(MoneyWatch) The stream of friends and family visiting our homes during the holidays can result in some serious wear and tear on our homes. Here's how to get it in shape for the festive season.
Improve your water flow. Replacing faucet aerators is one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest gifts to give your home. If you've noticed that your water flow has been weak lately, it may be time to replace the aerators on your faucets and shower heads. A faucet aerator helps spread the stream of water into many droplets, increasing water pressure and cutting down overall water use.
You can buy aerators at a hardware store for around 50 cents and install them easily. Simply plug the drain to avoid any parts falling in and unscrew the tip of the faucet. The old aerator should drop out; otherwise, you may have to pry it off with a fingernail. Wipe the nozzle clean and install the new aerator.
You may also want to install a new shower head. Go for low-flow or restricted flow aerators or shower heads to save on your water bills.
Replace the front door. Replacing the front door may seem low on the priority list of potential home projects, but it's actually one of the most cost-effective improvements you can make. According to Remodeling Magazine, you will recoup more than 70 percent of the cost of replacing your existing wooden door with a steel model, one of the best values you can get for any home remodeling project.
Not only will a door replacement increase curb appeal, but it will also increase security. New doors run from around $200 to more than $1,000.
Get an energy audit. If you want to save money on energy costs next year -- especially after you see what that holiday light display is costing you -- then an energy audit is the place to start. An audit, which costs an average of $400, will not only spot any air leaks and safety issues, but the professionals who conduct the audit also can guide you on which home improvements will provide the best return on investment.
The best part is that most of the leaks and holes found in the audit can be fixed with a little extra caulking, or fixed during the audit, so you don't have to spend a bundle to see immediate savings.
Organize your home. While you don't need to spend gobs of money on the latest home organization gadgets, identifying spots that need help and actually tackling them with home storage and organization systems can be a welcome relief. Meanwhile, things like glide-out drawers inside cabinets and sensible shelving in closets can increase the value of your home.
Fix that nagging problem. Whatever it is in your home that nags at you -- a chipped tile, broken stair, busted drawer or wobbly table -- break out your toolbox and get it done. Often, these are little things that don't require much time or effort, but we push them off because such projects aren't a priority.
Instead of letting these nagging problems get worse, get them fixed and cross them off the list. If DIY isn't your thing, consider hiring a professional to get these projects done quickly.