4 Winter Home Improvement Projects

Reader Contribution by Yuka Kato
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Photo by Fotolia

Did you know that the buildings you spend the most time in, such as your home, can have a major impact on your health and well being? Sick buildings – those relatively few buildings that can cause serious health consequences – may get all the headlines, but there are countless ways that your home could be impacting your health in both positive and negative ways as well.

During the winter months, people spend more time indoors, so it makes sense that any issues your home may have will become more apparent, negatively impacting your health. Tackling these issues during the fall gives you time to get your home healthy and clean up any issues that summer’s heat and humidity may have brought on.

Your health can be directly impacted by the state of your home. Cleaning up certain areas using these tips will help you avoid health complications that a winter spent indoors can bring.

Tip 1: Keep Air Humid

The winter months are tough on everyone. You’re indoors more than you’d like, and all that togetherness tends to spread germs easily. One way you can make your home more comfortable during the winter months is by installing a central humidifier.

According to the Mayo Clinic, humidifiers can ease skin and breathing problems commonly exacerbated by dry air. They may also make it more difficult for germs to take hold in your respiratory tract, meaning that you’ll be healthier all winter long.


The cost of installing a 10 gallon drum central humidifier in your home is around $390.

Money Saving Tips

To get the most out of your new humidifier, install a humidity gauge at the same time. This will ensure your humidifier runs at optimum times rather than constantly, which can optimize comfort and keep energy bills down. To save even more, consider installing the unit yourself; drum humidifiers are among the easiest to install.

Tip 2: Get Rid of Pests

During the winter months, pests may try to make their way inside your home. Rodents and other unwelcome guests can carry diseases such as salmonella and hantavirus. They can also chew through wiring and displace insulation, driving up energy bills and potentially starting a fire. Find ways to tackle these pests in the fall to prevent them from entering your home, as well as eradicate nests they’ve made in preparation to move indoors. Stay vigilant as the weather turns cooler to help make sure your home stays pest free.


The average cost of pest control is around $200 to $300.

Money Saving Tips

Have your home inspected as soon as you think that there may be a problem. The longer you wait, the bigger (and more costly) the infestation.

Prevention is your best bet at staying pest-free. Seal up any cracks or holes in your mortar or siding to keep critters from getting in, and keep food in airtight containers to ensure they aren’t getting enough to eat.

Tip 3: Improve Air Quality

If you have a central HVAC system, you probably don’t give much thought to the ducts that carry air through your home. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, there are specific instances when cleaning air ducts has a direct impact on your home’s air quality. If you have noticeable dust or debris rising from vents when they are turned on, slime, microbial growth or mold built up on the ducts themselves, or an unpleasant odor when the air is turned on, cleaning your ducts can help.


The cost to clean your air ducts is around $300 to $500 for the whole house.

Money Saving Tips

The EPA recommends having your HVAC system cleaned rather than your ducts, if you don’t notice any of the above issues. Doing so may save you money while eliminating problems.

If your ducts are so filled with debris that they restrict air flow, cleaning them could result in a reduction of as much as 20% of your energy costs.

Tip 4: Test for Asbestos

Asbestos is a scary word that conjures up images of lung cancer and injury TV. Unfortunately, according to the Asbestos Network, in many homes built prior to the 1980s, asbestos is all too common in floors, ceilings, insulation, and siding. If the area in question is left alone and in good condition, this shouldn’t pose a problem. However, if you’re planning on having work done on your home, this could be cause for concern. Having asbestos testing done can either give you peace of mind, or provide the information you need to make more informed choices regarding your home going forward.


The cost of asbestos testing is around $1500.

Money Saving Tips

Only test areas that are either in poor condition, or that you plan on remodeling. Otherwise, asbestos can be left alone in its current state without having a negative impact on your home. This will save you a significant amount over having random areas of your whole house tested.

The fall months are the perfect time of year to take care of all of these projects, because the colder winter months are the time when most people tend to stay indoors. Cleaning up your air quality and improving the health and comfort of your home can make the winter more enjoyable and healthier for your whole family.


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