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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 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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