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Thanksgiving Home Maintenance

If you’re not already set on hitting the shopping mall during Thanksgiving weekend, you might think about taking a look around your home. As busy as this time of year can be, neglecting home maintenance just before your friends and family arrive is a recipe for embarrassment. If you don’t inspect your home now, December is almost always a lost cause. Whether you’re broiling, basting or baking this Thanksgiving, here are a few ideas to get you started on your maintenance menu and plans for your budgetary leftovers.

1. Turkey and Stuffing: Furniture and Beds

If you have less-than-comfortable furniture, the turkey’s tryptophan is going to make you feel like you’re sitting on a bird’s rump. Lumpy, unforgiving or poorly designed is going to seriously hamper guests’ ability to doze and drool, as the Pilgrims intended. Once broken in, furniture can actually become more comfortable but left to age too long, and you get a filthy, broken-down safety hazard—especially after grandpa has gone back for his third plate. For the bedroom, you might want to think about platform beds. They will modernize your bedroom decorating and provide incredible opportunity to increase your bedroom storage.

2. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: Insulation

The old family recipe for mashed potatoes may have worked in years past, but it’s a good idea to look at your utility bills and your home’s insulation. Gravy may be a necessity for mashed potatoes, but the moisture of roof or plumbing leaks will cause bigger problems than lumpy insulation. If you can’t afford the cost of insulation, at the very least make sure your home is airtight this winter. Check windows, doors and cracks in your walls for air leakage. If nothing else, you may need to install caulk or weather-stripping. You can call this the instant-mashed-potato version of insulating.

Just as russet potatoes and fat-free buttermilk can make for healthier mashed potatoes, there are healthier insulation choices. Cotton insulation, for example, is not only made from recycled denim, but it also doesn’t use glass fibers that cause skin and respiratory irritation, nor does it use formaldehyde, which can leach into your home.

3. Green Bean Casserole: Energy-Efficient Appliances

Whether it’s salad, creamed spinach or green bean casserole, every Thanksgiving dinner needs something green. For your home’s makeup, green should be a dominate theme. If you haven’t replaced your major appliances in the last five to 10 years, chances are your home is needlessly burning through cash. It’s hard to justify replacing an appliance until it goes kaput, but it’s a good idea to look around now, before the situation becomes urgent.

To maximize energy efficiency and value, look for concrete ratings and performance standards. Looking at ENERGY STAR-rated appliances is a good start. Washing machines save you between 38 and 55 percent on water (and water heating) consumption. For dishwashers, you stand to save 25 percent on water and heating. For heating and cooling, which is half of your home’s energy consumption, ENERGY STAR air conditioners and furnaces can save you about 20 percent over most models and even more over older units. Overall, these appliances can save you $1,000 or more every year.

4. Cranberry Sauce: Stain Removal

There are dozens of tricks, home and commercial remedies, but many stains—including cranberry sauce—can be a lost cause to remove from carpet and upholstery. As frustrating as stains can be, too many homeowners think the only reasonable course of action is to rearrange the furniture to cover the carpet or haul stained couches out to the curb. The truth is you probably have more options than you think. Even if you don’t have spare carpet runs, manufacturers may still be producing your carpet and repair professionals have more than one trick up their sleeves. The average cost of carpet repair is $220, and you can hire professionals to come in to do the job quickly and efficiently so you can focus on other to-do list items.

5. Pumpkin Pie: Cleaning Services

Pumpkin pie is meant to be savored without the dread of a mountain of dirty dishes. If you’re playing host this Thanksgiving, you probably aren’t going to be thrilled with the house cleaning that hits full-force that night and the next morning. By planning ahead and scheduling maid service, you can optimize your time management, and when you tell guests not to worry about helping you clean up, you can mean it. You can probably find a maid service to clean your kitchen and living area for around $200.

This is only a few of the more popular home maintenance projects. The point is to use this last breath before the holiday season crush truly arrives and evaluate what your home needs to make it through the winter. Both you and your home will be jollier for the attention.