Tips for Getting Your Furnace Ready for Winter

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 12.03.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Frigid days are fast approaching. And as snow falls and temperatures plummet, it is important to make sure your furnace is in proper working condition. Follow these tips to make sure you don't get left in the cold this winter.

1. Have your heating equipment properly maintained and cleaned by a licensed heating and cooling contractor.

2. Have the duct work checked for air leaks. Research shows that faulty ductwork accounts for more than 25 percent of the heating loss in an average home.

3. Replace air filters. A dirty filter restricts air flow and causes the unit to lose efficiency.

4. Use a programmable thermostat. By setting your thermostat from 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day (for instance, while no one is home or while everyone is sleeping) you can cut your heating bill by up to 10 percent according to the Department of Energy.

5. Keep air supply and return registers free from obstructions (for example, furniture, rugs, and clothes baskets).

6. Use a whole-home humidifier. Heated indoor air is very dry and needs to be humidified. Actually, one of the driest places on earth could be your home. Don't believe it? The relative humidity of the Sahara Desert is 25 percent; Death Valley's 23 percent. In the winter months, the average heated home can have a relative humidity as low as 13 to 16 percent. The benefits of using an Aprilaire automatic whole-home humidifier include:

Maintenance

* Comfort helps eliminate dry nose and throat and itchy skin, while also reducing static electricity.

* Well being optimum humidity levels can help reduce the chance of upper-respiratory problems caused by dry air. Ask your doctor.

* Preservation proper humidification levels will protect against shrinkage and cracking in furniture, moldings and hardwood floors.

* Energy savings adding moisture to the air means you'll feel warmer with lower, energy-saving indoor temperatures. A home heated to 69 degree with 35 percent humidity feels just as warm as a 72 degree home at 19 percent humidity.


Visit www.aprilaire.com for more information.

Professional Ranges Make Gourmet Meals

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 12.02.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Watching food programs has become a favorite activity for many Americans, but recreating the gourmet meals onscreen is often easier said than done. True, television chefs often have cooking degrees from fancy schools and years of restaurant experience, but you don't need to be a professional to put an impressive meal on the table. What you do need is professional-quality cooking equipment.

Kitchen
Americans looking for the professional cooking experience can buy professional ranges for home-use. These ranges mimic the power and larger cooking surfaces of commercial models in a heavy duty, stainless steel package with the insulation and convenience features required for cooking at home.

A burner on a standard stove has a power output of about 9,000 BTU, whereas a professional range for the home will average 15,000 BTU. Putting even more power to work for home chefs, Thermador's Professional Series ranges and rangetops feature star-shaped burners with an output of 18,000 BTU each. The results: with this much power on every burner, large pots of water will boil in a fraction of the time, and overall faster and more even heating results, allowing the most challenging recipes and techniques to be mastered at home.

Thermador, which started making professional-style ranges for home use in the 1990s, recently introduced its fourth-generation Star Burner. The burner's unique design directs heat evenly from the center of the pan to its edges creating a more even and superior distribution of heat than the standard circular burner, reducing cold spots, which ultimately affects the way the food will cook. Thermador Professional Series ranges also feature patented ExtraLow simmer burners, which have an output of 375 BTU per hour. This precise simmer control system enables home cooks to heat delicate sauces or melt chocolate without scorching or stirring.

Professional ranges for the home also offer a streamlined, professional look. With a bold, chiseled profile, high-grade stainless steel knobs and an angled door handle, the Professional Series from Thermador creates a classic, robust feel in any home kitchen.

For more information, visit www.thermador.com

Resolve to Get Organized in 2010

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 11.25.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Start 2010 with a bang: organize your home and work space! Take the first step by installing shelving that is specifically suited to maximize your space. To successfully clear out and keep out clutter, you need storage space. The folks who operate www.Shelving.com and www.TheShelvingStore.com have been providing shelving and storage fixtures for over fifty years. They know that one size does not fit all when it comes to maximizing your available storage space.

Interior design
When measuring the space for your shelving project, go up as high as you can. If you have a 9-foot ceiling, use shelving units

that are 8-feet high. If you have large and bulky items to store, use shelves that are as deep as your space will allow. Shelving units that are 24-inch, 30-inch, 36-inch deep or even deeper provide much-needed room.

The more shelves you have in each unit, the greater your storage space per square feet of density. For example, a 24-inch-deep by 48-inch-wide shelving unit will occupy 8 square feet of floor space. If you erect a shelving unit 8 feet high and add eight shelves to the unit, you would create 128 square feet of shelving space in just 8 square feet of floor space. Think higher, deeper, wider and add as many shelf levels as possible if you want to get the most density out of your floor space.

Be organized (always), be practical (keep it simple) and get some functional shelving. Wall-mounted decorative shelving is a wonderful complement to just about any room, and they create shelving space where free-standing shelving wouldn't be appropriate. Consider glass shelving for a more contemporary design, or wood grain shelves for a softer, warmer tone.

Whatever your interior design tastes, there are shelves that will satisfy your desire for form and function. With decorative wall-mounted shelving, you can display your prized items like trophies, pottery and pictures in frames. Your home and office should reflect your personality, so choose personalized displays. Using the right shelf will get you on your way to being organized.

An efficient home is a happy home. Start 2010 happy and organized with the help of The Shelving Store.

Visit their Web sites at www.TheShelvingStore.com and www.Shelving.com for more ideas on how to better utilize your existing storage space. They offer free shelving designs for any project.

Get organized for Holidays

Mastering the Alaska Home Heating Test

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 10.29.2009 1 comments

(NewsUSA) - If a wall-hung boiler can heat a home in Alaska problem-free for 10 winters, then it can heat a home anywhere, according to mechanical contractor Mike La Fay.

La Fay, owner of Meadow Lakes Supply in Wasilla, Alaska, installed his first Baxi Luna modulating wall-hung boiler in early 2000. Since then, he has installed more than 100 of these high efficiency, eco-friendly heating appliances in homes throughout Matanuska Susitna County, which is a 50-minute drive north-east from Anchorage.

Winter
"It can be 30 below zero here for three weeks straight, so a reliable heating appliance is essential for both home comfort and survival," La Fay says. "I have not experienced any significant problem with Baxi Luna performance. With Gensco, the exclusive Baxi distributor in Alaska stocking parts and accessories, I am really looking forward to my second decade as a Baxi contractor."

Gensco is a leading wholesale distributor of heating supplies and equipment, selling only to qualified contractors trade in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana since 1947. More recently, Gensco supplied 250 Baxi Luna boilers for an award-winning community redevelopment of Seattle Housing Authority, which reported 37 percent energy use savings over another hydronic heating system.

"My neighborhood just got natural gas recently, so I now have a Baxi Luna heating our family home and my shop. Our former oil fuel bill was up to $500 a month, and now we are spending around $150 for gas," La Fay notes. "You simply can't get better than that -- saving lots of money while knowing your heating system will withstand the coldest challenges of our winter."

Baxi is one of Europe's largest heating products manufacturer and has been making leading wall-hung boilers since the late 1960s. The firm's Bassano, Italy, plant has been producing Baxi Luna wallhung heating since it opened in 1978 and now makes 4,000 boilers a day for export to 70 countries, including the United States. Baxi heat exchangers are stainless steel and bear the ASME H-Stamp.

"I can recommend this appliance to homeowners with confidence, knowing it has a proven Alaska track record for quality, safety and environmental performance," says La Fay, who does ongoing maintenance of his installations and remains committed to learning more about the product. "I have learned a lot from a Baxi Luna training and contractor-certification CD-ROM. It is a great tool for a contractor located in Alaska."

To learn more about proven Baxi energy-efficient, eco-friendly heating solutions, including modulating, condensing or near-condensing boilers

(in either combination central heating and domestic hot water mode, or heating-only), visit www.wallhungboilers.com

Make Pool Maintenance Mindless, Eco-Friendly

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 10.22.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Most people want to enjoy their pools, not spend time maintaining them. And with today's busy schedules, it's easier than ever to make mistakes, like running pool equipment too long or letting the water go green -- and not in the eco-friendly sense.

But automating pool functions can save up to 75 percent of a pool's annual energy costs, while also reducing chemical use and maintenance time. Pool owners can customize pool functions to their schedule. For example, someone may set their pool's filter pump to run longer or more often on weekends, when the pool experiences heavier use.

Pool Maintenance
The pool experts at Hayward offer the following tips for Americans looking to enjoy their pools with minimum effort and maximum savings:

- Replace your pool's filter pump. A pool pump may be your home's second or third largest energy consumer after air conditioning units. But a multi-speed, energy-efficient pump can save up to 75 percent on your pool operating costs. Hayward recommends its Tristar 2-speed pump or Variable Speed pump that features up to eight programmable speeds. Owners can further reduce energy consumption by setting each action's time, speed and duration, or setting the pump to work during off-hours.

- Use a robotic cleaner. A robotic cleaner can quickly pay for itself, saving up to 94 percent of the energy used by a pressure cleaner and booster pump. The best models, like the TigerShark, use little energy themselves, operate independently from other pool functions and shut off after cleaning.

- Are you still flipping switches? Save energy by managing your pool and spa functions with automation. The new OnCommand automatic pool controls can be retrofitted to your pool for less than the price of your next big-screen TV. Program and control up to 4 functions such as your multi-speed filter pump, booster pump, pool/spa lights, heater or pool cleaner.

For more information, visit www.haywardnet.com

(NewsUSA) - Pioneering new product solutions can transform any bathroom from a water-and-money-waster to a water-and-cash-saver without sacrificing style or performance. Think that your bathroom doesn't offer a significant potential for cash savings? Think again.

Toilet
Let's do a little math with the help of the Water Savings Calculator (www.americanstandard-us.com/water-efficiency/) created by American Standard. Using an average residential cost of $6.06 per 1,000 gallons of water per year, consider this:

* Install new 1.28-gallon-per-flush (gpf) high-efficiency toilets to replace older (pre-1990) 3.5 gpf toilets currently in your home. With the average toilet being flushed 12 times per day, replacing two older toilets saves $118 and 19,447 gallons of water per year.

* Replace three 2.2-gallon-per-minute (gpm) faucets with 0.5 gpm WaterSense-labeled faucets and use them the same 40 minutes per day. The result: Save $451 and 74,460 gallons per year.

* Swap out two 3.0 gpm showerheads for new 1.5 gpm models and save $265 and 43,800 gallons per year.

Grab the calculator -- in one year, the average household can save $834 and more than four swimming pools' worth of water!

Bulking up your wallet and saving water become all the more appealing when combined with a new generation of plumbing products that offer peak performance. Remember these product selection tips as you outfit a new, greener bathroom for your home:

* Look for the WaterSense label. Created by the Environmental Protection Agency, this label certifies that products reduce water usage by 20 percent or more without sacrificing performance. The WaterSense label is currently available for high-efficiency toilets (HETs) and faucets. American Standard has the most high-efficiency toilets independently rated to flush more than two pounds of solids. All American Standard bathroom faucets are WaterSense-certified, and they comply with stringent new no-lead requirements.

* Keep performance front and center when going green. The goal is conservation without sacrifice. Using as little as 1.0 gallon of water on the light setting, the H2Option Dual Flush HET scours the sides of the bowl with a strong push-and-pull siphonic action created by a forceful, but quiet, jetted action under the rim. The FloWise three-function showerhead has the option of a full 2.5 gallon flow rate, but an internal turbine also delivers invigorating sprays at lower water-use settings.

Get Organized for Holiday Entertaining

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 10.16.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - As you start preparing for holiday guests, take a look at your home. Is it crowded with clutter? If so, you might want to think about getting your home in order. After all, you need to make room for a Christmas tree, gifts and stockings!

Shelves
Not sure how to start? Here are some tips from Shelving.com, where folks have been making space work better for almost 50 years. If you need more efficient storage space, they have the answer:

- Maximize your space. If you have an old-fashioned closet with just one shelf and one hanging bar, install shelves and use all the vertical space you have. Most closets only utilize about 50 percent of their storage capacity. With a properly designed shelving system, you can use nearly all of the available space.

- Make items easy to find. You don't want to waste time pawing through closets or searching under beds to find what you need, so don't just jam clutter out of sight. Create a more efficient storage space. Use labeled bins in your closet. Box up and store off season items. Use shelves and drawers to categorize items.

- Decorate with storage space. Put ottomans in the living room, and use them to store magazines or board games. Hang attractive shelves to decorate along your walls. Instead of end tables, use antique chests or drawers that also provide useable storage space.

Keeping calm during the chaotic holiday season starts at home -- clutter creates stress and will certainly disrupt the peace and joy of the holiday season. Start with one project (say, a single room or closet) before tackling another.

An efficient home is a happy home. Become happy and organized with the help of The Shelving Store. Visit their Web site at www.TheShelvingStore.com/small for ideas. They offer free shelving designs for just about any space in your home.

Must-Do Kitchen Maintenance

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 10.07.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - As cooler weather approaches, folks start preparing their home for the long winter months, when entertaining moves from the deck to the kitchen.

As you clean your home, consider giving your appliances tune-ups to keep them running more efficiently. The home economists at Whirlpool Corporation offer several quick tips and tricks to prepare the kitchen for the holiday entertaining season:

Kitchen maintenance
* Change the water filter. Be sure to change the refrigerator water filter every six months to keep water fresh and free of contaminants.

* Use the dishwasher. According to ENERGY STAR, the U.S. government program that certifies energy-efficient appliances, washing dishes by hand uses much more water than using a dishwasher. Using an ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing will save 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs and 230 hours of your time each year.

* Stop pre-rinsing dishes. When you pre-rinse dishes, the detergent doesn't have any grease or grime to stick to. As a result, the detergent will attack dishes, making them appear cloudy, scratched or etched.

* Get rid of dust bunnies. Use a slender vacuum attachment or hosiery wrapped around a yardstick to clear out dust and debris from behind and underneath the refrigerator. Dusting will help the fridge run more efficiently.

* Switch to electric. Electric cooktops are about twice as energy-efficient as gas. Electric elements have high-efficiency insulation surrounding the element, and the close proximity to the pot or pan allows efficient heat transfer.

* Do a clean sweep. Cleaning appliances on a regular basis can keep unwanted odors at bay, since it has the tendency to exist anywhere moisture is present in a closed environment. Dishwashers and garbage disposals fit the bill -- clean them every 30 days to prevent odors from leftover food particles and residue.

To help make this chore a little easier, Whirlpool Corporation developed affresh Dishwasher and Disposal Cleaner, the only two-in-one product on the market that removes unwanted odors in dishwashers and garbage disposals. Recommended for monthly use, consumers simply drop the tablets into the dishwasher and disposal for a convenient and affordable solution to unpleasant odors.

For additional information and product availability, please visit www.affresh.com

Professional Ranges Make Gourmet Meals

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 10.01.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Watching food programs has become a favorite activity for many Americans, but recreating the gourmet meals onscreen is often easier said than done. True, television chefs often have cooking degrees from fancy schools and years of restaurant experience, but you don't need to be a professional to put an impressive meal on the table. What you do need is professional-quality cooking equipment.

Americans looking for the professional cooking experience can buy professional ranges for home-use. These ranges mimic the power and larger cooking surfaces of commercial models in a heavy duty, stainless steel package with the insulation and convenience features required for cooking at home.

Professional range
A burner on a standard stove has a power output of about 9,000 BTU, whereas a professional range for the home will average 15,000 BTU. Putting even more power to work for home chefs, Thermador's Professional Series ranges and rangetops feature star-shaped burners with an output of 18,000 BTU each. The results: with this much power on every burner, large pots of water will boil in a fraction of the time, and overall faster and more even heating results, allowing the most challenging recipes and techniques to be mastered at home.

Thermador, which started making professional-style ranges for home use in the 1990s, recently introduced its fourth-generation Star Burner. The burner's unique design directs heat evenly from the center of the pan to its edges creating a more even and superior distribution of heat than the standard circular burner, reducing cold spots, which ultimately affects the way the food will cook. Thermador Professional Series ranges also feature patented ExtraLow simmer burners, which have an output of 375 BTU per hour. This precise simmer control system enables home cooks to heat delicate sauces or melt chocolate without scorching or stirring.

Professional ranges for the home also offer a streamlined, professional look. With a bold, chiseled profile, high-grade stainless steel knobs and an angled door handle, the Professional Series from Thermador creates a classic, robust feel in any home kitchen.

For more information, visit www.thermador.com

Expert Tips for Proper Pool Closing

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.29.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - You might not think about your pool too much after the end of summer, but what you do at the end of swimming season will determine your workload come spring. Properly winterizing your pool will make opening it easier, not to mention help prevent damage.

Poorly winterized pools may sustain freeze-thaw damage, broken equipment, underground drain damage and poor water quality in the spring. Every year, Americans spend thousands of dollars repairing pools that were not closed properly.

Winter pool
BioGuard, a company that supplies water treatment products for recreational and industrial use, offers the following tips for pool owners looking to properly close their pools:

* Conduct a final pool water test. Bring a water sample to your local BioGuard dealer to receive a quick, computerized water analysis. The water analysis will ensure that the water in your pool is balanced. After the dealer tests your water, he or she can recommend and provide the exact materials you need to close your pool for the winter, including information on protecting your pool surfaces and equipment.

* Brush the walls and floor of your pool and vacuum it thoroughly. Clean the skimmer basket and lint trap.

* Use a special filter cleaner to thoroughly clean the filter. A dirty filter can cake and harden over the winter, leaving a messy and difficult clean-up job.

* With the pump and filter on, add the appropriate amount of winter shock around the edges of the pool. Wait an hour, then add winter algaecide. Keep the pump and filter on for another hour.

* If you completely cover and close your pool, drain it to just below the return water lines. Also, drain your equipment and then add pool-winterizing anti-freeze to pipes and equipment. In colder climates, it may be advisable to remove the pump and filter, and store them in an enclosed structure. Consult your local BioGuard dealer for specific instructions.

* Finally, cover your pool to protect from winter winds, leaves, dirt and debris.

For more information, visit www.BioGuard.com or visit your local BioGuard dealer.

Accessorize Your Bathroom on a Budget

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.24.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Decorating a bathroom on a budget is a lot like updating a wardrobe on a budget. Work with what you have, and use accessories to update and add the "wow" factor.

In the bathroom, accessorizing can even include bathroom sink faucets. "With a pre-assembled drain assembly such as Speed Connect, a new faucet is easier to add than a new coat of paint," says Gray Uhl, design director for American Standard. "Even better, top performing lifetime finishes and drip-free, solid brass faucets start as low as $100."

Accesories
Trend No. 1: Warmer Finishes. Special finishes in warmer tones such as satin nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and blackened bronze are currently popular in hardware and faucets, coordinating well with creams and browns in linens and wall décor. "Matte black finish is the proverbial height of fashion for faucets and accessories right now," says Leslie Clagett on her blog, kbculture.blogspot.com.

Trend No. 2: American Minimalism. "Styles such as the Moments, Copeland and Princeton faucet collections echo the same geometric lines and styling familiar in European contemporary design, but warmer and softer," says Uhl. "American minimalist faucets and accessories look best when paired with warmer tones and rich wood surfaces in cabinets and bathroom furniture." Uhl notes that an easy way to get the look is with a design-matched collection such as Tropic, which includes furniture, faucets and fixtures.

Trend No. 3: Escape. Turn even a small bathroom into a spa experience with a serene, monochromatic look and plant oils that create a soothing aroma. Asian-inspired design such as the Green Tea bathroom sink faucet completes the look, with the added benefit of a discrete pull-out spout, which makes it easy to rinse the sink or wash delicate clothing items or one's hair.

Trend No. 4: The Responsible Bathroom. Look for the WaterSense label on new bathroom faucets. The WaterSense label is an assurance that water use will be reduced by 30 percent or more, without sacrificing performance. Replacing three older faucets with three WaterSense-labeled faucets can save almost $500 and 74,000 gallons of water per year.

Style Trend No. 5: You. Most importantly, don't be afraid to be yourself. Bathrooms are personal spaces, so personal statements work well, including tasteful humor. After all, if you can't be yourself in the bathroom, where can you be yourself?

Mastering the Alaska Home Heating Test

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.17.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - If a wall-hung boiler can heat a home in Alaska problem-free for 10 winters, then it can heat a home anywhere, according to mechanical contractor Mike La Fay.

La Fay, owner of Meadow Lakes Supply in Wasilla, Alaska, installed his first Baxi Luna modulating wall-hung boiler in early 2000. Since then, he has installed more than 100 of these high efficiency, eco-friendly heating appliances in homes throughout Matanuska Susitna County, which is a 50-minute drive north-east from Anchorage.

Alaska winter
"It can be 30 below zero here for three weeks straight, so a reliable heating appliance is essential for both home comfort and survival," La Fay says. "I have not experienced any significant problem with Baxi Luna performance. With Gensco, the exclusive Baxi distributor in Alaska stocking parts and accessories, I am really looking forward to my second decade as a Baxi contractor."

Gensco is a leading wholesale distributor of heating supplies and equipment, selling only to qualified contractors trade in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana since 1947. More recently, Gensco supplied 250 Baxi Luna boilers for an award-winning community redevelopment of Seattle Housing Authority, which reported 37 percent energy use savings over another hydronic heating system.

"My neighborhood just got natural gas recently, so I now have a Baxi Luna heating our family home and my shop. Our former oil fuel bill was up to $500 a month, and now we are spending around $150 for gas," La Fay notes. "You simply can't get better than that -- saving lots of money while knowing your heating system will withstand the coldest challenges of our winter."

Baxi is one of Europe's largest heating products manufacturer and has been making leading wall-hung boilers since the late 1960s. The firm's Bassano, Italy, plant has been producing Baxi Luna wallhung heating since it opened in 1978 and now makes 4,000 boilers a day for export to 70 countries, including the United States. Baxi heat exchangers are stainless steel and bear the ASME H-Stamp.

"I can recommend this appliance to homeowners with confidence, knowing it has a proven Alaska track record for quality, safety and environmental performance," says La Fay, who does ongoing maintenance of his installations and remains committed to learning more about the product. "I have learned a lot from a Baxi Luna training and contractor-certification CD-ROM. It is a great tool for a contractor located in Alaska."

To learn more about proven Baxi energy-efficient, eco-friendly heating solutions, including modulating, condensing or near-condensing boilers (in either combination central heating and domestic hot water mode, or heating-only), visit www.wallhungboilers.com

Heated Stairs Step Up Safety, Convenience

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.15.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Anyone who has lived with snow knows that stairs present a unique challenge. They ice up quickly, becoming slippery and dangerous. Outdoor stairs, which often come in irregular sizes, can be difficult to shovel, especially for senior citizens.

And even if you remove snow, your stairs may still ice up. Melting snow from the roof often falls on stairs leading up to a doorstep, creating dangerous ice layers. Using sand or rock salt is hardly an ideal situation. Many Americans are not physically able to carry heavy bags. When the salt dissolves, it poses a threat to local flora and fauna.

Heated stair
Companies and schools with large facilities have taken a unique approach to ensuring safer stairs in wintery weather -- instead of trying to remove snow after it falls, they're using a product that melts snow before it has a chance to build up.

At age 15, Hillel Glazer decided he no longer wanted to shovel snow, so he disassembled a heating pad and combined it with a doormat, promptly shorting out the electricity in his parents' home. As an adult -- and with the help of engineers -- Glazer returned to his original snow-melting mat idea.

Today, Glazer's company, HeatTrak, makes heated mats that keep walkways clear of snow. Long used by large commercial facilities, HeatTrak's Stair Mats are now available to homeowners.

Built with weatherproof, ribbed carpet, HeatTrak Residential Stair Mats are durable enough to be left outside for the entire winter. The mats plug into standard outlets and generate enough heat to melt snow at a rate of two inches per hour. If homeowners turn the mats on when snow first begins to fall, snowflakes will dissolve as soon as they hit the mats, leaving slip-free stairs.

HeatTrak Stair Mats are safe to own and operate. Each mat has a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) that instantly shuts off the mat when it senses a current leak. HeatTrak products are sold throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

For more information, visit www.heattrak.com

If Mahogany Entry Doors Could Talk

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.07.2009 0 comments

If only my doors could talk, I wonder what they would suggest I do to them. My house is currently under renovation and everything that needs to be done has been ironed out except the door aspect.
See, the root of this renovation project happens to be my termite infested custom made entry doors. I don’t know if I’m the one at fault or the company that installed these doors five years ago; yes, so recent that’s why I’m so distraught with the idea of having to spend again on new doors.

Mahogany door
Anyway, my mother suggested Mahogany double entry doors are the perfect choice and the reason of which I really don’t know. She said properly finished Mahogany exterior doors will keep the termites away. Does that mean the company that made my first custom doors did not apply the proper finishing? Somehow mom’s statement made me feel vindicated as I realized I’m not to be blamed for what had befell my doors, but then again I’m the one spending for the Mahogany entry doors so there’s no reason to celebrate.

‘Why, there is, dear! You have every reason to celebrate,” mom said upon hearing my murmur. She went on to say that a friend of hers runs a company that offers fabulous custom made American Red Oak doors, exterior French panel doors, exterior iron insulated doors, and mesmerizing Mahogany interior doors that exude that quaint appeal of Victorian architecture.

Mom speaks to me in vague language all the time. What do I know about architecture and I have zero knowledge about Victoria or is it Victory? Right now, all I want are affordable new entry doors regardless if they’re Mahogany or from Mrs. Victoria’s architecture. Mom said she’ll talk to her friend who offers huge discounts on regular clients and amigas so she’s positive she can get me a great deal.


Stayed at mom’s house for a month and then I returned home to see what has become of my place. As I pulled up in the driveway, I had my eyes fixed on the entry doors which Mom labeled Murano Brazilian Mahogany. Whatever that meant, it was beautiful and very classy. I told mom I’ll go check inside the house but she told me to stop and say hello to the doors first because if only they could talk, they’d offer me a grand welcome.

For additional information, click this site on Mahogany interior doors.

Wood Stove Heating Basics

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 0 comments

Wood stoves are commonly use in almost all American households. 


It is utilized for generating heat and it gives comfort. It is also commonly used for cooking food. The concept of the wood stove was patterned from the fireplace. During the old days, most American households make use of the fireplace to provide heat to their homes.

It was also widely used in the preparation and cooking of meals. With the help of the famous Benjamin Franklin, the first stove was invented. It was made up of cast iron.

It had two doors with a pot belly that is large. It operates by burning wood which was inserted in the pot belly of the stove. With the help of the two doors the fire and also the draft can be controlled.

These stoves are very efficient but at the same time it possesses some risk. The usage of these stoves can cause harm to its users and at the same time very dangerous to the health. The utilization of chemically treated wood for burning releases carcinogens to the air.

Old wood stove
These carcinogens are very harmful are very dangerous to the immune system especially when inhaled. This will also result to respiratory problems and can also cause eye irritation to its users.

(NewsUSA) - What a difference a door makes -- that's what homeowners are discovering when shopping for new laundry appliances. Before deciding among different makes and models, the first decision for many shoppers is the choice between a top-load and a front-load washer.

Laundry
Top-Load Laundry

Long the standard in American homes, top-load washers are still much like the original electric powered machines introduced in the 1920s in that they feature an agitator. Top-loaders submerge clothes in a full tub of water and rely on the agitator to twist and pull clothes through the soapy water. These two features are also the biggest drawbacks. Since the top-loader's basin must completely fill with water, it can use up to 45 gallons of water per load. The agitator's rough, jerking motion subjects clothes to added wear, tear and potential damage.

The end result: top-loaders are cheaper to purchase, but cost more money to operate.

Front-Load Laundry

Instead of an agitator, front-load washing machines use sophisticated systems to gently flip and spin clothes through a shallow pool of water. This gentle tumbling motion helps lengthen the life of often-washed items and allows many models to safely clean silk, wool and other hand-washables.

While front-load washers tend to cost more initially, their energy and water savings over the life of the machine will save more money over time. Even with the reduced water levels, front-loading machines are able to wash the same amount of laundry per load, if not more, due to the absence of a bulky agitator.

Vision, the ENERGY STAR-qualified full-size front-load washer from Bosch, uses only 13 gallons of water for an average-sized load. Advanced energy-saving technology like EcoSmart uses a network of sensors and intelligent controls that continually analyze how full the load is and the suds level in the water. By automatically adjusting the water temperature, water level and rinse cycles, Vision minimizes the amount of water and energy to get clothes absolutely clean. In fact, Bosch is the most energy- and water-efficient brand of full-size front-load washers in the U.S. Front-load washers are known to reduce energy consumption by more than 40 percent but with features such as EcoAction, Vision's energy usage is cut by an additional 20 percent.

The end result: front-loaders are perfect for families looking to save on energy and water bills while machine washing a broad variety of laundry.

Tips to Live Large in a Smaller Space

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Today's economic reality has changed the spaces that Americans call "home." Some have downsized, moving into smaller and more affordable homes. Other families have expanded, bringing grandparents and older children under the same roof.

But moving into a smaller space -- or having to make the same space accommodate more people -- presents challenges. Where are you going to put everything? How are you going to make rooms feel comfortable, not crowded?

Small space
The experts at TheShelvingStore.com, a company that specializes in designing shelving systems to fit any space, offer the following tips to find more room in your smaller space:

- "Edit" your belongings. If you're moving into a significantly smaller space, you will need to get rid of some items. Make a list of the pieces your new home needs, like beds, sofas and dining room tables. Look at the pieces you own, and determine what will work in your new space. If you don't like a piece, don't use it often or don't think it fits the decor of your new space, it's time to donate or sell.

- Eliminate clutter. Life is too busy to have clutter. Don't shove too much stuff in one space. Use all of the space you have to get rid of clutter. Creative storage solutions prove both functional and decorative. Consider chrome wire shelves, which are economical, keep stored items ventilated and eliminate the need to dust. While buying wire shelves at a big discount store can prove problematic -- you might have trouble finding shelves to fit your space -- specialized companies like TheShelvingStore.com offer a wide variety of sizes and styles.

- Let the light in. Contrary to popular belief, painting a room white doesn't make it look larger, just cold and uninviting. Choose soft pastels to warm up rooms. Make sure that light comes in from the windows by choosing light drapes in quality fabrics. Not only do drapes make a room feel homier, they can also add an illusion of height. If a room's dark, add extra lighting with sconces and uplighting, not hanging lights, which can make the ceiling look low. Decorate with mirrors to redirect light, making spaces feel more open.

For more information, visit www.TheShelvingStore.com/small or www.Shelving.com

Granite Countertops Still Top List of Home Improvements

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 7.09.2009 1 comments

(NewsUSA) - Despite the sputtering economy, consumer spending on home renovation remains healthy. Across the nation, homeowners are investing in home remodeling projects - especially kitchen makeovers - either to make their homes more appealing to buyers or more comfortable and enjoyable while they ride out the housing slump.

And one of the most popular home improvements is, once again, granite countertops.

Countertops
A recent study of 10,000 consumers, conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence, found that kitchen renovations remain at the top of the list for consumers seeking to add value to their homes. When the study asked homeowners, "If you were changing your kitchen now and had no budget constraints, what improvement would you make?" granite countertops were among the kitchen features they coveted most.

Many consumers are tightening their belts but remain eager for granite countertops, according to Garis Distelhorst, executive vice president of the Marble Institute of America, the nation's leading natural stone association.

"Historically, consumers recognize that granite countertops enhance the value of a home in ways few other improvements can," said Distelhorst. "No other countertop surface can measure up to granite in terms of practicality, timeless beauty, durability and safety. This natural stone has held its value in ways more trendy materials have not."

Consumers continue to invest confidently in kitchen makeovers because the projects typically increase the resale value of their homes. In the last five years, kitchen remodeling projects have generally returned 80 to 85 percent of consumers' investments, according to the "Cost versus Value Report" from Remodeling magazine.

Because kitchen renovations increase resale values, experts agree that if consumers can only afford to renovate one room in their homes, it should be the kitchen. In fact, an all-new kitchen "that looks great and is fun to work in" was the top priority of 2,200 home enthusiasts surveyed recently by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

"What we've discovered is that the home continues to be our emotional center and the sweet spot of everyday life," said Gayle Butler, Better Home's editor in chief. "Economic uncertainty aside, we won't stop spending, improving and dreaming."

For more information, visit the Marble Institute Web site, www.usenaturalstone.com

Turn Your Home into a Cabin Retreat

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 6.30.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Vacation. Every year, millions of Americans take planes, trains and automobiles to escape to their favorite destinations, whether it's for relaxation, adventure or something in between. But if a dream vacation is not in your budget, consider other options.

Each year, DIY Network gives one lucky winner their very own state-of-the-art vacation retreat that is designed by the viewers. Online, viewers vote on the many different phases of each home project, then watch as construction is documented in TV's only interactive home-building series, Blog Cabin. Locations for the three cabins thus far include mountain-side retreats and lakefront getaways that encompass everything about a vacation destination.

Retreat
If you are not lucky enough to win the Blog Cabin, there are several ways to incorporate some of the cabin's design elements into your home to experience the relaxation or adventure and create a destination of your own while investing in your home:

* Take it outside. More than ever, homeowners are expanding their living space to the outdoors. Whether you add a fire pit or an entire outdoor kitchen to the backyard, the space will inspire gatherings and a break from the norm.

* Upgrade your landscaping. Replicate your favorite vacation spot by trying to mimic its vegetation. If you like the tropics, plant lots of lush, brightly colored plants. Add a tiki bar to the design, and you'll never want to leave home again.

* Create a sanctuary for the man of the house. Build him a man cave, a man-only zone in the house where only he has decorative input. Transform the basement, the garage or even the attic into a place where he can play without interruption from his wife or kids. The women of the house will benefit from the man cave by enjoying the rest of the house without interference from the guys.

* Get the kids outside by building them a tree fort or play house. Get them involved in the design, and have it reflect their interests and hobbies. Once it's built, let the kids direct you in how they would like it to be furnished.

For more information on DIY Network's Blog Cabin or ideas on creating a home retreat, visit www.diynetwork.com

(NewsUSA) - More Americans might be driving hybrid cars and recycling, but their hardwood kitchen and living room floors can be just as critical to climate change.

No one knows exactly how much illegal hardwood enters the United States, but estimates range from $250 million to $375 million worth per year -- much of which is used for high-end flooring.

Hardwood floor
Most illegal hardwood comes from tropical rain forests, delicate ecosystems with high biodiversity. Tropical hardwoods protect the soil -- removing them prevents other plants from growing and allows rain to strip away nutrients from the soil. Studies have shown that rain forest deforestation accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gases.

In December 2008, the U.S. government amended The Lacey Act, its oldest wildlife protection statute, to discourage illegal hardwood imports. According to the amendment, anyone involved in the import, purchase or sale of illegal wood is subject to one to five years in prison and $100,000 to $500,000 in fines per violation.

The U.S. Customs Service monitors suspicious cargo, but too much wood is imported into the U.S. to catch every illegal shipment. However, consumers can take steps to avoid the purchase of illegal hardwood. Shaw, a company that supplies easy-to-install hardwood products, provides the following tips for Americans looking to enrich their homes with gorgeous hardwood without destroying rain forests:

- Look for hardwood that is made in the U.S. Choosing American-sourced wood not only supports the country's economy, it helps to ensure that the hardwood is legally harvested from managed forests, which are a truly renewable resource.

- Beware of exotic wood products. Woods like Brazilian cherry or mongoy are much more likely to have been harvested illegally than non-exotic woods.

- Do your homework. Ask questions before purchasing your floor to make sure it is from a retailer that sources its hardwood products from a trustworthy, legal distributor.

- Consider domestic species of hardwood. Although woods like hickory, oak, birch and maple are grown in America, advanced staining techniques allow these species to have the exotic looks many homeowners desire without the risk of purchasing illegally harvested products.

- Look for eco-friendly laminate products. Shaw's Luminiere collection mimics exotic woods like Ipe heartwood and teak, but doesn't require any illegal harvesting. Better yet, the laminate uses 98 percent less newly harvested wood than most hardwood products and features a high-density-fiber core made from recycled wood.

For more information, visit www.shawfloors.com

(NewsUSA) - Looking to update your home's exterior with a look that requires little maintenance? With a few simple changes, you can add character and upgrade your home's curb appeal without adding items to your to-do list.

Explore endless design and earth-friendly siding options.

House maintenance and upgrade
Is the siding chipping, staining or rotting? Your siding may need a power wash. If it does need replacement, talk with your local contractor about low-maintenance and environmentally friendly vinyl and fiber cement siding options.

Some styles, such as CertainTeed's CedarBoards Insulated Vinyl Siding, can increase the overall thermal performance of your wall by up to 30 percent, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs. Offering color retention along with resistance to wind, water, insect and chemical damage, vinyl and fiber cement siding is engineered to keep a home looking beautiful for many years.

Don't forget to look up.

Since a roof makes up 40 percent of a home's exterior, make sure yours is in tiptop shape. Use binoculars to look for missing, cracked, curling or decaying shingles. If any are spotted, it may be time to replace your roof.

Consider asphalt shingles, which can last many years and add dimensional appeal to your home. Shingles, such as CertainTeed's Landmark Solaris, can also reflect solar energy and radiate heat, making for a lower-temperature roof in the summer.

Create a comfortable "living room" outdoors.

Vinyl fencing displays consistent quality and appearance. It doesn't require painting, making it nearly maintenance-free and a great alternative to traditional materials.

A low-maintenance option to wood is Galveston with CertaGrain. Using an innovative texturing process, CertaGrain features an authentic wood-like appearance in an easy-to-maintain vinyl design while providing resistance to the decay, warping or splintering that are common with wood fences.

Adding a fence also functions as more than just a means of privacy. A fence provides security, enhances the curb appeal of a home and may increase the property value.

Make sure the work is done right, and partner with a qualified contractor.

Homeowners should be sure to work with a qualified contractor. Check with your local Better Business Bureau and seek contractors who are licensed, bonded and insured.

For more information on low-maintenance home improvements tips, call 800-782-8777 or visit www.certainteed.com

Get Your Garage in Gear For the Hottest Time of Year

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 5.19.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Whether used for hosting block parties, garage sales or serving as the main entranceway to the home, the garage is often a hub of activity during the summer months for many families. Now is the time to get your garage in gear.

Garage
Check out these tips from The Chamberlain Group, a residential and commercial access solutions manufacturer of LiftMaster garage door openers:

* With the additional traffic running through the garage during this time of year, it's wise to perform a periodic safety inspection of your garage door, especially those equipped with automatic openers.

* Test the opener's safety reverse mechanism monthly by placing a piece of wood or a roll of paper towels in the path of the door. Close the garage door. If it does not automatically reverse and retract back the open position, then the door is creating a safety issue and needs to be adjusted. Log on to LiftMaster.com to find a certified dealer near you and learn what they can do to fix the problem.

* Since storage and organizational needs change between spring and summer, it's a great time to pull out the patio furniture and keep other items you need for the season, such as the lawn mower, grill, and recreational items and toys near the exit to the garage so they are easy to access and use.

* It may seem like you're adding to the mess, but grass clippings are great for keeping dust under control in your garage. Next time you mow your lawn, sprinkle your fresh lawn clippings on the garage floor, then sweep it clean.

* Keep the garage clear of oily and greasy rags as they are easily flammable and can ignite spontaneously. Keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible area in the garage as well.

* Protect your garage (and entrance to your home) while you're away on a summer vacation. By installing a LiftMaster Fingerprint Keyless Entry, which recognizes up to 10 unique fingerprints as a way to access your garage, no one can enter or exit your garage while you are gone during vacation -- preventing it from being opened in your absence by a stranger. Also ideal for busy families, the Fingerprint Keyless Entry means no more digging for keys or worrying about kids in the neighborhood knowing the keypad's code.

For more information on these products or to contact a LiftMaster professional, visit www.LiftMaster.com

(NewsUSA) - In a struggling economy, Americans are taking a closer look at their heating and cooling bills. Keeping a home at a comfortable temperature can use considerable energy -- especially if hot and cold air fly out the window.

Windows can be a major area of heat transfer. During winter, cold air comes in through the glass. During the summer, heat enters the home through the window, making the HVAC system work harder to maintain its set temperature.

Windows insulation
If your home could use some upgrades, now might be the time to work on energy-efficient home improvement projects. In February, President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The act contains benefits for adding energy-efficiency products into existing homes. Specifically, tax credits are available for up to 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 and 2010, for windows, doors, insulation products and systems, roofs, HVAC, non-solar water heaters and biomass stoves.

Replacing existing windows with energy-efficient models isn't cost-effective in terms of energy savings, but insulating existing windows will help lower your heating and cooling costs while also making you eligible for a tax credit.

One product in particular, the Comfortex ComforTrack Plus Energy Saving Sidetrack Insulation System, uses a double honeycomb cellular shade with removable sidetracks to insulate windows. The insulation system seals all of the gaps between the fabric edge and the window frame, preventing heat transfer through the glass.

Consumers purchasing the ComforTrack Plus Insulation System will reduce energy loss up to two-thirds when compared to an uncovered window.

For more information on home improvement projects eligible for tax credits, visit www.energystar.gov To learn more about the ComforTrack Plus Insulation System, visit www.comfortex.com

Shake Up Your Space With Color, Indoors or Out

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 5.07.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Economic news got you feeling the blues? A little jolt of color can take care of that. Budget-consciousness doesn't always mean having to abandon your dreams for a more colorful living space. Using a little creativity and materials such as spray paint, you can still enjoy a love affair with color, without a big commitment of time or money.

Chair
Do-it-yourselfers choose spray paint because it's fast and easy to apply and leaves a smooth finish with no brush marks. Krylon has introduced a unique 360-degree dial spray tip that makes it even faster and easier to spray in hard-to-reach places without runs or drips. By using spray paint for simple fix-ups, you can quickly and easily make a striking difference around the home and yard.

Brightening architectural details such as shutters, garden gates and light fixtures with a punch of color can increase a home's curb appeal. Indoors, strategic use of color can transform attic treasures and bargain finds ranging from tables and headboards to picture frames and wicker baskets into fresh accent pieces.

"The key color drivers this year are the economy, nature and fashion," says Donna Schroeder, who develops color palettes for the Krylon spray paint brand. "Neutral colors are always popular during economic downturns, but today's more educated consumer loves color and seeks shades that are enchanting and beautiful, honest and natural."

Color has been proven to affect mood. Magical colors infuse energy, counter despair and fulfill a genuine need for art, culture and beauty in life. Examples from Krylon's Indoor/Outdoor color palette include Rich Plum and Jade, Raspberry and Hyacinth -- floral hues that impart a dream-like aesthetic.

"At the same time, the green movement is in everyone's consciousness, so consumers are exploring natural, honest colors and textures," Schroeder says. She points to Pistachio and Pebble as colors that are ideal for refreshing and repurposing the home with soothing, nature-inspired tones.

Once you've introduced a color you love, Schroeder suggests building on it with flower arrangements, pillows, throws and other accessories. For inspiration and home-improvement hints, visit the Krylon Web site at www.krylon.com

Outdoor Rooms Help Expand Homes

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 4.30.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - If the economic downturn means a new house isn't realistic right now, consider adding an outdoor room to your home. You can extend your kitchen, expand the family room, create a meditation place -- the possibilities are endless. The best part? There's no need to take out a second mortgage, because you can do it yourself.

Outdoor room
"Most do-it-yourselfers will find that a brick patio is less expensive than a comparably sized wood deck -- and there is much less upkeep," said Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect for Pine Hall Brick, America's largest manufacturer of genuine clay pavers.

To get started, place your outdoor furniture, the grill, kids' toys, and other objects that you will want on the patio in the area of the proposed patio. Outline the area with a garden hose to see how much square footage you will need. You'll also need to choose a pattern, keeping in mind that some patterns require more cuts than others.

To install, dig approximately eight inches down and six inches out beyond the area you will pave. Slope the soil about one-quarter inch per foot to allow for proper drainage.

Next, tamp the soil down with a hand tamper or a vibrating plate compactor.

Put down four inches -- eight inches for driveways -- of crusher run gravel, and compact it well with the tamper or plate compactor. Lay down two lengths of one-inch PVC pipe, parallel to each other and several feet apart. Cover the pipes with concrete sand, which is course and jagged, then use a board across the top of the pipes to screed the sand level.

Remove the pipes, and use a trowel to fill and smooth the voids. Lay the pavers in place. Then, install edge restraints, which can be metal or plastic; a row of finished pavers stood on end and buried to finished height; or troweled concrete that's later covered with backfill.

For more information on do-it-yourself home improvement projects using brick pavers, contact Pine Hall Brick at 1-800-334-8689 or visit www.pinehallbrick.com

Perfect Storm Brewing For Residential Awnings

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 4.21.2009 1 comments

(NewsUSA) - Could a perfect storm be brewing for residential awnings? Consumer awareness of the dangers of UV exposure has never been higher; everyone would like to save on energy bills; and the incredible popularity of spending time outdoors is reflected in decks, patios and outdoor rooms on millions of American homes.

Picture
So, where do awnings fit in? Awnings block the majority of damaging UV rays without blocking the view, and significant energy savings are achieved when awnings prevent heat gain inside the home. Awnings also allow you to enjoy your deck, patio or outdoor room no matter the weather.

"There have been high-performance awning fabrics for many years, but styling and durability have been greatly improved this year," said Hal Hunnicutt, vice president of marketing for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, the makers of Sunbrella brand awning fabrics.

Glen Raven has introduced a "Next Generation" version of its industry-leading Sunbrella awning fabrics, which provide a 25 percent increase in water repellency with no loss of breathability. The new fabrics are so durable that Glen Raven has doubled the Sunbrella awning fabrics' warranty period from five years to 10.

The Sunbrella awning fabrics line has also received a makeover this season, offering an expanded array of styles to meet the tastes of all consumers.

"Our awning fabrics are closely coordinated with Sunbrella fabrics for cushions and market umbrellas so that homeowners can create outdoor spaces that are as beautiful as they are comfortable," said Gina Wicker, Glen Raven's design and creative director.

While fixed awning frames are the mainstay of residential applications, retractable awnings, which can open and close at the touch of a button, are attracting a new generation of awning aficionados who relish the flexibility.

It is also easier than ever for homeowners to learn all about awnings and locate an awning resource through Web sites such as www.outdoorspaces.com, which includes a nationwide dealer directory, and www.sunbrella.com, which features a broad array of Sunbrella performance fabrics.

Five Green Tips for Stylish Home Decorating

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 4.07.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - You don't have to sacrifice great style to get a great, green look in your home. You can use these five simple design tips from the 2009 HGTV Green Home in Port St. Lucie, Fla. to make your living environment more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. HGTV Green Home designer Linda Woodrum's ideas can also help make your green home more visually appealing.

House

1. Welcome Home. Create a welcoming entrance to your home by setting your foyer apart from the rest of the house with a shot of color. Use a fabric, tile, texture or decorative motif as inspiration, and use low-VOC paints and painter's tape to recreate the design on the wall. You'll get a lot of pow for very little money.

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Unique pieces make a room richer and a lot more interesting. Decorating green is about using antiques, repurposed items and salvage materials. Take a look at the 2009 HGTV Green Home for inspiration on how to use everyday items in unexpected and amazing ways.

3. Create a mood in your master bedroom. Capture all that's good about a place or location through your choice of color and décor, but keep it clean and natural with organic and recycled materials. The recycled glass tile in the HGTV Green Home master bedroom and the wall color in the bedroom evoke a retro-South Florida look, yet have a natural, clean feeling worthy of the finest spa.

4. Saturate with color. Using one color throughout a room creates a calm, cozy retreat. The HGTV Green Home sitting room carpet and walls are all the same inviting color. It's easy to recreate this look with low-VOC paint and environmentally friendly carpet -- a perfect example of how green living also means big style.

5. Use durable materials in high traffic areas. Your front and back entrances are subjected to a lot of wear. Using beautiful ceramic tile in both locations is a great way to set them apart from the living areas, yet tile is environmentally friendly and easy to maintain.

For more information on this year's HGTV Green Home Giveaway, visit www.hgtv.com

Protecting Your Investment From Mold

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 3.24.2009 0 comments

Tips for Homeowners

(NewsUSA) - In these hard economic times, it has never been more important to protect what for many people is their most significant investment: their home. And one way to do that is to keep mold at bay -- because not only does mold present health concerns, but it also can damage your home.

Areas of your home that are continually wet -- like the insides of walls or attics and basements, often out of view -- will eventually shorten the life of your home and lead to expensive repairs. Research shows that if you keep moisture out of your home, you'll likely avoid mold. In the presence of moisture, mold will grow on virtually any surface -- steel, plastic, even fiberglass.

House
Fortunately, there's a new source of information to help avoid such problems. The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition, funded by USG Corporation, National Gypsum and American Gypsum is an excellent source of information on how to keep your house dry -- from the way it's designed, to the way it's built, to the way it's maintained. RSMC's members, including academic, government and building industry associations, developed the Guiding Principles for Mold and Moisture Control-50 steps that can be taken to build and maintain a house free of mold.

Here are some helpful hints:

- Run bathroom and kitchen vents for an extra 10 minutes after you finish showering or cooking. Also, make sure your vents go outdoors. If they vent into the attic, you're not getting rid of the moisture.

- Make sure the grade around your home slopes away from the foundation. Often, houses will settle as they age, creating a drainage problem. If the ground around your home slopes inward, which may or may not be visible, it provides a pathway for moisture to enter your basement.

- Make sure sprinklers are pointed away from the home. Over time, sprinklers that are directed toward your house will allow thousands of gallons of water to penetrate the walls.

- Take a look at the caulking around doors and windows. If it's cracked or falling apart, water can seep into your walls.

- Replace washing machine hoses every five years. This is the single largest category of water-related claims filed with insurance companies each year.


The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition (www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org) provides a wealth of information for homeowners -- whether you're building, remodeling or maintaining your home. Be a "water detective" in your own home. If you see water or dampness, find out where it's coming from -- stop it -- and repair or replace any materials that have been damaged.

Take Green Tips From Hollywood Homes

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - When it comes to the green movement, Hollywood has been moving ahead of mainstream America. Take Ed Begley, Jr., a character actor known for roles in "A Mighty Wind" and "Batman Forever." Begley embraced environmentalism back in 1970, even riding his bike to red carpet events.

Ed Begley
Today, Begley lends his name to "Begley's Best," a line of all natural, nontoxic household cleaners. He recently published a book about green living, "Living Like Ed: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Life."

When it comes to the green movement, Begley's home is surely where his heart is. The 1936 home now features a wind turbine and 6 kilowatts of solar panels -- Begley pays only $300 a year in electric bills.

Fitting a house with a wind turbine might seem extravagant to most Americans, but that doesn't mean that you need celebrity status to conserve energy and resources at home.

Here are some tips for Americans hoping to live more sustainably:

- Watch your water use. Taking simple steps, like only running your dishwasher or laundry machine when you have full loads, can save thousands of gallons of water each year. Take showers instead of baths, and when you need to replace kitchen or bathroom fixtures, choose high-efficiency appliances. Monitor your water bill for unusually high prices -- they might indicate leaks.

- Consider buying a high-efficiency water heater. Heating water can use up to 25 percent of a home's energy supply. If it's time for a new model, look for one that qualifies for the federal tax credit for energy-efficiency improvements, like A.O. Smith's Vertex model. Begley uses the Vertex in his home to provide all of this home heating and hot water needs.

- Upgrade your lighting. If every American home replaced just one lightbulb with an ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light (CFL), it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars for a year. Better yet, CFLs are inexpensive and easily installed.

Go Green With Recycled Counters and Floors

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 3.19.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - The eco-savvy homeowner is always looking for the next great breakthrough in earth-friendly, environmentally safe features to suit their lifestyle. Especially if these new features can add beauty to their home.

So, what is the next ground-breaking home improvement that will have homeowners living in the lap of luxury while committing to save the environment? Try recycled porcelain countertops and floors.

Green countertop
EnviroGLAS has recently released a new terrazzo application used for countertops and floors, called EnviroMode. Terrazzo is an ancient method of creating walkways, floors, patios and panels by exposing marble chips and other fine aggregates on the surface of finished concrete or epoxy resin. The aggregate used in EnviroMode is made of recycled porcelain.

As the forefathers of recycled glass, EnviroGLAS has developed a relationship with Kohler Co. in which they recycle their imperfect, pre-consumer sinks and toilets by crushing them into chips and tumbling them to a smooth surface. The result is beautiful porcelain stone for their EnviroMode products, which in turn creates a harder surface than traditional marble terrazzo.

"I am always looking for companies that are creating new and innovative products from recycled materials," said City of Dallas Recycling Manager Sherlyn McAnally. "The crushed porcelain has a beautiful pearl-like finish and can be used in a versatile array of applications."

With hundreds of epoxy resin colors, the recycled porcelain creates a sustainable housing material that can be crafted to fit any home. It is available for both commercial and residential uses and can even be used for landscaping.

For Long Beach, Miss., EnviroGLAS donated 15,000 pounds of EnviroMode aggregate for the rebuilding efforts of their city park. The resulting efforts of sustainability have earned EnviroGLAS the "2008 Greater DFW Recycling Alliance Award" and the "2008 Contractor's Choice Top Products" award.

For more information on sustainable home improvements, visit www.enviroglasproducts.com

Inspections Ensure Healthy Homes

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 3.18.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Homeowners often assume that their homes are healthy -- but indoor spaces can be more heavily polluted than the air outside.

Poor indoor air quality can seriously impact health. Many chemicals, including formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are often found in homes and offices, can contaminate indoor air, leading to allergic reactions or chronic illness in certain individuals.

Home scene
Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a number of ailments, including cardiovascular stress, asthma, fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, impaired coordination and respiratory disease. Individuals with known conditions, like allergies, respiratory ailments and chemical sensitivities, or people who spend a lot of time indoors, such as children, women, seniors and the disabled, experience elevated risk.

Homeowners want to guarantee that their homes won't hurt their families, and some companies have perceived a need. Environmental Service Professionals, a company that provides Certified Environmental Home Inspections for allergens, mold, radon, home energy tune-ups and other issues, has recently started a new program, USA Healthy Home Warranty (USAHHW). Previously, home inspections could not guarantee that the home would remain healthy after or between inspections. USAHHW aims to create peace of mind even after the inspector leaves.

The USAHHW program provides warranty assurances against defects that occur in the home one year after the inspection. The warranty can even provide up to $100,000 in aggregate coverage limit.

The USAHHW offers homebuyers and homeowners protection against specific intrusions, like mold and moisture, which can affect human health and a home's habitability. Mortgage lenders can also use the inspections to protect the value of their assets.

For more information, visit www.evsp.com

Improve Your Outdoor Décor

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 3.17.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Chances are, your deck or patio décor includes a variety of surfaces such as wood, wicker, metal and plastic, all of which may become weathered from summer sun and winter storage. Armed with a few cans of spray paint, you can give your backyard oasis a great new look, quickly and affordably.

Outdoor deco
When decorating outdoors:

- Use color to unify your space. Selecting a palette of a few colors allows you to unify disparate furniture pieces into a pleasing whole. White is an ever-popular classic that can be paired with almost any accent color to achieve striking good looks.

- Especially in areas filled with bright sunlight, don't be afraid of bold or saturated colors. Use bright, bold colors to infuse a space with energy and whimsy, or consider textured or metallic hues for more subtle sophistication.

- For the brightest, boldest colors, prime the surface or apply a white basecoat. Next, apply the color coat over the white surface.

- Group furniture together to create intimate conversation areas. Use interesting containers to hold plants. Consider lighting for both evening safety and ambiance.

- Always follow the directions on your can of spray paint. Application instructions and dry times, as well as how long you should shake the can and how far away you should hold it from the surface, vary from paint to paint.

There are a number of products available to help with your patio makeover. Krylon's Fusion for Plastic is a one-step, super-bonding spray paint. It can be used on wood, metal, wicker, hard vinyl and a wide range of plastic surfaces. Available in many colors, it now comes with the new EZ Touch 360-degree Dial Spray Tip for more comfortable spray painting with increased coverage per pass, reduced overspray, less chance of runs or drips and greater accuracy.

Rusted metal? No reason to worry. Instead of making a mess scrubbing away rust with a wire brush, you can paint right over it with Krylon Outdoor Spaces Rust Converter. It chemically transforms rust into a waterproof, paintable surface that is protected from future rust formation.

When completely dry, simply coat Outdoor Spaces Rust Converter with any Outdoor Spaces Satin, Metallic, Textured or Hammered Finish to keep outdoor décor looking its very best. These finishes withstand harsh weather, offering superior protection on metal, wood, wicker, drywall, masonry and even pottery.

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