Summer 2020 is definitely not shaping up to be the laid-back and carefree season we’re used to, but many of us are using (or at least trying to use!) our extra time at home to spruce things up. We’ve put together this list of easy ways to improve your home’s efficiency, appearance, and functionality that anybody can tackle, regardless of your DIY skill level.
1. Freshen Up Your Shower
Easy: Replace your shower head with a new, efficient model
First, be sure the shower is turned off! Next, remove the existing shower head, you may need a wrench or pair of pliers if it’s been years since it was last removed. Be sure to not turn the pipe that comes from the wall. Clean up any gunk and grime from the extension pipe, and wrap plumber’s tape counterclockwise to cover all the pipe threads. Then, all you have to do is tightly screw on the new shower head! Use a soft cloth or towel to protect that shiny new finish.
Easier: Deep clean your current one
Fill a zip-top bag, old bread bag, or something similar part-way with white vinegar. Hang the bag around the shower head, attaching with a rubber band so the shower head is submerged. After an hour or so, remove the bag, turn on the shower to flush, and polish with a gentle cloth - good as new! For tougher buildup, it may be necessary to repeat the same steps with a limescale or rust remover.
2. Become a work-from-home expert
Easy: Make a home office from an under-used closet
Need another excuse to clean out that junk closet? With a few hours of work, you could have your own tiny office! Simply remove the door at the hinges, take out the hanger rod, add some shelving (we like the idea of a wider one for your computer and a higher, narrow shelf for your desk decor and organization), and that’s it - the cute and cozy office you never knew you needed!
Easier: Add a wall-mounted folding desk for an even easier office upgrade.
With a simple, flip-down design, a wall-mounted folding desk is an ideal way to create modular “there when you need it” home office space. Simply attach to studs in your selected wall, grab a chair, and get to work! A filing cabinet on caster wheels can also do the job, especially if you like to change up your working location from spot to spot.
3. Light-up some energy savings
Easy: Increase efficiency with a light-dimmer switch
First and most importantly, turn off the power via circuit breaker and test to ensure that it is off. Next, unscrew the wall plate and gently remove it from the wall. Clip the wires close to the box and remove about ¾” of insulation on each wire before attaching them to the dimmer’s leads. Match wires by color, and join the ground wire to the green wire from the switch. Hold each pair of wires so the ends of the insulation line up, and twist the wires together clockwise, using pliers. Add wire nuts and ensure each connection is sound before feeding the wires back into the electrical box, followed by the switch and cover plate. Voila! Get a more in-depth tutorial on how to install a dimmer switch here.
Easier: Swap out your standard bulbs for LEDs
How many DIY articles does it take to change a lightbulb? None. They don’t have hands! This one seems easy enough to trust you without instructions, but swapping out those lightbulbs for LEDs can help you save on energy costs and replacement expenses, as most LED bulbs last 95% (or more) longer than incandescent bulbs!
4. Jazz-up your living spaces
Easy: Paint a single wall for a quick, inexpensive pop of color
An accent wall is an easy and inexpensive way to totally change up any room. Pick your color, add painter’s tape to carefully protect your other walls and ceiling, along with any windows/trim, and get painting. Add a coat of primer first if you’re covering dark or uneven surfaces, and choose your paint’s finish according to your wall type (matte finishes will help hide imperfections).
Easier: Apply some peel-and-stick wallpaper for a temporary change of scenery.
Do we really need to give you instructions for this? Grab your peel-and-stick paper of choice, measure, and get sticking! The best part of these types of wallpapers? It’s completely removable; perfect for apartments, or for trying out those wilder designs you’re not sure you can commit to. Just be sure the wall wasn’t painted within the last four weeks, as freshly painted surfaces can incur slight damage.
5. Keep cool (or warm)
Easy: Build an insulating cover for your attic stairs
Even if your attic is fully insulated, the door can still let that chilled air from your AC escape (or heat, in the winter). A cover, made from foam board, can help stop this. Simply measure your attic door, leaving space for the hinges to open, construct a box, add some blanket insulation and install with a few latches or other fixtures to hold it tight against the frame. Get a full tutorial and plans from the Department of Energy, here.
Easier: Add some spray foam, caulk, or weatherstripping to draft areas
Drafts letting heat in or out? Add some spray foam insulation to plug small holes - like the ones around your kitchen sink’s piping, caulk around leaky windows, and add weatherstripping along outside-facing doors. That’s it - easy, peasy!
Whatever you decide to tackle this summer, we wish you success in your updates! And, to improve your home’s energy efficiency for the colder seasons, talk to a licensed professional about upgrading your boiler.