Home Heating Save Money

Surviving The Storm New Ways To Wash Keeping Your Home Clean Prevent Power Outages Cool Weather Healthy Air Setting Baits For Rodents Protective Caulking

Easy Home Heating Projects That Save Money

(NAPSI)—Make your home feel warmer without turning up the heat this winter.

The average family spends $1,400 a year on energy, with nearly half of that on heating and cooling. However, by following some simple steps on home winterizing, and by using energy-efficient heating equipment, homeowners can save as much as 20 percent on annual energy costs.

Before you begin to winterize, you should call in a professionally licensed HVAC contractor to inspect and tune up your heating system. Once that is done, there are several things you can do yourself to prolong the life of the equipment and help ensure proper operation.

• Oil Heat—Change fuel filters and service burners if needed. Check fuel tank for water content and fill tank.

• Forced-Air Systems—Clean registers and returns, remove grill on returns, vacuum, and reinstall the grill. On older forced-air systems, the entire ductwork should be cleaned every couple of years. Inspect flue pipe for blockages, leaks and holes and make sure vent cap is in place on roof.

• Furnaces—Check fan belts, pilot light, humidifier and media pad if needed. On older furnaces, the pilot light may stay on all the time and you can see it; newer models are usually self-igniting and light only when the furnace is running.

• Humidifiers or Dehumidifiers—For freestanding units, change or clean filters. For furnace-mounted humidifiers, check, clean or replace the water media pad, or water level on float-type humidifiers. Check waterline/ waste line for leaks.

• Hot Water Heaters—Drain about 10 to 15 gallons from service valve, located at bottom of water tank, to remove sediment. If water has slight rust color at first, this is OK; if after draining more than 10 gallons the water still has a rust color, it's a sign the tank is rusting and that you should consider replacement. On natural gas heaters, inspect flue pipe to ensure it is secure and has no leaks. Lowering the temperature of water in the water heater to 115° to 120° reduces fuel consumption.

• An Energy-Efficient Hot Water Circulator—such as the Bell & Gossett ecocirc®--can save an average family of four more than 12,000 gallons of water and hundreds of dollars in energy costs a year.

• Thermostat Setting—68° F is recommended for cold months, 65° F at night. The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3 percent on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat.

• New Equipment—If equipment needs replacement, call a local professional for at least two quotes. Local, state and federal tax credits and rebates can assist in the purchase of an energy-saving product.

• For more information on energy-saving tips and ideas, visit www.energystar.gov, www.eere.energy.gov, www.energysavers.gov and http://completewatersystems.com.

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Surviving The Storm

(NAPSI)—Immediately after the tornado roared through Askewville, N.C., Ronald Jernigan and his wife, Christie, emerged from their bathtub, where they sat wrapped in a heavy bedspread for protection.

Realizing that they had survived the storm and that their home was intact, Jernigan made his way to the front door to assess the damage of his mother's home, which once sat across the street—it was no longer there. It was hard to imagine how anyone could have survived as he looked at a pile of rubble.

Thankfully, Ronald quickly learned that his mother, Mattie Jernigan, brother, Paul Jernigan, and Paul's girlfriend, Terry Pierce, had found refuge in the rear of the building.

Ronald and Christie noticed that their home, built by Champion, had not only protected them but had fared better than most in the neighborhood.

Christie saw how the tornado ripped through brick, site-built and other modular homes and how her family's home had come through with all four walls and its roof generally intact. Still, the damage that the home had suffered allowed the ensuing torrential post-storm rain to damage the interior.

When it came time to replace their home, Christie knew exactly what she wanted—her old house back.

To find their replacement, Christie located a retailer, RC Homes, in Greenville, N.C., only to find that the floor plan of their home was no longer offered.

"Given the circumstances, we wanted to build the Jernigans' home as quickly as possible," said Chris Miller, general manager of the Champion Homes plant in Lillington, N.C. "We were able to locate the old plan, have it reengineered to meet the new codes and incorporate the changes requested."

Forty-five days later, the new modular home was delivered and set on its pre-poured foundation.

Much of the furniture is new and the salvaged family pictures and heirlooms are back in their places. A sign that reads "Faith, Family & Friends" hangs once again on the wall as it did in the family's old home.

"As soon as the new house is back in working order," said Ronald, "I will go fishing, and that Tuesday our family and friends will once again come over for our famous Tuesday fish fry."

Champion offers a wide variety of factory-built solutions to fit every family's needs—discover why the Jernigans and so many others choose Champion for their home. Visit www.championhomes.com for more information.

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New Ways To Wash

(NAPSI)—Here's a money-saving idea you may warm to: Use a cold-water wash cycle to keep winter wear and blankets clean while saving energy.

Cool Off to Save Big

High energy costs can result from washing clothes in warm and hot cycles. According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, cold-water cycles can use up 76 percent less water and 78 percent less energy while offering the same cleaning power.

Not only does cold-water washing keep your energy bill low, it can help minimize how much you need to spend on dry cleaning and new clothes. Knits made of wool and other natural materials that you may have dry cleaned in the past can be safely cleaned and cared for with cold water on a gentle cycle.

Keep Your Cool

Stain removal can be stressful, but there's no reason for your temper or water temperature to rise in the face of difficult stains. Pre-treating and presoaking garments in warm water prior to washing can ensure your stains are removed regardless of the water temperature in your wash cycle.

All stains are not alike. Protein stains, such as blood set in hot water, can make cold water a good option for keeping laundry spotless.

Warm up at the Right Times

Cold-water washing might not be the best option for every laundry load. Heavily soiled or grease-stained loads need warm or hot water for a proper cleaning.

Machine Shop

Some washing machines feature a cold cycle designed to work specifically with cold-water detergents. The Maytag Bravos XL even has the Oxi Treat Stains option to ensure laundry is properly cleaned and cared for in cold water.

Banish Residue Buildup

As you use more cold-water cycles, keep an eye-and nose-on the inside of your washing machine for any residue that may build up. This residue, which can accumulate when too much detergent is used, is easily broken down with a once-a-month cleaning with a washer cleaner. Pop an affresh washer cleaner puck into your top-load or front-load washer and run on a hot cycle to dissolve odor-causing residue and leave your washer ready to handle your toughest laundry loads.

Learn More

For further money- and energy-saving washing advice, visit www.maytag.com and www.affresh.com or call (800) 344-1274.

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Holiday Help From "The Help"

(NAPSI)—When the winter holidays arrive, the savvy modern hostess might consider taking a page from the past. Carpets, furniture and clothing certainly fell victim to spills and stains 50 years ago the same way they do today.

That era is the setting of this year's blockbuster movie "The Help," DreamWorks' hit film based on Kathryn Stockett's No. 1 New York Times best seller, on Blu-ray and DVD this December. "The Help" portrays the lives of women from all walks of life in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. The movie begins when one of the main characters lands her first journalist job writing a "Miss Myrna's Cleaning Hints" column and while researching the topic, ends up building an unlikely friendship that evolves into a remarkable demonstration of women helping other women.

To help you, here are a few tried-and-true tips from the '60s and before that rely on simple products still found in most homes today. It is helpful to treat all stains as quickly as possible; otherwise, blot with a clean, dry cloth, then cover with a damp cloth to await treatment.

• Red wine: A spill on the carpet may seem like an emergency that threatens to ruin a holiday shindig, but there's actually a simple fix. Merely blot up as much of the stain as possible with an absorbent cloth, then saturate the stain with club soda and go back to entertaining your guests. Later, apply a paste of three parts baking soda, one part water. Let dry for 24 hours and then vacuum.

• Chocolate: Should a plate of gooey confections get flipped over to land on the couch, simply scrape off excess chocolate with a butter knife, then mix one tablespoon of liquid detergent with two cups of cool water and blot the stain with a clean cloth until the stain disappears. Finish by sponging the area with cold water, blotting dry and helping yourself to another piece.

• Wax: When a candle melts onto the good tablecloth, no need for you to melt, too. Once the dinner is over and the wax has cooled, much of it will peel right off in your hands. If it doesn't, try freezing it. Next, crank up your iron to high heat and, on an ironing board, place one folded paper towel underneath the waxy area and another folded paper towel on top. Run the heated iron over the area until the wax has transferred to the towel. Once the wax is removed, rub the area with liquid laundry detergent and wash as usual.

• Gravy: Should a drop of gravy fall on fabric, first try washing the stain with warm water and dish soap. If the stain persists, try dabbing it with a solution of ˝ cup of water, ˝ teaspoon ammonia and ˝ teaspoon iodized salt.

• Cranberry: Another holiday staple that is capable of ruining clothing if not attended to is the delicious cranberry sauce. To eliminate these bright red stains, scoop up as much of the sauce as you can—as quickly as you can—and then rinse with cold water. Next, mix one tablespoon of white vinegar and ˝ teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent with one quart of cool water and soak in this solution for 15 minutes.

Specific snafus aside, some other powerful cleaners that you probably already have on hand are white vinegar, baking soda and even hair spray. Believe it or not, coffee, tea, mustard and grease can all be treated by soaking with a little undiluted white vinegar and rinsing before the vinegar has a chance to dry. Stains such as ink can be cleared away with a paste of vinegar and baking soda allowed to dry on the spot before washing the garment as normal. Lastly, a few squirts of hair spray can not only keep hairs in place but can remove lipstick and marker stains. Bonus: Hair spray also preserves cut flowers and stops panty hose runs in their tracks.

Armed with these tips from the past, you'll be able to protect your home and guests from some of the most common mishaps of holiday entertaining with ease.

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Don't Just Respond To Power Outages, Prevent Them

(NAPSI)—Some 30 million Americans suffer through extended power outages a year and that number is expected to rise-but you don't have to be among them. While storms, an aging electrical grid and freak occurrences can all contribute to significant power outages, getting a backup generator can make the difference for you.

An Answer

It's all well and good to have some extra batteries put aside but it's even better to not need them in the first place. The answer, many families have found, is a stationary home backup generator that can keep the power running during and after a storm.

A stationary backup generator connects to a home's existing natural gas or LP fuel supply, automatically turns on after the electrical power goes out and provides power to the home until the electrical grid returns. A stationary generator isn't just part of an emergency preparedness kit-it can actually help prevent an emergency.

For example, homeowners in one coastal Maryland community weathered Hurricane Irene without any problems. Every home in the Chesapeake Village subdivision was built with an attached Generac standby generator. While thousands of other residents along the Chesapeake Bay faced week-long power outages, life for Chesapeake Village homeowners continued as usual.

"We had a lot of wind, a lot of rain, a lot of debris flying. But when the electricity went out our generator kicked in right away," Chesapeake Village homeowner Stephanie Patterson said. "This was my first experience with a generator, and it's a relief to have it. We kept our refrigerator hooked up, our lights on and with two small kids, it was great just to have some extra amenities."

Chesapeake Village resident Terri Blackwell said knowing she would not lose power during storms was a selling point when she and her husband were house hunting.

Power isn't just a luxury for many people with electronic medical devices, it's a necessity. In addition, many work from home or remotely and not having power is bad for their economy and the nation's.

Fortunately, you can get a Generac power system with an output from 7 kilowatts to 60 kilowatts through a broad network of independent dealers, retailers and wholesalers.

Learn More

For further information, visit www.Generac.com, call (888) 436-3722, follow the company on Twitter@generacpowersys or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/generacpowersystems.

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Cool Weather, Healthy Air

(NAPSI)—Cooler weather can mean more days spent indoors and signals the need to spruce up your home for seasonal get-togethers. When getting ready for the cozy days ahead, don't forget to clean your home's air duct system.

Air ducts and ventilation systems can become clogged with dust, pet hair and other contaminants, making them a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. When firing up the furnace this winter, you may notice a burning smell coming from your air ducts. This is an indication of dust buildup in your home's ventilation system.

An easy way to tell if your system should be cleaned is to remove the vent with a screwdriver. If you see a collection of dust or mold, consider calling a professional heating and cooling system cleaning contractor.

Check that the company is a certified member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), an organization that tests the knowledge of contractors for safe and effective heating and cooling system cleaning. For more information and to find a certified Air Systems Cleaning Specialist, visit www.nadca.com.

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Preparing Your House For Colder Weather

(NAPSI)—Colder weather often means you'll be spending more time indoors with family and friends. That's why it's important to make sure your home is prepared to make your loved ones feel comfortable and protected.

Here are some suggestions to help get your home in shape for the colder months ahead:

• Clogged gutters can result in rainwater or melting snow backing up onto your roof, leading to water damage. Make sure to regularly check that gutters are clean of debris. This can help avoid costly repairs and water stains on your ceilings.

• Sealing up your home is the first step in stopping drafts, which can lead to costly heating bills. This includes caulking and shrink-wrapping the windows, weather-stripping the doors and installing storm windows. A good way to test if you need additional sealing is to light a candle on a windy day and place it near the spot you are testing. If the flame flickers when the wind blows, then you know it's a good idea to seal it up.

• Colder temperatures outdoors mean rodents will seek refuge in your warm home. To get them out, use a simple, mess-free solution, such as d-CON Ready Mixed Baitbits. They are designed to kill in one feeding and can be effective in hard-to-reach areas, such as under the couch and refrigerator. Another option, d-CON No View, No Touch traps, is designed to trap and kill mice instantly without the mess.

• Preparation is key before the snow begins to accumulate. By stocking up early, you can avoid the mad dash to the store for ice melt and the possibility you will be left without any.

• Freezing temperatures can cause major problems with your indoor and outdoor plumbing. Drain all garden hoses and insulate exposed plumbing pipes. If you are escaping the cold by heading to warmer destinations, set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees to help prevent your pipes from freezing or potentially bursting.

Protecting your home this winter can help make the remainder of the year more enjoyable, allowing you to focus on more important things, like sharing good times with family and friends.

For more information, visit www.d-conproducts.com.


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Help Protect Your Home From Mother Nature's Wrath

(NAPSI)—Don't let potentially damaging and expensive leaks throughout your home take your wallet by surprise. Instead, protect your home—and your budget—with a caulk that lasts. Silicone, which is durable and waterproof, will repair small gaps that can balloon into expensive repairs and seal miniscule unseen cracks that can elevate utility bills. Here's how:

1. Find the Culprits: Finding leaks is as much damage control as it is home energy control. Rain and snow can seep in and affect insulation and electrical wiring, a lot of which runs through attics and in unfinished basements, and can mean pricey repair bills if damaged. So check attics, basements, gutters and roofs in addition to windows and doors. Visit Caulkandsave.com's "where and how do I find the leaks?" for an interactive guide.

2. Choose a Caulk That Can Withstand Mother Nature: Not all caulks are created equal, so go beyond the advice to simply "seal gaps and cracks." One hundred percent silicone caulk, like GE Silicone II Window & Door, stands up to Mother Nature for the long haul. Leaks frequently occur in and around homes in places prone to extreme temperature fluctuations, moisture, humidity and damaging UV rays. Impervious to these damaging conditions, silicone caulk remains permanently waterproof and won't shrink or crack. In fact, 100 percent silicone remains unaffected by all weather and temperature conditions, so it provides long-lasting energy savings and seals money-zapping gaps and cracks. Conversely, degraded acrylic caulk can crack and crumble over time, leaving gaps for air and water to seep through. Those leaks can lead to water damage, mold growth and higher energy bills.

3. Get to Work: It's best to work with caulk in above-freezing temperatures and clear of snow or ice. First, clean the surface. Remove old caulk, dirt and loose particles with a caulk-removing tool or wire brush. Make sure the surface is dry. Next, apply painter's tape to either side of the joint to create a straight edge. Prep the tube and seal. Cut the nozzle to the desired bead size. Pierce the inner seal with a stiff wire or similar object. Insert the cartridge into the caulking gun. Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle and seal around spaces. Keep a steady, constant grip. Smooth the caulk seal. Use your finger or a wet caulk-smoothing tool within two to five minutes of application. Remove the painter's tape immediately after smoothing caulk. Use mineral spirits to clean up.

For step-by-step photos to guide you through the project, see www.caulkandsave.com.

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