Do you keep “past due” foods in your refrigerator? You wouldn’t be alone.
A study from the Home Food Safety website shows that more than 40 percent of people either have never cleaned their refrigerators, or can’t remember the last they did.
Past due foods can lose their taste, give off bad odors, and/or make you ill — just a few of the reasons to remain vigilant about your refrigerator’s perishable foods.
Still nursing that ketchup from last Labor Day’s grill out? Put it in the trash. Storing canned vegetables that you bought last year? Get rid of them today.
Watching that freezer burn develop on some of your cold-storage foods? Pitch them in the garbage.
There’s very little good that comes from eating food that’s been damaged, spoiled, or left to rot slowly. That’s one of the reasons why FoodSafety.gov has created its “Storage Times For Refrigerator And Freezer” chart. Listed by food category, it tells you how long a particular food type can remain “safe” in your refrigerator, and in your freezer.
A sampling of the foods, plus their recommended maximum storage times, includes :
- Deli-sliced luncheon meat : 5 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
- Hamburger meat : 5 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
- Leftover pizza : 4 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
In all, the list contains recommendations for nearly two dozen common foods.
In addition, the FoodSafety.gov website maintains a separate safety information section for egg and egg-based products. Egg storage safety is important because more than 400 people contract salmonella each month nationwide.
From scrambled eggs and pies, to quiches and egg-yolk substitutes, you’ll know how long to keep your food, and how long until you should throw it out.
How well do you conserve water?
The government’s EPA estimates that the average family of four uses 146,000 gallons of water per year, at a cost of $700. With just a few small changes, however, that cost could drop by as much as 28%.
You’ll save on more than just your water bill, too. You may save on Plano taxes.
This is because water management is often handled at the municipal level and as water usage grows, so does the need for costly investment in water treatment and delivery systems. Less usage means lower costs.
You’ll also enjoy lower home energy bills. 25 percent of a home’s energy bill is used to heating water for home use.
So, with the above three benefits in mind, here are three ways to cut your household water usage.
Catch Your Shower Water
Nobody likes to step into a cold shower, and we sometimes run our showers for 5 minutes before stepping in. Even with today’s low-flow shower heads, that’s 10 gallons of water wasted. Instead of allowing pre-shower water to run down the drain, catch it in a bucket, instead. Then use the bucket to water house plants and your garden.
Stop Pre-Rinsing Dishes
Today’s dishwashers are heavy-duty food busters. Don’t pre-rinse dishes in the sink, only to move them to the dishwasher where the job will be duplicated. Instead, use a wet sponge to wipe dishes clean, then place them in the dishwasher. The job will get done just as well. Or, for caked on foods, follow the steps above then start the dishwasher. After 3 minutes, pause the cycle to allow water to sit-and-soak on your dishes. Then, restart the cycle as normal.
Test Your Toilets
A single leaking toilet can spill 60 gallons of water per day and there are several places where leaks can occur. The toilet may have a worn out flapper; or, a damaged gasket under the flush valve; or, a crack in the overflow tube. One clear sign of a leak is having to jiggle the handle to make the toilet stop running. To test for leaks, try “the dye test”. Fill the toilet tank with food coloring or instant coffee to a deep color and wait 30 minutes. If any of the coloring finds it way to the toilet bowl, you know you have a leak.
In addition to the tips above, the EPA keeps a list of water-saving steps on its website. See how many steps you can take to reduce your home water usage.
(Image courtesy : EPA.gov)
The typical U.S. household “loses” up to 30% of its annual heating and cooling bill to energy inefficiencies, according to ENERGY STAR®.
The good news is that there are dozens of ways to help your home perform better.
As the calendar turns to July, and as temperatures warm in Texas and nationwide, implement even one of the following cost-saving moves and you can expect your home’s energy bill to drop. Implement two or more, and you can expect your bill to drop by a lot.
Keep it simple at the start. When the sun shines through a window on a cloudless day, it can raise a room’s temperature by as much as 20 degrees. Therefore, the first energy-saving move to review is the easiest one — simply close your home’s window blinds and shades to block out the sun.
With the shades drawn and the sun blocked, your rooms will stay cooler, and so will your home. This is especially important during the mid-day hours when the sun is at its strongest so, before you leave for work, make sure you’ve closed your blinds.
The next step is to change your home’s air filter.
Air filters are meant to be changed quarterly, or monthly if your home has shedding pets. When your air filter is clean, the HVAC unit won’t have to work as hard to push air through your home’s air ducts, saving up to another 7% off your annual energy costs.
Next, replace your home’s incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.
This step can be costly up-front, but over the long-term, savings are big. Not only do energy-efficient light bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs last for years, but they don’t pump heat back into a room like an incandescent bulb will.
Incandescent bulbs are shown to convert 97.5% of their energy into heat, meaning just 2.5% of their supplied energy is used for light. This 97.5% then warms up your house, which costs money to cool.
And, lastly, if your home has ceiling fans, use them.
When a ceiling fan is running, it can make a room feel up to 8 degrees cooler. Just remember that ceiling fans cool you and not the room. Be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.
Whether you’re moving into a new home and want to make it “yours”, or just want to change the feel of your current place, a painting project is an easy way forward. Painting is relatively inexpensive yet it can transform a home’s look-and-feel.
But how do you make sure you’re choosing the best colors and the proper type of paint?
This 8-minute video from Lowe’s tells it all. In it, you’ll learn how professional designers identify a potential paint palette for a room, then how they choose between shade, finish and type.
Among the tips and advice in the video :
- How to use 2×2 “test blocks” to ensure a color works in both natural and artificial light
- How to choose the right colors for a small room, and for a large room
- Why painting the ceiling can change a room’s perceived size
- How to build complementary, split-complementary and analogous color schemes for a room
- How to choose between latex and oil-based paint products
In addition, the video shares notes on how light bulb types can affect the “warmness” of a particular paint color, and how to consider existing room elements such as furniture in your final color choices.
Paint projects require little advance planning and, if done properly, they can change the feel of a room, and a home. Most projects can be completed within a weekend.
Do you clean your refrigerator regularly, or only after you’ve run out of space? If your answer is the latter, your refrigerator may be harboring dangerous bacteria that can make you, your family, and your house guests ill.
Refrigerators should be cleaned monthly, inside and out, ideally. The process involves removing all foods, cleaning all shelves, and wiping down drawers. Spoiled food is removed and old containers reclaimed.
The process takes 20 minutes. Here’s how to do it.
First, prepare your cleaning stations, including filling a sink with soapy water, and having drying towels handy. Complete this step before you start to remove food from the refrigerator. This limits the amount of time that food has available to reach room temperature.
Next, remove all food from the appliance. Throw out old food past its expiration, and leftovers which have been in containers for more than a few days. Check dairy products for expiration dates — especially cheeses and creams. Toss fruits and vegetables that have spoiled. Wipe down condiment jars and bottles with a damp towel.
Next, with the refrigerator empty, remove all shelves and drawers and wash them in the water-filled sink. Scrub to remove any caked-on foods and spills. Rinse off the soapy water and dry the part on your drying towels.
Then, while the shelves and drawers are drying, using a mixture of baking soda and water, wipe down the interior surfaces of your appliance. The mixture should be roughly 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every 1 gallon of water. Wipe the mixture off with a clean towel.
Lastly, move the shelves and drawers back into the refrigerator and replace all of the food that’s “good”.
Refrigerators can be a dirty place. We rarely wash our hands before handling food in a refrigerator and that can contribute to a bacteria-heavy environment. A good cleaning, though, can keep our foods — and our home — healthy.
Clean your refrigerator regularly.