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Do just one thing

By Danny Seo


Do you have a drawer full of mustard, ketchup, lemon juice or mayo condiment packets and you’re not sure what to do with them? Toss a few into the freezer and let them get ice-cold. The next time you need a small cold compress to soothe an insect bite or bee sting, or just to de-puff the bags under your eyes, use one of the frozen packets. They can be used and frozen again and again as your quick homemade first-aid remedy.


Cooler temperatures are just around the corner, and now is a good time to take a simple step to help save money and improve the efficiency of your vehicle. So do just this one thing: Check the air pressure of your tires. As temperatures dip, so does the air pressure in your car’s tires. Lower pressure means a decrease in your car’s fuel efficiency. Regularly checking the pressure and adding air if needed can help you save fuel and money.


Take the time today to walk around the house and notice where the vents, registers and heaters are in your home. Over time, people may move furniture, rugs or other obstacles that can block your vents and heaters, preventing air from moving freely in rooms. Simply moving obstructions out of the way can help tremendously to improve the heating and cooling efficiency of your home. And as you locate your vents, give them a good cleaning to remove dust and debris, too.


Smart decorating can help improve the natural flow of a home and make use of every inch of space. But decorating also can help you keep your home warmer in the winter months. Older homes often have no sidewall insulation, and the result is walls that absorb cold air from outdoors and bring the chill inside the house. Insulating the walls can be expensive, but you can provide some DIY insulation by placing bookshelves or other heavy furniture like sofas against the walls to block cold air. Hanging decorative quilts can look good and insulate, too.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a leaky pipe can waste about 10,000 gallons of water per year, which is enough to fill a large swimming pool. During the cooler months, take the time to inspect your outdoor faucets for any leaks. Better yet, turn off the water valves to the outdoor faucets and unhook the garden hose so there’s no water whatsoever in those pipes. This will also ensure that they won’t burst if they freeze, which prevents a costly repair come springtime.


Have you had houseplants outdoors during the summer and want to bring them back indoors? It’s not as easy as simply moving them back inside; it’s important to acclimate them to your home environment over time. Start the process by bringing your houseplants indoors at night, when it’s coolest, and then taking them back outside in the morning. Do this for a few days. Eventually, the plant will become acclimated and will have a much better chance of survival indoors.


How do you know if it’s time to water the lawn? A simple trick will tell you: According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, if you step on your lawn and the grass bounces back, there’s no need to water. If you step on the grass and it stays flat on the ground, give it a good water early in the morning or late at night so the sun’s hot rays don’t evaporate the cool drink your lawn needs.