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4 Home Improvement Hacks for this Winter

4 Home Improvement Hacks for this Winter

Winter is fast approaching and, along with the weather, many of our thermostats are dropping down to survival mode temperatures. The luxury temperatures that we could afford to maintain in the fall seem impossible in the face of winter winds. Unfortunately our utility bills can’t drop as well.

Many of us will face mounting electricity and gas costs just to make our homes comfortable over the winter. These costs, along with the other damage the cold can do to an unprepared home, are enough to remind one of the devastating winters that early American settlers suffered.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take that were not open to the English colonists. By utilizing new and old technologies you can knock digits off your energy bill and save money this winter.

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1. Solar Tech

We usually associate solar energy with hot sunny days, but the sun shines in the winter as well. Solar panels are still an effective energy producer in the winter as long as you keep them well-maintained and free of snow and ice.

A solar powered central heating system in the right state can cut your energy bills to practically nothing. For example, a solar powered home in Oregon could collect energy almost every day of the winter, thanks to the cloud-blocking properties of the Cascade Range.

The energy savings doesn’t stop at the end of winter. A solar powered home is an investment for years to come.

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2. Smart Winter Insulation

Your home’s insulation is your first defense against the cold. It’s critical that it be completely intact and working for you to get the most out of your home’s heating and air.

If you conduct a home energy audit and discover that you have insulation leaks in one or more parts of your home get those fixed as soon as you can. Since insulation repairs can be very costly and time-consuming, you may want to consider closing vents and doors to affected rooms until the necessary repairs can be made.

If you don’t have to use the rooms often, block off the bottom of the door with a blanket or something else thermally insulating so that the warm air in the rest of your home doesn’t go to waste.

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3. Keep Your Heater in Good Shape

Your heating system is the keystone for a comfortable winter. While an entirely broken heater might save you some money, you’ll be in for quite a chilly winter. Meanwhile, a heater that’s just barely pulling through will cost you a lot more than it needs to.

The happy middle ground is a fully functioning heater that’s in good shape. Having your heater at its best will save you money and keep your comfortable at the same time.

In order to keep your heater in good shape, you should schedule regular maintenance with a professional before the coldest weeks of winter come in. October and November are both great times to do this as you won’t be quite so reliant on your heater, but you also won’t be leaving much time for things to break down before the worst of winter starts.

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4. Don’t Forget About the Rest

It’s easy to think that saving money during the winter comes down to managing your heating energy well, but there’s a lot more to it than that. A cold winter can take its toll on a lot more than just your furnace.

Be sure to blow out your sprinkler system before the freezing temperatures come or you’ll be paying a lot to get that fixed in the spring. It’s also important to prepare your lawn tools for winter so that they’re there for you when the grass starts growing once again.

There are a lot of things that we all look forward to with winter. I know I’m excited for hot chocolate and warm fires. As long as we’re ready for the tough parts of winter, we can enjoy the fun parts with zero stress.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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