As we head into the new year, many people inevitably promise to eat better, hit the gym, and read more books. And while those are always good resolutions to make, it might be time to switch it up. How about simply resolving to keep your home and car safer? Here are 6 smart goals to consider making this year.

1. Check your heater

This is one of those tasks that’s easy to ignore every year. But it’s important to have your furnace, wall heater, or baseboard heaters checked annually. And in some cities, the utility company will even come out for a complete inspection — free of charge. Check with your local company to see your options.

2. Save energy around the home

Speaking of your home, why not make some energy efficient updates? Simple changes are not only kinder to the environment, but they can also save you money. Try these easy energy-saving ideas around your home:

  • Replace your incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient ones. In fact, LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) can last up to 25 times longer than a regular bulb.
  • Switch to low-flow showerheads and faucets.
  • Lower the temp on your water heater — just a few degrees can make a big difference in your bill.
  • Remember to clear the lint screen on your dryer before every load.
  • Use your blinds! Open to let sunlight in and warm the house during the day. Close them as the sun goes down to keep the cool out.
  • Power down computers and other appliances if you’re not using them.

3. Get your car ready for another year

Can you remember the last time you got new windshield wipers? Believe it or not, this is a task that should be completed every 6 months — make this new year a time to give your vehicle a makeover. Grab some new wipers, ensure tires are rotated and in good working order, get your oil and filter changed, and fix that burned-out tail light. If it’s not part of your regular oil change service, ask your mechanic to test the battery — it only takes a few minutes and is often free with the service.

4. Declutter your living space

Whether it’s simply reading a book to learn the value of tidying up, or tackling an overflowing closet and donating items to the Goodwill (which is tax deductible!), or taking the time to purge your whole house, resolving to declutter can give you some serious peace of mind.

5. Assemble basic emergency kits for home and car

It’s always smart to have an emergency kit packed and updated for both your home and car, no matter where you live. Make this year the one when you finally put yours together.

Here are some basic items to include:

  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable food for 3 days (don’t forget the can opener!)
  • Water (ideally one gallon of water per person, per day)
  • Flashlight and radio (battery powered or hand-crank)
  • Cell phone charger and backup battery
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags

Pack a similar kit and leave it in your car in case you’re stranded in an emergency, but be sure to add some car-specific items, like jumper cables, a car cell phone charger, and flares. And for a winter-specific kit, make sure you include a folding shovel and some high-energy snacks.

6. Resolve to keep up

Keeping up with the little things that need to be done regularly around the house or in the car over the course of the year may just render big yearly improvements unnecessary. See what happens when you resolve to make ongoing maintenance a priority.

Safe and smart | Home safety


about Hannah

Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, and making sure she gets in at least 10,000 Fitbit steps a day.