Including a few that take just five minutes.
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White window with mosquito net in a rustic wooden house overlooking the garden. Bouquet of pink peonies in watering can on the windowsill
Credit: Olga Ionina/Adobe Stock

Daylight saving time 2022 starts this Sunday, March 13 at 2:00 a.m., and since we "spring forward," we are already strategizing ways to make up for the precious hour of sleep we'll lose. But one benefit of this oft-debated time change is that the sun will set an hour later, meaning we have more time in the evening to work on outdoor home projects, kick off our spring cleaning routines, and set the groundwork for our gardens. The start and end of daylight saving time are our biannual reminders to check off those home maintenance to-dos we might otherwise procrastinate. Here are seven important tasks to tackle now.

Test (and Replace) Your Smoke Alarms

There's a reason we include this on our checklists for both the start and end of daylight saving time: a functioning smoke alarm is your best line of defense in a home fire. "In the event of a home fire, you may have three minutes or less to escape," says Steve Kerber, the VP and executive director of UL's Fire Safety Research Institute. "Working smoke alarms provide the earliest possible warning that there is a fire, and every second counts." To test each smoke detector, press down the test button until you hear a loud beep. If there is no sound or the sound is weak, replace the batteries. If you've had your smoke alarm for 10 years or more, replace it, even if the test button works.

If you've disabled your smoke alarm in the past because it was overly sensitive to smoke from cooking, check out some of the new alarms on the market. "Some alarms now have a 'hush' button that desensitizes the alarm for a short period of time," Kerber says. "And new technology coming onto the market has made smoke alarms better at knowing the difference between common steam or smoke from cooking, and an actual potentially life-threatening fire."

Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan

Sit down with your entire household to come up with a fire escape plan. "If there is a fire in your home, there won't be time to plan a way out in the moment," Kerber says. "Make sure your fire escape plan includes a plan A, B, and C. Two ways to get out of every room, and if you can't get out, put a closed door between you and the fire." If you have children, practice the plan with them. And even if you don't have children in your household, come up with a plan so that you aren't trying to coordinate in the middle of an emergency.

Dust AC Vents and Ceiling Fans

Spring cleaning starts now! Before you turn on the air conditioning for the season, vacuum each air vent using the nozzle attachment on your vacuum, then wipe away any remaining dust with a barely damp microfiber cloth.

Clean the dust-laden tops of ceiling fan blades with an extendable (and bendable) microfiber duster. You can also try the pillowcase trick: Standing on a step ladder, slide a pillowcase over a ceiling fan blade, then use your hands to sandwich the blade inside the pillowcase fabric as you slide the pillowcase off the blade. The dust will fall into the pillowcase rather than onto the floor. Dispose of the dust, and toss the pillowcase into the wash.

Disinfect (Yes, Really) Your Gardening Tools

We all know we should disinfect our kitchen counters and cutting boards—but what about our gardening tools? If loppers and pruning shears aren't cleaned properly, they can actually spread diseases between plants. Before the start of gardening season, disinfect your gardening tools using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or a household disinfecting spray. When pruning, clean the shears as you move between plants to prevent the spread of disease.

Change Your Water Filters

No matter if you have a small Brita pitcher, a faucet filtration system, or get filtered water through your fridge, it's time to replace the filters. To make sure you remember to change the filters frequently enough, check the manufacturer's recommendations, and then order replacements to arrive at the appropriate times or schedule reminders in your phone. Taking 10 minutes to set up a system now means you'll have clean, filtered water all year.

Start or Schedule Exterior Painting

According to Noah Winkles, pro painter and owner of New Life Painting, the best time of year for exterior painting is when the temperature falls between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending upon where you live, the spring may be the best time to schedule these projects. That means now is the time to book a professional if you're hiring a crew to paint the exterior of your home. Even if you're DIY-ing a smaller project, like painting the front door, now is the time to look at paint colors and get your supplies ready.

Inspect Screen Doors and Window Screens

Springtime means throwing the windows open to let in some fresh air—but you don't want to invite bugs into your home at the same time. Check screen doors and window screens for tears before the warm weather arrives. This will give you time to make any necessary repairs now so you can revel in the warm weather later.

Check for Car Recalls

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 22.8 million vehicles were affected by vehicle safety recalls in 2021. To make sure your car isn't on the list, use the VIN lookup tool to see if there are any recalls for your vehicle. You can find your car's VIN number, or 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number, on the lower left corner of the windshield. You can also download the SaferCar app for iOS or Android to automatically get notified if your car is ever included in any future recalls.