4 winter-blues-busting home improvement projects

(HIB) – Three percent of the U.S. population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) every winter, according to Psychology Today. But you don’t have to be diagnosed with an actual disorder to suffer a bad case of the winter blues — it can happen to anyone. Since climate and environment have a lot to do with causing winter doldrums, you might find engaging in some home improvement projects can make you feel happier and healthier this winter.

Freshening your space can feel good any time of year, but certain projects are perfectly aligned to give you a much-needed mood boost when it turns cold or wet weather sets in. Here are four projects that not only can brighten your outlook, they can also be good for your wallet:

1. Install skylights

Avoiding SAD is preferable to treatment and skylights can help you maximize the amount of natural light that enters your home this winter. More natural light is good for you on many levels.

Sunlight stimulates the body’s production of Vitamin D and increases the levels of serotonin in your brain; lower serotonin levels are thought to be associated with depression, lack of energy, elevated appetite and excessive sleepiness. What’s more, if you opt for Energy Star-qualified solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those made by Velux America, you can also help improve indoor air quality. These skylights open, providing passive ventilation to allow stale indoor air to escape and fresh air to enter, and they close automatically in case of rain.

Skylights can also be good for your financial health. Solar powered skylights, along with solar powered blinds, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. Also, more natural light in your home on a dark winter day can help decrease your need for artificial lighting. And sunshine can help warm the interior of your home and support the work your furnace does to keep the house comfortable.

Skylights can be installed in many areas of your home with kitchens and baths being among the most popular choices for more natural light, fresh air, and privacy. Even areas without direct roof access, like hallways and closets, can benefit from more natural light through tubular Sun Tunnel skylights. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more.

2. Replace your garage door

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think much about your garage door or the impact it has on how your home looks and feels. Yet the garage door is a huge surface area that directly affects your home’s curb appeal and its ability to retain heat in the winter.

A great deal of warm air can escape a home through an uninsulated garage door. What’s more, when the garage gets cold, it can affect the comfort of rooms around and above it. Have a game room over the garage that’s chilly in winter? The garage door could be to blame.

Replacing an old, uninsulated garage door with a new insulated model can improve heat retention. And a new garage door is a great way to update your home’s facade.

3. Replace an old appliance (or as many as you can afford)

If you’re already bummed by winter, having to live with old, beat-up, inefficient appliances will only add to your frustration. Plus, older appliances generally use more electricity and water than newer models.

Replacing an old refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer with Energy Star-qualified appliances can help reduce your energy and water consumption — and bills. It’s also an improvement that you can feel good about because it’s the perfect marriage of practicality (you really need appliances that function well) and enjoyment (all those bells and whistles just make the work more fun).

4. Declutter and add organizers

You may not think of cleanup as a legitimate home improvement, but decluttering and organizing your environment can definitely boost your mood. In American homes, the problem of clutter has reached staggering proportions. More than half of Americans (54 percent) say they feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in their homes, and 78 percent have no idea what to do with it, according to a recent survey by the National Association for Professional Organizers and Declualsottr.com.

Grab some trash bags and start cleaning house. Trash the things that are clearly junk, donate things that are still usable but not by you and set aside the things you want to keep. Invest in some closet, cabinet and drawer organizers. Add storage cubbies to a mud room or entryway and create storage space in your garage.

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