Energy Saving Winter Tips

It’s that time of year where the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are colder.  This can also be the same as the heat of the summer and energy cost can go up if your home isn’t prepared.  With a few of these cost efficient tips, you can keep the entire family comfortable without breaking the bank.

Save money this winter by cutting your thermostat down to the lowest possible temperature to keep you and your family comfortable.  For every degree you turn down your thermostat, you can cut your seasonal energy cost 3 to 5 percent.

Proper air sealing around windows and doors can lower your energy bill up to 30%.  The average U.S. home has gaps and cracks that run ½ a mile long from end to end.  Adding insulation to window and door seems can prevent heat from escaping and cold air entering.  It’s also important to check your insulation around windows and doors each year, as replacing current insulation might be necessary.

Using a programmable thermostat can also cut energy cost up to 10% that can amount to $180 or more per year.  Setting the temperature to a cooler temperature during the day while you’re not at home and warmer at night will keep those heat pumps and furnaces from running up energy cost while no one is home.  Replacing your thermostat is an easy and affordable option to reduce heating cost.

Insulate basements, crawlspaces and attacks.  Just like the heat of summer can enter your home, the cold of winter can come creeping in from these locations too.  Check these spaces to insure insulation hasn’t fallen or deteriorated over time.  If so, simply replace

Switch to cold water to wash your clothes.  According to Energy Star, by switching the washing to cold water an average household can save between $30 to $40 annually.

Put your holiday decorations on timers.  This goes for Christmas trees, indoor decorations and outdoor alike.   For those outdoor decorations put them on a timer, so your lights do not run all night long.  Stopping the energy to those lights in the early morning hours can save you hours on your energy bills.

As always, clean and change filters regularly.  Dirty filters add strain to your systems causing them to work hard and increase your energy bill.  Also, the standard filters work just as well as the fancy allergy removing ones as long as they’re changed regularly.  You can save money by purchasing these filters and it will reduce the strain on your energy systems.

Your hot water heater can also cause your utility bill to go up if it’s turn up too high.  Set the water temperature to 120 degrees.  Simply reducing the temperature from 140 degree to 120 can save you 15% off energy cost. Adding a hot water heater blanket to your water heater is also a way to add insulation and keep the temperature warm.

Pulling the shades down during the night and dark hours will help keep cold temperatures out and opening the blinds to get natural light will help keep temperatures up as well.

Change the direction of your ceiling fans to pull the cool air up to the ceiling in turn pushing the warm air down can keep rooms warm.  Make sure you have the blades rotating clockwise for this to work.

These energy saving tips and others can keep money in your pocket this winter.  Take advantage now of these tips so you won’t be sorry later. If you have other ideas and suggestions share them on the Focus Magazine facebook page!



Let’s Get Physical

by Jen Fuller-Allen

You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start a new fitness regimen.  You can start integrating healthy habits before the hype of weight loss in January. Healthy lifestyles affect various aspects of your life. By making a positive lifestyle change you can see benefits emotionally, physically, spiritually and even with your relationships on an individual level as well as with your family.

1. Exercise improves your mood & increases self-esteem.

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You’ll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Regular physical activity can even help prevent depression.

2. Exercise combats chronic diseases.

Regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries. Regular physical activity can help you prevent Type II diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

3. Exercise helps you manage your weight.

When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn — and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. Dedicated workouts are great, but physical activity you accumulate throughout the day helps you burn calories, too.

4. Exercise boosts your energy level.

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can leave you breathing easier. Regular physical activity helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep.

A good night’s sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And you guessed it — physical activity is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. There’s a caveat, however. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you may be too energized to fall asleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to exercise earlier in the day.

6. Exercise can be fun!

Physical activity doesn’t have to be drudgery. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a local climbing wall or hiking trail. Push your kids on the swings or climb with them on the jungle gym. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find a physical activity you enjoy and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it counts!

7.  Exercise increases mental focus.

Did you know that the latest research shows that exercise helps keep the brain sharp well into old age? Anything that involves mental acuity (focus and concentration) is improved. You also stand a much better chance of avoiding such diseases as Alzheimer’s and senility.

8. Exercise improves your relationships with others. 

It provides you with an outlet for your stress, allowing you to be more relaxed and able to focus more on others. If you exercise with a partner or family member, it provides a perfect opportunity to improve communication and strengthen your bond by committing to doing something together.

9. Exercise can decrease stress levels.

The worries and stresses of everyday living (commuting, work demands, conflicts etc.) can stick with you long after the work day is done. Exercise right after work is the perfect natural therapy that can change your mood. You’ll sleep better too!

Things we can do as a family to stay fit…

  • Find a partner or class to be accountable to – spouse, fellow pastor, friend, child, anyone…..
  • Walk together
  • Ride bikes
  • Play in the yard
  • Go to the park
  • Play hopscotch, basketball, soccer or any other games as a family
  • It is good for us to teach these healthy choices to our children as well.
    • By setting an example for our children, we encourage them to embrace healthy habits from a young age and help to increase their brain development, decrease their risk of obesity and other childhood diseases, improve their self-esteem and spend more time together as a family.

Think about what motivates you to make a healthy lifestyle change – write it down and stick it on your mirror at home

Decide HOW & WHEN you will exercise – make a written plan and schedule it in your calendar.  Don’t break that appointment with yourself.

Easy ways to add exercise to every day:

  • Take the stairs
  • Park your car at the end of the lot
  • Do jumping jacks or march in place during commercials on TV
  • Use a pedometer – aim for 10,000 steps a day

I would encourage you to track your exercise – set a goal of 30 minutes a day/three days a week or three family walks a week or a certain number of steps on your pedometer – anything that you enjoy – then record it on your calendar just like all your other appointments. When you finish, write it down so you can see your progress – you can use a calendar, a sheet of paper or a website. allows you to track food and exercise – you can use it for either one.  There are also lots of articles, workouts and recipes you can use.

15-minute circuit

Perform 10 of each exercise in order a total of 5 times (no equipment required)

  • Squat
  • Push-ups
  • Plank
  • Dip
  • Sit-ups

Quick Cardio – no equipment required – all can be high or low impact

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jump Rope
  • Quick Feet
  • Power Heels
  • Jump Squat
  • High Knees (add arms)
  • Hamstring run
  • Front Kicks
  • Arm Punches/Speed bag Arms
  • Run/Walk up & down stairs
  • Walk/Run in all directions at a track or in your driveway


Weight Circuit:  You can use anything from dumbbells to canned vegetables

Arms Legs
Bicep Curls Squats
Tricep Kickbacks Plies
Shoulder Press Right Front Lunge
Front Lat Raise Left Front Lunge
Side Lat Raise Right Lateral Lunge
Back Row Left Lateral Lunge
Pull-Ups Calf Raise
Chest Press Hamstring Bridge Lift

(*Weights – begin with 2 sets of 8 reps; work up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps each)

Woman with tissue and hot drink

Fighting Flu the Old Fashioned Way

Fighting Flu the old fashioned way
Novant Health Lexington Primary Care
Tiffany Cox, PA –C

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that affects millions of people in the United States each year. Although individuals can best protect themselves against influenza by getting vaccinated, practicing good health habits will be more important than ever in helping to fight the flu.

Flu spreads from person to person most easily through coughing and sneezing. In fact, infected respiratory droplets can travel up to three feet through the air. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the influenza virus can also survive on surfaces such as books, doorknobs and computer keyboards for up to eight hours. And adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before experiencing symptoms and up to seven days after getting sick, making it possible for them to pass the flu to others without even knowing it.

But there are ways to avoid getting sick:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick as well.
• If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you have the flu to help prevent others from getting sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water to dislodge and remove flu-causing germs. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers will also kill the germs that cause the flu.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then inadvertently touches his or her face.
• Practice health habits. By getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food, it is possible to stay healthy during the flu season and all year long.

These healthy habits are beneficial no matter what type of illness you may encounter. However, while the flu is highly contagious, it is important to remember that not every cough or sneeze indicates that the flu is on its way.

Unlike colds, which come on slowly and usually result in a sore throat and cough, the flu attacks quickly and causes extreme bodily exhaustion. Here are some common flu symptoms to be on the watch for:

Fever Muscle aches
Headache Loss of appetite
Extreme tiredness Chills
Runny or stuffy nose

Left untreated, the flu can lead to some serious complications, including pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor for your flu shot or visit one of the many flu clinics held throughout the community. For more information, please visit or