Winter Weather Activities for Kids

winter weather activities








Clever ideas to keep kids entertained this winter break

School is still out for winter break. Did you prepare accordingly? You can start by adjusting your Sensi™ Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat schedule or temperature set points to make sure you’re not freezing everyone out of the house now that the family is home during the day. (If you’re lucky enough to be heading to warmer climates, be sure to set a vacation schedule and use these other tips to save money at home while you’re gone.)

Now that you have assurance on your family’s home comfort, here are some winter weather activities and tips to help you keep your sanity and to keep your kids entertained during the long break.

Winter Weather Activities for Kids

Get Smart!

“Mom, why is snow white?”

“Dad, how are snowflakes formed?”

“What on earth is ‘thunder snow’?”

If winter brings a myriad of these types of questions from your kids, this site has all of the answers, along with fun winter weather activities and projects like turning dew into frost or how to examine a snowflake up close. If your kid insists on playing on the Internet for the entire winter break, steer them into watching something other than memes and cat videos with this great list of fun YouTube science channels. Emerson, the company behind Sensi thermostat, also has a fantastic resource for you and your kids to learn all about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) – Emerson.com/ILoveSTEM.

Get Out There!

Do you want to build a snowman? Of course you do. Snow and colder temperatures bring a plethora of fun, winter weather activities to do with the family. Go ice-skating or sledding, build snow igloos and forts, or strap on some snow shoes and take the family for a wintry hike to check out the neighborhood holiday light displays before they’re gone for another year. If your kids are nature lovers, break out the binoculars and go bird watching. Since most of the leaves have fallen off the trees, birds are much easier to spot. Have your kids keep a journal with pictures, descriptions and locations and compare it to the different birds they’ll see in the warmer months. (When you’ve had enough of the frigid temps, use the Early Start feature on your Sensi thermostat to start heating your home early. This will ensure that your home is the perfect temperature upon arrival to help melt the frost of those little toes.) 

Get Crafty!

Build a birdfeeder out of pine codes, peanut butter and birdseed to help with your winter bird watching activities. Use food coloring to make ice art out of water or snow. Freeze into shapes using trays, molds or old containers. If it’s cold enough, take your ice art outside and sprinkle water on them to freeze into larger buildings or sculptures. The Internet, especially Pinterest, is full of other crafty ideas do with your kids during winter break. Check out these amazing Pinterest Winter Crafts for Kids Boards for ideas and be sure to follow our Sensi Pinterest Profile for energy savings tips and more while you’re there.

Get Creative!

Looking for creative ways to keep active kids occupied when it’s too cold to go outside? Keep up their competitive spirits with a treasure hunt. The kids can get more clues when they’ve finished their chores. Use masking tape to create everything from a temporary racetrack to a bowling lane and have your kids use toilet paper instead of a ball for indoor games. It’s much easier to pull up and throw away the tape than pull apart and put away a track full of tiny parts. And toilet paper, while it can be a pain, is fun for kids to play with and easier to clean and replace than a treasured, shattered lamp. Another idea is to let your kids organize their books and use index cards to “check them out” from the library. They can also set up a pretend shop where they can “sell” the toys they don’t want in exchange for trinkets or paper money. This is a perfect opportunity to organize a trip to your local charity drop-off to donate the “sold” toy, teach kids how to be charitable and clear out space for all of the new toys they just received over the holidays.

Get Nostalgic!

Make a list of your family’s favorite winter-themed or holiday books or movies over the years and read or watch one together each night. Or start a new annual tradition by making a New Years Eve time capsule. Have your kids write a letter to their future selves, job down statistics like height and weight, favorite colors or foods, fun memories from the past year, etc. Decorate a container and seal it away until next year.

These winter weather activities and ideas are sure to keep everyone entertained over the holiday break.

 

Winter Energy Savings Tips

winter energy savings

Don’t let the cooler weather heat up your utility bills

Winter is coming.

The time of year that even the most ardent cold weather fan starts to dread because watching the numbers on the daily weather temperature forecast go down often results in the numbers on your utility bill going up. But, there are steps you can take now that can help to reduce your energy usage while still keeping your family warm and cozy during the cold winter months ahead. Use these energy savings tips to cut back on your utility bills during the heating season.

Get smart with a programmable Wi-Fi thermostat

You can have an energy savings of up to 10% on your annual heating and cooling bills by simply adjusting your thermostat (source: Energy.gov). But, today’s modern family is busier than ever. With our harried lifestyles, it’s difficult enough to manage our own schedules, let alone our thermostat’s.  Instead of remembering to work the system, let your system work for you and upgrade to a programmable thermostat that puts you back in charge of your energy savings.

The SensiWi-Fi Programmable Thermostat is super easy to install and the free, intuitive mobile app puts control of your home comfort at your fingertips. With seven independent day schedules, it’s perfect for all kinds of lifestyles. Lower your thermostat temperature setting at night to save money and get better sleep and also during times when the house is vacant. And, since Sensi thermostat is certified Energy Aware®, you can feel confidant in the energy savings you’ll get from its precision temperature control accuracy.

Learn more about programming your Sensi thermostat for maximum energy savings here.

Protect your equipment

For optimal energy savings, your heating and cooling equipment should be well maintained. Replace the furnace filter once a month, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Dirty filters can restrict airflow, increasing energy usage and costs. If you haven’t yet called your contractor for fall seasonal maintenance, schedule your check-up now to ensure that your HVAC system is well adjusted and operating properly. This can help shave up to five percent off your annual heating costs.

Conserve hot water

Shorten your shower time to help reduce your hot water consumption. By cutting your showers in half, you can save up to 33% on your water heating costs. For increased savings, install low-flow shower heads and faucets to save an additional 10-16% annually. Also, while that bathroom fan is great for removing humidity, turn it off as soon as you can because these fans can blow out all of the previous heat that you’re working so hard to conserve.

Let in the sunshine 

Sunshine is the original – and free – heat and energy source. Open your curtains or shutters on your south-facing windows during sunny winter days to let the natural sunlight heat up your home. You can also turn down your thermostat a few degrees on these days for additional energy savings. When the sun sets at night, close those curtains to insulate your home and seal in the heat.

Bundle up at home

Warm throw blankets and comfy clothing layers are your first defense in cold winter months. Dressing in layers is a simple and free way to higher energy savings on your monthly heating bill. Instead of turning up the thermostat, throw on a heavy sweater and warm socks and cozy up with your family on the couch under blanket. Also, try rearranging your room so your seating is by interior walls. They tend to be less drafty then next to windows on exterior walls. Speaking of drafts, take a quick home audit to find energy leaks that are costing you money then click here for more interior design tips to maximize your energy savings.

 

Staying warm and comfortable during severe winter weather doesn’t have to mean high utility bills. Use these tips to increase energy efficiency, freeze that heating bill and use that extra money to plan for your summer vacation.

Top 9 Smart Gadgets for Your Holiday Party

smart gadgets

Let smart tech do the work while you connect with your guests

It’s that time of year again. The month you’ve been dreading. It’s your year to host the family or neighborhood holiday party. The task at hand seems daunting and the future looks bleak. You’ll be worrying about this party all week. Then what to your wondering eyes should appear, but 9 smart home gadgets for holiday cheer. Yes, it’s real. The solution to all of your party planning fears is right at your fingertips. Literally. These smart gadgets will help you host the best holiday party right from your smart phone. But, you still have a little planning to do. Read on to learn about the best smart gadgets for your end-of-year bash.

First, let’s plan ahead a bit for the barrage of people that are about to flow through your front door. Rather than running back and forth to answer the door, or entrusting your spouse to do it, install a (1.) smart lock. You can set up a temporary security code and share with guests ahead of time, or simply grant access from your app when they arrive.

Now, you’ll need all of your energy to get through this day and that can only mean one thing – coffee! If you’re worried you might sleep in, use a smart gadget like a (2.) Wi-Fi coffee maker to infuse your home with the enticing aroma of a strong brew. Program it to start at a set time or turn it on from your mobile app from the convenience of bed. On some models, you can even adjust the brew Smart coffee maker – program it to start at a set time or when you wake up. After you down your first or second pot, set it up for after dinner service.

Now that you’re caffeinated, it’s time to clean. Wait. No, it’s not. You’ve got a (3.) smart vacuum so put your little robot friend to work. Put it in auto mode or switch to manual for manual steering around tight corners. When it finishes, it will drive itself to the charging station and send you a message that the job is complete.

With coffee and cleaning checked off your list, it’s time to get cooking. Food prep is a breeze when you have a smart gadget like a (4.) Wi-Fi cooking thermometer. Don’t waste time looking up the correct internal temperature because this handy device already knows the perfect temperature setting for your ham, turkey, or brisket. It will even store your cooking history so you can duplicate the tender, juicy entrée again and again. Connect your smart thermometer to the mobile app and it will even help you place the probe in the correct spot, and set up convenient alerts and timers so can stop worrying about when the meat is done and finish setting up the decorations and entertainment.

Speaking of decorations and entertainment, today’s smart gadgets have got you covered.  (5.) Wireless speaker with a built-in light show? Yes, please. Need an easy after-dinner game to help rouse your guests from their turkey comas? Download (6.) “Heads Up” from the app store for a clever game of pop culture charades. You can play using a simple app so there are no cards to lose and no messy clean up required. Click here to learn more.

While charades might be a hit with the adults, we all know who is the hardest to entertain at these holiday gatherings. Worried that your home Wi-Fi network might not be able to sustain the horde of brooding teenagers in your basement blaring their own music playlists from their smartphones, updating their Tumblrs every two minutes, and challenging each other in multi-player online video games? Before the big day, look into a smart gadget like a (7.) Wi-Fi Range Extender. With a simple mobile app, you can easily analyze where your Wi-Fi coverage is the weakest in your home. Add the range extender and use the app to test your signal strength again and optimize your home network so the teenagers have plenty of bandwidth. No on likes a skulking, whining adolescent.

Speaking of skulking, whining adolescent. Don’t forget how testy Uncle Joe gets if you don’t keep the cold beverages flowing. If you have the room for an extra fridge (and live in California), this (8.) smart refrigerator will hold up to 78 beers and promises to keep your brews frosty cold. But what makes this smart gadget really cool is the mobile app that will send alerts right to your phone when you run out of beer. It can also alert you if someone even moves a can. A good way to run tabs on the fridge to make sure everyone who accesses it is of legal drinking age.

Now your party is in full swing. Whew! Is it hot in here? No problem. Adjust your home temperature with your (9.) Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat mobile app to cool it off a bit. (Pro Tip: Use the Keypad Lockout feature to keep pesky guests from meddling with the thermostat.)

Finally, the end of the night is drawing near. The last guest has departed and you’re exhausted. Not from the planning or the prep, but from actually speaking to, catching up with, and enjoying your friends and family. You’re tired, but you’re grinning from ear to ear, content with the praise and accolades of “next year has a lot to live up to!” and “best party ever!” ringing in your ears. Your sister is hosting next year. Heh.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a comfortable, satisfying night.