Pesky Relatives Mess Up Workshop

Q: My wife’s relatives are coming in next week to stay with us through the holidays. They tend to sit around the house, run up the electric bill and mess around with the tools in my workshop. Any tips for handling them? — Bill in Kissimmee, Fla.

A: Unfortunately, I’m not Dear Abby, so I don’t want to step into personal territory by suggesting how to handle relatives. I might be able to provide some suggestions on cutting the electric bill a bit and preserving some of your sanity.

You probably won’t be able to change their sitting-around habits (presumably watching television or tapping away on their laptops, if you say they’re running up the electric bill). Talk with your wife about getting away together for an evening or two during their visit, or schedule a get-together with your friends one night.

To save electricity turn the heat a few degrees cooler (or turn the air conditioning a few degrees warmer, since Florida weather can be tricky in December). Not out of your comfort zone, but just a little less intense. Running the central air or heat less can knock a little bit off of that electric bill. Shut off any unused rooms by closing the registers and then shutting the doors. If you have Christmas lights indoors or out, light them for only a few hours each evening.

As far as your workshop goes, that’s pretty easy. Set limits. Politely ask, or have your wife ask, your in-laws to stay away from the shop area. You don’t need to give an excuse. As added insurance, lock the door to the shop — as long as it doesn’t impede safe exit from the house in an emergency.

HOME TIP: The home workshop can be a welcome escape from a hectic holiday schedule. Make some time to work on a project or just organize your workspace this season.

Send your questions or home tips to, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. When in doubt as to whether you can safely or effectively complete a project, consult a professional contractor. © 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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