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3 Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient This Winter

3 Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient This Winter

Winter is upon us, and as the cold slowly creeps up, so does our use of energy. It’s always a hot topic this time of year, “How can I reduce my energy bill?” While changing your light bulbs to LEDs is a step in the right direction, when you look at your home’s energy use holistically, you’ll see that you can break down the energy efficiency of your home into three categories.

  • One, the energy efficiency of the parts that make up the house itself. – including windows, doors and insulation
  • Two, your appliances and other systems which use energy to function. – heaters, air-conditioning, stove, laundry machines, ect.
  • And three, optimizing the energy efficiency of the sources that you currently use. – solar panels, landscaping, ect.

A holistic approach to energy efficiency is one which targets all three areas. Some are one-time investments and some are daily practices, but optimizing and improving even one or two things in each category can go a long way towards lowering your footprint and reducing your monthly energy bills. Take a look at this list and see what you can do to make your home more energy efficient today. After all, who doesn’t like reducing their annual utility bills by half?

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1. Seal Off Your House From Potential Drafts and Energy Leaks

In older homes, installing new replacement windows can have a number of attractive benefits, but did you know that about 38% of your home’s energy loss in the colder months is through poorly insulated windows and doors? That percentage can raise to as high as 50% if your home has single-pane windows or aluminum sliders, leaving you a huge margin for savings with this one single energy-saving action.

Old or damaged windows can lose a lot of heat, so keep your eye on your windows and check for signs of condensation, broken seals or unusual drafts in your home. All of these are indicators that it’s time to upgrade your windows. Replacing your aluminum windows can also make a huge difference in the energy efficiency of your home, since aluminum has a much higher heat transferability than other materials, such as vinyl, fiberglass or wood windows.

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Increasing the insulation in your walls, ceiling and attic is one of the easiest ways to keep your home’s internal temperature isolated from the outdoors. Whether it’s freezing outside or you’d like to keep the cold trapped inside on hot days, increasing your insulation, adding new caulking and weather stripping around your doors, and making sure that your windows are properly sealed are all great ways to prevent drafts that steal precious energy.

  • Replace your old windows with low-conductive, double paned windows.
  • Properly insulate the walls, ceiling and attic in your home.
  • Close all ducts and furnaces in unused rooms.
  • Seal your furnace/AC duct work to keep air enclosed and avoid losing hot/cool air.
  • Close your fireplace damper when not in use.

2. Upgrade And Run Your Appliances Efficiently

It’s safe to say that the older the appliance, the less energy efficient it’s going to be. An easy way to increase your energy efficiency is to replace your older units with new ones. Water heaters, furnaces, refrigerators, and air conditioning units are the biggest energy using appliances in the home. For the best results, replace any older units with Energy Star certified models, and do some research into your particular units to understand how they operate most efficiently.

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  • Replace any older units with Energy Star Certified units
  • Get low flow shower heads, toilets and washing machine to reduce water waste
  • Upgrade to a high efficiency water heater unit and run at a temperature between 120 – 140 degrees
  • Change your air filters regularly to keep your appliances running at peak efficiency

3. Follow Good Energy Practices

Be aware that some of the top energy users in your home aren’t even appliances. iPhones, microwaves, game consoles and TV boxes all have the potential to pull more energy than a medium sized Energy Star rated refrigerator. The main issue with their consumption is that they are often always plugged in and turned on, drawing energy from the grid even when not in use. Being conscious about this, unplugging and turning off your appliances when not in use is a big way to save energy.

  • Turn off your computer monitor, TV, and lights when not in use
  • Unplug old refrigerators instead of using them as backups just to suck energy
  • Plant trees and other landscaping items to provide your home with shade to keep your house cool
  • Use a programmable thermostat to reduce unnecessary heating when you aren’t home
  • Change your lightbulbs to Energy Star models and LEDs
  • Unplug any appliances when gone on vacation or for long periods of time
  • Add solar panels to your roof to take some of the burden of energy off of non-renewable resources

Featured photo credit: pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Breslin Borland

Part time blogger, full time space pirate

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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