Pg 8 - The Sunshine Express
Home & Garden
5 Easy Projects
to Protect Your Home This Winter
(BPT) The winter months are here! While you
may be preparing to celebrate the holidays and
spend time with loved ones, it¡¯s also important
to ensure your home is protected from the cold
There are several ways to lower your heating
bill and protect your home this winter. Below are
five easy projects for first-time home buyers that
make a big impact.
1. Change air filters
Easiest to do, easiest to forget. A clean air filter
provides healthy air quality and savings on your
energy bill. Regularly changing an old air filter
can reduce energy costs by permitting air to flow
more easily through the HVAC system, according
to the Department of Energy. Fresh air filters are
also important for the long-term health of your
HVAC system. Keeping this system clean can
prevent costly repairs and it creates healthier air
quality for your family. This project benefits your
wallet both now and later down the road.
2. Upgrade your thermostat
A smart programmable thermostat can save you
up to $180 a year on utility costs, according to
EnergyStar. This thermostat works by automati-
cally raising or lowering the temperature in your
home to keep it consistent, which saves fuel. For
example, you can program most thermostats on
a mobile app to keep your home at a lower tem-
perature while you¡¯re away during the day, and
warm back up again at night.
3. Inspect doors and windows
Keep pesky drafts at a minimum this season. Set
aside time to look at all the windows and doors
in your home and check for gaps. Fill any gaps
you find with simple caulk work and replace any
worn doorstops to help prevent unwanted air
from flowing in or out of your home. This step
helps insulate your home and generate energy
4. Clean your gutters
Cleaning your gutters before the snow flies can
help you avoid major issues later on. This pre-
vents ice dams, which can turn into a leaky roof.
And even if you live in a warmer climate, full gut-
ters are heavy and can cause damage - like mold
growth and leaks - by pulling away from your
5. Seal and protect your water sources
It is important to protect the water sources
inside and outside of your home. If you have an
outdoor water spigot, be sure to cover the fau-
cet. You can find simple-to-install covers at most
local hardware retailers. Empty out your water
hoses and bring them inside so they don¡¯t freeze
and become damaged.
On those below-freezing nights, let your indoor
faucets drip to maintain a flow of water and pre-
vent your pipes from bursting.
Taking small steps to protect your home now can
save money and prevent you from dipping into
your emergency fund.
¡°We believe homeownership makes lives better.¡±
Said Jason Langston, Director of Customer Ex-
perience and Marketing for Vanderbilt Mortgage.
¡°Vanderbilt is committed to educating all custom-
ers, both who are buying a home or living in their
own home, so they thrive in homeownership.¡±
Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance has even more
financial and homeownership tips on its website
to make sure every home owner is able to enjoy
freedom in their home.
Small Beneficial Steps
Healthy Lighting & Design Tips
such as cooking, cleaning, pets and more,
Adding skylights that can open is a simple
home renovation project to improve fresh air
flow, helping rid indoor air of pollutants.
Additionally, studies show that exposure to nat-
ural light helps to sync your circadian rhythm,
allowing for better sleep at night.
Fill your home with natural scents
Up your chef game by using fresh herbs in your
cooking that will fill your kitchen with natural
fragrance. Making an indoor herb garden en-
sures you¡¯ll always have some on hand.
You can also incorporate fresh herbs into bou-
quets or wreaths for a natural air freshener
throughout your home.
Meditate or do yoga in the morning
Waking up with stretching or meditating is a
great way to prepare yourself for a successful
day. Open the blinds or curtains on your win-
dows and skylights to let in early morning light
and help you feel invigorated and refreshed.
Go green with your d¨¦cor
Reap the benefits of nature by bringing it
inside, adding greenery or even fruit into your
d¨¦cor. The possibilities are endless - use a bowl
of fresh fruit as a centerpiece or mix different
sizes of pots to create a succulent gallery.
Little touches of green in each room will go a
Use natural cleaning products
Many common cleaning products have harsh
chemicals that can be inhaled or absorbed into
your skin. Combat the dangers of these toxins
by switching to natural cleaning products. You¡¯ll
feel safer and more relaxed when your home is
From boosting your home¡¯s natural light to
going green and adding plant life, it¡¯s easy to
turn your home into a natural oasis with these
simple steps. For more information visit:
Recipe: Chocolate Bundt Cake
with Peppermint Glaze
(BPT) What are the benefits of bak-
ing from scratch? Mostly, it¡¯s fun,
and your whole family can join in.
On top of that, nothing tastes as
good as fresh baked treats right
out of the oven. For another bonus,
it makes the whole house smell
But perhaps the most important
reason to bake from scratch is that
you¡¯ll know exactly what¡¯s going in
everything you make.
Even when baking delicious treats,
you can savor all the flavor while
also looking out for your family¡¯s
well-being. Choosing ingredients
carefully makes all the difference.
If you want to reduce your family¡¯s
consumption of artificial ingredi-
ents, here are tips for baking more
natural treats this holiday season.
1. Bake with fresh produce
When you¡¯re baking pies or making
other dessert recipes that contain
fruit, opt for the best quality fresh
produce you can find in your area.
You, your family and guests will all
notice the difference in taste.
2. Use natural food coloring
For recipes needing colored icing
or colored batter, you can now find
natural food coloring on the market
that uses 100% natural vegetable
juices, rather than relying on artifi-
6 ways to turn your home
into a natural oasis
(BPT) As the year comes to an end, many people
make resolutions to start the New Year strong.
This might mean ramping up your workout rou-
tine, increasing your self-care regimen or finding
time to de-stress.
The EPA reports we spend 90 percent of our time
indoors, but most people feel that spending time
in nature has a positive effect on their mental
well-being and stress level, according to a recent
YouGov study commissioned by VELUX.
So, if your goal is to de-stress, here are some
healthy behaviors and design tips to help you
bring nature¡¯s sanctuary indoors.
Fill your home with photos of nature
Surrounding yourself with images of nature can
have a positive effect on wellness. Try framing
some photos of special memories in nature like a
hike with your family, beach sunset or mountain
Let in more fresh air and natural light
Today¡¯s homes are built tighter and more sealed,
which means they trap toxins from daily living,
Natural Holiday Baking