for the VeraEdge Controller; Z-wave sensors and modules sold separately
Key Benefits: Prevents catastrophic flooding caused by burst washing machine and dishwasher hoses
Over time, old water supply hoses become brittle and can crack and burst. Replace them with economical FloodSafe® Braided Stainless Steel Washing Machine Connectors that turn off the water supply to your appliances automatically when an excess flow of water is sensed, protecting your home against messy flooding and water damage. FloodSafe Hoses have no mechanical moving parts, so they’ll last for years and years, and need no power source.
Installation Time: About 10 minutes; no tube cutting or soldering required
Cost: Less than $25 for a pair
More Home Improvement Project Ideas
If the winter weather has you stuck home for more than a day, here are a few more easy home improvement projects to keep you busy:
- Install a dryer safety monitor that will alert you if your dryer vent is at risk of a fire because of a buildup of lint;
- Setup a freeze alarm that will call you if the power goes out or the temperature in your house is too high or low (before pipes freeze);
- Protect your house from water damage by placing water alarms in leak prone areas, including attics, near water heaters and in basements and garages.