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Energy- Efficient Cooling Systems Better Windows Save Energy Kitchen Makeover Programmable Thermostat Energy Efficient Laundry Machines Sewing And Embroidery Growing Tomatoes Vegetable Gardening

Split-ductless Technology Helps Homeowners Live Better

(NAPSI)—If you’re trying to save money, the first step is usually to cut waste—and cooling systems are no exception. Most homes don’t need the same amount of cooling in every room, so using a system with zones can be a simple way to cut costs.

The most efficient and cost-effective systems feature zoning technology and a flexible controls network to comfortably cool all of a home’s zones.

For example, Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, the leader in split-ductless systems, offers more energy-efficient cooling systems than ever before to help homeowners live better. Their systems include an outdoor unit that connects to an indoor unit installed in each zone. Eco-comfort technology means these systems minimize their impact on the environment. The systems use advanced sensors to automatically detect room temperature differences and adjust for greater comfort.

All the systems use environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant, and many systems feature an inverter-driven compressor to use energy more efficiently.

Perfect for any room in the home with a hot spot, Mitsubishi Electric’s M-Series can moderate the temperature while filtering out harmful allergens, and many of the systems are Energy Star rated to help homeowners earn residential tax credits.

Today’s split-ductless systems make homes more comfortable, use energy more effectively and can save homeowners money on energy bills. Qualified systems can earn homeowners a tax credit and there are potential state and local rebate opportunities. Homeowners can learn more at www.dsireusa.org.

Mitsubishi Electric offers systems that can accommodate up to eight zones and indoor unit options now include ceiling-concealed and floor-type models that look more similar to traditional register options.

Designed for maximum efficiency with limited or no ductwork and easy-to-use technology, split-ductless systems are a great comfort solution for a variety of cooling and heating needs. For more information, visit www.mitsubishicomfort.com/zoning.

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Combat Rising Energy Costs With Better Windows

(NAPSI)—You may be able to cut your energy costs with the help of high-performance windows.

The average cost of energy used to heat and cool homes rose more than 33 percent in the last decade, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Fortunately, homeowners can find relief today by upgrading their windows. ENERGY STAR−rated windows are a good starting point. They can currently save homeowners an average of $320 annually when replacing single-pane windows.

High-performance windows offer even greater energy savings potential—up to 40 percent more than minimum ENERGY STAR windows. To maximize savings, look for high-performance models labeled as Envirosealed Windows and Doors with Duralite. These windows feature nonmetal spacers that provide the best insulation and greatest effect on energy bills.

The savings don’t stop there. This year, homeowners can save up to $200 on their taxes by installing qualified windows.

For more information, visit www.EnvirosealedWindows.com.

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 A Complete Kitchen Makeover For Under $500

(NAPSI)—The kitchen has always been the heart of the home—a place where the family socializes and entertains friends. It’s no wonder a kitchen remodel occupies first place on many homeowners’ wish list, especially at a time when families are spending less time dining out and more time at home. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive and time-consuming home improvement projects a family will undertake, ranging from $17,000 to $20,000 for a basic kitchen remodel.

“Since the kitchen occupies a highly visible space in the home, it’s understandable that families want it to reflect their style and personality. But unfortunately, a traditional kitchen remodel can mean a bigger investment of time and money than many families can handle,” says Ann Gearty, Rust-Oleum senior brand manager. “Fortunately, now there’s an affordable alternative. For less than $500, homeowners can update their old, outdated cabinets and countertops and make them look brand new thanks to breakthrough coating technologies.” Here’s how:

Start with the cabinets: They are the focal point of any kitchen and will set the tone for the look and feel of the entire room. Instead of replacing or refacing, it’s easy to transform worn, outdated cabinets to the look of beautiful handcrafted cabinets with Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations. The refinishing system provides you with all the tools you need to give your cabinets a fresh, new look for under $150—without the stripping, sanding or priming associated with cabinet painting. It works on all types of cabinets—wood, melamine, laminate and more. Plus, it is available in 70 beautiful finishes and is guaranteed to last for years to come.

Rethink your current countertop: You don’t have to replace your countertop to get a sleek new look. With new Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations, you can transform your worn or damaged laminate countertops at a fraction of the cost of replacement. Available in a convenient kit for $250, the innovative coating system comes with all the tools needed to transform your outdated countertops to mirror the look of natural stone—like granite. The coating was put through extensive testing to ensure it could stand up against daily wear and tear. It’s available in five different colors, and is so easy to use, the entire project can be completed in less than a weekend.

Don’t forget the details: It’s easy to make your old cabinet knobs and pulls look brand new with a few coats of spray paint. Try a spray paint such as Universal Oil-Rubbed Bronze to mimic one of today’s hottest metal finishes.

For more information on alternatives to the traditional kitchen remodel, visit www.rustoleumtransformations.com.

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 A Beautiful Way To Conserve Energy

(NAPSI)—Going green doesn’t have to mean giving up the comforts of home.

What You Can Do

Here are hints that may help:

• Paint the walls of your home a light color. Dark colors absorb light and require more energy to achieve the same effect. Light colors conserve energy while helping your home seem brighter and more cheerful.

• Plant windbreaks, trees and shrubs around your house to beautify and protect your home.

• Check your filters regularly during periods of high use. Replacing dirty filters increases efficiency, promotes better health and saves money, too.

• Utilize a programmable thermostat to manage energy consumption and reduce your energy costs. A programmable thermostat can make a big difference in controlling your heating and cooling energy costs. It will provide a comfortable indoor climate while you are home and reduce wasted energy when you are asleep, at work or away on vacation.

One such thermostat can beautify your home as well. That’s because it works like a digital picture frame to show your own photos. It even comes with customizable faceplates, wallpaper backgrounds and screen savers, such as slide shows and clocks.

This multifunctional, simple-to-use, programmable touch- screen thermostat has more than a dozen preset themes, including nature and holiday themes. Each theme has separate photos, displaying daytime and nighttime scenes, including the sun for day and the moon for night. Whether you choose from the available themes or use your own photos, your thermostat becomes a small piece of wall art that’s engaging to use.

It’s compatible with virtually every type of heating and air-conditioning system and is only about half the price of competitive programmable thermostats that don’t have photo themes.

Up to 100 photos can rotate as a slide show in screen saver mode, and personal photos may also be selected as the background wallpaper for the thermostat.

With four programmable periods per day, this richly featured thermostat also comes with easy-to-use software to adjust preferences, alerts, daylight savings time, and vacation, security and overall system settings. An “At-a-Glance” screen clearly shows the heating and cooling status, time, and room temperature. Outside temperature can be displayed, too. You can even get reminder alerts right on the thermostat when it’s time to change the filter or call for service. Called ColorTouch, it’s available from Venstar, a leader in thermostats.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.venstar.com/Thermostats or call (818) 812-9930.

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 Size Only Matters If Laundry Gets Clean

(NAPSI)—Is bigger always better? Maybe not, when you are talking about washing machines.

Just how many clothes can effectively be washed and rinsed in a single load is covered by new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) guidelines—and the answer may surprise you.

“Due to new Department of Energy regulations regarding clothes washer capacity, consumers may hear a lot of conflicting information about whether size really matters when it comes to laundry,” said J.B. Hoyt, director of regulatory affairs for Whirlpool Corporation. “The common belief is that bigger is better, but that is only true if your clothes still get clean.”

As part of the guidelines, manufacturers including Whirlpool, Maytag and Amana will voluntarily report new capacity measurements based on DOE test procedures in order to provide accurate measurement of all clothes washers across all brands.

For those in the market for new laundry appliances, Hoyt shares the dirt on capacity, cleaning and, most importantly, what to look for when shopping for a new washer.

• When making a new purchase, ask about capacity as it relates to cleaning versus just how much the machine will hold. What is the largest maximum capacity that will get your clothes clean?

• No matter how big the machine is, do not overload. Clothes will get cleaner when given room to move freely.

• Thanks to high-efficiency washing machines, you don’t have to stuff everything into one load just to save energy and water. Today’s high-efficiency washing machines use only enough energy and water to properly clean your clothes, which means you can do small loads when you have time, rather than waiting for the basket to fill up.

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Give Her The Gift Of Less Stress

(NAPSI)—This Mother’s Day or on just about any gift-giving occasion, you can have the question of “what to get” all sewn up-encourage her to make a hobby of sewing.

The pastime has several benefits. For some moms, it’s a way to express themselves. For others, it relieves stress. Yet other mothers find it gives them one more thing (besides raising their children) to have a sense of accomplishment about.

To help, consider these great gift ideas for presents to please the crafty mother:

• Since seeing is believing, show Mom how easy, enjoyable and creative sewing can be by treating her to a beginner (or advanced) sewing class at a sewing shop.

• Try supplying her with tasteful fabrics that complement her home decor.

• Present a few patterns that reflect her clothing style.

• Consider new tools to make the process fun and easy, such as embroidery-editing software, a new serger for a quick professional finish or even a new lightweight computerized machine.

Many of today’s machines have automatic needle threading, automatic thread cutting and automatic bobbin winding, to make getting set up and starting easy.

If your mom is into fashion, you may want to look into the “Project Runway” Limited Edition family of sewing, embroidery and serging machines from Brother International Corporation.

If fashion isn’t your mom’s forte, the company also has a Laura Ashley Limited Edition line of sewing and quilting machines that focus on English sophistication for impeccable design.

For example, the Laura Ashley Limited Edition Innov-is NX-800 can be used for creating stylish and elegant apparel, accessories and home decor with built-in stitches, buttonhole styles and lettering fonts, and the options to do free-motion stitching or horizontal stitching.

You can learn more at the home sewing and embroidery pages of www.brother.com or by calling (800) 4-A-BROTHER.

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Growing The Best Tomatoes In Your Neighborhood

(NAPSI)—Think of all the things that you can make with tomatoes-sandwiches, salads, pizza and pasta. Many people just like to eat them raw with a little salt on top.

According to the National Gardening Association, growing tomatoes is the most popular form of vegetable gardening. About 86 percent of vegetable gardeners are growing tomatoes in their backyards.

“Tomatoes can be grown in containers or in the garden,” said Lance Walheim, co-author of the “Sunset Vegetable Gardening” book and gardening expert for Bayer Advanced™. “Growing your own will help you save money and give you fresh, homegrown flavor.”

Selection

• Choose your tomato. Varieties range from small cherry tomatoes to the big, juicy “Beefeater.” You can also grow yellow tomatoes that are sweet and have a low acid content or heirloom varieties that have incredible flavor.

Growing Tips

• Seeds should be grown indoors in containers in a well-lit area six to eight weeks before planting outdoors. Or you can start with transplants or seedlings that you buy from your neighborhood garden center. Plant outside when there’s no danger of frost.

• Do a soil test to make sure your garden has the best pH for success.

• Choose the sunniest spot. Tomatoes need about eight hours of direct sunlight in rich, well-drained soil. Start with a 3’ x 10’ plot.

• Plant seedlings deep, up to the top two to four leaves.

• Control destructive pests and diseases. Aphids, mites, leafhoppers, powdery mildew, blight and leaf spot are the kinds of pests and diseases that can damage or destroy your tomatoes. Bayer Advanced Natria Insect, Disease & Mite Control kills harmful insects on contact and controls diseases (www.BayerAdvanced.com). Always read and follow label directions.

• Deep, infrequent watering is key. Stick your finger four inches into the soil. If it’s dry, then water. One inch of water will wet sandy soil a foot deep and clay soil about five inches deep.

• Organic mulch helps keep the weeds out and helps keep moisture in.

• Apply nitrogen fertilizer regularly, especially when plants are young. Cut back when they’re about to bloom.

• Support plants by tying to stakes or growing in tomato cages.

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Money-Saving Vegetable Gardening

(NAPSI)—Millions of us are buying seed packets or plants and heading to the backyard to plant our own vegetables. The reason? According to the National Gardening Association, it’s all about creating better-tasting produce and saving money.

“Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans and carrots are some of the most popular vegetables to grow in your backyard,” said Lance Walheim, co-author of the “Sunset Vegetable Gardening” book and gardening expert for Bayer Advanced™. “Homegrown veggies taste great and you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year.”

Walheim has a few tips for successful vegetable gardening:

• Choose the easiest veggies to grow. Tomatoes, radishes, zucchini, carrots, peas, peppers and lettuce will help make your first attempt at vegetable gardening successful.

• Choose the sunniest spot. Vegetables need up to eight hours of direct sunlight in rich, well-drained soil. Start with a 6’ x 10’ plot to keep the size manageable. Use string to mark off rows running east to west for the best sun exposure.

• Plant at the right time. Your local county extension service can help guide you on what to plant and when.

• Control destructive pests. Aphids, mites, leafhoppers and mealybugs are the kinds of pests that eat veggies. Bayer Advanced™ Natria Multi-Insect Control kills harmful insects on contact and it’s made with canola oil. It’s for organic gardening (www.BayerAdvanced.com). Always read and follow label directions.

• Deep, infrequent watering is key: Stick your finger in the soil. If it’s dry, then water. One inch of water will wet sandy soil a foot deep and clay soil about five inches deep.

• Organic mulch helps keep the weeds out. It also decomposes, feeds the plants and keeps the soil loose and cool.

• Feed your veggies. Apply nitrogen fertilizer regularly, especially when they’re young.

You might consider sharing your great-tasting veggies with your neighbors. If they become interested in gardening, you can pool your resources, create your own neighborhood food co-op and save even more money.

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