The key to #organization is regular maintenance, and nowhere is that more true than a child’s COVID-19–era remote learning space. Rolling carts can help kids #organize their paperwork, electronics and other supplies, professional organizer Wendy Buglio told The Boston Globe early in the pandemic: “A small rolling cart can be used to provide easy access during the school day, but can be tucked out of the way as needed.” Bins are a great option for keeping small items such as masks, chargers, pencils and pens from #cluttering the workspace.
Many areas across the country are experiencing a fast end to the manageably crisp fall temperatures they usually enjoy, going from jacket weather to parka-and-longjohns overnight. Many areas that could expect highs to hover in the 50s are experiencing record-breaking lows; some already have a blanket of snow on the ground and below-zero wind chills.
The abrupt transition from seasonably cool to fantastically frigid likely took many readers (and this author) by surprise. Their best winter garments are probably still in storage or at the cleaners, leaving them to cobble together layered outfits to brave the cold or simply huddle indoors until the sudden cold snap passes.
If you haven’t yet bundled up, now’s a good time to start. Many retailers have announced Black Friday deals well ahead of the actual day, so you can buy yourself that new coat, sweater or blanket at a discount. Better still, you can find lightly used garments at area thrift stores supplied by ClothingDonations.org a fraction of their original retail prices.
Once you’ve got yourself covered, you’ll want to prepare for the worst. Winter storms could trap you inside for days, so make sure you have a good snow shovel and plenty of food and drinking water on hand, Simple Family Preparedness says. Stock up on wood for the fireplace and salt or sand for the sidewalks.
If an extended deep freeze is on the way, fill your gas tank to prevent fuel line freezes. Charge cell phones and fuel backup generators. Weather-strip drafty windows and doors. And refamiliarize yourself with the location of your home’s main water valve in case the pipes freeze and burst.
Most home winterization tasks are a matter of keeping snow, ice and prolonged below-zero temperatures from ruining the equipment that keeps your home climate-controlled in the first place. “Proper winterization involves a systematic review of your home’s HVAC equipment, as well as the critical structural and mechanical systems,” The Spruce says.
Check the furnace and replace filters. Cover your central air conditioning unit to prevent debris from getting in it. Inspect and clean the chimney and insulate exposed pipes against freezes. It’s a lot to get done — but once you do, you can ride out the cold winter months in calm and comfort. Get started before it’s too late!
There’s a chill in the air, and before you know it, there will be snow on the ground. That may sound like a harsh reality to contemplate in mid-October, but the good news is that you still have time to winterize your home in preparation for the colder temperatures.
Even if you live in a more temperate part of the country, a few quick, inexpensive steps will help you save money on utility bills throughout the winter months. Some can even make your home healthier and more comfortable while you save!
For example, the first thing to do — whether you own or rent — is to replace the furnace filters. This will help them run at optimum efficiency, saving money on gas bills, while also improving indoor air quality. If you have pets or allergies and can’t remember when you last replaced your furnace filters for a few months, the task is likely overdue.
Next, you should eliminate any drafts that might be allowing heat to escape from your home. Invest in doorway draft “snakes,” caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors, and pull out that window A/C unit. And to keep cold air on the outside of older, single-pane windows, LifeHacker says, tape bubble wrap to them or use a window insulation film.
Owners can improve their homes’ overall weather-readiness by adding insulation to walls, window frames, doorways, outlets, ducts, and especially attic floors and ceilings. And home-improvement guru Bob Vila recommends the installation of a programmable thermostat to avoid heating the house when you’re not there.
It’s also a good idea to insulate pipes, says Popular Mechanics. Not only will you pay less to heat water, you’ll protect your pipes against costly freezes and bursts during winter cold snaps. Foam pipe insulation is cheap and easy to install — and while you’re at it, “bleed” your water heater and turn it down to 120°F to save even more on utility costs.
Finally, The Art of Manliness says, take a cue from former president Jimmy Carter and put on a sweater! You’ll add about 4° of fully mobile warmth to your body, allowing you to lower the thermostat and potentially save hundreds of dollars. (Low on sweaters? Check out a local thrift store supplied by ClothingDonations.org to stock up on the cheap!)
Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to keep warm all winter long without breaking the bank.
Fall is the time to go apple-picking, carve a jack-o’-lantern, and watch the leaves change colors. Those falling leaves, of course, herald another chore for the home gardener; left unraked, they can create a dense, moist barrier that prevents grass from growing.
But a good fall cleanup only begins with raking the leaves. Savvy homeowners should clear gutters of fallen leaves and other debris to keep them flowing through snow melts, according to True Value’s maintenance tips. Also dethatch and aerate the lawn to ensure it gets a healthy start next year, and plant any bulbs you want to bloom first thing in the spring, such as daffodils and tulips.
On the deck or patio, clean and store garden furniture, flowerpots and tools that you don’t want exposed to the elements through the winter. Cover up that outdoor grill or move it indoors to avoid rust and debris. And to rid the deck’s surface of mildew, simply sweep and wash it with a detergent/peroxide solution or power washer.
If you have a vegetable garden, give it a good tilling before the first freeze sets in, the SafeWise Report says. Prune tree branches—especially those likely to buckle under the weight of snow and ice. Thin out, divide and redistribute perennial plants, and they’ll pop up in new places next year without costing you another cent. Protect cold-sensitive plants and new plantings with a heavy layer of mulch.
To clean up your outdoor space in an eco-friendly way, compost raked leaves and other garden detritus, says Rodale’s Organic Life. Given the chance to break down over the winter, they will create a rich source of nutrients for new plants. Also leave a few spots for beneficial insects to winter such as brush piles, and leave leafy green plants in the ground or plant a cover crop of rye grass to eliminate pests and nourish the soil.
If you find that you have more planters, tools, lawn furniture and garden gnomes than you need during the course of a thorough fall cleanup, contact ClothingDonations.org to schedule a pickup. A truck will come and whisk away those extra items (along with clothing and other housewares), and you will no longer need to worry about where to store them for the winter.
Then, kick back with a cup of hot chocolate and the warm feeling that comes with knowing you’ve contributed to a good cause. Enjoy the fall!
Now that you’ve bought a programmable thermostat and replaced the furnace filters, it’s time to take your winterization to the next level. If you plan on using your fireplace, get it swept and stockpile wood, says The Balance blog; if not, install a chimney balloon to block downdrafts. Remember to get winter-specific equipment such as snowblowers, snow shovels and road salt ready for the onslaught of ice and snow, while also draining summer equipment such garden hoses, lawnmowers and air conditioners to prevent freezes and failures. Then, settle in for a safe and toasty winter!