(Family Features)When it’s hot outside, heat can seep into your home and make it unbearable. However, there are sustainable, eco-friendly solutions to maximize comfort and cooling when the thermometer creeps upward without racking up an outrageous electric bill or large carbon footprint.
While some options for keeping your home cool involve an upfront investment, over time they’ll save money, and the environment, for years to come. If you’re looking for ways to cool your home during even the hottest days, consider these ideas from the experts at Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.
Adjust Ceiling Fans
Installing ceiling fans in your home can help keep temperatures moderate and cut down on your cooling bill. For best results, those ceiling fans should be adjusted seasonally. During warm weather months, fans should rotate counterclockwise at a higher speed to push air downward instead of up toward the ceiling, which can lead to a more comfortable temperature in your home.
Upgrade Your Air Conditioner
If your home’s climate control is lacking, it may be time to invest in a new HVAC system – particularly if your current one is more than 15 years old. An energy-efficient option like Mitsubishi Electric’s sleek and modern MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette is designed for easy installation and saves energy by monitoring room conditions to make automatic adjustments to maintain the temperature you choose. To improve your indoor air quality, the MLZ uses reusable air filters, which are easy to remove, wash and reinstall. In Dry mode, the unit makes the air feel fresher by removing excess moisture.
Additionally, these ceiling cassettes can be programmed to operate around your life using a remote control, smartphone or tablet. Whether gone for the day or on an extended vacation, you can monitor your system from an app, ensuring you won’t return to a home that’s blazing hot.
Reduce Incoming Sunlight During the Day
Direct sunlight coming into your home through windows, doors or skylights can increase the temperature. To help reduce unwanted heat as the sun rises higher during the day, consider closing your blinds or installing light-colored blinds that reflect rather than absorb the sun’s heat. Other options such as blackout curtains or reflective window panels can have the same effect, helping reduce warmth trapped inside.
If closing all your blinds or covering every window isn’t an option or makes you feel claustrophobic, focus on any south- or west-facing rooms in your home, as these are typically the trickiest to keep cool during the warmest hours of the day – usually from late morning until early evening. Exterior window shades and awnings can also be useful options if you’re looking to reduce the amount of heat that enters your home, but still want to take advantage of the natural light.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Since warmer weather also equates to more sunshine, turning off the incandescent lights in your house when possible can cut down on extra heat and save on your energy bill. Though the soft yellow glow of incandescent light bulbs can create a nice ambiance, it also gives off a lot of heat. Swapping out those old light bulbs for more efficient, LED bulbs can cut down on the amount of heat your light fixtures emit. If you can’t replace them, minimizing their usage – particularly when having a light on in a room is unnecessary – can make a difference.
Strategically Plant Trees and Shrubs
Planting trees or shrubs near sunlight-facing windows can make a big difference when it comes to the temperature inside your home by shielding the sun’s rays. While planting trees strategically around your home is more of a long-term plan, the benefits can also last for many years to come in terms of shade, added curb appeal and overall betterment of the earth.
Start by focusing on west-facing walls, where the sun is typically the strongest. Choosing trees native to your area can decrease maintenance, and those that bloom in spring and drop leaves in the fall offer year-round benefits by providing both shade and heat in accordance with the season. Vines and other tall shrubs are options for quicker results, but they may also require more long-term maintenance.
Reduce Appliance Usage
To help minimize running appliances and equipment that generate a lot of heat, like stoves and ovens, choose to cook outdoors or opt for quicker meals you can prepare using the microwave, which doesn’t heat the house to the same extent. While grilling and eating outside more frequently may require an awning or gazebo to stay cooler, it can beat the alternative of warming up your oven, and ultimately your home, for an extended period of time.
Reducing your usage of other heat-producing appliances such as computers, dishwashers, clothes dryers, curling irons and hair dryers can also help keep interior temperatures comfortable and energy use low. Try using these appliances earlier in the day to minimize the extra load placed on your air conditioner.
Keeping cool during warm weather months doesn’t have to be complicated. Take advantage of these measures to reduce your home’s heat load and energy bill. Find more tips for cooling your home at mitsubishicomfort.com.
Celebrate the season with pop-able fall flavors
(Family Features) As part of the season of change with leaves crunching underfoot and a crispness in the air, remember to pause to celebrate a food known for its change, crunching and crispness – popcorn.
In honor of National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, a time when farmers head to the fields to harvest crops, gather with loved ones to celebrate this humble yet extraordinary snack. Whether it’s prepped on the stove, in the microwave or purchased ready-to-eat, Americans consume around 14 billion quarts each year of the wholesome whole grain, according to the Popcorn Board.
With each kernel, popcorn’s tantalizing aroma fills the air, setting off a journey of sensory bliss, as the sound of popping echoes in ears and the taste of buttery goodness dances on tongues. Whether enjoyed at the movies, during a cozy night in or at festive gatherings, popcorn brings people together, creating moments of shared joy and laughter. Catering to every palate, popcorn’s versatility knows few boundaries, as it can be dressed up with caramel, chocolate or even savory seasonings.
Join the celebration this fall with a fitting recipe like Old Fashioned Bourbon Maple Popcorn with Pecans. Accented with warming flavors of bourbon, orange and bitters, this maple-glazed treat offers a fun, cocktail-inspired snack perfect for sharing.
Discover more snacks that celebrate fall flavors at Popcorn.org.
Old Fashioned Bourbon Maple Popcorn with Pecans
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 dash bitters
- Place popcorn and pecans in large bowl.
- In small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine maple syrup, bourbon and butter; bring to boil. Cook, swirling pan, 3-5 minutes, or until mixture thickens to corn syrup consistency. Stir in orange zest and bitters.
- Drizzle maple syrup mixture over popcorn; toss to evenly coat. Cool completely and serve.
Tips: Substitute bourbon with rye or whiskey. For “mocktail” popcorn, substitute with non-alcoholic bourbon or whiskey.
Find holiday gifts teens, young adults will actually like
(Family Features) One of the best parts of the holidays is being together with those you love, and for many families that time together involves the exchanging of gifts among loved ones young and old. Finding the right gift for everyone can be a challenge, especially if teenagers and young adults are on your shopping list.
It seems like social media feeds are constantly filled with a new tech item, style, pastime or trend, making it more challenging to pick out gifts for the young ones on gift lists. This year, consider some on-trend gift ideas – like Jelly Belly Jelly Beans – to show appreciation for the Gen-Zers in your life with presents and stocking stuffers that can win them over.
New in Tech
As one of the most popular categories of gifts for teens and one that’s always evolving, deciding which devices and gadgets to gift can be hard. Consider your loved ones’ hobbies and interests to make the job easier; for example, if they’re music lovers or podcast fanatics, wireless earbuds or headphones are a perfect option. If social butterflies are on your shopping list, portable phone chargers and smartphone accessories like a pop-out phone grip can make sure they’re one step ahead of their next photo or social post.
For Boba and Candy Lovers
Many Gen-Zers love a good cup of bubble tea or boba swag, so feed their cravings with an option like Jelly Belly Boba Milk Tea jelly beans. With gift boxes, snack bags and more, these delicious treats made for candy lovers provide a perfect balance of tea, tapioca and sweetness in five true-to-life milk tea flavors: Mango, Taro, Matcha, Strawberry and Thai Milk Tea jelly beans. Find these treats at JellyBelly.com where you can purchase online or locate a store near you.
For teens heading to college or young adults venturing out on their own, consider gifting items to spruce up their new spaces. You can give them a helping hand to start their next chapter with fun decor items like throw pillows and blankets or add life to their new homes with stylish wall art or flower subscriptions. For simple reminders of home, consider candles with their favorite scents or aromatherapy diffusers and essential oils to add a touch of calm to the chaos of heading out on their own.
Play to Their Hobbies
Help them embrace their talents and favorite activities whether it’s art, reading, cooking, gaming, playing sports or mastering instruments. New paint kits and supplies can help young Picasso’s take their art to the next level while a new appliance or cookbook can provide an upgrade for avid home chefs.
The Gift of Music
Whether they have a favorite band or are up-and-coming musicians themselves (or both), give the gift of music with fun ways to enjoy their favorite songs. Record players and vinyl records are making a major comeback while portable speakers allow music lovers to take their favorite sounds wherever they go. A subscription to a streaming service can be perfect for casual listeners or, if you’re looking to splurge, consider concert tickets.
From jogging around the neighborhood to exploring nearby parks and trails, outdoor enthusiasts can never have enough gear. Runners are always searching for the latest sneaker launch or fitness tracker to keep on pace with their goals while more casual enjoyers of the outdoors may love a new water bottle, picnic blanket or beach bag.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (girl opening gift)
Getting your pet ready for fall
(Family Features) Pets provide unconditional love to their companions; in return, it’s important to make sure they live happy and healthy lives by providing the best care possible. This means making sure that in addition to food, treats and toys, they receive daily care for their eyes, ears and overall health.
With a desire to bring a dog into his family’s lives, Albert, a Bausch + Lomb employee, rescued a terrier mix named Watson. However, it soon became apparent Watson needed some extra love and care to help protect his eyes and ears from irritation and excess buildup. When finding a remedy proved difficult, Albert worked with veterinarians to develop Project Watson Health Care for Dogs, a comprehensive line of quality products targeting these specific areas.
To help ensure your furry member of the family has the best head to tail health possible, consider these tips.
Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Routine wellness checks are an essential part of your pet’s care. Annual screenings, even if your dog seems healthy, allow your veterinarian to provide vaccines to combat disease and uncover any health issues that may have otherwise gone undiagnosed until symptoms advanced.
Watch Your Pet’s Diet
Feeding your pet a proper diet based on his or her breed, age, size and lifestyle plays a big role in overall health. A balanced diet that includes high-quality food can lead to a shiny coat, healthy skin, bright eyes and may also help strengthen your pet’s immune system, maintain intestinal health, increase mental acuity, regulate weight, keep muscles and joints healthy and more.
Support Clean Ears and Eyes
Often overlooked, the eyes and ears are vital areas to the overall health and wellness of your pet. To help keep these areas free of any buildup of bacteria that may cause irritation, consider an option like the line of Project Watson Health Care Products for Dogs, which includes an eye wash, eyelid wipe, ear wash, ear wipe and supplements made using high-quality and naturally inspired ingredients.
Excessive blinking or pawing at the eyes can be signs of buildup, irritation or infection. Dirt and debris trapped around the eyes can also clump in fur, leading to skin irritation and infections while excessive tear production can lead to fur staining, which can develop an unpleasant odor. Eye wipes can be used daily to relieve staining and remove excess buildup. Washing your dog’s ears may help reduce dirt, debris and wax buildup; help prevent itching; and reduce the chance of infection while keeping ears smelling fresh.
Create an Exercise Routine
Walks, games in the backyard and social time with other pets can help keep your furry friend in good physical condition. While different breeds and species often have different needs, adequate activity can provide benefits beyond the physical, including reducing boredom, which can potentially lead to anxiety or destructive behaviors.
In addition to regular vaccinations, ensure your pet is up to date on parasite prevention. This includes fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and more which can cause reactions ranging from mild to severe (or even fatal in some cases of heartworm or Lyme disease). Look for pests and skin abnormalities when grooming your pet and contact your vet if your pet excessively scratches, chews or licks his or her fur or ears, or persistently shakes his or her head.
For more solutions to keep your four-legged friend happy and healthy, speak with your veterinarian or visit tryprojectwatson.com.
Bausch + Lomb
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