Power Outage Survival: Emergency Generators Provide Backup Power
(NAPSI)—In the last two years, one in every four homeowners has experienced a power outage lasting 12 hours or more, averaging more than $1,900 in property damage, according to a survey by Harris Interactive—but you don’t have to be among them.
Here’s how: You can join the increasing number of homeowners who invest in backup power solutions and portable generators to keep the power on and avoid the costs and inconvenience of power outages.
Kinds Of Generators
Portable generators work well as an immediate solution during an emergency power outage and can power a wide range of essential items, such as a refrigerator, a TV and selected lights. Portable generators are also useful for camping or tailgating.
For a long-term solution, however, backup power generators, also known as standby or home generators, are professionally and permanently installed and use a home’s fuel source (liquid propane or natural gas).
Standby generators turn on using an automatic transfer switch, usually less than a minute after a power outage occurs, and can power more of a home’s appliances.
What To Do Through The Year
These season-by-season tips from Briggs & Stratton on using generators can help you be prepared all year long.
Spring: Prepare for power outages by establishing an emergency plan for your family that includes a backup power source. Get advice from a professional and remember permanently installed home standby generators require professional installation that is best completed in warmer months.
For portable generators:
• Run real-world tests for starting and running your generator so you know exactly what to do in an emergency, how to safely place your generator during use and how to test your CO monitor.
• Ensure that the battery is charged if you have an electric starter.
• Perform factory-recommended maintenance according to the operator’s manual.
• Stock up on items you may need for your generator during a storm, such as extra oil, filters, fuel, gas cans, heavy-duty extension cords and plugs.
Summer: Whole-house generators turn on automatically and the status of some models can even be monitored by a mobile device, so there’s less to think about from an operational standpoint.
Portable generator safety tips:
• Don’t run a portable generator inside the house or garage or near doors, windows or vents as exhaust contains carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas that causes illness and death.
• When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to it. Don’t connect the portable generator to your electrical system.
• Turn off your portable generator and let it cool down before refueling so spilled fuel doesn’t ignite on hot engine parts.
• Keep portable generators away from children’s play areas, swing sets and other equipment and set up on level ground.
Fall: Consider upgrading to a standby propane generator or natural gas generator, which needs to be professionally installed before the ground freezes.
Portable owners should check their CO monitor and perform manufacturer’s recommended generator maintenance and safety inspection to confirm their backup power source is in top running condition.
Winter: While home power generator owners benefit from the unit’s automatic weekly test cycle to ensure it’s ready to operate when needed, it’s still important for snow to be cleared from around the unit outside.
Portable generator owners should:
• Test their generator every month.
• Restock any items they may need to run a portable generator during a storm.
For further facts, go to www.gegenerators.com/support/how-to-articles/generator-selection/generator-transfer-switch-101tech-made-simple and www.briggsandstratton.com/us/en/generators.
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Welcome Home: Top Five Things To Know When Preparing To Sell Or Buy A Home In 2014
(NAPSI)—For the first time in years, rising home prices are boosting sellers’ confidence. At the same time, interest rates remain relatively low, helping to boost potential homebuyers’ confidence. Millions of Americans will decide in 2014 to put their houses on the market and/or shop for new homes, and need to understand the current housing market conditions as they move closer to buying or selling homes.
The following “top five things to know when preparing to sell or buy a home in 2014” should be considered by anyone thinking about a home sale or purchase.
1. Is 2014 the time to make a move?
What sellers should know: The pool of prospective buyers hasn’t been this large in several years. Now may be the time to move, depending on your market.
What buyers should know: You’re competing with more buyers, but interest rates are still ideal, so the hunt for your next home could be well worth it in the end.
2. The price is right, right?
What sellers should know: Don’t overprice your house. After the first 21 days on the market its “freshness appeal” diminishes.
What buyers should know: The house is probably too expensive if your debt-to-income ratio (mortgage, property taxes and insurance) is higher than 36 percent of your monthly gross income.
3. Look for added value in a home protection plan.
What sellers should know: Homes sold with home warranties spend an average of almost 11 fewer days on the market and sell for an average of $2,300 more than homes without a home warranty, according to a recent home sales study conducted by American Home Shield®. For full results and methodology, visit http://bit.ly/1mTrWkU).
What buyers should know: If covered home system components or appliances fail, you’ll worry less knowing they’ll be repaired or replaced under a home warranty.
4. Improvements ... to make them or not?
What sellers should know: View your home as a potential buyer and make improvements accordingly. Consult with a real estate agent to see if improvements are good investments, and to avoid overimproving the property.
What buyers should know: Assess your abilities, time constraints and commitment level when it comes to renovation work. Negotiate improvements with the sale of the house, when appropriate.
5. Know the full scope of a Realtor’s responsibility.
What sellers should know: Real estate professionals can identify the appropriate list price, determine necessary improvements, create a plan to promote the listing, and facilitate showings of the house to potential buyers.
What buyers should know: Real estate professionals can access the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), help you understand what you want in a house and find a good fit. They can provide market trends and comparable pricing and guide you through the negotiation and closing processes.
If you’re considering selling or buying a home in 2014, visit www.firsthomeresources.com for information that will help you throughout the selling and buying processes. For more information on a home protection plan from American Home Shield, visit www.ahs.com or call (866) 250-4313.
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Stay Safe After Severe Storms
(NAPSI)—Even after a storm has passed, there are still some things to watch out for. For example, electrical dangers may still pose a risk throughout the community and even in your home.
You and your family should beware of electrical dangers associated with downed power lines and electrical wiring or appliances that have been exposed to water as a result of severe storms.
How to Protect Yourself
Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. You cannot tell whether a power line is energized just by looking at it. That means you should assume that all downed power lines are live.
If you see a downed power line, move away from it and anything touching it. The ground around power lines—up to 35 feet away—may be energized. Shuffle away taking small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.
Never attempt to drive over or move a downed power line; instead, report it to authorities.
If someone is in contact with a downed power line, call 911 immediately but do not touch or approach the person so as not to put yourself at risk of injury.
“After a storm, it’s important that you don’t turn on or plug in appliances until an electrician has inspected all electrical appliances that have gotten wet,” advise the experts at the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
If your home flooded and water rose above the electrical outlets, contact a licensed electrician before turning on the main circuit breaker. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if re-energized without proper reconditioning or replacement.
Keep in mind, battery-powered lighting is the safest and easiest power source when water is around.
For additional electrical safety information associated with severe weather, visit www.esfi.org or call (703) 841-3229
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Five Ways A Power Outage Can Cost You Money
(NAPSI)—Despite increases in their frequency and severity, power outages are still viewed by many people as merely inconvenient. Short outages—perhaps four hours or less—certainly fall within that category. Beyond that, power outages can start to cost you a lot of money. Here are five ways an extended power outage can impact your checkbook:
• Lost refrigerated and frozen goods. The USDA recommends throwing away refrigerated foods stored for more than two hours at over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Because refrigerators and freezers can’t stay cold without electricity, an extended power outage can cost you hundreds in spoiled and wasted food.
• Damage to your home. Without a sump pump to keep the basement dry, air-conditioning to prevent moisture and mold, or heat to keep pipes from freezing, you could suffer damage to your home in the thousands of dollars.
• Expenses from staying at a hotel or eating out. If you have no heat or running water, you might have to move the family into a hotel for a night or two. Add restaurant tabs to that and you’ve lost another couple hundred dollars.
• Additional costs for short-term goods. If you choose to remain in your home, you will need to invest in batteries for radios and flashlights, coolers to store food, and ice to keep that food cold.
• Loss of income. Depending on the impact on your home and family, you might have to spend a few days away from work. If you work from home, you stand to really lose income during a power outage.
To learn more about backup power systems that can help you avoid additional costs related to power outages, visit the Generac website at www.generac.com.
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A More Efficient Approach To Cooling And Heating
(NAPSI)—According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 50 percent of an average U.S. home’s energy bill can be linked directly to cooling and heating costs, which amounts to approximately $1,100 per year, depending on location.
Installing an energy-efficient cooling and heating system can be one of the most significant upgrades a homeowner can make to save on these utility costs.
A new development in home cooling and heating systems offers that chance. This new line of ductless cooling and heating systems is described as the most energy efficient available.
The Hyper-Heating INVERTER™ (H2i®) MSZ-FH Models from Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division (Mitsubishi Electric) have the highest efficiency ratings for cooling and heating systems at 30.5 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). H2i MSZ-FH Models are the best way to cool and heat a home, using up to 40 percent less energy per room than a traditional central air system.
One characteristic of the system is that it operates without ductwork. Cooling and heating systems without ductwork have been commonplace in homes throughout Europe and Asia for decades. A ductless system offers greater energy efficiency than a traditional central cooling and heating system as well as lower operating costs.
“More homeowners now realize how much money can be saved by investing in energy-efficient cooling and heating. Because of this trend, energy efficiency is no longer a fringe product benefit. Homeowners expect it from the products we choose for our homes, and we should,” says Mike Smith, Mitsubishi Electric.
Other benefits of installing the system include:
• The ability to control each room independently: Rooms (or zones) can be cooled or heated to a specific temperature and turned off when unoccupied. “We’ve been trained from childhood to turn off the lights when we leave a room to save energy; ductless zoning systems allow us to do this with cooling and heating as well,” says Smith.
• Minimal sound disruption: The system provides the quietest possible operation for both indoor and outdoor environments.
• A cleaner environment: The system’s triple-action filtration system is designed to reduce allergens, viruses and bacteria circulating in the home’s air.
• Green certifications and tax credits: The H2i MSZ-FH Models are ENERGY STAR® qualified. Plus, the systems may also be eligible for local, state and federal tax credits or utility rebates in many states. This can help homeowners gain a return on their investment.
To learn more, you can visit www.mitsubishicomfort.com.
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Why Automatic Standby Generators Are Better Than Portables
(NAPSI)—Portable generators are readily available from many retailers and home centers, they’re familiar to users and thus easy to operate, and they store easily in a shed or garage. However, automatic standby generators offer many advantages over portables during a power outage. Here are the top six:
• They can back up your entire home, which can be difficult or impossible with a portable generator—even a large one. Life goes on as normal, as if utility power were never interrupted.
• Automatic operation. When the power goes out, an automatic standby generator senses the outage, starts up and automatically begins delivering power to your home within seconds. A portable generator has to be taken out of storage, fueled and started up manually.
• They don’t require refueling. An automatic standby generator runs on your home’s natural gas or LP fuel supply. Both can keep your generator running for days or even weeks. A portable generator runs on gasoline and, depending on the size of the tank and amount of power you’re using, you’ll have to refuel it every seven to 10 hours.
• Quieter operation. With their sound-deadening enclosures, automatic standby generators are much quieter than portable generators.
• They don’t require extension cords. Unless you have a manual transfer switch, you’ll have to run extension cords from your generator to all your appliances. Automatic standby generators deliver power directly to your home’s electrical system. Your lights and appliances—including hardwired items like a furnace or well pump—operate as they would under utility power.
• They are safer because they are permanently installed and must comply with rigorous national and local building and electrical codes.
To learn more about the long-term advantages of home standby power, visit the Generac website at www.generac.com.
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There’s Got To Be An Easier Way-WAIT, There Is!
by Michelle Ancell
(NAPSI)—Three hours spent scrubbing my deck and driveway and 10 minutes scrubbing the inside of a trash can.
There is an easier way: pressure washers. A pressure washer uses velocity and pressure to spray water out of a nozzle at an extremely high rate. This makes cleaning things like boats, gutters, outdoor furniture, cars and lawn mowers fast and easy.
Consider the job of cleaning your deck. I don’t mean just spraying off some dirt. I mean serious cleaning, like when the wood on your deck turns grayish brown after a season. A pressure washer blasts the brown, dirty look away and in a short time your deck looks fresh and new again.
Another handy use is for trash cans. I’m not kidding when I say I have the worst smelling trash can on the block. In the past, I filled the can with soapy water, emptied it and scrubbed the sides with a brush, only to have the funky smell return when the can dried. Turns out I never needed to get that close to a trash can.
This is especially true since I started using the Kärcher K3 Follow Me, which has a detergent tank attached. I just fill the tank with soap, turn on the pressure washer and blast the dirt and smell away—from afar.
This top-notch equipment was designed for regular people to use with confidence. Because it’s electric, all you have to do is plug it in. It’s easier, and less expensive to use and maintain than a gas pressure washer, and there’s no stopping in the middle of a job to fill up a gas can. It makes big jobs small, complex jobs easy and—dare I say it—maybe a little fun, too.
Key features include:
Portability: Its four sturdy wheels let it follow users over grass, gravel and uneven terrain (hence the “Follow Me”) without tipping over.
Weight: It’s only 16.3 pounds—more than 10 pounds lighter than its closest competitors. Let’s be frank, the weight of the machine automatically limits the number of people who can use it effectively. Who wants to lug around a heavy appliance when he or she is already working outside, hot and tired? Not I.
Power: Fortunately, the machine has not compromised its power for convenience. A durable N-Cor pump puts out 1,800 PSI through patented nozzles that blasts with 35 times the pressure of a garden hose, while using up to 80 percent less water than a garden hose.
For tough jobs, the included DirtBlaster wand increases the effective pressure by up to 50 percent, while the induced Vario Power Spray wand is for jobs requiring a more delicate touch, such as cleaning a car and outdoor furniture.
Versatility: There’s an on-board detergent tank and a Quick Connect System on all hoses that makes set up fast and easy for the user. Simply push and click hoses into place.
Available accessories include a Deck and Driveway Cleaner and an extension wand.
For further facts and tips, visit www.Karcher.com/us.
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Create Your Dream Outdoor Oasis
(NAPSI)—For an increasing number of Americans, the outside is what’s in. That is, outdoor spaces are becoming an extension of the home, like a warm-weather living room, complete with comfortable furniture, sun protection and perhaps even curtains or a fire pit, making an ideal outdoor oasis to pass the evenings and enjoy the warm weather. To create your own outdoor living space, the following are a few ways to ensure it suits your needs and stays looking great throughout the season:
• Think about what you enjoy doing outside. Do you like to entertain outdoors with a dinner party? If so, an outdoor dining room is a great fit complete with a large table, comfortable chairs and a sun umbrella. If you prefer to sit outdoors the same way you would in your living room, seek out a deep seating set with comfy cushions and colorful toss pillows. Does the idea of a fire pit warm your heart? Consider a fire pit built into a table and surround it with complementary seating at the same level.
• Coordinate color schemes with your landscaping and plants. If you have a lot of multicolored flowers and plants, go for outdoor fabrics that are neutral to provide grounding for your space, such as beige, gray and even white. For a landscape heavy in green tones, use your outdoor fabrics to add color. Cushions in red and purple can provide a surprise color accent. Blue-hued fabrics pair elegantly with greens and give off a cool, relaxed vibe. Fabrics in the orange family add contrast for a zesty accent in your outdoor space.
• Once you’ve created your ideal outdoor oasis, it’s important to preserve your furniture with regular maintenance, which can be combined with other outdoor chores. Rinse off the cushions with a garden hose while watering the flowers. Brush leaves, pollen and other residue off cushions while sweeping the patio.
• To ensure your outdoor furniture looks great throughout the season, be sure to also give it an annual cleaning and maintenance tune-up. To clean up the most difficult stains, spray your patio furniture fabric with 303 Products’ Multi-Surface Cleaner to safely remove tough stains. Once cushions are dry, apply 303 Fabric Guard, recommended as the best fabric protectant by leading manufacturer Sunbrella, to restore water and stain repellency to factory-new levels. Finally, spray on 303 Protectant on outdoor furniture’s hard surfaces, providing broad-spectrum UV blockers to protect from fading, cracking and embrittlement caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Learn more about 303 Products’ fabric cleaners and protectants at www.303products.com and Sunbrella outdoor furniture at www.Sunbrella.com.
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