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Window Treatments Energy Savings Re-Siding Durable Sustainable Homegrown Superfruits Electrical Safety Tips Mattress Comfort Color Selection Digital Sources Lemon Vista Daylily Winner

Putting Your Home On An Energy Diet

(NAPSI)—When budgets are tight and homeowners feel squeezed by higher electric bills, there may be a simple solution: Put the house on an energy “diet.” Here are some helpful tips:

• Install new bulbs and dimmers. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR−approved LED bulbs offer similar light quality to traditional incandescents and use about 20 to 25 percent of the energy, while compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use about 75 percent less energy.

To go the extra mile in savings and to create ambience, homeowners can install dimmers that are specifically designed to work with the most popular bulb types (incandescents, LEDs and CFLs). These dimmers have been tested and designed to alleviate common problems associated with dimming LEDs and CFLs, such as fading and flickering.

Now it’s possible to save energy with LEDs and CFLs without giving up the desired ambience that many homeowners have come to expect from dimmers. Plus, dimmers are affordable and simple to install.

• Control temperature. Homeowners can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs by simply turning the thermostat back seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

• Turn off the lights. Occupancy/vacancy sensors can be installed in rooms where light is needed only occasionally. They can tell when people enter or leave a room and turn the lights on and off automatically. According to Dr. Brent Protzman, energy researcher at Lutron Electronics, sensors can save up to 50 percent in lighting costs. He recommends installing sensors, such as the Lutron Maestro occupancy/vacancy sensing switch, in bathrooms, children’s rooms, garages and laundry rooms. Sensors are as easy to install as a standard light switch and are economically priced.

• Treat the windows right. Using proper window treatments and adjusting shades with the seasons can help keep heating and cooling expenses from going through the roof.

For example, Serena shades are designed to provide superior insulation all year round. They’re remote controlled, so they’re great for hard-to-reach windows that may let unwanted sun or cold air inside. Multiple shades can be controlled with a single remote. With do-it-yourself installation, these shades can replace existing window treatments in about 15 minutes.

Visit www.lutron.com to learn more.

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Staying Cool At Home While Saving On Energy Costs

(NAPSI)—Before summer kicks into high gear, consider converting your home into an eco-friendly and energy-saving one. An excellent place to start is with your window coverings. Cooling your house with cellular shades, solar screens or window film provides a multitude of benefits that can not only save you money, but create a more enjoyable home environment as well.

Studies have shown that the largest portion of a home’s energy bill comes from the heating and cooling of its interior. While many families are not in a position to make costly energy-efficient updates to their air-conditioning systems, installing window treatments that help regulate internal temperatures is the next best thing.

Cellular Shades

Few window coverings can provide better insulation than cellular shades. Because of their double-cell design, they help keep air from entering and/or escaping. As a result, your home will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This can lead to energy bill savings of up to 30 percent. Cellular shades come in various transparencies to help you create the ideal privacy and lighting levels.

Solar Screens

Solar screens are a summertime necessity. They effectively block the sun’s rays while allowing cool breezes through on hot days. If used throughout the home, solar screens can lower interior temperatures by as much as 10 degrees, reducing dependency on air-conditioning systems. Retractable screens are also available, which allow you to open your view at any time. This makes them ideal for porches and patios.

Window Film

Many homeowners have beautiful views that they would like to preserve. This makes it difficult to find the right window treatment. Window film is an excellent solution. Window film blocks over 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays while providing an unobstructed view of the outside. It also reduces solar heat gain while protecting your interiors from the sun.

Summertime is the perfect season to enjoy get-togethers with friends and family, and choosing the right window coverings can help you celebrate in comfort and style while reducing your energy costs. Budget Blinds has a wide selection of energy-efficient window coverings available to help keep your home cool in the summer. The company provides free in-home consultations and complete measuring and installation services. For more information, visit www.budgetblinds.com.

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Re-siding 101: What To Consider, Start To Finish

(NAPSI)—Deciding to re-side your home isn’t a small undertaking but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. You need a keen eye, some research and a game plan. Here are hints that can help:

Evaluating Your Home

Start by inspecting your current siding both from the curb and up close. Look for:

• Sagging

• Cracking

• Blistering

• Buckling or dents

• Fading

• Missing pieces

• Insect damage or infestation

• Rot

• Water stains

If you find two or more of those things, it’s time to re-side.

Determining The Material

There are several materials you can consider: fiber cement, masonry, vinyl, wood-based and cedar.

To find which makes the most sense for your home, see what others in the neighborhood have and browse house magazines. Also, consider your climate and consult your insurance agent; some companies offer discounts on durable, noncombustible fiber cement siding and masonry.

Next, consider how siding materials can enhance curb appeal. Remember, vinyl needs regular cleaning and washing, and wood needs to be repainted every few years. Fiber cement siding needs little maintenance and can save a lot in repairs later. What’s more, fiber cement siding from James Hardie is uniquely formulated for wet, freezing conditions and hot, humid conditions so you can match your siding to the weather where you live. Durability and sustainability are also important; the U.S. Green Building Council recognizes fiber cement siding in both areas.

Finding A Contractor

The next step is finding and hiring a contractor to do a quality installation on time and on budget. These five tips will help:

1. Ask neighbors, friends and co-workers for referrals.

2. Find contractors who specialize in siding, preferably with a certification.

3. Contact and meet with at least three contractors to get written estimates. Make sure each is licensed and insured, and a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

4. Do background checks with the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Affairs Office.

5. Prepare a complete project description with your expectations and make sure each proposal includes everything you requested and the price is based on the complete project.

Learn More

Find further facts at www.jameshardie.com/guide.

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Soup Up Your Yard With Homegrown Superfruits

(NAPSI)—Superfruits—fruits that are exceptionally rich in vitamins and antioxidants—are popular ingredients in a variety of healthy foods.

Fortunately, although “superfruit” connotes something rare and exotic, a surprising number of these plants, including aronia, elderberry and goji berry, are hardy shrubs that can be grown right in your backyard. They’re easy to grow and require no spraying or complicated pruning and produce pound after pound of juicy, nutritious fruit every year.

Aronia

Aronia is a large shrub native to eastern North America. With showy white flowers in spring and blazing red leaves in autumn, it makes an excellent choice for landscaping around your home. Large clusters of glossy black berries ripen in late summer, making aronia a standout in the kitchen as well as the garden.

The fruits are sometimes known as chokeberries because of their very sour flavor but they can be sweetened and used in juice, jam, desserts, even wine, which makes it even easier to savor their high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. In fact, they’ve been enjoyed in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia for decades.

Aronia tolerates winter temperatures as low as -40° F, and does best when planted where it will get at least six hours of sun each day.

Elderberry

Elderberry is another North American native shrub that you can count on to beautify the landscape and provide bumper crops of nutritious fruits.

Varieties that have been selected for ornamental foliage are especially useful for home gardeners, as they are even more attractive than plain green wild types.

Black Lace, which was developed in England, where elderberry flowers and berries are eaten regularly, has delicate, lacy foliage in a dramatic near-black color.

Black Beauty has bigger, bolder foliage but the same dark purple-black color. Both offer large pink flowers that give way to small black berries that are very high in vitamin C; research suggests they can be effective in minimizing flu symptoms.

Elderberry plants don’t mind cold weather, surviving through temperatures of -25° F, and they can grow well even in partial shade (up to four hours a day). For the most abundant elderberry harvest, you should put at least two plants in your garden.

Goji Berries

Goji berries are antioxidant-packed and sell for high prices at health food stores but they’re actually easy-to-grow shrubs. Also known as wolfberry, the rich purple flowers appear in early summer and are followed by gleaming red berries. The plants produce fruit continuously until autumn and never need spraying or special attention.

Though goji has been popular in China for many centuries, specially selected varieties have only recently become available in North America. These include Sweet Lifeberry and Big Lifeberry goji from Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs, and they were chosen for their exceptional vigor, flavor and size.

Goji berries can tolerate temperatures as low as -20° F. They need to be grown in a sunny spot but they’re not fussy about soil and need little water or fertilizer once they’re established. They can be planted in the ground or grown in a large pot on a deck or patio.

Learn More

You can find all these plants at a garden center, in the fruits or the shrubs section. They cost between $20 and $50 depending on size.

For further facts, tips and recipes, visit www.ProvenWinners.com/VitaminBerries.

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Summer Safety Sense

(NAPSI)—Investing a little time and effort to prevent electrical hazards can mean increased safety and comfort this summer.

Air-conditioning fires occur more frequently than many realize. It’s estimated that an average of 2,300 air-conditioning fires occur in residential structures each year and peak during the summer months.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 86 percent of these residential air-conditioning fires are ignited as a result of mechanical failure or malfunction, such as a short circuit.

Electrical Safety Tips

To help you keep your cool, here are some tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International on how to prevent cooling electrical hazards before they start:

• Have a qualified, licensed electrician install and service any air-conditioning units in or around your home.

• Be sure that both the electrical circuit and the electrical outlet can handle the air-conditioning unit load. Have a licensed electrician inspect your home’s wiring and advise you as to whether it will safely handle air-conditioning units.

• Make sure your equipment has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), ETL SEMKO (ETL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

• Look for breaks in power cords, plugs or connectors before plugging in and turning on equipment.

• Always plug an air conditioner into a grounded (three-pronged) outlet. If an appliance cord plug doesn’t fit an outlet, have a qualified electrician replace the outlet.

• Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.

For more electrical safety tips, visit www.esfi.org.

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How Your Mattress May Affect Your Relationship

(NAPSI)—Many couples’ romantic problems may be easier to solve than they think. That’s because the trouble, if it’s an intimacy issue, may be due to nothing more than their mattress.

The Problem

A recent study by independent research group POCO Labs, evaluating the performance of memory foam mattresses vs. those made of fabric-encased innersprings plus foam, gel or latex (called Ultimate Hybrid), showed a consumer preference for the Ultimate Hybrid mattress for both sleep and intimacy. The research also uncovered consumer issues regarding intimacy on memory foam mattresses. People described the experience as being “stuck in quicksand,” “uncomfortable,” “difficult” and even “horrible.” The study also indicates that many memory foam owners are less intimate.

Data shows most consumers buying mattresses do not evaluate them for intimacy, instead focusing only on sleeping comfort and support. A recent Consumer Reports mattress test found “about 40 percent of buyers had regrets about their purchases” and recommended “You can do better than foam,” ranking the top three innerspring mattresses above the best memory foam mattress.

Michael Magnuson, founder and CEO of GoodBed.com, an independent mattress guide for consumers, says, “The bottom line is, mattress shoppers are very confused about choosing the right mattress for their needs. There is certainly a large percentage of people for whom a hybrid mattress would be a great match but currently very few of these people know they should be looking for one.”

An Answer

Such mattresses are available, and are often made with Leggett & Platt’s Comfort Core fabric-encased innerspring technology paired with the latest innovations in specialty sleep materials for a best-of-class hybrid that offers the favorable aspects and benefits of foam, gel or latex without the downside found in mattresses predominantly made of those materials. In fact, the Consumer Reports article gave an Ultimate Hybrid mattress a “Best Buy” rating and found “three memory foam models could make changing positions a challenge.”

Explains Dr. Caleb Browning, a physicist at Leggett & Platt, “Comfort Core innersprings are individually wrapped and guard against motion disturbance from your partner during sleep but still provide a critical return of bounce, whereas memory foam really sinks the body and absorbs energy, which makes any movement like changing positions difficult. Memory foam consumes you, rather than working and moving with you like innersprings.”

Designed to provide unprecedented comfort and support, these Ultimate Hybrid mattresses are offered by many of the world’s leading brands in a variety of styles and price ranges.

Learn More

To find out more, visit www.Ultimate-Hybrid.com.

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Digital Sources Simplify Color Inspiration And Selection

(NAPSI)—Whether you’re pinning new outfits on Pinterest or soliciting a circle of Facebook friends for opinions on vacation destinations, expressing yourself, defining your identity and finding inspiration has never been easier. Now, selecting paint colors for your home can be added to the list.

Expert Advice

“Inspiration for color selection can come from anywhere at any time,” said PPG color expert Dee Schlotter. “With computers and smartphones becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, color is popping up on our screens and providing the exact inspiration we have been looking to incorporate into our homes.”

Mobile applications can help make selecting colors fun and easy. Now, you can digitally find the exact hue at the tip of your fingers no matter where you go. The ability to view color options through digital capabilities while surrounded by the comforts of home can assist homeowners in visualizing what the colors will look like with their furniture, decor and other elements.

Paint-Picking Tips

Here are a few hints to help you select the just-right color for your home:

• When trying new colors, don’t hold a paint swatch next to a white wall; hold it next to furniture, window treatments, pillows or other decor elements to compare how the colors correspond together.

• Try digital tools such as PPG Pittsburgh Paints’ Paint Your Own Room Visualizer on a tablet. PPG Pittsburgh Paints is the first company to offer a tool that allows you to snap a picture on your tablet and pull it onto the Paint Your Own Room Visualizer to try out colors before you paint. You can try new color trends or your favorite beige or blue.

• If you appreciate colors you see through social media, blogs and other digital platforms, you may also like decorating with them. Take a risk: Try a bold color.

• Visit the Voice of Color, PPG Pittsburgh Paints’ website at www.voiceofcolor.com, to learn more about various tools that can help with your next paint project. Smartphone and iPad applications are also available. The company’s Online Paint Visualizer lets you upload a photo of any room and virtually paint the space directly from a tablet or desktop. You can access the Visualizer at www.voiceofcolor.com/digital-color/paint-color-visualizer.

 

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“Winning” Daylily Program Announces Lemony-Fresh 2013 Winner

(NAPSI)—It’s time to think about adding refreshing color and zest to your garden. Lemonn Vista, the 2013 All-American Daylily winner, is both America’s favorite garden color and is an excellent repeat bloomer, providing a long-term color display.

Lemonn Vista joins the now 20 award-winning daylilies that have been selected for the coveted All-American title for their scientifically proven and superior performance nationwide by the All-American Daylily Selection Council (AADSC).

Recognized for its superior performance in landscapes, Lemonn Vista paints a beautiful garden picture whether planted solo en masse or combined with companion perennials. The large, 6?”, lemony-yellow blooms are fragrant and have heavy substance that withstands the summer sun. They appear in early to mid-season above 24−30”scapes and provide a long colorful display throughout the summer.

The Lemonn Vista joins the “Vista™” series of daylilies known to meet the ideal landscape demand for short-to-mid height, strong tendency to rebloom, arching foliage, large, sunfast blooms, good increase, and uniform scape height. These characteristics create a spectacular show of colorful blooms that are uniformly displayed to create a sheet—or vista—of color. Plant Lemonn Vista in front of roses or other previous All-American Daylily winners such as Frankly Scarlet or Red Volunteer for a delightful contrast and tidy foreground to your garden.

The soaring popularity of daylilies, combined with the bewildering profusion of varieties and growing characteristics, demanded the development of a standard for daylily excellence. Started in 1987, the All-American Daylily Selection Council created a scientific methodology that evaluates daylilies on 52 different characteristics to determine the best varieties and to create a benchmark for future daylily varieties.

There are more than 48,000 daylilies registered, bred in at least 25 states, by hundreds of individual hybridizers. Using its elaborate testing program, the AADSC sorts through the thousands of registered daylilies to award the coveted title of “All-American.”

The flowers are tested for at least two years, with finalists grown for another three to five years in open-field conditions before the winner or winners are announced.

The 2013 winner, Lemonn Vista is proudly carried at many garden centers across the nation and will be a beautiful and fresh addition to virtually any garden in America.

Learn More

For more information about the 2013 All-American Daylily winner, Lemonn Vista, and other All-American varieties, or to download high-resolution photos, visit the website at www.allamericandaylilies.com. You can also go to the site to locate the closest garden center offering All-American Daylilies or to place an order online.

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