December brings the joys of the holiday season, but also cold weather and harsh winter storms. We're all very busy this time of year, so if you only have time to do 5 maintenance tasks this December, then here are the ones that that we suggest you do, that will help keep your home safer and more energy efficient. The top 5 maintenance tasks that we recommend you do in December are:
1. Conduct Home Computer Maintenance
2. Remember Basic Holiday Safety Tips
3. Have Emergency Supplies on Hand
4. Check Your Programmable Thermostats
5. Backflush Your Water Heater
1. CONDUCT HOME COMPUTER MAINTENANCE
The first task that we suggest for December is to conduct home computer maintenance.
Home computers have become an essential part of our day-to-day lives. And with December bringing the increased risk of power surges and outages, now is a good time to make sure that your computer is properly protected. The routine maintenance tasks that are important to do for your home computer include:
- backing up important files (in at least two places).
- making sure that you have working surge protectors for your computer and related equipment.
- if you have an external hard drive for your computer, then you should check (or consider adding) an uninterruptible power source for both your computer and your hard drive (because a loss of power while operating can corrupt the drive and lose all of your files).
- updating your anti-virus programs; and
- defragmenting and repairing your drives (since a disorganized hard drive is more likely to crash).
For more information on these maintenance tasks, see our “PC Maintenance” article in our December 2010 newsletter.
2. REMEMBER BASIC HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS
The holiday season can be filled with joy and happiness, but unfortunately, the holidays are also a time of increased accidents and crime. Enjoy the season, but remember that is a time for your family to be extra careful around your home, in shopping malls, and around crowds. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you read the article in our December 2011 newsletter which covers “holiday safety tips for your home, children and pets”.
3. HAVE EMERGENCY SUPPLIES ON HAND
December is a good time to double-check that you have the proper emergency supplies on hand in case of winter power outages and emergencies . . . especially given the record-breaking weather we seem to be having. Fresh emergency supplies that you will want to have readily available include: jugs of fresh water, canned food, batteries, flashlights, candles, a first aid kit, water purification tablets, a manual can opener, matches, IPECAC syrup, and a battery or hand-powered radio.
4. CHECK YOUR PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS
A programmable thermostat can save you up to $150 per year in energy costs, but statistics show that most people with programmable thermostats don’t get this benefit because they have not programmed them properly. So if you have not yet adjusted the winter settings for your programmable thermostat, you should take a minute now to update them. And if you are not sure (or don’t remember) how to do this, then you can usually find online the toll-free phone number for most manufacturers, who can walk you through how to do this. For those of you who don’t have a programmable thermostat, then December is a good time to consider getting one.
5. BACKFLUSH YOUR WATER HEATER
And finally, with the weather getting colder outside during December, this means that your water heater has to work harder (since the water coming into your home will be colder). So December is a good month to remember to backflush your water heater, which will help it to maintain its energy efficiency and extend its useful life. Backflushing involves draining a few gallons of water from the bottom of your water heater. You need to be very CAREFUL doing this, as the water will be scalding hot. If you are unsure how to do this task, then you should hire a professional. You can find out more about backflushing you water heater in the “Water Heater” section in our online How-To Guide.
We hope that our 5 suggested tasks for December will help you to keep your home safer and more energy efficient. And we wish you and your family all the very best for the holiday season and the New Year.
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