Keep Your Home in Shape

Green Homes Weather the Storm Making Party Pictures Perfect Don't Let Photos Fade Paper Safer Then Cloth Preparation DIY Success Enhanced Lawn Mowers Redwood Swing Sets

Tips To Keep Your Home In Shape

(NAPSI)—Every year, Americans make resolutions to get in shape, save money and get organized. While exercise can help shed pounds and a list can keep you organized, a renewed commitment to the overall fitness of your home is an essential key to saving money and reducing stress.

Home improvement expert and TV host Amy Matthews shares her top five tips on how routine home maintenance checks can help homeowners avoid home repair emergencies and unexpected costs.

1) Safety Equipment: Matthews recommends homeowners confirm that all smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order. This simple step can ensure your home is protected from the risk of fire and your family is safe from carbon monoxide. Be certain to replace batteries in appropriate devices as needed, or at least twice each year.

2) Furnace Filters: Remember to clean or replace filters every one to three months, or as needed. When installing new filters, do so correctly, as this is a common mistake. Homeowners should also check and clean the dryer vent, air conditioner vents, stove hood and room fans.

3) Heating and Cooling Systems: Heating and cooling systems can be costly to repair. To ensure the proper function of your heating and cooling systems, have them checked by a licensed HVAC professional annually to prevent future emergency repairs. HomeAdvisor’s patented ProFinder technology connects homeowners with qualified and available local service professionals. Having a qualified service professional check your system is a great way to prevent costly unexpected repairs in the future.

4) Roof: Matthews recommends homeowners who live in regions that receive heavy rain, hail or snow be on the lookout for water damage after these storms. Matthews does not advise that homeowners go up and inspect the roof themselves but rather call a professional if they notice damage or leaking. Ideally, homeowners should have their roofs inspected every one to two years on average.

5) Hot Water Heater: Hot water heaters are becoming more innovative and advanced, but if you are not ready to upgrade your water heater to a more efficient piece of equipment, you can still get the best use out of your current device. A simple tip is to gently touch your hot water heater to determine if it feels warm. If so, wrap an insulated blanket around the tank so that it improves the function of your heater.

In addition to these tips, HomeAdvisor and Amy Matthews have teamed up to develop the HomeAdvisor Home Report Card, a free, online quiz that homeowners can take on the HomeAdvisor website to assess the shape of their home and learn simple steps to improve their home’s health.

Where to Learn More

You can find more information about home improvement, maintenance and repair projects, including project cost guides, emergency support and prescreened professionals, at www.homeadvisor.com.

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Green Homes Designed To Weather The Storm

(NAPSI)—There’s good news for those looking for a way to build homes that are beautiful, light-filled, green and can withstand severe weather. A company is using proprietary technology to build architect-designed, precision-built, environmentally friendly homes.

Severe Weather Solution

As Hurricane Sandy and other severe storms have demonstrated recently, it is in a homeowner’s interest to build a structure that can handle all types of extreme weather—hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes and more.

In this case, homes made by a company called Blu Homes are engineered to withstand wind gusts of up to 110 mph—this is the mid range of a category 3 hurricane—and can be custom engineered to withstand wind loads of up to 150 mph—well above a category 4. Its homes can also be outfitted with high-performance, hurricane-resistant windows and are also designed to be fire resistant—a real benefit in areas vulnerable to forest fire.

Steel Framing Is Key

What some may find surprising is the building material that’s key to the home’s construction-structural steel framing. The company reports that its structures, which are all constructed in its own factory, can be built in as little as six months, from initial design to final move-in date. This type of building process eliminates weather delays entirely. The company also provides a suite of complete project management services, which it says will simplify the home-building process even further.

Virtual Tours Present Choices

By visiting the company’s online 3-D Configurator, a buyer can personalize and take a virtual tour of the home before building. The builder believes this makes it easier for a home buyer to add roof decks or other extras to the design or to select finishes, colors, floor coverings and fixtures.

Home buyers can select from eight distinctive home designs, ranging from single-level studios and cottages to two-story, four-bedroom homes with light-filled living rooms that feature 16-ft. windowed walls.

After the home is built, it’s shipped to the site selected by the customer, where it is lifted onto the foundation, unfolded and sealed—a process that typically takes four to six weeks.

A Wide Range Of Uses

The builder believes its structures can be used by individual home buyers and building developers in a number of ways, including:

• As single-family homes, vacation homes or cottages

• As accessory units to an existing structure, such as master bedroom, home office, media room, art studio, in-law apartment, game room or exercise studio

• As a retirement home, providing independent living for seniors and empty nesters

• As faculty housing or other buildings for educational facilities and institutions

• As part of a green housing development

• As investment properties for spec builders.

A Commitment To Green

Solar ready and LEED Silver certifiable upon leaving the factory, standard green features in the company’s structures include:

• recycled structural steel framing

• radiant heat flooring

• high R-value walls and

• energy-efficient appliances. Plus, Blu Homes can achieve net zero energy status, Energy Star rating, and higher LEED certifications with the inclusion of other available green elements.

Built to Last

“We believe the most sustainable thing we can do is build our homes to last for generations,” said Bill Haney, the company’s founder and CEO. “Structural steel framing and advanced building science make it possible for Blu’s homes to withstand extreme weather and seismic conditions and give homeowners peace of mind that their families and investments are safe.”

To learn more, visit the website at www.bluhomes.com/weather.

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Making Your Next Party Picture Perfect

(NAPSI)—There’s good news for those who are looking for a way to add a personal touch to their next party, whether it’s a birthday, graduation or a neighborhood gathering.

A company that describes itself as “America’s first choice of health and daily living” has introduced a same-day printing service for banners, posters, photos and more.

Walgreens offers a variety of banners that celebrate occasions such as birthdays, a new baby, a graduation, engagement, wedding, anniversary and more. It even offers the chance to customize the banner by uploading photos that can be incorporated in the production.

In addition, there are other personalized products such as calendars, photobooks and canvas prints that can be available quickly through Walgreens Same Day Pickup.

To learn more, visit www.walgreens.com/photo.

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Don’t Let Photos Fade

(NAPSI)—Picture this: To make sure your precious old photos, videotapes and family films can be shared with future generations, be sure to preserve such keepsakes on an easily accessible DVD. Here’s why:

The Problem

Home movies begin to fade in as early as 10 years on video and 25 years on film. Pictures fade over time too.

An Answer

Here’s how: It is easy and convenient to convert your vintage home movies and photos to digital format. Simply bring your media to a Walgreens and place your order at the photo kiosk. After conversion, you can preview and edit your DVDs online before they’re made. The DVDs come with scenes and chapter menus, and you’ll get back all your original material. You may want to order several DVD copies to give to friends and family members to enjoy.

Learn More

For further information, ask the photo associate at Walgreens or visit www.walgreens.com/DVDTransfer.

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Paper Safer Than Cloth For Household Cleaning

(NAPSI)—A household item that’s often taken for granted—your dishcloth—can potentially present a serious threat to your family’s health.

That’s because a used dishcloth can redeposit millions of germs after a single day’s use across the surfaces that a family comes in contact with throughout the day.

A Safer Alternative

Fortunately, there is an alternative. That’s the word from Dr. Elizabeth Scott, founder and co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community Settings at Simmons College in Boston. She suggests using disposable paper towels instead.

Said Dr. Scott, “To use a paper towel and then throw it away is a very smart thing to do, especially on any surface in your kitchen where you’ve been preparing food.”

A Clothlike Experience

One of the latest developments in paper towels is designed to offer consumers a clothlike cleaning experience.

Bounty has introduced its DuraTowel, a paper towel designed to replace germy dishcloths for a cleaner way to clean. Thick and strong even when wet, a single sheet is intended to be durable enough to tackle tough jobs such as cleaning countertops, sinks and even small appliances.

To learn more, visit the website at www.bountytowels.com or follow them on Twitter @bounty. You can also “like” them at www.facebook.com/bounty.

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Preparation Is The Key To DIY Success

(NAPSI)—From smaller fixes around the house to grand-scale projects, everyone has a little “do it yourself” inspiration in them.

That’s the word from experts who say the keys to success and safety—no matter the project—are to have an organized storage and work space and to properly maintain your tools.

Getting Project Ready

Your house and yard aren’t the only places that should undergo an annual spring-cleaning. Your garage or shed should also be on your list for cleanup. There are several reasons to take the time to organize.

• Spend less and avoid duplicate materials and items by knowing what you already have on hand.

• Save time because you’ll be able to find what you need faster.

• Make the most out of the space you have.

A good way to start is by taking inventory of what you have, separating products from tools.

Items that get the most use—such as shovels, brooms and rakes—should be placed in an easily accessible location. Extension cords and hoses should be coiled and stored out of the way. Place smaller tools like hammers, drills and other hand tools within reach.

Look for broken or leaking bottles or containers that may have expanded or broken during the cold winter months. Inspect your lawn equipment and consider the condition of the belts and hoses. Do the blades need to be sharpened or replaced? Do fluids such as oil and gasoline need to be replaced with fresh?

Check Your Products

If your work space is not heated, some products could freeze and the contents could separate, making them less effective. Do you have creaking doors or stuck windows or bolts? One item every do-it-yourselfer needs is an all-purpose spray lube. You may have one on the shelf, but is it actually a water dispersant and not a lubricant?

Premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple recommends Maxfilm, a high-film-strength, multipurpose spray lube. Maxfilm contains Royal Purple’s proprietary Synerlec additive technology, which is proven to make equipment run smoother, cooler, quieter, longer and more efficiently. It can also effectively be used on power tools, chains, open gears, fishing tackle and lawn equipment.

For more information about Royal Purple synthetic products, visit the website at www.royalpurpleconsumer.com.

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Shortcuts To A Great Lawn

(NAPSI)—There’s good news—and some shortcuts—for homeowners who want to be at the cutting edge of lawn care. Here are some tips to achieve a beautiful green space:

• For starters, cut a lawn shorter--1.25 to 2 inches—in the fall and leave it longer in the summer.

• If you have a healthy lawn, don’t bother with bagging the clippings. Fine clippings make good mulch.

• Let technology help save time and money while helping your lawn to look its best. For example, the enhanced Honda HRR Series of lawn mowers is designed to deliver easy operation, high performance and superior fuel efficiency. “There are four different HRR models, each with standard features including an easy-start, four-stroke engine and a 3-in-1 Clip Director® for effortless switching from bagging to mulching without additional equipment,” said Alex Torre, lawn care expert at Honda Power Equipment. To learn more, visit the website at www.honda.com.


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A Safe And Swinging Way To Encourage Play

(NAPSI)—There’s good news for parents who want to protect the environment while providing their children with a safer place to play outdoors.

The company recognized as the maker of the original redwood playset, Woodplay Playsets, has announced that its swing sets are now made using lumber that’s certified sustainable. In fact, their supplier of California redwood has received a conservation award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Safe And Strong

Making Woodplay Playsets from California redwood adds to their safety. That’s because redwood resists disease and decay and has less shrinkage.

In addition, the sets’ adjustable A-frame design allows level placement in a yard, despite uneven or irregular ground. Also, the fact that sets are made with notched angle braces with wood-on-wood design reduces the load on hardware and adds structural support. This original Woodplay feature is now an industry standard.

The Value Of Outdoor Play

In addition to being safe and sustainable, swing sets such as these can be an important resource for parents who want to encourage their children to engage in more outdoor play.

Research indicates that kids can learn a range of skills through active, exploratory play. By taking turns on a slide, making friends on a swing set, negotiating rules and sharing space, kids hone their skills in problem solving, creative play and socializing—all while being active and reducing the chance for childhood obesity.

To learn more, you can visit www.swingsets.com.

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