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Gingerbread Ornament

Family and friends will soon be gathering around overflowing tables, and brightly lit trees and candles, to celebrate the holidays and one another. Planning ahead with a few tips and checkups, everyone can stay comfortable as you come together for holiday parties.

Check your HVAC system

Before your home fills up with holiday guests, schedule a maintenance checkup for your heating and cooling system. With the wild weather changes these days, you never know when you’ll have to switch between the two, so it’s always important to make sure everything is working properly, filters have been changed, ducts have been inspected, and that the system is in tip top shape.

Use a programmable or smart thermostat

If you’re hosting, you don’t want to have to constantly monitor the thermostat to keep everyone comfortable. Make use of a programmable or smart thermostat that can adjust to the changing indoor temperature as doors open and close, and people fill the rooms. If that’s not an option, however, start with a slightly warmer temperature as guests arrive, and then reduce it a few degrees later in the evening as the rooms warm with guests.

Cook ahead

Ovens filled with turkeys, roasts, and side dishes will heat up the kitchen, and even more of the home if you have an open floorplan. Reduce the heat output by preparing some dishes ahead that can be quickly reheated or kept warm in crockpots.

Check your smoke and CO detectors

If you seasonally change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, you should be in good shape. But if you’ve missed a battery check, now is a good time to test your detectors before cooking gets under way and the guests arrive.

Check your water heater

Holidays are heavy water usage times, from cooking, to beverages, to dishwashing, to bathroom usage. Make sure that temperatures are set adequately (and safely) and that your water heater is working properly for everyone’s comfort.

Use a humidifier

If you’re turning up the heat in addition to cooking a feast, indoor air can get a little drier than usual. Set the humidifier on your HVAC to a comfortable level or use a standalone humidification appliance.

Keep warm by the fire

Even in our warmer climate, an ambient fire can be cozy and invite your guests into the holiday spirit. If you have a small fireplace (wood or gas), light it up for the party. Just remember to reduce your thermostat a couple degrees to compensate.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold

Once the party is under way, be sure to keep food at a safe temperature. Using crockpots, low ovens, or chafing dishes, keep hot foods hot. Likewise, keep cold foods on ice or in the refrigerator. Hot foods, once serving is complete, should be refrigerated within 2 hours. Dividing leftovers for guests? Package everything up and then refrigerate until they’re ready to leave. A little food safety—just like a cozy temperature—goes a long way to support holiday comfort.

May you enjoy your holidays surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones, in the comfortable atmosphere of a home warmed first and foremost by love!

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