How Home Automation Systems can Save You Money

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Although it makes sense to curb your energy use to lower your monthly utility bills, taking the steps to make this happen can be difficult especially if you do not know how to start. Although there are home automation systems that all connect to each other, you can start with single devices to get the ball rolling on an energy-saving plan.
Program Your Thermostat

Many homes have heating equipment that is not energy-efficient, especially if the system is a decade old or more. Because it can be costly to replace your furnace, you can turn to a programmable thermostat to keep your heating bills lower. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature throughout the day without having to change the temperature on the physical thermostat. For example, if you want your home warmer when you wake up, colder during the day when no one is at home but still warm when you get back, you can program the thermostat to change the temperature automatically.

Control Your Lights

If your family is constantly leaving lights on, you are likely adding to your electricity bills. There are several different apps that allow you to control all of the lights in your home right from your smartphone or tablet. If you forgot to turn your lights off before leaving for work, all you have to do is simply turn on the app and turn off your lights. You can even use the app to turn your lights back on before you get back to avoid coming home to a dark house.

Use a Smart Power Strip

When you turn off your electronics, you may believe that those electronics are no longer using any energy. However, turning off your electronics simply puts them into “standby mode.” As long as they stay connected to a power source, they create what is known as a “phantom load,” which can cost you money. In fact, phantom load may account for up to 8 percent of your monthly electricity bill.

To avoid the extra cost, you can utilize a Smart Strip power strip. These power strips detect when your electronic equipment has been turned off and cuts the power. This way, your turned off electronics are not still draining power even when they are not in use.

Combining Home Automation Devices

Most home automation devices are designed to work with a virtual assistant, such as Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google. These virtual assistants allow you to access each home automation device from one app. This means you can also set up different settings so that all you have to do to turn down the thermostat, turn off the lights and turn off your electronics all at once is to push a single button. Some of the virtual assistants, like Alexa, even use voice recognition so that you do not need to be near your phone or tablet to active your home automation devices.

Savings from installing home automation devices do not happen overnight and there is an initial investment cost. Over time, however, you will begin to see lower utility bills and you get into the habit of cutting back on your energy use. Not only can home automation devices lower your utility costs, but you may also find the value of your home going up as more homeowners become interested in home automation.

 

Taking Control of Indoor Pollutants During the Winter

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

During the winter when temperatures remain low, keeping the home airtight and warm may be of the highest priority for many homeowners. While sealing off the home from the outside world will save money and keep inhabitants warmer, there is a major drawback. Sealing up the home can cause indoor air pollutants to also become trapped in the recirculating air, potentially causing feelings of illness or other more severe symptoms.
What are Indoor Pollutants?

Indoor pollutants can range from biological allergens like pet dander and pollen to harmful or even toxic particles called volatile organic compounds. Pollutants can be brought indoors from outside or they may be generated inside from appliances or even from the home’s heating unit.

Before you can begin to improve the indoor air quality in your home, you will need to determine where the pollutants are coming from. Volatile organic compounds can be found in many household supplies, personal care products, furnishings and paints. Fireplaces, dryers and other appliances also give off combustion pollutants when they are used. Finally, biological pollutants can be created when the pets shed, mold and mildew buildup in the damp places or if you bring them in from outside. For example, you can potentially bring in pollen, environmental tobacco smoke and pesticides on your shoes.

Symptoms that can be Caused by Indoor Air Pollutants

Poor indoor air quality can make you and other family members feel ill. It can cause watery eyes, coughing and sneezing. When the air quality is very poor, you may even suffer from headaches and upper respiratory congestion. In worst case scenarios, sufferers may even get nose bleeds more easily, have difficulty breathing or even develop a severe lung disease.

Because these symptoms are associated with other illnesses, you may not think about your indoor air quality when you are suffering these symptoms. However, if you feel better when you are away from home, then it may be worth taking steps to improve your indoor air quality.

Simple Ways to Reduce Indoor Pollutants

It is just a fact of life that you, your pets and your appliances will always be producing air pollutants. While you can certainly reduce the amount of some pollutants in your home, making your air permanently cleaner for the winter will involve your heater. Your heating equipment is responsible for circulating the air when your home is sealed off, so any pollutants that are in the home will have to pass through your heater first. As such, ensure that you clean or replace the filter once every 30 days during the winter. If you have a regular filter, you can upgrade to a HEPA filter, which collects smaller particles and prevents them from going back into the circulating air.

Another way you can improve your indoor air quality is to stop using products that leave pollutants in the air. For example, choosing to use green cleaning supplies and non-aerosol personal care products can reduce the amount of pollutants you are adding into the air. Additionally, if you are involved in hobbies that require paint or chemicals, working in a well-ventilated room, even if it is cold, will prevent you from breathing in the fumes. To keep biological pollutants at bay, you can up your vacuuming and dusting game to prevent a buildup of irritants. Shoes should be taken off outside or be left at the front door.

During the winter, it is important for everyone to be aware of their indoor air quality and how to combat them. By being vigilant, you can ensure that the air you are breathing while stuck indoors is clean.

 

The Importance of Humidity

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Many homeowners do not understand just how important the amount of humidity in their homes can be. The amount of moisture in the air can dictate how the inhabitants of a home may feel or even allow for certain unwanted organisms to grow within the home. However, maintaining humidity levels may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you are busy keeping your air conditioner, roof and gutters maintained. Regardless, adding the maintenance of humidity levels could greatly improve the way that you feel while hanging out at home.

 
Dealing with Dry Air

You may find that you suffer from dry sinuses, dry skin and chapped lips during the winter time or when the air becomes particularly dry during the summer. Dry indoor air can cause a person to suffer from nosebleeds, headaches and other associated illnesses.

The main way to increase the humidity level within the home is to purchase a humidifier. There are several different types of humidifiers available, including:

  • Install a Central Humidifier: These humidifiers are included as part of the home’s HVAC system and are designed to raise humidity levels throughout the home.
  • Impellar Humidifiers: These humidifiers have a rotating disk installed that produces a cool mist.
  • Steam Vaporizers: Electricity is used to create a cooling steam that is then released into the air. Because this device involves hot water, it is not recommended for households that have children or pets.
  • Ultrasonic Humidifiers: These devices use an ultrasonic vibration to produce a mist that increases humidity levels.
  • Evaporators: Air is blown through a wet material, which could be a wet filter, belt or wick.

Dealing with Damp Air

High humidity levels often becomes a problem during the summer time. Occupants who suffer from certain allergies may be more likely to suffer from respiratory problems or even asthma flare-ups. Further, dust mites, molds and bacteria can also grow within the home if the humidity levels are high enough.

There are several things that you can do to lower the humidity levels within the home:

  • Purchase a Dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers suck the excessive moisture from the air and collect it in a reservoir.
  • Install a Permanent Dehumidifier
  • Run the Air Conditioner: When air is forced through the air conditioner, the air is not only cooled but dried.

What are the Ideal Humidity Levels?

In general, humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. If the home does not have proper ventilation, the indoor air can become stale and dry. However, if too much moisture is added to the indoor air, the occupants of the home could also suffer from symptoms associated with the flu while the growth of harmful bacteria and other organic contaminants may be assisted.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that homeowners keep their indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. If you or another occupant suffer from allergies, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about what humidity levels would be right for you.

How do I Measure My Home’s Humidity Levels?

The device used to test humidity levels is called a hygrometer, which resembles a thermometer. While these devices can be purchased at any of your local hardware stores, many humidifiers also come equipped with a hygrometer to help keep indoor humidity at a healthy level. Hydrometers come in both analog forms and digital forms, both of which are simple to use and allow you to better control the conditions within your home.

 

Preventing House Fires During the Holidays

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

For many families, the holidays are for traveling far and wide to spend time with family members you may not have seen all year, eat some delicious food and give gifts. However, it may shock you to know that 30 percent of all house fires and 38 percent of all house fire fatalities occur in December, January and February. To keep you family safe and warm, do not neglect to think about fire safety.
Electrical Fires

Each year, approximately 65,000 house fires are started by electrical heating equipment. If you rely on space heaters to keep your home warm, there are a few safety tips you should know so you can operate them safely.

Always read the manual before using a space heater for the first time. This manual will give you specific safety instructions and risks that you should be aware of. Before use, inspect the heater for any cracks, loose connections or broken plugs. If you see any wear, avoid using the heater. Do not ever leave a space heater unattended or let children and pets play nearby without supervision. Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, dry clothing or cook food. These heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat. Heaters should be placed three feet away from the walls and anything that can catch fire, like clothing and paper. Install smoke alarms outside your sleeping areas and on each floor. Make sure to test them once a month.

Kitchen Fires

Kitchen and cooking fires are also the culprits for approximately two out of every five house fires during the holidays. The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. If you are going to be the main cook for the celebrations, try to avoid leaving the food unattended. If you must, most the gathering from the family room to the kitchen so everyone can have a hand in creating a delicious meal.

There are a few other things you can do to decrease the risk of a kitchen fire. For example, ensure that the stovetop and oven are clean and grease-free before you start cooking your meal. Use the back burners to prevent guests from knocking into pans and handles. Keep appliances that are not being used unplugged and out of the way. If there are children present, make sure they are supervised to prevent any shenanigans that could become a fire risk.

Fires Caused by Holiday Decorations

It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of families decorate in some way for the holiday season. Some decorate their living space with a live tree while others go the route of a realistic artificial tree to add charm. If you are going with a live tree, ensure that the tree is green and fresh as this cuts down on the risk of a fire. Newer electrical lights are generally safer than older ones; however, you should still look to ensure that there are no chewed or exposed wires.

Vintage decorations are also becoming all the rage. Vintage metal trees are beautiful and can add a unique touch. However, you will need to be extra careful with these trees as you cannot put electrical lights on them. You will need to purchase standing lights that shine on the tree. Further, vintage electrical decorations may need to be rewired if the old plugs are still attached. Using the decorations as is can put your home at risk for a fire.

The holidays should be a time when you can share the warmth and cheer with your loved ones. By reducing the risks of a house fire, you can cherish these memories without having to remember a tragedy.

5 Tips for Shopping on Black Friday

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

black-friday

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you may be preparing not only for a pleasant feast, but also a run for the best deals. While there are many people who enjoy the hectic atmosphere, there are others who really just want to get in and out. No matter what type of shopper you are, going shopping prepared will ensure that you have a great time instead of coming home irritated and exhausted.

Know Your Ads

Black Friday deals are always available online before the actual day. New electronics and popular toys are released to take advantage of the consumers’ wants, having an idea of what will be on sale at the store can really help you out. If you are on the lookout for a specific item, be sure to shop around now so you know what options you have. Do not forget to look at stores you normally do not shop at. They may have the best deals available and, if they are not as popular as some of the big name stores, you may have a better chance of getting exactly what you want.

Enjoy Those Freebies

Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day has brought forth some criticism. However, there are those who take it all in stride and have simply added Thanksgiving shopping to their ritual. Some stores do hand out freebies. These freebies may range from gift cards and candy to free movie tickets. If you finish your big meal early and still have some energy left, you could come out even more ahead.

Make a Plan

Shopping during the Black Friday sales can be difficult, especially when dealing with the crowds. One of the best ways to get around the confusion is to create a game plan. If you are heading to the mall with a group, figure out who is responsible for buying what item and split into smaller groups. Just make sure to keep your eye on the kids and use your cell phone to stay in touch with the other groups. If you are shopping by yourself, having some idea of where the items are located within the store can prevent some confusion and reduce your wait time.

Stick to Shopping List

The main goal for retailers is to sell you as much product as possible. This is not a conspiracy; in fact, this has been the goal ever since the Black Friday shopping tradition started. To avoid causing problems with your wallet, create a strict list and avoid purchasing items that are not on it. If you love picking up a few extras here and there, budget some extra cash for the impulse items or little surprises for yourself. Further, ensure that you have some backup item ideas ready in case your wanted items are already sold out. This will save you time and money.

Spread the Cheer

If you work a busy job or have experience in retail, it is crucial to remember that the sales associates are spending the holiday working so you can have a nice shopping experience. Treat them with kindness even if they cannot be as helpful as they normally are due to the crowds. A good rule of thumb is that, if you treat the staff nicely, you are more likely to be treated nicely in return. The sales associates may even be happy to search out overlooked items in the backroom as long as you are polite.

Holiday shopping does not always have to be stressful. By planning and being flexible, you can make your Black Friday shopping experience a fun one.

 

Protecting Your Basement from Spring Flooding

Friday, February 19th, 2016

SnowdriftAlthough a heavy snow fall can look quite beautiful, your home or basement may be at risk for flooding when all of that snow starts to melt. The drainage system built into your home is supposed to deal with this runoff by directing water away from the foundation. However, if the drainage system is inadequate or your sump pump is not working properly, you could find inches of water covering your basement floor. However, there are ways you can prevent water from coming in.

Check Your Gutters

 

No matter how well your drainage system works, you could potentially come home to a flooded basement if your gutters are blocked or are in poor condition. If you find that your basement becomes damp when the snow melts, take a look at your gutters. If you see space between the gutters and the fascia, water is most likely falling from your roof and dripping down into your walls instead of into your gutters. If you notice that your gutters have pulled away from the walls, call a local roofing contractor as soon as possible for a quick fix.

You may also have flooding problems if your gutters are clogged. In general, it is recommended that homeowners clean out their gutters once a season at the very minimum, even if you have gutter guards. Leaf litter can block the flow of water from being able to enter the downspouts, causing the water to overflow. Your roofer can also assist with basic gutter cleanings if you are not comfortable working on ladders.

 

Repair or Install a New Sump Pump

 

Sump pumps pump out any water that does infiltrate your basement. Like your HVAC equipment, however, the sump pump will eventually need repairs or fail. If this happens, you’ll find that your basement may be turning into an unwanted indoor pool. If your sump pump is working but you don’t want to have to worry about it suddenly failing without your knowledge, a sump pump alarm will let you know that your basement is no longer protected. This will allow you to get the repairs you need before any flooding actually happens.

If you don’t have a sump pump installed but often find your basement damp in the spring, consider installing one. Not only will the pump protect your basement against water damage and mold, but you’ll also add value to your home and keep your home structurally sound.

 

Waterproof Your Basement

 

If you find that your basement is always damp even though you have a working sump pump and a properly maintained gutter system, it might be time to hire a waterproofer. Most waterproofing companies provide a free estimate for their work. The contractor should be able to find a solution that works for you.

Before you hire a contractor, always look at online reviews for established contractors. Feel free to ask for references so you can ensure that you’re getting quality workmanship. The great thing about waterproofing work is that you will know immediately if the contractor fixed the problems as the water will disappear.

 

Don’t Wait Until You have a Water Problem

 

When your yard is covered in snow and that snow begins to melt, the resulting water will take the path of least resistance. If your foundation is not adequately protected, all of that snow melt may find its way into your basement. If that water sits for any length of time, a small water problem can turn into a major mold and mildew problem. By ensuring your gutters are maintained, your sump pump is in working order and your basement is waterproof, you’ll never have to worry.

How to Avoid Getting Sick During the Cold and Flu Season

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Avoid Getting SickWith the kids back in school and winter activities well under way, a case of the sniffles are bound to happen. However, these sniffles can quickly turn into something much worse. If you manage to catch the bug going around, you could find yourself struggling to get through the day. While there is no way to ensure that you do not get sick, there are certainly ways that you can minimize the risk and stay healthier.

 

Maintain Healthy Habits

When the germs start to make their rounds, staying healthy seems like it can be a chore. However, there are a number of healthy habits that will keep other people’s germs away. For example, keeping your hands clean by washing them before eating or after touching items that are handled by a number of people daily, such as door handles and money, will keep the harmful bacteria away. It is not a bad idea to keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer within reach, especially if you suspect that soap and water may not be available. Further, germs enter the body through the body’s openings, which include the nose, eyes and mouth. While keeping your hands away from these orifices is a good habit to have in general, this habit could be the difference between getting through the cold season unscathed and muddling through several weeks with a stuffy nose.

Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated

Eating healthy on a regular basis may give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you from actually getting sick if you come into contact with flu germs. If you do start to feel sick, cooking up a batch of chicken soup might take an edge off of those cold symptoms. In fact, Professor Stephen Rennard, M.D., from the University of Nebraska Medical Center actually discovered in a study that homemade chicken noodle soup inhibits neutrophils, which are inflammatory cells that actually make you feel seek. Further, ensuring that you stay well-hydrated by drinking lots of water or hot beverages may keep you feeling better if the symptoms start to appear.

Reduce the Stress

Fall and winter can be the most stressful months of the year, especially if you have kids in school. With extracurricular activities, school work, errand-running and work, it is easy to see why people tend to become stressed out. However, there is evidence that those who are highly stressed are actually more likely to actually get sick if they come into contact with germs. According to Ronald Glaser, who is the director for the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research located at Ohio State University, those who are more likely to get sick tend to be older individuals or those who suffer from chronic stress. In addition, those who smoke, do not regularly exercise and do not watch their weight may also be more likely to get sick. To help reduce your body’s stress, set aside some time in your schedule to exercise or to engage in an activity that you love, like reading a book or playing a video game.

Make Use of a Humidifier

Cold and flu viruses generally thrive in dry environments. The cold fall and winter weather can cause your body’s mucus membranes, which trap germs entering into your body through your nose and throat, to dry out, making it much easier for cold and flu viruses to thrive and potentially make you ill. A humidifier helps to keep your home environment moist by releasing moisture into the air. Just make sure to switch out the water in your humidifier once every other day if you have a stand alone model or install a whole home humidifier to keep your air healthy.

Feeling Sick? Stay Home

While the goal is to keep from getting sick, sometimes it is just inevitable. If you or your family members feel like they may be getting sick, It is best to stay home, pickup a book and make yourself comfortable. Staying home at the first sign of a stuffy nose and sleeping it off may keep the symptoms from becoming worse. Additionally, you will not have the burden of potentially causing others to suffer the same fate.

 

 

The Importance of Moisture During the Winter Season

Friday, February 5th, 2016

36. Drop of waterAlong with a string of holidays and vacations, the winter season often brings with it dry air, itchy skin and sore, scratchy throats. While you may believe that this is just something that must be dealt with each winter, that’s just not the case. There are many ways that you can increase the amount of moisture in your home.

 

The Importance of Moisture for Your Health

When the temperature drops, the amount of moisture in the air also decreases. This decrease in moisture is often accompanied by dry skin and stuffy noses, in addition to an increased risk of suffering from a sinus infection or cold. This is because the body needs a certain amount of moisture to properly function; for example, certain body fluids, such as mucous linings in your nose, mouth and throat, assist with taking air into the body. When the air is dry, any excess moisture from the body evaporates, leaving a dry nose, a scratchy throat and irritated skin. If your skin feels dry and you’re suffering common cold symptoms without actually feeling sick, it may be beneficial to increase the humidity in your home. 

Humidifiers

Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air is one of the easiest ways to increase indoor winter comfort. There are different types of humidifier available depending upon your personal needs. Some tabletop humidifiers simply release a mist into the air while others warm or cool the water before releasing it. For those who suffer chronic dryness, a whole house humidifier may be more appropriate. These humidifiers are installed as part of your home’s heating and cooling units, allowing the moisture to be added to the indoor air as it re-circulates. 

Alternative Ways to Increase Moisture in Your Home

While a humidifier can help remedy dry air inside your home, there are plenty of ways to increase the moisture level using every day items. Some of these ways include:

  • Leave water in the bathtub or sink after you’ve finished washing. Dry air will soak up any moisture available, so this is a great way to use leftover water. However, if you have kids or pets, this could be a drowning hazard if left unattended.
  • Decorate your home using bowls filled with water. While this is similar to leaving the water in the bathtub, using bowls allows you to add moisture in the air while removing the risk of drowning. Just make sure to keep the bowls out of reach of children or pets.
  • Hang damp clothes on a drying rack and let them air dry. Not only will you avoid making the air even drier by using a dryer, your damp clothes will help increase the moisture in the air.
  • Use the stove top to cook instead of the oven. Using the oven to cook can actually dry the air out while cooking with boiling water will add moisture. Making tea or other hot drinks can also help.

Dangers of Too Much Moisture

While moisture is absolutely essential in keeping you healthy and increasing your comfort during the winter months, it is possible to add too much moisture. Moisture allows for the growth of mold and bacteria, which can be harmful to a person’s health. Humidifiers are also notorious for being breeding grounds for mold; the mold spores can be released from the unit in a mist that is then breathed in by the home’s occupants. 

One way to avoid this is to use humidifiers only when the air becomes too dry. It is recommended that you purchase a hygrometer, which measures the amount of moisture in indoor air. Routinely cleaning the humidifier will also reduce the risk of growing harmful bacteria or mold.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Friday, January 29th, 2016

SADWith winter making its presence known, many may begin to feel agitated, irritable and a loss of motivation and enthusiasm. If this is something that you experience every fall or winter, you may actually be suffering from a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder. While the symptoms may make it hard to get through the dark seasons, there are treatments that can help.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is depression that mainly occurs during a change in the seasons. For many people who suffer the disorder, the symptoms begin in the fall around the time that Daylight Saving time ends and continues throughout the winter months. 

What are the symptoms?

Those suffering from SAD may experience symptoms that are similar to depression, including low energy, feelings of agitation or sluggishness, a loss of interests and being unable to concentrate. In extreme cases, someone suffering from SAD may have thoughts of suicide or death. Additional symptoms that are more unique to SAD may include a change in appetite, a gain in weight and oversleeping.

Who is at Risk?

Women are most often diagnosed with SAD. However, while the risk for men is lowering, those who do suffer from SAD often experience symptoms that are more severe. Additionally, young individuals are more at risk for suffering SAD associated with winter. Those who have a family history of SAD or who have clinical depression or have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder are also more likely to suffer SAD symptoms.
What can be Done?

It is recommended that those who are having thoughts of suicide, are becoming increasingly withdrawn from society or who are turning to alcohol or drugs to escape their negative feelings visit their doctor. Doctors should ask a variety of questions that may include what the symptoms are, when the symptoms began, if anything makes the symptoms better or worse, if there is drug or alcohol use and if a diagnosis of depression or other mental disorder has been given, among others. 

When diagnosing SAD, doctors often perform a physical exam, run a lab test and have their patient undergo a psychological evaluation. Physical exams and lab tests are usually run just to eliminate the possibility that there are underlying problems that could be causing depression. A psychological evaluation may help determine if the type of depression the person is suffering is actually SAD, as there are other similar mental conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

Getting Back to Normal

 

There are three main forms of therapy: light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. Light therapy, or phototherapy, simply involves using a special light box that exposes the person to a light that mimics natural outdoor lighting. While there is not much research on why the treatment works, light therapy appears to be extremely effective and has very few, if any, side effects. For those who may have suppressed levels of brain chemicals that may contribute to depression, the doctor may prescribe an antidepressant or other similar medication. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, may also help the person learn healthy ways to identify triggers and to cope with the symptoms.

 

Ways to Make Your Home Feel Brighter During the Winter

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Bright houseFor many, winter can be a particularly tough season to get through. If you’re not dealing with the biting cold outside, you’re likely stuck at home where it can be easy to become bored and listless. However, there are some simple things you can do to make your home feel a bit brighter. This way, you’ll survive the winter and feel a bit better in the process.

 

Go Bold with Bright Colors

 

It can often be difficult to keep your spirits up when everything around you feels gloomy. Although cool, neutral colors can make your home feel cooler during the summer, these colors can actually add to the gloom when winter hits its peak. Adding pops of bold colors into your living areas can raise your spirits. For example, switching out white curtains in favor of bright red, green or blue curtains can be enough to make your space feel more lively.

 

Give Your Home a Deep Clean

 

Even though you may regularly vacuum, dust and mop, your home may still feel slight grungy in the winter. This can be especially true if you’re constantly tracking in wet dirty snow. Giving your home a deep clean on a day off can actually make you feel more comfortable in your own home. Cleaning the grout in your kitchen or bathroom, for example, can make your counter or floor look much brighter and feel cleaner. Vacuuming around the corners of your living room and dusting around the edge of the ceiling will get rid of any cobwebs and remove any dirt and dust that may be making you feel off your game.

 

Switch Out Your Lighting

 

There are many different types of bulbs available. Some bulbs cast a cool white light while others case a warm white light. Still others are known as daylight bulbs as they cast a natural glow. Bulbs that cast a cool white light may make your home feel colder than it actually is. A warm white light can give your space a cozy feeling at night. When the clouds are forming outside, a daylight bulb can add some of the warmth back in that you might be missing.

 

Bring Back the Green

 

If you’re more of a spring or summer person, you’re likely missing the color of green grass outside your window. Bring home some fresh flowers or invest in some live potted plants to bring back some life into your home. Your new plants will help you add color to your space and even give you fresher air to breath. If you have pets that love to munch on unsuspecting plants, using floral candles or scent sprays can also help you perk up.

 

Keep Winter out of Sight

 

There’s nothing more depressing than having a bunch of puffy coats and boots littering the entryway. Stick them in a closet once they’ve dried. This way, those bulky items won’t take up valuable space and you won’t have to be constantly reminded that winter is sitting on your doorstep. Keeping everything in its place also means that you and your family members will always know where your essential warm items are when you need them.

 

Brightening up the Winter Season

 

Making some small changes in your home can have an impact on how you feel. When your home feels brighter, more spacious and clean, you may find that you’re a bit more at ease and are able to keep the gloomy feelings at bay, no matter what the temperature is outside.