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6 Fast Fixes for the Holiday Season

Easy ways to prep for the festive winter rush

Clean Up Candlesticks

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Pop wax-covered candlesticks in the freezer for about an hour to help you easily scrape away any messy drips.

Swap Out Old Bulbs

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With longer nights, it's a good time to switch to energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, which use up to 80 percent less electricity than incandescents.

Change Air Filters

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'Tis the season for revving up the heat. Energy Star recommends checking your furnace filter every month during the winter and cleaning or replacing it as needed.

Cook Efficiently

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Using pots smaller than the size of your burners wastes energy—up to 40 percent if you use a 6-inch pot on an 8-inch burner. Choose an appropriate pot size to help cut down on utility costs.

Silence Noisy Floors

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Work talcum or baby powder between squeaky floorboards with a dry paintbrush.

Clear Out Weep Holes

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Weep holes—the small holes in window frames that allow moisture to escape—can often get clogged with dirt. Use a soft, small brush to clear the opening.

Protect Pets

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Festive plants may be beautiful, but many of them can be harmful to pets if ingested. Amaryllis, holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias can lead to vomiting, irritation, erratic behavior, or even death. To keep flora out of reach, place it high up on shelves or install hanging baskets for holiday displays. For a full list of dangerous plants, visit aspca.org.

Banish Emerald Ash Borers

Photo by insect courtesy of Invasive.org; (woodpile) simplycreativephotography/Getty Images

This insect has killed tens of millions of ash trees in 25 states and is often found hitching a ride around the country via firewood. To help keep it from migrating, make sure that any wood you purchase this season is locally grown and heat-treated. Then monitor your ash trees for signs of the pest, such as wilted leaves and D-shaped exit holes in the bark. For more information, visit stopthebeetle.info.