Whether you’re driving in the summer or winter, you want to maximize your vehicle’s gas mileage. Cold weather can reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy, though. Use these tips to maximize your gas mileage this winter.
Why does Winter Fuel Economy Fall?
When temperatures drop from 70 degrees F to 20 degrees F, your vehicle’s fuel economy can drop by as much as 12 percent. Short trips of less than four miles also cause a fuel economy loss of as much as 22 percent. If you drive a hybrid vehicle, you could experience a 34 percent drop in fuel economy.
These drops occur for several reasons.
- The engine takes longer to reach a fuel-efficient temperature, a factor in fuel economy during shorter trips.
- Idling reduces overall fuel economy.
- Window defrosters, the heater fan and heated seats require extra power.
- Tire pressure decreases, which increases your vehicle’s rolling resistance and reduces fuel economy.
- Cold engine and transmission fluids increase friction.
- Battery performance decreases and affects the battery charge.
- Cold air and snow mounds on your vehicle create a higher aerodynamic drag as you drive at highway speeds.
- Winter grade gasoline blends are lower in energy than summer grade gasoline blends.
- Severe weather reduces tire grip and wastes energy, and slower but safer driving practices lower fuel economy.
How can you Improve Fuel Economy?
If possible, take several proactive steps that increase your vehicle’s gas mileage.
- Park in a garage or other warm location to increase your engine and cabin temperature and reduce the amount of time and effort required to warm the vehicle.
- Allow your vehicle to idle for only 30 seconds. It will warm up almost two times faster and use less fuel as you drive.
- Use defrosters and seat warmers only when necessary. An ice scraper and warmer clothing can help.
- Choose winter tires with low resistance and keep them inflated to the proper pressure as you improve traction and fuel economy.
- Use the cold weather oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
- Charge your battery before winter at an automotive store, car dealer or your mechanic.
- Remove accessories like the luggage or ski rack plus accumulated snow since these factors increase wind resistance and reduce your vehicle’s aerodynamics and fuel economy.
- Toss sandbags into the trunk to increase traction.
- Complete as many errands as possible in one trip. Also, check the traffic before your trip and avoid congested or slow areas.
This winter, your car may use more fuel than usual, but you can maximize your vehicle’s fuel economy with these tips.
We wish you and yours a safe and prosperous new year – from all of us at Scurich Insurance Services!
Although you might not be aware of it, there are far-reaching benefits to positive thinking that can improve your health and help you with stress management. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that the personality traits of optimism and pessimism can have a direct impact on your well-being.
The good news is that, even if you are a pessimist by nature, you can take steps to improve positive thinking techniques in your life, and reap the resulting health and well-being benefits. Health Benefits of Positive Thinking. Over time, researchers have explored the effects of optimistic thinking on health, and have found many correlations between well being and positive thought processes. These include:
- Longer life span
- Better resistance to the common cold
- Lower rates of depression
- Reduced rates of cardiovascular disease
- Improved coping skills during times of stress and hardship
- Better physical and psychological well-being
Get on the Road to Positive Thought Processes.
There are some simple steps to take to move away from negative thinking, and create a new habit of positive self-talk. Monitor yourself: During the day, stop and take note of your thoughts. If thoughts are mainly negative, make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on things.
Be open to good humor: Give yourself permission to be happy, to smile, and to laugh, even when the chips are down. Seek humor in everyday events.
Lead a healthy lifestyle: Follow a healthy diet and exercise at least three times per week. Eating right and exercising both have positive effects on mood and stress management.
Surround yourself with people who focus on the positive: Choose to spend time with family and friends who are cheerful, supportive, and offer helpful feedback. Avoid spending time with negative people who have a “glass half empty” attitude.
Practice positive self talk: Be gentle and encouraging with yourself, and never tell yourself something that you would not say to another person. If a negative thought enters your mind, try to think about it rationally, and follow up with positive affirmations about yourself and your circumstances.
Practice Every Day!
If you have had a past tendency to have a negative outlook on life, don’t despair. While you may not become an optimist overnight, with everyday practice, you will begin to replace negativity with productive, positive thoughts.
You may find that you become, not only less critical of yourself, but more accepting of the world around you. As your general attitude improves, you will begin to reap the physical and emotional benefits of a positive outlook on life!
Happy Holidays to you and yours – from all of us at Scurich Insurance Services. Christmas isn’t the same without lights. Strands of sparkling lights can be hazardous, though, if you forget to follow safety tips as you hang, plug in, store and enjoy these holiday essentials.
Buy lights that are safety tested. Lights without an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) tag may be unsafe to plug in and use.
Inspect lights and plug them in before hanging them. This visual assessment exposes fire hazards like cracked, loose or broken bulbs and frayed, chewed or broken cords. It also lets you replace burnt out bulbs and ensure all the bulbs are the same wattage. After repairing any problems, plug in the lights to ensure the bulbs work and the strands work properly.
Separate indoor and outdoor lights. Strands designed for indoor use should not be hung outdoors because their thin insulation is easily damaged when exposed to cold, wet outdoor conditions.
Hang lights with insulated hooks. Staples, tacks or nails can pierce the strands and cause dangerous electrical shorts and increase the fire risk.
Use extension cords properly. Plug no more than three strands of lights into each extension cord, lay rather than coil extension cords and use only outdoor certified extension cords for your outdoor lights. If the cords feel hot, unplug the lights for a while to reduce fire risk.
Turn off lights before you go to bed or leave the house. Otherwise, the hot lights could start a fire, and you will be asleep or away from home and unable to intervene.
Water the tree regularly. A dry tree and hot lights are an unsafe combination.
Store lights properly to prevent damage and simplify decorating next year. Instead of stuffing them in a box, carefully wind the light strands, secure them with twist ties and store them in plastic bags. Alternatively, wrap the strands around a paper towel tube and thread the ends through the tube’s hollow center.
Hanging lights is a fun and festive holiday tradition. With these safety tips, you have peace of mind as you enjoy your sparkling home all season.
Often these days, you hear about credit reporting agencies or large retailers announcing a significant data breach. Hackers are usually able to access the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and addresses of millions of consumers, which put their identity and credit at risk.
A credit report freeze is one protective measure that is highly recommended . Every consumer, including you, should understand this protective measure as you protect your data, identity and credit.
What is a Credit Report Freeze?
A credit report freeze allows you to restrict who can access your credit report. When a freeze is in place, only certain professional entities can see your information, and it’s less likely that an identity theft can access your data.
Ways a Credit Report Freeze Affects You
When you place a credit report freeze on your account, it affects you in several ways.
1. It prevents certain entities from accessing your credit report. This includes potential employers, mortgage companies and car dealers.
2. Existing creditors and any debt collection agencies they hire and government agencies responding to a court order or subpoena may continue to access your credit report.
3. You can continue to access your free annual credit report.
4. It does not affect your credit score.
5. You will continue to receive prescreened credit offers for credit or insurance. Call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or go online to optoutprescreen.com if you wish to stop receiving these offers.
How to Place a Credit Report Freeze
Contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies to freeze your credit report.
To place a freeze, you must provide your name, birth date, Social Security number, address and other personal information. You will also have to pay a fee. It typically ranges from $5 to $10 but varies based on where you live.
How to Know if Your Credit Report Freeze is Successful
After placing a credit report freeze, you will receive a confirmation letter from the credit reporting company. It includes a unique password or PIN you will need if you ever choose to lift the freeze.
How to Lift a Credit Report Freeze
Your credit report freeze remains in place indefinitely. However, you may want to lift it so you can apply for a job or credit. To do that, simply contact the credit reporting company to request a lift. You will provide your password or PIN, pay a fee that varies by state and indicate if you want a temporary or permanent lift.
A credit report freeze can protect your personal data and identity. Consider monitoring your bank, insurance and credit card statements, though, too, and purchase cyber liability insurance as a further protective measure.
Around 65 million Americans have high cholesterol, a condition that can affect anyone from young kids to senior adults. September is Cholesterol Education Month, and you can improve your health when you understand the definition of cholesterol and the best ways to prevent high cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol circulates in your blood and resembles wax or fat. It supports metabolic processes, such as cell membrane stabilization, vitamin D formation, and steroid hormone and bile acid production. It While your body makes cholesterol naturally, it’s also found in food. If you make or consume more cholesterol than your body needs, the excess will accumulate in your arteries and narrow those passageways, which could increase your heart disease and stroke risk.
You have good cholesterol (HDL – high-density lipoprotein), bad cholesterol (LDL – low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides. The lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from your body’s cells.
- HDL – Removes bad cholesterol as it flows through your bloodstream.
- LDL – Becomes part of the plaque that lines your arteries.
Your cholesterol levels can depend on several factors, including a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, and your weight can also affect cholesterol levels.
What are Normal Cholesterol Levels?
The ideal cholesterol level is under 170 mg/dL. Your LDL level should be under 110 mg/dL, and your HDL level should be over 35. Aim for a triglyceride level of under 150 mg/dL. While these numbers are confusing, your doctor can explain them and help you achieve healthy levels.
How do you know if you have High Cholesterol?
You might have high cholesterol and not know it. Visit your doctor for a blood test that shows your cholesterol levels. Typically, adults over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. High-risk children should have their cholesterol checked regularly, too.
How is High Cholesterol Treated?
Often, lifestyle changes can reduce your cholesterol levels. Your doctor may recommend exercise and dietary improvements, such as:
- Engage in two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week.
- Eat more high-fiber food, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit the amount of saturated fat and sugar in the foods and beverages you consume.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking and lower your alcohol intake.
- Reduce stress.
Your doctor may prescribe medication, too. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol your body makes and can lower your bad cholesterol levels.
This month, raise your cholesterol awareness levels. Visit your doctor for a cholesterol check, and discuss the steps you can take to achieve a healthy lifestyle that improves your health now and into the future
If you’re one of the 10 percent of Americans who are left-handed, August 13 is your day to celebrate. It’s also the perfect day to learn how to prevent carpal tunnel and keep your wrists strong and healthy.
What is Carpal Tunnel?
Between your thumb and ring finger, a median nerve controls the majority of your hand’s movement and feeling. The carpal tunnel area surrounds this nerve. If it swells, you’ll experience tingling, numbness, pain and weakness.
Who’s at Risk?
Anyone who performs repetitive tasks could develop carpal tunnel syndrome. So, if you type, play sports or an instrument, sew, assemble products or drive, you’re at risk. Certain health challenges, including inflammatory disease, diabetes, Lyme disease and ganglionic cysts, also increase your risk.
How do you Stop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
While icing your hands can reduce swelling, you’ll also want to limit wrist movement by changing the way you perform repetitive tasks. You can also perform exercises that strengthen your hands and wrists while reducing pain.
1. Hold your arms in front of you and point your fingers toward the ceiling. Hold the pose and count to five, then relax your arms to your sides. Make fists and bend them toward the floor until you count to five. Relax your hands and wrists again before repeating these steps 10 times.
2. Hold your left hand out with your palm facing away from you. Use your right hand to pull your left fingers toward your body. Repeat with the right hand.
3. Place your hands together as if you were praying. Turn your wrists until your fingers point toward the floor. Breathe deeply, hold for 5 seconds, press your palms more firmly against each other and hold until you feel your wrists stretch.
If the pain continues, see your doctor. Your Human Resources manager can verify if the exam, tests and any special equipment are covered as you protect your hands and wrists while celebrating Left-Handers’ Day.