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Institute for Highway Safety has awarded 82 new vehicles as the safest picks for 2017

December 20th, 2016 | Comments Off on Institute for Highway Safety has awarded 82 new vehicles as the safest picks for 2017 | Posted in Lifestyle

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded 82 new vehicles as the safest picks for 2017.

Of the 82 vehicles awarded, 38 earned the highest ranking of Top Safety Pick+. Those vehicles not only earned good ratings in five crash test evaluations but have effective features that can prevent crashes, the IIHS said.

Toyota/Lexus led among automakers with nine of its 2017 models making the Top Safety Pick+ list. Honda and its Acura division had five Top Safety Pick+ awards.

Meanwhile, 44 vehicles were in the Top Safety Pick category, one ranking lower.

IIHS said that it toughened the criteria for Top Safety Pick+ to reflect headlight evaluations that it launched this year. Only seven of the vehicles in the top category earned a good rating for headlights.

The vehicles that got a good headlight rating are: Chevrolet Volt small car, Honda Ridgeline pickup, Hyundai Elantra small car, Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV, Subaru Legacy midsize car, Toyota Prius v midsize car and Volvo XC60 midsize luxury SUV.

“The field of contenders is smaller this year because so few vehicles have headlights that do their job well, but it’s not as small as we expected when we decided to raise the bar for the awards,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a report.

The 2017 report also found that autobrake features are becoming more common, with 21 of this year’s winners including a standard front crash prevention system with automatic braking capabilities.

Here’s the complete list of this year’s winners.

5 Tips to Celebrating Your First Holidays After a Divorce

November 18th, 2016 | Comments Off on 5 Tips to Celebrating Your First Holidays After a Divorce | Posted in Lifestyle

pexels-photo-225768The first holiday season after a divorce or separation can place tremendous emotional strain on the best of us. Now that you and your ex have parted ways, the holiday parties and family gatherings you have been celebrating for years as a couple suddenly seem daunting and complicated. Who gets to go to which parties? How do you “share custody” of friendships? What do you say when someone asks why your better half is no longer at your side? It’s enough to make an already emotionally fraught season barely tolerable.

But fear not. Celebrating the holidays alone can be a great joy, but it requires good planning, a positive attitude and most importantly, realistic expectations. Here is our short list of tips to help you have a joyful holiday season solo:

1. Don’t Stay Home Alone!

What’s the worst thing you can do to yourself during the holidays? Spending time alone with your thoughts. Even worse? Avoiding your family and friends. Your first holidays after a break up can be an emotional roller coaster, so don’t try to ride it solo. Make plans with close friends and loved ones to avoid spending time alone. Don’t be shy. Extend invitations to others: co-workers, old friends, other divorcees. Find a support group or, better yet, volunteer. Filling the holidays with people will leave you with no free time to ponder the last year’s would of, should of, could ofs.

2. Avoid the Ghosts of Holidays Past.

The holidays are a time to make memories: wild office parties, quiet crisp winter landscapes, romantic New Year’s nights. When recently going through a divorce or separation, don’t visit places where you have created holiday memories with your ex. And if you happen upon that bistro or bar that you and your ex once frequented for years and years, don’t let the past haunt your future. So just pop in, say your hellos and merry Christmases and leave. This isn’t the time to reminisce on old memories; it’s the time to begin building fresh, fun, brand new ones.

3. Share the Joy (and the Kids).

Nothing makes the holidays better than the sounds of children: laughing, shouting, tearing open gifts. Don’t be selfish. Share this joy with your ex. Plan for the kids to spend time with both you and your ex. A well-planned visitation schedule will make all the difference. Know each other’s schedules; nothing is worse than miscommunication. Find a holiday place like a mall for to pick up and drop off your children. Seeing your children’s smiles against the holiday decorations will help you leave them for a few days. And, when you have to see your ex, remember the most important gift of all: Don’t put you children in the crossfire. The holidays are harder for them than they are for you!

4. Take your own Holiday Vacation, You Earned it!

Get away from all the people and places that remind you of your previous
life. Taking a vacation will give you the opportunity to relax and forget about all the drama and difficulty that came with your divorce and separation. And if your stockings aren’t full enough for a flight, take a vacation in your hometown. Visit a museum. Go to a holiday market. Rent a hotel. Shop. You’d be surprised how much a few days away can give you some perspective.

5. Make a New Year’s Resolution — Or Several.

Leave last year — the disappointments, the fights, the court dates, the tears — behind you.

Remember: It’s a new year and a new you! So make a resolution: Take up a new sport, join a new club, meet new people and put yourself back out there. And, most importantly, count your blessings. Always remember that things could be worse. No matter how bad the divorce and or break up was, you still have something to be thankful for. Be optimistic, you never know what the holiday and New Year may bring to you.

A divorce or separation doesn’t mean the end; it means a new beginning. In our decades of experience, we have seen hundreds of clients recover from their divorce to find love again. Embrace the spirit of the season — of hope, joy, and renewal. Have a happy and healthy holidays.

Holiday Health and Safety Tips

November 18th, 2016 | Comments Off on Holiday Health and Safety Tips | Posted in Lifestyle

The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate life, to be grateful, and reflect on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate the gift of health. Here are some holiday tips to support your efforts for health and safety this season.

Wash your hands often.

 Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

Stay warm.

 Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry, and dress warmly in several layers.

Manage stress.

 The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health and pocketbook. Keep your commitments and spending in check. Balance work, home, and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep.

Travel safely.

 Whether you’re traveling across town or around the world, help ensure your trip is safe. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt appropriate for his/her height, weight, and age.

Be smoke-free.

 Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s smoke. If you smoke, quit today! Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk to your health care provider for help.

Get check-ups and vaccinations.

 Exams and screenings can help find potential problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are often better. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Schedule a visit with your health care provider for needed exams and screenings. Ask what vaccinations and tests you should get based on your age, lifestyle, travel plans, medical history, and family health history. Get health insurance through if needed.

Watch the kids.

 Children are at high risk for injuries. Keep a watchful eye on your kids when they’re eating and playing. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, choking hazards (like coins and hard candy), and other objects out of kids’ reach. Learn how to provide early treatment for children who are choking. Make sure toys are used properly. Develop rules about acceptable and safe behaviors, including using electronic media.

Prevent injuries.

 Injuries can happen anywhere, and some often occur around the holidays. Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboarding to help prevent head injuries. Keep vaccinations up to date.

Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended. Don’t use generators, grills, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year.

Handle and prepare food safely.

 As you prepare holiday meals, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.

Eat healthy, and be active.

 With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods. Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.


8 Early Holiday Tips To Keep You Sane — And Less Stressed

November 18th, 2016 | Comments Off on 8 Early Holiday Tips To Keep You Sane — And Less Stressed | Posted in Lifestyle

shutterstock_510773551What’s that famous quote about the definition of insanity? The one that had something to do with epeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome? Well, there’s probably no better example of insanity than what happens to us around the holiday time. Year after year we do the same things that result in us being miserable, stressed out and mad at ourselves for knowing better. And so, in following the lead of retailers everywhere who insist on putting up their Christmas items before Halloween, here goes our list of eight things we hope we don’t do (again) this holiday season.

1) Don’t spend too much.
Who among us hasn’t had the January hangover that comes from over-spending? As much as we’d like to see the economy stimulated from a robust shopping season, we just know in our gut that we can’t afford it. More than that, spending feels more like gluttony in a season that is supposed to be about something more joyous.

Instead, why not agree in advance that you won’t be exchanging gifts with every office co-worker, every relative, every one who you know? All those small gifts start to add up and before you know it, you’ve wracked up a credit card bill that makes your stomach do flip-flops. Now is a great time to have that “let’s not exchange gifts” conversation because as we know, the holiday shopping season officially begins in July nowadays.

2) Don’t entertain in a way that is more work than fun.
We love to cook and have people over. But boy is it ever work to shop, clean, cook and clean up again. The re-emergence of the potluck dinner was probably the one good thing that came out of the recession, so don’t be afraid to ask people to bring a side dish or dessert — or even a main course. And as for the clean-up, learn to say “yes” when your guests offer to help. Four hands in the kitchen gets the job done twice as fast as two.

Also stick to your own entertaining schedule and lifestyle. If what you enjoy most is Sunday brunch, then don’t throw a Saturday night cocktails and dinner party. We have a friend who says she won’t enjoy herself if her feet hurt so she refuses to wear anything but her comfy UGGs; when we go there for dinner, I know it will be casual dress — Saturday night or otherwise.

3) Don’t have inflated family expectations.
Yes, your great-aunt is going to say your turkey is dry because that’s what she says every year. Someone else will ask if you’ve put on some weight or want to know why you are still in that job you hate so much. Take deep breathes and remember they mean well. And for the ones who don’t, well, where is it written that you have to invite them next year?

Ridding your life of the people who suck the air out of the room for you is the best gift you can give yourself. Sorry if that sounds like something you’d read on Facebook. It happens to be true.

Last year, someone we know decided to sit out Christmas week on a beach in Hawaii. They skipped the gift-giving and surfed on Christmas Eve. Best holiday ever, they said after. When it comes to fight or flight, sometimes fleeing works best.

4) Don’t say “yes” to everyone.
You can’t please everyone, so why try? This is the season when people tend to throw more parties, arrange more events, make more demands on your time. Just say no. Get real. Not every “group” in your life — carpool moms, soccer team moms, bridge club, book club, golfing buds — needs to have a special holiday gathering. You see half these people on a regular basis anyway, so can’t you just say “happy holidays” at your next pilates class and skip the group lunch after?

5) Don’t exempt your employer from #4.
Many of us secretly wish that the money the company spends on the office holiday banquet was instead deposited in our paychecks. If you feel this way, urge your company to think “holiday bonus” instead of party. We already spend more time each week with our co-workers than we do with our spouses and children. Or, if an employer really insists on giving workers a holiday treat, how about at least doing it on the work-clock instead of after-hours?

6) Don’t stay up past your bedtime if doing so leaves you a wreck the next day.
If you love your synagogue’s Chanukah concert, by all means go. But if the idea of staying out until 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night when you have work the next day means you’ll be a basket case, then sit by the exit and leave by 9:30 p.m.

The older we get, the more we appreciate early week-nights. We are happy to put on our dancing shoes on weekends, but we know some folks who just flat out say ‘No” to all things during the week.

7) Don’t follow the crowds.
This is just common sense: Fighting for parking spots, waiting in long lines, feeling suffocated by the in-a-hurry masses — none of that is good stuff. It raises your stress level, wastes your time, and in general zaps your soul. Don’t hit the mall at peak shopping hours. Shop online, patronize small local merchants who gift wrap for free. And instead of seeing the “Nutcracker” at the big arts center in the city, maybe the local community version would be more enjoyable, not to mention convenient.

8) Don’t forget to add a little spirituality in the holiday experience.
Whether it be in a church, mosque, synagogue or your favorite easy chair, stop and smell the roses. Be grateful for what you have; be generous with what you share.

Why Being Thankful Is Good for You

November 18th, 2016 | Comments Off on Why Being Thankful Is Good for You | Posted in Lifestyle

Thanksgiving is as much about gratitude is at is about turkey and cranberry sauce. And it turns out feeling thankful has some pretty potent effects on your health.

While more research is needed to strengthen the understanding of the link between gratitude and health, here’s a roundup of some compelling reasons why you will want to be extra thankful this season.

You’ll have a healthier heart: In an April study of 186 men and women with heart damage, researchers rated the people’s levels of gratitude and spiritual well-being. They found that higher gratitude scores were linked to having a better mood, higher quality sleep and less inflammation—which can worsen the symptoms of heart failure. They also found that having high levels of gratitude explained a lot of the benefits of spiritual well-being. In addition, some of the men and women were also asked to write down things they were grateful for over an eight-week period. “We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for those eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk,” said study author Paul J. Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego in a statement about his research.

You might get more shuteye: If you’re having difficulty sleeping, writing down a few things you are thankful for before bed can help. A 2011 study of college students who struggled to fall asleep due to racing minds and worries found that those who underwent a gratitude intervention (they were asked to spend 15 minutes in the early evening writing about a positive event that occurred recently or one they anticipated in the future) were able to “quiet their minds and sleep better.”

It makes you more optimistic: Being gracious can contribute to a healthier outlook. In a 2003 study, researchers split up a group of people and had some of them write about what they were grateful for during the week, some write about hassles, and a third group write about neutral things that happened to them. After a few weeks, the researchers found that the people who wrote about things they were grateful for were more optimistic and reported feeling better about themselves. They even exercised more than the group that wrote about things that irritated them. “Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits,” the study authors write.

Gratitude helps you make new friends: Expressing gratitude is a great way to build new relationships. In a 2014 study published in the journal Emotion, researchers had 70 college students think they were mentoring a high schooler. They were asked to send comments on a college admissions essay. The students then received a note from their mentee that either expressed gratitude or did not. The students who were thanked by the high schooler were more likely to rate them as having a warmer personality and more likely to provide the younger student with their personal information, like an email address.

Being thankful improves physical health: An analysis of nearly 1,000 Swiss adults published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that higher levels of dispositional gratitude were correlated with better self-reported physical health. The people who felt more gracious had a notable willingness to partake in healthy behaviors and seek help for their health-related concerns. Other research has suggested that people who are grateful are more likely to do physical activity.


Pittsburgh Haunted Houses for Halloween 2016

October 24th, 2016 | Comments Off on Pittsburgh Haunted Houses for Halloween 2016 | Posted in Lifestyle
lamp-halloween-lantern-pumpkinPittsburgh haunted houses are some of the scariest haunt attractions in Pennsylvania and the United States.  Enjoy a great scary night out with your spouse, date, or friends.  Expect the ghosts, zombies, and clowns at these haunted attractions to scare you.  For the price of a movie ticket you can be part of the action as you come face to face with terror.  State of the art animatronics, great props, Hollywood sets, and actors with makeup beyond belief create a thrilling Halloween experience.  You will be frightened.

The souls of steel workers who manned the mills and lived amongst the soot still haunt the historic houses of Pittsburgh. They’re a bit more mellow now that they are located in one of America’s most livable cities, but they’re still pretty bitter about the past.

Castle Blood – Monessen, PA
Operating for over 20 years, Castle Blood is “Pennsylvania’s most unusual haunted attraction”. Expect to find lots of vampires, scenes of the dead, and supernatural creatures. Tickets are $20. Castle Blood is open most Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in October. Castle opens at 7 pm. Ticket booth closes at 11 pm on Friday and Saturday or 9 pm on Sunday.

Cheeseman Fright Farm – Portersville, PA
For over a decade during Halloween season the Cheeseman Fright Farm has been operating this wonderful haunted attraction. Tickets are $20. The attraction runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sundays starting September 23rd. Arrive early and do not keep the tractors waiting. The Haunted Hayride starts at dark.

Demon House – Monongahela, PA
“We will scare the living soul out of you.” Demon House will unleash the evil demons upon you. They run a special one night lights out glow stick specials .They are open 7 pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday or 10 pm on other nights. Starting on September 9th they are open most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through November 5th.

Freddy’s Haunts – Aliquippa, PA
Tickets are $12. Freddy’s Haunts opens at 7 pm. It is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from mid-September through October. Closes most nights at 10:30 pm.

Fright Farm – Smithfield, PA
Begin with the Festival Midway with music, celebrity appearances, concessions, face painting, bonfires, classic horror movies, and haunting entertainment. Opens September 30th. Then expect to be terrorfied in the Terror Maze, Paranoia, Frightmare Mansion, Hallow Grounds, and Dead End Hayride attractions. Now celebrating 26 years of frightening folks. The General Admission tickets gets you into five attractions for just $25. Open every night except Monday and Tuesday. Lots of special and discounts available.

Haunted Guyasuta – Sharpsburg, PA
On October 22nd Camp Guyasuta puts on a one night Saturday fright featuring a hayride, haunted trail, zip line, climbing wall, and pumpkin patch. Activities run from 3:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Souvenirs, food and snacks available for purchase.

Haunted Hills Estate – Uniontown, PA
Back again with new characters, new scenes, new themes, and new horrors. Enjoy the Spooky Street which contains the bonfire, Black Cauldron Concessions, and Crow’s Nest Novelty Shop. In business for 3 years, Haunted Hills Estate puts on three great haunt attractions named The Curse Challenge Trail, Legends Hotel, and The Twisted Nightmare. The doors open at 7 pm. Tickets prices are based on the day of the week and the haunt you want to go through. Visit any Friday and Saturday for $15 for one adventure, $20 for two, or $25 for three. Sunday and Thursday tickets are $1-3 less. Open from September 16th through November 3rd.

Hundred Acres Manor – Bethel Park, PA
Six attractions all for the one low price of $20 per victim. Hundred Acres Manor operates a 7500 square foot haunted house. The attractions are Dead Lift, Damnation, The Family, The Maze, Brine Slaughterhouse. It takes about 45 minutes to go through this haunted house. Doors open at 7 pm and close at 11:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and at 10 pm on other nights. Runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting September 9th plus lots more weekdates in October. Check web page for details. Also available is a Live Zombie Paintball attraction for additional price.

Huston’s Haunted Hollow – Rockwood, PA
A great value for only $20. They have a bonfire, refreshments, and concession stand along with 4 haunted attractions. Haunted Boarding House (evil in the hollow), Twisted Barn 4D ( a high startle graphic experience), Haunted Hayride and Toxic Swamp Walk, and Dead End Cornfield. Huston’s Haunted Hollow is open from dusk until 10 pm. Open every Friday and Saturday night starting September 30th.

Lonesome Valley Farms Valley of Terror – Greenbury, PA
They operate two haunted attractions and two non-haunts on this Pennsylvania farm. The haunts are advertised as “Where you are the Harvest.” They are open every Friday and Saturday starting September 23rd. Open Sundays starting October 9th. Opens at 7 pm. The non-haunts open at 6 pm. Tickets are $23 for the Valley of Terror Haunted Hayride and Maze Trail combo ticket with the Slotter Farm House & Barn. The non-haunt ticket is $10 for the Corn Maze and $7 for the Country Hayride. During the day the farm has a hayride, barrel train rides, barnyard animals, and a kids pumpkin patch playland for just $10. Open weekends.

Phantom Fright Nights Kennywood – Pittsburgh, PA
Now celebrating over 15 terrifying years, Kennywood will once again operate Phantom Fright Nights. The weekend attraction is open every Friday and Saturday night in October starting September 30th. This attraction is open from 7 pm until 1 am. Tickets are $33.99 at the gate. Save $4 with online tickets. They advertise intense spectacles of sheer terror with Biofear, Voodoo Bayou, Mortem Manor, Villa of the Vampires, and many more attractions.

Scarehouse – Etna, PA
“Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Haunted House”. Scarehouse is three haunts for one price. All parking is at the Pittsburgh Zoo or PPG Aquarium then ride the shuttle. The parking address is 7340 Butler Street. The attractions are The Summoning, Creepo’s Christmas in 3D, and Pittsburgh Zombies. Tickets are $19.99-24.99 depending on the night. Reserve your tickets for half hour entry times. Consider Scarehouse as a living tribute to the Zombie capital of the world. Also for 2016 is The Basement. Here you will be touched, restrained, hooded and scared out of your mind. The Basement is something different for adults with high voltage effects, sexual content, water, live animals, and violent situations. Tickets are separate. Scarehouse is open Friday and Saturday nights starting on September 16th. Runs every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October.


Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist

October 24th, 2016 | Comments Off on Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist | Posted in Lifestyle


It’s Autumn. Pumpkins glow in golden fields. Shorter days, crisp mornings signal winter’s approach.

Can the holidays be far behind?

Use Autumn’s brisk and breezy days to conquer deep-cleaning chores for a clean and comfortable winter home, and to wrap up summer’s outdoor lifestyle.

Our Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist will help you prepare home and hearth for the coming of winter:

Outside The House

Summer’s come and gone–and left its mark on outside the house.

Time to come inside for winter! Outside the house tend to these autumn chores:

  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, children’s summer toys.
  • Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
  • Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

The Inside Story:

Autumn’s the time for “spring cleaning”! With winter coming, it makes sense to tuck the family into a freshly-cleaned home via fall cleaning.

Deep clean now to take advantage of good weather and to welcome approaching holidays with a clean and comfortable home.

To learn how to clean efficiently, check out the Clean House Guide for more information on cleaning fast and furious.

  • Focus on public rooms: living room, family room, entryway, guest bath.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum baseboards andcorners.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have professionally cleaned if needed. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
  • Wash interior windows.
  • Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to equalize wear.
  • Launder or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters. Tuck the family into a warm and cozy winter bed.
  • Schedule professional carpet cleaning early this month! Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying. Carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for best service.
  • Prepare the kitchen for holiday cooking. Clean and organized kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment.
  • Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Clear counters look cleaner–and provide more room for holiday cooking.
  • Pull refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
  • Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.
  • Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now, and avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags.
  • Check and empty the central vacuum’s collection area.
  • Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in an empty dishwasher (consult manual for specific product recommendations).
  • Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins.
  • Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
  • Schedule fall furnace inspections now. Don’t wait for the first cold night!
  • Buy a winter’s supply of furnace filters. Change filters monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort. When the right filter is on hand, it’s an easy job!
  • Drain sediment from hot water heaters.

Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips

October 24th, 2016 | Comments Off on Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips | Posted in Lifestyle


This article will help you find strategies to help you save energy during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

If you haven’t already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

Also check out no-cost and low-cost tips to save energy during the spring and summer.


Photo of a window with the curtains open. Sun is shining into the room and snow-covered mountains are visible outside. Copyright Fochesato.

  • Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.


  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
    Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.


  • When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings. Also see ENERGY STAR’s June 5, 2008, podcastfor video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.



  • Schedule service for your heating system.
    Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.
  • Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
    Find out more about maintaining your furnace or boiler.
  • Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
    Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.


Photo of a fire in a brick fireplace. Copyright Malms.

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly–approximately 1 inch–and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
    Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance’s efficiency.
    Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.


Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.

  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
    Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.


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