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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 August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

More on Meditation

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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