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Automate home maintenance with BrightNest for iOS

This free app not only gives you tips on cleaning, organizing, and improving your home, but also schedules important maintenance tasks so you don't forget them.

BrightNest has thousands of tutorials for maintaining and improving your home, and it lets you schedule routine tasks so you don't forget them.
BrightNest has thousands of tutorials for maintaining and improving your home, and it lets you schedule routine tasks so you don't forget them.
Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Like most homeowners, I've got furnace filters to replace, smoke-alarm batteries to check, a central air conditioner to maintain, and so on. I also have a septic tank and water softener that need occasional attention.

Unfortunately, I'm terrible at tracking this stuff, meaning important tasks often get overlooked or neglected -- sometimes at their peril (and my expense).

BrightNest for iOS lets me schedule these and other home maintenance jobs, thereby ensuring they don't get forgotten.

The app does require you to create an account (because it syncs with the BrightNest Web service), though you can also sign in via Facebook if you prefer. From there you answer a few question about your home, like whether it has pets and/or children and what major mechanical items are installed (furnace, air conditioner, etc.). You can also identify any areas of home improvement interest, like health, green living, and creative projects.

With that done, BrightNest generates some suggested actions for the week. In my case, they included things like spring cleaning, scheduling a service call for my air conditioner, and organize household items into mason jars. Lots of great stuff here, and much of it is suitable for apartment-dwellers as well as homeowners.

Tap any of these items and you'll get a time requirement, difficulty rating, overview of why you should do it, and step-by-step how-to guide. You can mark any suggestion as a favorite for easy referral later, add it to your schedule, share it via the usual outlets (Facebook, e-mail, etc.), or simply mark it as read.

The app also lets you browse and search thousands of other household-related tasks, though it does seem to lack one important feature found on the Web site: custom to-dos. For example, my aforementioned water softener has filters that need changing every 90 days or so. There's no existing task for something like that, but the app doesn't let me create one. The Web site does.

When it's time to do something, BrightNest will let you know -- though it would be nice if it offered the option of integration with the iOS calendar, the way Cozi Family Organizer does with its reminders.

It may not be perfect (and for the moment there's no Android version), but BrightNest is without question one of the slickest and most informative homeowner-helpers I've seen. I'm not only learning from it, but also remembering not to forget stuff. Not bad for an app that costs absolutely nothing.