Many homeowners are constantly looking for ways to improve their property, either to increase its value or to enhance their own experience of living there.
Things like home security, entertainment systems or maintaining the outside of a property are amongst the main considerations for homeowners.
Read on for our top five essential upgrades to make to your home in 2018.
Home safety and security
Keeping a property safe and secure is one of the biggest concerns for every home owner. There are plenty of new smart home devices now available, with locks, doorbells, cameras and motion sensors all creating a safer home environment.
Many of today’s security systems feature wireless technology, allowing you to monitor your home remotely. Some systems can even send notifications to your mobile device when they detect a potential safety or security risk.
Most of these feature cameras, but you can enhance the systems with other security products such as the aforementioned smart locks and motion sensors.
There are many advantages to owning a home security system, including protecting valuables, saving energy, guarding against fire and lowering insurance premiums.
Home entertainment and comforts
People spend a large amount of time at home, so improving your internal surroundings makes a great deal of sense.
Making changes to your home entertainment system can involve products like 4K televisions, smart speakers and streaming devices. All contribute to the overall experience, producing crystal-clear visuals and stunning surround sound.
Investing in new windows, adding new lighting, purchasing the best mattress possible or laying down new flooring can all improve your home and end your enjoyment of it. Restyling your kitchen, adding fitted wardrobes to your bedroom or building a conservatory are other popular ways to add value to your home.
Small things like plants and ornaments can also make a huge difference, making your home pleasing on the eye and a pleasant space to spend your time in.
Automating elements of your home can make life more convenient and enjoyable. It can maintain an ideal temperature throughout the house, regardless of outdoor weather conditions, or turn lights on and off in response to your presence in the home. Some devices, like a smart thermostat, offer the added benefit of decreasing energy costs.
Start your upgrades with a home automation hub which acts as the brains of your ‘smart’ operation, making it easy to fully control all the different devices you introduce.
The likes of Amazon, Google, Samsung and Apple all have products worth considering, but do your homework to find the one that best suits your personal needs. Think about the applications you already use and find out whether the hub is compatible with these. Not all hubs work with all smart home products, so it’s important to purchase the correct one.
There’s a lot to consider when thinking about upgrading the outside of a property. From an aesthetic point of view, planting trees and shrubs gives shade to family, friends and pets, while strategically placed foliage can add to the privacy of your property.
Painting the home’s exterior and treating vulnerable surfaces protects your home against the elements, while keeping the roof and guttering in good working order should be self-explanatory.
Lighting, patio areas and fencing are other areas worth thinking about, with each of them bringing their own unique benefits to your outdoor experience at your home.
If you are regularly visited by friends and family, building a bespoke barbeque area will ensure a steady stream of summer parties and also add even more value to your property.
Maintaining your garage is important too. Don’t let it become a dumping ground for unwanted items. Ultimately it’s there to keep your car safe and will also elongate the life of your vehicle if you keep it in the garage at night.
Home energy efficiency
Many homeowners install solar panels on their roof these days and with good reason.
Solar panel electricity systems capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.
Sunlight is free, so once you've paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be reduced. You can also get paid for the electricity you generate, with a government scheme paying you for the electricity you generate, even if you use it. You can also sell electricity back to the grid, receiving another payment for the electricity you export.
Solar panels also allow you to cut your carbon footprint. Solar electricity is green renewable energy and doesn't release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical system could save around 1.5 to 2 tons of carbon per year.
Solar PV needs little maintenance – the panels should last 25 years or more, but the inverter is likely to need replacing some time during this period, at a cost of about £800.
There are numerous other things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. If you’ve got a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than an electric shower), fit a water efficient shower head. This will reduce your hot water usage while retaining the sensation of a powerful shower.
Draught proofing, keeping your heating system up-to-date and switching to energy saving bulbs are other ways to improve your home energy efficiency.
Investing in your home is investing resources into your own health and wellbeing. Your home should be your comfort zone and if you can’t live comfortably and relax in the confines of your own space, it could potentially upset the balance of the rest of your life.