Decorating Colors Remodeling Projects Efficiency Savings Energy Diet Squeaky Floors Hanging Pictures and Shelves Closet Space Roll Poll

New Room, New You

(NAPSI)-Rough weather outside makes for a good time to work on the inside of your house to make it a happier place to enjoy the rest of the year. Here are simple, fun ways to revitalize your home.

• In your kitchen: Organize your recipes in a decorative card box and ask friends for their favorites. Practice one of the recipes to make it your signature dish to bring to gatherings and parties.

• In your bedroom: Clean out your closet and give clothing and shoes you don't wear to charity. Use hooks to hang jewelry and belts so they don't get tangled.

• In your living room: Refresh picture frames with new photos of family and friends. They will remind you of fun times together and brighten up a gloomy day.

• In any room: Add color with freshly painted walls. Glidden paint has Top 10 colors to get you inspired to begin painting. From "Quiet Time" blues and greens to bright and playful "Growing Up" colors, finding the right palette can help you get going on any painting project.

Little steps to improve your home can make a big difference, brighten your home and make you a happier, more organized person.

Visit Glidden.com for more color ideas.

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Smart Remodeling Is A Good Investment Even In A Bad Housing Market

(NAPSI)-During the mid-2000s, inflated real estate values and low-interest loans often contributed to homeowners "supersizing" new homes with numerous upgrades and leveraging generous lines of equity credit. Those days are distant memories as home sales continue to decline and foreclosures continue to rise. Today, remodeled kitchens, new pools and elaborate landscapes serve as devalued reminders of how far the market has fallen.

Some remodeling projects, however, perform very well in good and bad times. The "2009-10 Cost vs. Value® Report" from Remodeling magazine, in cooperation with the National Association of Realtors®, makes a strong case for "smart" projects that deliver cosmetic and utilitarian value. In addition to holding their value, these projects increase a home's curb appeal, giving the seller a significant edge in a buyer's market.

Fiber cement siding--designed to closely resemble wood but being fire, moisture and impact resistant--may be the best example of smart remodeling. Since first being included as part of the report in 2005, fiber cement siding has held its position as the top-ranked return on investment for projects costing over $1,200, demonstrating consistent value even when the housing market has not. In fact, its 83.6 percent return for 2009-10 beats out foam-backed vinyl siding, kitchen and bath remodels, decks and even window and roof replacements. The average cost of a fiber cement siding project is approximately $13,300, according to the report.

"The economy always impacts the kinds of remodeling projects homeowners undertake," said Paul Gentzel, repair and remodel business manager for James Hardie Building Products, the No.1 provider of fiber cement siding in the United States. "The 'Cost vs. Value Report' clearly shows 'replacement' projects or practical improvements that extend the life of a home and add to its exterior appearance are even more valuable when home sales are down.

"For example, James Hardie fiber cement siding products are 'engineered for climate,' meaning they are specially formulated to provide maximum protection against climate and the elements, based on where they are installed," said Gentzel. "On top of that, the products dramatically upgrade a home's exterior appearance. That kind of remodel is valuable to both the seller and the buyer."

To learn more about James Hardie fiber cement siding, visit www.jameshardie.com/value and the James Hardie pages on Facebook or follow James Hardie on Twitter. To read the entire "2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report" from Remodeling magazine, visit www.remodeling.hw.net/2009/costvsvalue/national.aspx.

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Soft Water Could Save Homeowners Hard Cash

(NAPSI)-If yours is like most American homes, hard water may be taking a bite out of your household budget.

Approximately four in five houses in the United States have hard water--water that contains the minerals calcium and magnesium. Some of the effects of hard water are easily seen--such as spotted glassware and filmy bathtubs. However, there are a number of hidden problems that hard water can cause, including shortening the life of appliances, increasing energy bills and increasing the amount of cleaning products needed.

Installing a water softener to remove the hardness from your water can help your home run more efficiently and can save you money year after year. Here are some of the cost savings that experts say a family of four with moderately hard water might see within one year of using a water softener:

• Soft water helps prevent the formation of soap scum and hard-water staining in showers, tubs, sinks and toilets, reducing the amount of cleaning products needed. Soft water even helps soaps lather, which cuts down on the amount of soap and cleaners you need to use (potential savings of $744 a year).

• Makes clothing last longer (potential savings of $180 a year). Soft water helps maintain the life of fabrics and helps make whites stay brighter and colors last longer.

• Keeps appliances and plumbing working longer (potential savings of $90 a year). Soft water helps extend the life of appliances, such as washing machines, water heaters and dishwashers. They can last up to 30 percent longer. Pipes and fixtures also stay free of hard-water deposits, which saves money on maintenance and replacement.

• Lowers energy bills (potential savings of $64 a year). Soft water helps water-using appliances run more efficiently. For instance, soft water increases the efficiency of gas-powered water heaters by up to 29 percent and electric-powered heaters by 22 percent.

Starting at approximately $300, water softeners can pay for themselves in cost savings within a few months for the average family. To ensure that your water softener is operating at peak capacity, experts say to keep the tank at least one-quarter full of softening salt. Using quality salt, such as Morton System Saver II Formula Pellets, can help keep your water softener clean and extend the life of your softener.

For more information, visit www.mortonsalt.com, call (800) 789-SALT or write to Morton Salt, Attn: Consumer Affairs−Test Kit, 123 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606.

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Put Your Home On A Diet

(NAPSI)-With the Obama administration's anticipated "Cash for Caulkers" program gaining momentum, now is a great time to put your home on an energy diet.

Much like eating right and exercise can help you shed pounds, making smart investments and small adjustments in your home energy use can make a big difference on your utility bill. While some home energy monitoring tools (or diet programs, for that matter) require consumers to shell out hundreds of dollars, Microsoft offers a free service called Hohm that can help you quickly get started on losing those excess watts.

To get started, visit www.microsoft-hohm.com and answer a handful of questions about your home, such as your zip code and square footage. Hohm will create a personalized energy report for you, complete with tips on how to save energy, home improvement suggestions, project pricing and even estimates for how long it will take to earn back your investment. Hohm will also show you how your home's energy use compares to other homes in your area. The more information you provide, the more accurate the recommendations you'll receive. Think of these tips as your home energy improvement to-do list.

Homeowner Barry Fuchs jumped at the chance to put his home to the test. "It was great to receive a personalized report with items that we can check off as home improvement projects are completed. I've noticed that I'm more aware of my energy consumption habits after completing the survey," said Fuchs. "I would recommend this Web site to anyone who is looking to gain more insight into their home energy use."

You'll quickly see that easy changes such as replacing regular lightbulbs with compact fluorescent ones (tip: If you don't like the lighting they provide, use them in rooms you don't spend much time in, such as closets, attics and laundry rooms), combining laundry loads and running more cycles on cold water can make a big difference in your energy usage and monthly bill. Simply by being aware of your energy consumption habits, you will likely make smarter decisions about energy use.

Give it a try and see your energy use slim down, while helping the environment and your wallet.

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Do-It-Yourself On Silencing Squeaky Floors

(NAPSI)-The next time you are looking for a way to give a noisy floor the "silent treatment"--there's good news. With a little bit of effort and the right equipment, eliminating squeaks can be the type of home-repair project that responds to the do-it-yourself approach.

Experts say most squeaks are often caused when the subfloor rubs on the top surface of the floor joist and/or on the shank of regular nails.

Begin by locating the squeaks. Once they are located and marked with painters' blue masking tape, find your joists and the direction in which they run.

Next, check to see if the squeaks you marked are in the same area as the floor joists. If they are, you are ready to begin attacking them directly. Here's where floor hardware designed specifically for the task can make all the difference.

Fortunately, there are repair kits created to eliminate floor squeaks whether they're found under carpeting, in hardwood or softwood floors, or in stairs.

In the past, getting rid of squeaks usually required getting direct access to the underneath floor to get at the joist. Not anymore. When the squeak is under a carpeted floor, there is an innovative repair kit--called Squeeeeek No More--that contains a plastic molded alignment and depth control fixture, 50 specially scored 3-inch by ⅛-inch diameter screws, a customized driver bit to regulate the depth at which to drive the screw, and a joist-finding screw to locate the joist from above.

In addition to eliminating unwanted squeaks, it also offers the added convenience of not having to crawl around under the floor to get the job done.

When the squeak is in a hardwood floor, a different product designed specifically for that kind of project may help. Called Counter Snap, it was created to help repair squeaky hardwood floors and stairs. Each kit includes 30 screws, the Counter Snap fixture, a No. 2 recess square-head driver and instructions.

Another product, called Squeak-Ender, pulls the subfloor securely to the joist to help fix squeaks between the bottom side of the subfloor and the top of the floor joist. The bracket slips over the bolt and slips around the joist and the nut is tightened.

To learn more or for more detailed instructions, visit www.mysqueakyfloors.com or call (877) 378-0065.

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Tips For Hanging Pictures And Shelves

(NAPSI)-Whether you consider yourself handy or less than mechanically inclined, one key tool could make a number of household projects more secure.

A simple stud finder can eliminate the guesswork involved when hanging pictures and shelves or securing heavy bookcases or furniture to the wall. Just slide the device across the surface of the wall, and when it detects a change in wall density it signals that it has located a stud.

If your stud finder is what's known as an "edge finder," it will pinpoint the edges of a stud. You then simply determine the center and drill or nail. If you have a "center finder," the center of the stud will be automatically identified for you.

Choosing Tools

Not every stud finder is the same, so it's important to do a little homework before buying. You might check out a company called Zircon Corporation that offers center-finding stud finders that are also capable of scanning for metal and electrical, in addition to the edge-finding line consisting of the entry-level StudSensor™ EDGE, e30, e40 and e50.

This line features an ergonomic design meant to make them comfortable and easy to use. Their concave grips help homeowners keep the tool flush against the wall as they sweep for studs, and intuitive user interfaces can help users quickly calibrate the tool.

The relatively inexpensive e30 offers a "WireWarning" detection feature, which warns users of live unshielded wires. The e40, a more powerful version of the e30, is capable of scanning walls up to 1? inches deep. The e50 adds a user-friendly LCD screen.

Hanging Hints

After you've located a wall's studs, hanging items can be simple. Try these tips:

• If you're hanging shelves, consider tracing a template on cardboard and taping it on the wall. Then use the template to gauge bracket placement.

• If you're hanging a picture, place small, adhesive-backed rubber feet on its back corners. The feet will grip the wall and help keep the picture level.

For more information and tips, visit www.zircon.com.


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Get In The Zone

(NAPSI)-You may be better able to win the race for (storage) space with your closet, if you heed a few hints.

Although everyone's closet storage dilemmas vary, a systematic method of organizing your stuff can lead to the highest level of efficiency. Besides, when your closet is clutter free, your mornings can run more smoothly, giving you the right mind-set to tackle the day.

• As you begin to sort through the contents of your closet, remember the 80/20 rule: You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. The rest just takes up valuable, reachable space.

• Arrange your collection by category, grouping shirts, pants, suits, dresses and so on. Depending on the nature of your wardrobe, you can also separate casual clothes from those you wear to work or on special occasions.

• Add a center tower of shelving on each wall for frequently used items. It creates a place for folded things such as T-shirts, sweaters and denim.

• Pants, shirts and dresses can be kept on hang rods, making them easier to access.

• Upper storage shelving (above the highest hanging rod) can be for seasonal clothes you use less often as well as pieces you rarely use at all.

• Personal and activity items such as your everyday watch, wedding ring, wallet, keys and phone can stay within arm's reach on a waist-level shelf or drawer.

• Shoes worn most often should be the easiest to reach. Keep special party shoes or rarely used running shoes on the floor or way up high.

• When space in other areas of the home is tight, keep luggage and other items tucked away in your walk-in. These occasional items can be hidden away and pulled out when you need them.

• Don't underestimate the power of closet accessories. Closet systems, like those from ClosetMaid®, can be outfitted with drawers, doors, cubbies, jewelry trays and pullout rods, putting every last inch of space to work. To learn more, go to www.closetmaid.com.

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The Way America Rolls May Surprise You

(NAPSI)-When it comes to flip-flopping on the issues, one domestic question that has yet to be resolved is: Over or under? What is the preferred way to hang a roll of toilet paper? Should it roll over or roll under? To gain insight into how America rolls and why, a recent survey asked 1,000 Americans how they unraveled. The survey found:

• When it comes to hang-ups, more men than women notice the direction the toilet paper rolls.

Men (21 percent) are more likely than women (15 percent) to say they are annoyed when a significant other or housemate rolls the toilet paper the "wrong" way.

• Quite a few Americans find it tough to deal with life's little issues. In response to the Cottonelle brand survey, 40 percent of the respondents were bothered when the empty toilet paper roll was not replaced--more than the percentage of people who get annoyed by dirty dishes left in the sink (38 percent), laundry left unfolded (21 percent) or sleeping with a bed hog (19 percent).

Of those who have housemates who "roll the wrong way," a quarter are frustrated by it and one in five feels ignored when it happens.

• When it comes to reasons to roll, there are three main reasons people give for hanging their toilet paper the way they do. Forty-nine percent say the way they roll makes the paper easier to grab, while 12 percent do so to guard against kids and pets going wild with the roll. The majority (51 percent) admit it's just an ingrained habit.

• More Americans flip the roll than you might suspect. Amazingly, one in five Americans cops to changing the way the toilet paper is hung to their preferred direction when at someone else's house. Those who prefer hanging the roll over are more likely to have engaged in flipping the direction of the roll at a friend's home.

Overs are more likely to get overworked. In addition to being more apt to switch the way the toilet paper rolls at friends' homes, those who prefer to hang over seem more passionate about the whole subject.

Visit www.CottonelleRollPoll.com to voice your opinion on how you roll to help solve the Great Debate once and for all.

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