INVOLVE THE FAMILY IN THANKSGIVING PREPARATION
Thanksgiving falls during National Family Week—so you have two good reasons to let your kids help prepare the Turkey Day feast.
Of course, you’ll have to keep wee ones away from the hot stove and sharp knives. Still, there are lots of fun, safe ways to get everyone involved:
• Very young children can take the crusts off bread for the stuffing. They can also snap the ends off the green beans.
• Children ages 3 to 5 can help pour in ingredients, and they can help stir or whisk. Have them stand at the kitchen sink to wash vegetables or let them use a hand-masher to make the mashed potatoes.
• Older children can follow directions for a recipe and use cooking utensils with supervision. Let them cut, chop and peel vegetables. These older kids also are strong enough to knead dough, so let them shape and divide the rolls or biscuits.
Cooking can be a great way to get kids interested in science, math and physics, as well as the history of the holiday. Talk about the food you’re making, the measurements of the ingredients and the steps involved in getting food from the farm to the table.
PLAN AHEAD WHEN CONSIDERING A NEW WATER HEATER
When buying a new water heater, you have two options: the con-ventional kind with an attached storage tank or the new tankless kind. Both come with their own sets of pros and cons.
Conventional Water Heaters
Pro: Provide a greater rate of flow, which can make them able to power more applications at once.
Con: Reheat the container of water 24 hours a day, leading to energy loss.
Pro: Less expensive than tankless models.
Con: Take up lots of room.
Pro: Easy retrofit installation.
Con: If all the hot water is used, reheating time is 15 to 45 minutes.
Tankless or On-Demand Water Heaters
Pro: Only heat water when you need it, thus saving energy.
Con: Have a slower rate of flow and can have difficulties heating multiple appliances at the same time.
Pro: Very small; can even be installed outside the home.
Con: More expensive than conventional water heaters.
Pro: Provide constant hot water for as long as you want it.
Con: Retrofitting installation can be expensive.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in a household that uses 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, an on-demand water heater can be 24 to 34 percent more energy efficient than conventional heaters. If you have a large home or want to run multiple showers and appliances at the same time, you can also install smaller point-of-demand tankless heaters near appliances or far-away bathrooms to offset the shortcomings of a whole-house system and save more energy.
Read more about specific water heater models at www.eere.energy.gov.
ARE ELECTRICAL HAZARDS COOKING IN YOUR KITCHEN?
From coffeemakers to toasters, blenders to waffle irons, microwaves to conventional ovens—today’s kitchen sports more electrical appliances than ever. These appliances, like other electrical devices in your home, need to be operated safely and conscientiously in accordance with manufacturers’ guidelines. As an increasing number of electrical appliances in our homes become necessities, our homes’ power circuits will grow more overloaded.
This puts you and your family at risk. To ensure you don’t have a potential safety hazard brewing in your kitchen, follow these tips:
• Unplug kitchen appliances such as toasters and coffeemakers when you’re not using them, and never allow appliances like a stove or microwave to remain running when you leave home.
• Never use a fork, knife or other metal object to clean debris from “live” kitchen appliances such as plugged-in toasters or toaster ovens. For routine cleaning, make sure these appliances are switched off and disconnected.
• Avoid using electricity near water or other liquids. Clean up all spills in or around an electrical appliance after making sure the power supply has been disconnected. Never submerge an appliance or its electrical cord or plug in water or any other liquid.
• Install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your kitchen. GFCIs are designed to prevent shock hazards by interrupting power if electrical current leaks from a damaged cord or appliance.
• Always check your kitchen appliances for damaged cords or plugs before you use them. Contact with a faulty or frayed power cord or a broken appliance can cause electric shock. If an appliance malfunctions or appears to be damaged in any way, disconnect the appliance from the power outlet and have it repaired or replaced immediately.
• Never let power cords or plugs dangle over the edge of counters or come in contact with hot surfaces. Dangling cords are a danger to small children who might pull them.
Tips for Using Your Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens are among the most popular kitchen appliances. Be wary of the dangers associated with using them.
• Use only containers and tableware stamped “microwave safe.” Metal or aluminum should never be placed in a microwave.
• If food you’re preparing catches fire, unplug the cord immediately but do not open the door. That would only feed oxygen to the fire. Wait for the fire to extinguish then remove the contents from the oven.
• Always use caution when removing items from your microwave. While your microwave stays cool, what’s being cooked inside becomes very hot.
LEAVES, LADDERS AND LINES
The leaves are falling, and chances are you’re getting out the ladder to clean the gutters, using an electric leaf blower to gather leaves from your lawn and taking on other jobs around the home that could put you at risk for electric shock.
Be careful how you carry that ladder. If you lift it up in the wrong place, you could brush overhead power lines and give yourself a serious shock. Once the ladder is up and in place, take care as you work and give overhead lines a wide berth. Always know where power lines are and avoid them.
COMBAT HEAT LOSS WITH BLINDS, DRAPES
Window treatments do more than beautify your room and ward away Peeping Toms. They’re also an energy-efficient tool to prevent heat from escaping your home when it’s cold outside.
Windows and doors account for about 30 percent of a home’s heat loss, but using blinds and drapes can help reduce this. Follow these tips to keep drafts out:
• Place a “draft dodger”—a sand-filled tube, for example—along the bottom of draperies.
• Seal drapery edges to the sides of windows using magnetic tape or Velcro.
• Use a closed cornice board at the top of window coverings. The board will keep heat from entering the top of draperies and pushing cold air into the room.
• Make or buy curtain liners to place in between the drapes and the window.
• Thermal shades will help insulate your home and are easy to make with batting fibers or fiberfill.
• Snug-fitting roller shades and blinds, mounted within the window’s frame, can stop heat loss.
• Open your blinds and drapes on sunny winter days to invite the sun’s warm rays indoors. Close them at dark when the temperature drops.