Tips to Stay Warm and Beat Winter Blues

Give Your Mood a Lift

Chances are you know someone whose mood is affected by the shorter days of winter. Perhaps yourself or a member of your household has bouts of the winter blues.  It’s a condition in which people who are otherwise healthy and happy throughout the year experience a mood change when fall and winter roll in.

Hot tea with lemon comfort foodResidents here in Eastern Massachusetts are continuing to upgrade heating and air conditioning systems in their homes along with sealing of windows and doors, adding insulation, and installing programmable thermostats. Those are terrific ways to make your home more comfortable while also saving money on energy bills.  If you’ve done any of these you should feel better. The irony is that people who are susceptible to seasonal mood swings often don’t.

Shorter days can darken your mood. Drafts you never noticed before you tightened up your home can be irritating. And now that your house is more air tight volatile organic compounds (VOC) have nowhere to go. We put together a list of ideas to help you and your family enjoy brighter days, cleaner air, and a healthier environment.

Bright Clean Windows

Clean your windows. Take the extra step of removing the screens for the winter. You’ll let in more light and it’ll look cleaner too. Don’t forget to let the sun shine in during the day while closing drapes at dusk.

Make Your Home Appear Brighter

Clean lamps, light fixtures, and dusty bulbs. This can make your home appear 30% brighter without investing in new lighting or turning on more lights.

Prevent Air Leaks

You may have sealed window and door leaks but warm air is still trying to escape. Fill gaps around electrical outlets, switches, and recessed lights. Don’t forget the attic. If you have drop down attic stairs look into the different types of tents and barriers that are available.

Clean Your Air

Now that you”re preventing conditioned air from leaving  you’ll want to make sure the air you’re breathing is healthy. VOC’s, which are released from many products we use every day can cause health problems in some people. VOC’s are found in electronics, building materials, and household cleaners as well as in cosmetics and even in products associated with activities like cooking.

Certain plants are useful in removing VOC’s from the air. An added bonus with houseplants is that they also increase humidity levels which decreases dust. A partial list of useful plants includes spider plants, Boston ferns, aloe vera, and peace lilies.

Copper Kills Superbugs

VOC’s are present in antibacterial soaps and household cleaning products. People who wish to cut down on the use of these products should know that, in a recent study, copper has been found to kill off deadly superbugs as well as dangerous germs including the flu virus and the E coli food poisoning bug.

The healing power of copper has been known for thousands of years. The Egyptians were using copper more than 4,000 years ago to sterilize wounds and drinking water. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that in the study, performed in the medical ward of a hospital,  copper items had 95% fewer bugs on their surface as opposed to stainless steel.

Dust is an Invisible Enemy

In Massachusetts we tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months of fall and winter. In homes without adequate ventilation that makes us more susceptible to dust allergies and other health problems associated with dust or air quality.

According to Wikipedia house dust mites are present wherever humans live indoors. Indoor dust is made up of particles containing pollen, skin cells, human and animal hair, and other materials such as textile or paper fibers. It’s impossible to completely eliminate dust from your life so the next best thing is to get it under control.

Tip: Set your thermostat fan to on while vacuuming. That helps filter all the airborne dust that is kicked up.

Vacuuming, cleaning, and dusting are obvious methods of reducing dust. But as soon as you turn the vacuum on millions of microscopic particles are released into the air. As with products like Pledge or Swiffer you can make a visible improvement, your carpets, floors, and furniture will look better. But you’ll still have a certain amount of dust floating around inside your home.

Your Heating and Cooling System Can Help

In homes with an HVAC system air pollutants can be eliminated or greatly reduced. The same is true in homes without ductwork that utilize mini split systems for heating and cooling. You should know that the typical filter used in an HVAC system is designed to protect the furnace, not the occupants of the home. Changing the filter once a month is recommended as it removes large particles before they can enter your system. A better idea is to replace the standard low-quality filter with one that is more efficient, such as an electrostatic filter that removes a higher percentage of dust and allergens from the air.

Ductless mini-split systems circulate fresh clean air in your home. They have two air purifying filters which work hard to remove pollen,
dust, germs, mildew and odors from the air, making your home more inviting and a healthier place to live. As with HVAC systems the filters in your mini-split system should be cleaned often and replaced as needed.

Air filters are rated using the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV. Low quality filters have a MERV number of 4 or less. These do very little to stop germs or mold spores. The MERV scale goes up to 20 but it’s not a good idea to use a filter with anything higher than a 13 MERV for home use because the system will be starved of air.

A number of factors, in addition to MERV come into play when deciding on the mini-split filter best suited to your home. In most homes a filter between 7 -13 on the MERV scale will get the job done. More information about efficiency, dust holding capacity, etc. can be found on the Mitsubishi website here. ( We recommend and install Mitsubishi, especially Mr. Slim)

Create a Comfort Food Aroma

Everyone enjoys the smell of our favorite comfort foods cooking in the kitchen. Why not use a slow cooker to waft the pleasant aroma throughout the house? You’ll get a bonus because you’ll save energy. Slow cookers use less energy than an electric oven.

Tell Us About Your Own Mood Enhancer

Do you have a special routine or activity you do in winter to keep the blues away? We’d love to hear it. Please share in the comments below on our Facebook page. And we’d also appreciate if you hit the button that says “like Page”.

 

 

 

 

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