Author Archive | Tim Werth

How to Keep Your Home Warm While Saving Energy

With the temperatures dropping outside, it’s important to keep your home warm and cozy. But if you keep the heat cranked up to the max, there’s a good chance your energy bill is going to increase drastically. Fortunately, you don’t have to freeze to save energy this winter. We’ve compiled a list of a few simple ways to keep warm and reduce your energy use all winter long.

First, if you have yet to invest in a programmable thermostat, now is the time to do so. Having a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the temperature to go lower when you’re not home or sleeping. While this may seem like it doesn’t do much, lowering the heat even just a few degrees can make a big difference. But it’s important to use it wisely and ensure you’re not trying to cool down or heat up your home with a huge difference in temperature. This actually uses more energy. So be mindful when you’re programming the temperature settings.

Next, it’s important to take a look at your windows. Drafty windows are one of the biggest causes of energy waste in homes. And if your windows are more than 15 years old, you could be at risk of dealing with drafty windows. So check your windows for any air leaks — if you find any, invest in new windows or at the very least, seal the drafts. Along with your windows themselves, it can be beneficial to utilize your curtains. On sunny days, open the curtains up and let the light in to help heat your home. And when the sun goes away, shut the curtains for added insulation between the room and the cold windows.

If you experience unusually high heating bills, you may want to consider taking a look at your home’s insulation. Having proper insulation is extremely important for keeping heated air inside your home. Because heat rises, about 40% of heat loss occurs through the attic. So it couldn’t hurt to hire someone to take a look at your home’s insulation and replace it as necessary. Insulation can wear down over time and can even be ruined by pests. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have it replaced if needed.

And lastly, it’s important to keep your heating systems maintained. Fortunately, scheduling annual inspections can be an easy way to make sure everything is in good working condition. But if you notice anything wrong with your furnace, heat pump, or another heater, it’s important to get it taken care of as soon as possible. When heating systems have to work harder to run, they use more energy. Additionally, you should check your other systems too for damage or leaks. This includes systems like your hot water heater. Without household leaks wasting about 900 billion gallons of water each year, it’s essential to make sure your systems are running as efficiently as possible.

Saving energy in your home doesn’t have to be hard. Keep these few simple tips in mind and you’ll be toasty warm with a low energy bill all winter.

Simple Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly This Winter

With the cold winter weather here, you’re probably doing everything you can to keep the inside of your home warm and comfortable. Unfortunately, the winter months often mean an increase in energy consumption. So how can you go green this winter without feeling like you’re living in an igloo? Here are a few tips to help you be more energy-efficient during the winter months.

Unfortunately, the Department of Energy shows that about 56% of energy used in U.S. homes is for heating and cooling. But the good news is that you don’t have to completely shut off your heat to save some energy. Turning down the thermostat even a degree or two can make a big difference in energy consumption. Getting a programmable thermostat can allow you to have the heat turn down when you’re asleep or not at home so you won’t even notice the difference. And you can always snuggle up in more blankets if you get too cold.

Another thing to keep in mind when considering your heat use is ensuring your home is properly insulated. If there is a lack of insulation or even cracks or drafts around windows and doors, you could be losing a lot of heat in your home. And when this heat is lost, your HVAC system has to work harder to replace it, using more energy. So consider installing weather stripping around windows and doors and sealing entry points for outside lines with proper insulation to avoid losing heat in your home.

With the winter days being shorter and darker, you probably have more lights on in your home than normal. This is another great opportunity for going green — did you know that LED lights use only 15% of the energy that a standard halogen light uses? Not only that, but LEDs offer up to 85% more light output too. So by switching out your halogen bulbs for LEDs, you’ll be reducing your energy consumption and getting more light in your home.

And lastly, consider going green when it comes to your diet as well. When it comes to buying fruits and vegetables, consider buying in season options. While today’s modern world allows us to have access to fruits and vegetables all year no matter the season, out of season produce has to be shipped from far away. This uses tons of fuel, which is something you can help reduce. So try to make an effort to buy produce that is in season throughout the winter months.

Being more eco-friendly this winter doesn’t have to be difficult. So keep these simple tips in mind for a greener winter.

Natural Home Remedies for 3 Common Skin Blemishes

Sometimes, maintaining healthy skin can seem impossible. If you have acne, that bacteria-fighting scrub from the drugstore might dry out your skin, causing itchy and painful redness. If your skin is too dry, a store bought moisturizer might make your skin appear greasy. Finding the perfect product may never happen.

Luckily, there are natural ways to boost your skin’s appearance. Below, we’ve listed some great at-home remedies that can combat common skin blemishes without hurting your skin’s health. As a bonus, these natural methods can be cheaper than serums and soaps produced commercially, so you won’t waste big bucks if they don’t work for your unique skin.

Here are just a few fuss-free natural remedies for common skin ailments and blemishes:

Fighting Acne Naturally

Acne is incredibly common. In fact, 85% of people have experienced acne in some form throughout their life. However, just because acne is common doesn’t mean you want to have it. Pimples are painful, and deep forms like cystic acne can leave scars.

There are many types of acne that all have different causes and symptoms. However, natural skin hygiene habits can combat most forms of this condition. Try this homemade honey-based face wash from Dr. Axe to combat acne-forming bacteria:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 20 small droplets of melaleuca essential oil
  • 2 capsules live probiotics

Leave this mixture on affected areas for two minutes, then wash away with water. Repeat once daily to kill bacteria and reduced inflammation associated with acne!

Reducing the Appearance of Scars at Home

Like acne, scars come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Though we commonly think of scars as long-healed cuts, scars can also come from burns, surgeries, or tissue that was completely removed.

Scars on the face can be particularly troublesome. Even though in 2016 91% of children were vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, many older adults have facial scars left from these types of childhood illness. Scars anywhere on the body can appear darker or lighter than the surrounding skin, and keloid scars form bumps.

Scars are signs that your body has done the work of healing an earlier injury. As such, scars don’t need treatment themselves for you to be in good health. Scars are also unlikely to disappear completely. However, if you’d like to minimize the appearance of a scar, you can try the following natural method:

Aloe Moisturizing

Try taking a leaf of an aloe plant and peeling away the dark outer skin. Then, scoop out and apply the light green/clear gel directly to the scar area. Let the gel rest for half an hour, then rinse with cool water. Repeat twice daily.

Natural Cellulite Treatments

It’s been estimated that 80% to 98% of women have cellulite somewhere on their body. Even though it is common, many women and men alike would prefer their cellulite was less noticeable. Cellulite is associated with the body’s fat storage processes, so many consider diet and exercise to be the best treatment.

However, even individuals with a healthy weight can have cellulite. No matter your size, there are a variety of methods for reducing cellulite. Try eating more seaweed or soaking with seaweed in your bathwater. Seaweed is known for balancing hormones and drawing toxins out of the body. Additionally, dry brushing with a natural bristle brush can improve circulation and exfoliate old skin cells, which may reduce dimpling and improve skin’s overall appearance.

No matter what your skin looks like, all-natural methods can help you save a little money and support your overall health. Before trying expensive and artificial serums for skin conditions that may never go away (like stretch marks, scars, and wrinkles), give these natural, homemade solutions a try.

Four Everyday Household Tips to Save Your Money (and the Planet)

Reducing your carbon footprint at home might seem like a confusing hassle, but it can actually be quite simple. Many homeowners think that they have to rebuild their home and upend their lifestyle to help the environment, but there are many smaller steps that can still make a big difference to the planet.

As a bonus, cutting back on your energy use and material waste can not only help save the natural environment, but it can also help you save money in the long run.

Take the following steps to reduce your waste for a greener planet and a greener wallet.

  1. Remember Your Three “R”s
    Reduce, reuse, and recycle as many items as you can. Try to only buy food that comes in packages that can be recycled, or buy produce at farmers markets to reduce food package waste. Buying used clothes, furniture, and even vehicles is also a good way to cut back on energy waste from manufacturing, and will help you save money on needlessly new products.
  2. Get an Energy-Efficiency Audit
    Every home uses energy to stay well-lit and warm– in fact, 45% of the average energy bill is spent on heating, according to the Department of Energy. Scheduling an energy efficiency audit with an energy professional can help you figure out where your home is wasting electricity and heat. The experts will give you recommendations for reducing waste and saving cash on your utility bills.
  3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Features
    After your energy audit, you may realize just how much energy your refrigerator, washing machine, television, and other large appliances expend. Purchasing Energy Star rated products is an investment that will save you money in the long run in terms of quality and reduced energy bills. Even replacing windows with energy-rated panes can reduce consumption — the single-pane windows common in many homes built before the mid-1990s are notorious for releasing heat in the winter, releasing cool air in the summer, and letting in noise year-round. Upgrading household items, from windows and doors to light bulbs and microwaves, is a great and green choice.
  4. Get Chilly
    Though insulating your home will help you stay warm and help reduce heating waste, staying cool can also reduce your carbon footprint. Specifically, use your water heater as little as possible for a cooler planet. Wash clothes in cold water, and even consider taking cooler, shorter showers. Setting a programmable thermostat a few degrees lower will also have a small impact on your day-to-day comfort, but a big influence on your energy waste.

Though reducing your carbon footprint may seem like a waste of time, taking the time to reduce energy waste can actually save you money. Use these steps to live a little more conscientiously to protect your paycheck and the planet from unnecessary consumption.

Smarter HVAC Systems Could Help Families Focus on Sustainability and Savings

Now that it’s finally fall, you might be relieved that the temperatures are dropping a bit. Before too long, it’ll be time to crank up the heat. While it’s a good thing that furnaces last an average of 15 to 18 years, the costs that show up on your monthly heating bills might not bring you much joy. But there may be a way to keep costs low and support efforts to live a greener lifestyle: smart HVAC.

Although today’s newest air conditioners use nearly 50% less energy than they did back in 1990, HVAC designers and manufacturers still aren’t completely satisfied with the energy efficiency rates offered by the average unit. In fact, one source reports that HVAC systems account for almost half of all energy used in an American home. Thus, industry professionals have continued to make improvements — and these advancements may appeal to tech-lovers who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

One of the ways to make HVAC greener is to focus on designs that are small and flexible. These units need to be able to fit into tight spaces that already exist in buildings, rather than being installed through a big reconstruction project. Customers want more modular systems that are ductless. And while the centrifugal blower found in HVAC systems — which has fan blades that can be arranged in one of three different ways — might not be replaced with another option, there are big changes that can be made to these systems that can mean big savings (of both energy and money).

For example, there are actually ice-powered and solar-powered air conditioners that use less energy than conventional systems. These systems may be supplemented with natural gas in some cases, which is still less expensive than what you might pay for installation and use. Reportedly, these systems are also more reliable, particularly in the event of a power outage; they’re more efficient on an everyday basis and they’ll keep on running if the electricity goes out, too.

There are also systems that self-monitor or that allow homeowners to control the temperature in individual rooms. The idea there is that you’ll save money by being able to keep temperatures exactly to your liking, rather than compensating with extra units or overheating or overcooling rooms just to get comfortable elsewhere. This idea expands on the smart thermostat — but instead of merely being able to adjust the temperature from your phone, this would allow the homeowner to automatically close vents and redirect air elsewhere when it isn’t needed.

There are many possibilities on the horizon for smarter, greener HVAC systems. From better heat pumps to wireless units, it doesn’t look like the industry will be shifting its focus away from these innovations any time soon. In the meantime, of course, there are ways to reduce your energy consumption from heating and cooling — even without a smart HVAC system.

For one thing, you can put your curtains to good use by letting in light during the brightest and warmest parts of the day and shutting them to keep the heat in at night. You can also pick a thermostat setting and stick to it, rather than fidgeting with the temperature all day. (Of course, a smart thermostat that automates these temperature changes is ideal.) Make sure to check for leaks and seal up drafty doors and windows. And of course, get your existing HVAC system serviced. Efficient HVAC maintenance systems require maintenance checks twice a year to keep running smoothly. While it may not be the most energy efficient model currently available, you can improve its efficiency by ensuring that it’s clean and repaired, if needed.