Keep the cold out this winter
During the cold months, your utility bills can be considerably higher. You can combat this by scheduling an energy audit through your utility company. They’ll give you tips such as insulating your water heater, attic and pipes, installing a programmable thermostat or switching to lower-wattage bulbs. Or you can do an assessment yourself. Visit energysavers.gov/your_home/energy_audits/index.cfm/mytopic_170 for a checklist.
If you don’t use a winter weather window kit, add window quilts or blankets, thin Styrofoam insulation, Plexiglas inserts, insulated curtains, bubble wrap or space blankets to keep heat inside. Check weather-stripping or use a draft stopper, too.
The first reader tip has another suggestion to block cold air leaks:
There are foam pads that can be placed behind the outlet and switch plates to help reduce heat escape. These areas on outer walls are not as well-insulated and can suck heat out of a room. — Carol, Maryland
I fill gallon-sized, restaurant supply-style glass jars with various types of pasta. Makes it easy to see how much pasta I have. — Diane, forums
I use foam or egg-crate foam stacked in layers until it’s soft enough. If needed, I use rip-stop nylon to make a case to hold everything together, as sometimes I need to use more than one piece of foam to make the pad big enough. Then I slip that whole works into a contractor trash bag. Those are large and very thick, so they stand up to claws. Then the pad gets a cover, usually Cordura because that repels pet hair and is water resistant. It’s also very sturdy and dries quickly, so if a pet makes a mess on it, it’s easy to clean up by rinsing and hanging to dry. The contractor bag keeps any messes from soaking into the pad, so that never needs to be washed. — S.D., Minnesota
Check local Habitat for Humanity ReStore:
I paid just $10 for an end table that fits nicely in the corner for the sofa and love seat. Habitat For Humanity ReStore supports a great cause and helps me save money! — Debbi, New Jersey
Homemade gift ideas:
I made an earring holder by putting a mesh screen inside a nice frame. You can also make a tray out of a large picture frame by adding handles on opposite ends. It makes a good gift for people who like to entertain. — Shoiji, New Jersey
Snowman cocoa craft:
Use two half-pint canning jars with lids. Fill the bottom jar with cocoa mix and the top jar with mini marshmallows. Decorate the top jar with a felt scarf, eyes, nose, etc. Glue the jars together to make a snowman. — Lisa, New York
Parmesan cheese container:
I reuse them for shredded cheese. My kids can shake the container to put cheese on their tacos, baked potatoes, chili, salad, etc. without making a mess. Makes a great container for cinnamon-sugar mix, too, or you can fill one with baking soda for cleaning. — Ginny, Ohio