New Year’s resolutions for your home

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Did you make some New Year’s resolutions this year? It’s estimated that more than half of all Americans will make one or more pledges for the new year. Why not make one or two that can help keep you and your family safe – or even save you a bit of money, too? Here are a few possibilities:

Get your chimney inspected and cleaned. Over time, fireplace and wood stove chimneys can become clogged with residue. Did you know that heating fires are a major source of residential home fires? Annual inspections and cleanings can help prevent fires and help extend the life of your fireplace or wood stove.

Make your home less inviting to thieves. Don’t want to invest a lot of money in a fancy home security system? The good news is that there are a number of easy and inexpensive steps that homeowners can take to deter thieves. Motion-sensing exterior lights and indoor timers, for example, are fairly inexpensive investments that can help prevent a break-in. Here are some other great, free and low-cost ideas designed to keep you and your family safe.

Install a programmable thermostat. If you have an older thermostat, installing a new one could save you money and make you more comfortable. Many newer models have even more features than those manufactured just five years ago.

Find out if you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. Home purchase and refinancing rates remain extremely favorable, but rates are expected to increase later this year. Meet with a qualified and reputable lender to determine if buying a home or refinancing your current property makes sense. Some families, for example, still have mortgages in the 5 percent and 6 percent range and could save up to hundreds of dollars per month by refinancing. In other instances, purchasing a first home or a move-up property this year could be a smart move. Neither make sense for you? Paying a bit extra on your mortgage each month could be a good investment by helping you whittle down your loan balance and help you pay your home off earlier.

Pay your mortgage payment automatically. Still writing out a check for your mortgage payment each month? Allowing your mortgage company to automatically draft your payment from a checking or savings account could be a smart move for some families. That way, you don’t have to worry that your payment is being made on time. Late payments can push your overall credit score lower, especially mortgage payments. On-time payments over time can help increase your credit score, which in turn can help you qualify for lower rates on a variety of types of consumer loans.

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