As the new year approaches, many of us think of ways to improve ourselves and set resolutions to make those goals happen. Why not add some new DIY skills to the list? For those of us who like to tackle things ourselves or try new projects, here’s a list of seven DIY resolutions that will not only build your skill set but save money, too.
1. Make Your Own Household Cleaners
Reduce toxins in your home and save money off your cleaning budget at the same time with these simple and effective cleaning solutions. For an everyday cleaner, combine 1 tbsp of baking soda with 1 tsp of castile soap and 3-5 drops of tea tree oil in water. White vinegar is another household ingredient that's a great disinfectant and deodorizer. Mix a solution of ¼ cup vinegar to one cup of water in a spray bottle for cleaning greasy surfaces, smelly fridges, and microwaves. Use a larger solution for washing hardwood floors.
2. Plant a Vegetable or Herb Garden
There’s nothing more satisfying than digging into the dirt with your own hands and planting fruits and veggies that you can eat later. Think about what you spend the most money on at the grocery store: tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, and onions are staples of many households and easy enough to grow for an amateur gardener. In winter months or when space is limited, try your hand at growing herbs in small window or hanging planters.
3. Make Your Own Composter
Here’s a great way to get a compost pile started in a manageable way. Take an old plastic coffee container (or something similar) and drill ¼” holes through the lid. Glue a charcoal filter (you can find them at pet supply stores) to the bottom of the lid to eliminate the stinky food smells. The amount of compost you make will be easy to manage and perfect for small gardens or herb planters.
4. Collect Rainwater
During growing seasons, Americans typically spend 30-40 percent of their water usage on outdoor irrigation. By installing a rainwater catch system, homeowners can drastically reduce their water costs by catching rainwater into barrels and using the surplus to water their lawns and gardens. DIYers can make their own barrel out of a garbage can by attaching a water spout at the bottom. A screen attached at the top is recommended as well. Use it to fill water cans or get fancy by attaching a hose to the spout. Certain states will have regulations on rainwater catching, but others may subsidize the practice, so make sure to check local requirements.
5. Install a Ceiling Fan
Many people think the benefits of ceiling fans are only in summer months, however, running the ceiling fan in reverse during the winter will circulate any hot air back down into the room, saving you money on your heating bill. Keep in mind that not everyone is going to feel comfortable installing them as they can be heavy and you may need a licensed electrician to attach the wiring. Either way, the cost will be worth it and you’ll feel more comfortable throughout the year.
6. Join or Start a Tool Share
Tool share groups are a new trend that neighborhoods are getting into. Why buy big expensive tools you may only use once for a particular job when you can borrow or rent them for free or at a fraction of the price? If you have extra space in your home or garage, then perhaps you can start one—or ask around to see if neighbors are already onto this idea. It’s like the tiny neighborhood book libraries that are popping up, but for tools!
7. Insulate Hot Water Pipes
A trip to the hardware store and an hour or so of labor is all it takes to wrap your hot water pipes in insulated foam. It may seem like a redundant task, but you’ll notice diminished wait times for hot water to reach taps and faucet heads, since insulating them properly can increase temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees overall. Not only will you be able to lower your thermostat on the water heater, but you’ll also save water by not having to wait as long for the colder water to heat up. Keep in mind, this only works if you have access to exposed pipes in your basement, attic, or crawl space, and live in cold climates.
These DIY resolutions will save you money in the long-term and, as a bonus, most of them are eco-friendly as well. Take a stab at just a few or be bold and go for all eight: while you may not get to all of them right away, you have all year to try!