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Energy Saving Heating And Cooling Floor Covering Affordable Options Lawn Mower Tune-Up Cut Energy Costs Window Film Durable, Reliable, Beautiful Sink Cleaning Up Together Mess-Free Barbecue Athlete Moms Save Time

Increase Your Comfort and Energy Savings

(NAPSI)--If you’ve ever thought about remodeling your home, you’re far from alone. As sales of existing homes remain sluggish, homeowners nationwide are opting to remodel their houses instead of moving. The JointCenter for Housing Studies at Harvard University expects remodeling expenditures to reach more than $113 billion in 2012, compared with $110 billion last year.

Instead of focusing only on cosmetic face-lifts, many homeowners are choosing projects that also boost energy efficiency and increase comfort. One easy and cost-effective project that produces impressive results is installing a superefficient cooling and heating system, especially in those rooms that seem too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

Fortunately, there’s one type of system that requires no ductwork, so installation is fast and doesn’t require any messy renovation.

This system can also provide an excellent whole-house solution in older homes where ductwork is not practical to install, or as a supplemental option if the home has existing central air conditioning. The equipment itself is small and compact and doesn’t require reconstruction of ceilings and walls to add ductwork. In most cases, a simple three-inch opening in the wall or ceiling is all that’s needed.

The first manufacturer to bring this type of cooling and heating without ductwork to the U.S. is Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric). In addition to offering increased comfort and easy installation, its products:

• Are up to 35 percent more efficient than a window air-conditioning unit and up to 40 percent more energy efficient than central air conditioning.

• Provide a permanent solution that doesn’t take up window space and block views.

• Are whisper quiet—no annoying clanking or humming.

• Come in a wide range of system sizes for large or small applications (one or more rooms or the whole house) and in multiple styles: wall-mounted, floor-mounted, ceiling-recessed (ducted) and ceiling-concealed (ducted) indoors. The outdoor units have an extremely small footprint and fit neatly into tight spaces.

• Offer separate temperature/fan speed controls for each room.

• Feature control options such as automatic switchover from cooling to heating.

• Provide low-maintenance operation.

Some of the indoor units even have an i-see Sensor™, which scans the room for hot and cold spots and automatically makes adjustments to achieve the desired comfort level faster.

To find the system best suited for your home and calculate potential energy savings, the Mitsubishi Electric website features a convenient Solution Advisor. To learn more about Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating products, visit www.mitsubishicomfort.com.

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Consumers Have Affordable Options When It Comes To Floor Covering

(NAPSI)—Buttery-soft carpet, weathered hardwood and hard-as-diamonds surface treatments are some of the latest trends consumers will encounter the next time they shop for floor covering.

That’s the word from scouts and experts attending one of the home market’s top international flooring trade shows—Surfaces. The show is sponsored by the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA).

Reports from the show offer some insight on the latest products and trends in flooring.

Less Is More

Companies are concentrating on products that are sensible, low maintenance and easy on the budget. The new products making headlines include supersoft carpets that clean up “good as new” with lifetime stain warranties; affordable vinyl mimicking genuine stone; hardwood with precision detailing; and hard-surface flooring that has built-in antimicrobial properties.

Vinyl flooring today offers the look of stone, ceramic tiles and hardwood—sometimes so closely that you have to get on your hands and knees to tell the difference. These products can put good looks at the feet of all homeowners at a fraction of the cost and with less maintenance than their higher-cost authentic cousins.

Prices have come down on many eco-friendly floors thanks to high demand in the commercial industry. As a result, more people can install top-quality hardwood, bamboo or cork for several dollars per square foot less than a year ago.

High Style, Low Maintenance

A number of products across all flooring categories promise to cut maintenance, cleaning and care time.

For example, hardwood manufacturers have introduced surface treatments that are as hard as diamonds. There are even new products said to have wear layers that can withstand just about any kind of wear and tear—large families, animals, dirt and grime.

Other surfaces, including laminate and vinyl, are touting easy-to-maintain wear-surface durability. Some are equipped with built-in antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as stain resistance.

In the carpet category, new products have built-in stain resistance, odor reducers, air fresheners and luxuriously soft fibers that maintain their integrity for years.

Weathered and Reclaimed

Weathered and distressed floors are taking hold across multiple categories. This finish increases sturdiness and allows the product to withstand the high traffic and heavy wear of large families and pets.

In addition to distressed looks, homeowners now have the option of “reclaimed” wood floors. These floors are recycled from dismantled buildings, disassembled furniture, wood and agricultural scrap. Repurposing saves money, is green and offers unique, designer-quality looks.

High Style and Durable Luxury

Manufacturers are also introducing flooring of all varieties with add-ons such as fur, tassels, 14K gold and Swarovski crystals.

Hard surfaces, including tile, are incorporating precious metals while soft surfaces, like carpet and area rugs, are showcasing jewelry-grade crystals, animal skins and metallic fibers in the final products.

“Consumer demands for durability, low maintenance and lower prices have led to innovation and variety across all categories,” said Tom Jennings of the WFCA.

Jennings says that consumers expect their purchases to withstand the test of time and be eco friendly. As a result, manufacturers have created a variety of low-maintenance, affordable options that meet the demand for comfort and style.

Covering Consumer Interests

The WFCA is the floor covering industry’s largest advocacy organization, representing floor covering retailers, contractors and allied service providers throughout North America.

The Association’s website offers detailed information and practical tips on every flooring category available, including carpet, hardwood, laminate, ceramic, porcelain, resilient, vinyl, cork, stone, and area rugs. In addition, it provides answers to many common floor-covering questions.

It also offers a searchable database of reputable retail members across the country. All users need to do is enter their zip codes to receive a list of local retailers.

For more information, visit www.WFCA.org and www.WFCA-PRO.org.

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Keep Your Lawn Mower Running Right

(NAPSI)—Lawn care is a lot easier when you have a mower that starts quickly and gets the job done week after week. The key to making that happen can be as simple as doing a few easy and inexpensive mower maintenance tasks once a year.

“It’s like preventive medicine for your equipment,” says Synoilva Shaw, a Briggs & Stratton marketing coordinator and lawn mower expert. “For a few dollars and few minutes once a year, you can make your lawn mower last longer and run better.” For the typical push mower, an annual lawn mower tune-up includes changing the oil, spark plug and oil filter and adding a fuel preservative. It takes about 30 minutes and provides great benefits, including:

• A lawn mower that starts easily and runs smoothly at full power;

• Extended mower life, potentially avoiding major repairs;

• Reduced engine emissions because the engine will run cleaner;

• A small savings in the amount of gasoline used.

“Even homeowners who have never done a mower tune-up can do it right the first time,” adds Shaw. In fact, Todd Teske, the CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation, demonstrates how easily it is done by tuning up his own lawn mower on a how-to video on the Briggs & Stratton YouTube channel.

The company offers all-in-one tune-up kits that include everything needed to do a tune-up: the right amount of oil, an air filter, a fuel filter for riding mowers, a spark plug and fuel preservative. The kits are available at Briggs & Stratton dealers, home improvement stores or online atwww.briggsandstratton.com.

The firm also helps homeowners dispose of their used mower engine oil easily and at no cost at participating Briggs & Stratton dealers. The used oil can be dropped off in any closed container. To find a dealer, visit recyclemoweroil.com.

As the largest maker of gas engines for outdoor power equipment, the company encourages homeowners to maintain the estimated 65 million lawn mowers in the United States as both a cost-saving measure and an environmentally responsible action.

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Cut Energy Costs

(NAPSI)—Warmer weather can be a terrific time for homeowners to undertake projects to spruce up their house or landscape. When the AC bills shoot up, it’s also a time many look for ways to increase their home’s energy efficiency.

Fortunately, saving energy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort. There are a number of simple ways to conserve energy and save money in the long run:

Ideas To Try

• Check furnace or air conditioner filters each month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. A dirty filter makes it harder for air to circulate, causing it to work harder to produce clean air.

• Close vents in empty rooms to heat or cool only the rooms you use.

• Replace lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

• Find and seal leaks around doors and windows.

• Install heat-rejecting window film. This additional way to save on energy is often overlooked. A leading manufacturer of window films, 3M, offers several varieties that can help reduce energy costs and glare, as well as block UV rays. Lightly tinted films are available that are designed to reject heat but not change the appearance of windows. Moderately tinted varieties block a greater amount of light from coming in the windows, while still providing clear views. Additionally, a film specially made for night vision can give homeowners extra privacy and heat rejection during the day while allowing easier viewing outside at night.

Learn More

For further information on window films, homeowners can visitwww.3M.com/windowfilms.

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Tasteful Ways To Make Your Kitchen Last

(NAPSI)—According to U.S. Census Bureau reports, Americans are not moving from one home to another nearly as much as they used to.

For many, that means it’s important to make sure the home they’re in—and particularly the kitchen—is built to last. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to do that. For example:

• When you get down to it, a porcelain floor may sound fragile, but because these floor tiles are fired at an extremely high temperature, they’re remarkably durable, lasting for decades and impervious to water, foot traffic and other things that can floor a floor.

• Take your counters for granite. These not only look good, they’re resistant to heat and stains, very low maintenance and last for a very long time.

• Consider laminate for your cabinets. Laminates are low in cost, nonporous—which is important when it comes to safe food preparation-easy to clean and available in a rainbow of colors and styles.

• It’s great to be good to your grout. If your backsplash is tile, seal the grouting so it can stand up to water.

• Up against the wall, it pays to put the best paint possible. The higher the quality, the longer it’s likely to last.

• Be smart about the sink. It’s probably the most-used appliance in the house and often has to take a lot of abuse—but it can still be stylish. For example, you can get a stone composite sink made of a patented material that resists chips, stains, heat and the effects of everyday kitchen use and comes in seven attractive shades.

Durable and reliable, it’s 80 percent granite for the look and feel of natural stone and 20 percent a patented formula that makes it even stronger than the countertop around it. Each sink comes with a lifetime warranty so you can buy with total confidence.

Called Silgranit II and available from Blanco, the sink is colored all the way through, so it won’t fade, even in direct sunlight, and is resistant to food acids. The advanced surface technology means it’s nonporous, easy to clean and extremely hygienic.

What The Expert Says

As Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, says, “I’ve lived with Blanco sinks for well over 20 years. I’m most impressed with Silgranit II.”

Learn More

You can learn more online at www.blancoamerica.com or by calling (888) 668-6201.

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Involving Kids In Cleaning: A Key To Future Success

(NAPSI)—Encouraging your kids to pitch in with household chores can do more than help keep your house clean.

According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, the best predictor of a child’s success is the age at which he or she begins helping with household chores. The research showed that by involving children in regular routines of cleaning and tidying up, parents instill a sense of responsibility, competence, self-reliance and self-worth in their children, which stay with them throughout their lives.

“Getting your kids involved in cleaning is a great way to spend time together as a family while teaching the importance of health and hygiene in the home,” said Dr. Jana, M.D., F.A.A.P., a board-certified pediatrician and award-winning author.

Here are a few tips to help get the whole family engaged in household cleaning:

• Choose family-friendly cleaning products: Be cautious when using cleaning products with or around young children. As children get older, they should be taught to handle with care, use as directed, and keep all cleaning products and sprays away from their eyes. When cleaning around young kids, look for family-friendly cleaning agents. The makers of LYSOL® have launched a new line of hydrogen peroxide cleaners called LYSOL® Power & Free™, aimed to help keep homes healthy. LYSOL® Power & Free™ delivers more cleaning power than bleach (on tough grease and soap scum) but without the harshness-making it suitable for everyday use around kids and pets.

• Turn cleaning into a game: Incorporate game-style activities, like “hide and seek,” into an otherwise mundane cleaning routine. Ask your kids to spot areas that are unclean and you may be surprised how many they find!

• Implement a rewards system: Give kids specific cleaning goals and reward them once the goals are completed. Using visuals such as a chore chart is a great way to keep kids on task, remind them to clean and to keep track of how often they are doing it. Give your kids stickers to place on the chart when they’ve completed a task and, if you like, provide modest rewards for collecting a specified number of stickers. While the real reward is a clean home, you can also offer anything from a family movie night to a reasonable allowance.

• Tailor tasks to specific age groups: Give younger children simpler, one-step tasks like dusting or picking toys up off the floor. Save the more complex jobs, such as vacuuming, scrubbing and disinfecting, for older kids.

• Take time to educate: It’s never too early to educate your kids about germs! Help them identify and then tackle bacteria-rich surfaces, like door handles, kitchen sinks, toilets and light switches. You can also teach them about household hygiene through other educational activities. Check out these sites for ideas on how to teach kids about germs and hygiene:

 Kidz Zone section at Lysol.com: www.lysol.com/healthy-families/kidz-zone

• CDC’s Ounce of Prevention: www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention

• CDC Germ Stopper Resources: www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm

Visit Lysol.com for more tips on keeping a healthy home as part of the LYSOL® Mission for Health.

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Tips For A Mess-Free Barbecue

(NAPSI)—More Americans are firing up their grills for backyard cookouts-and many say the reason for grilling’s popularity is that it’s relaxing. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, Americans say backyard barbecues are more relaxing than dining out—especially if you don’t let cleanup and prep work spoil the mood. Rather than deal with the stresses of barbecue messes, here are some tips on throwing a mess-free cookout at home:

• Use disposers instead of trash cans. Chicken, ribs and burgers are among the most popular grilled foods, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Many people may be surprised to learn that instead of tossing extra meat scraps and bones in a trash can, it’s possible to reduce large amounts of smelly trash by putting virtually any type of food—even bones—down a food waste disposer with advanced grinding capabilities, such asInSinkErator’s Evolution Excel® with three-stage grind technology.

• Serve food in decorative plastic containers instead of on platters. Dirty dishes can pile up fast, so serve food in decorative plastic containers that double up as serving plates and refrigerator storage. While guests are eating, you can also protect food from bugs and flies with the lids.

• Reduce a messy kitchen by serving side dishes that can be prepared the day before. And while most cooks know the trick of marinating meats in baggies, do this the day before as well. In addition to having more-flavorful food, you’ll have no need for any messy food prep on the day of the barbecue.

• Cut fruits and vegetables beside the sink. Vegetable peels and fruit rinds can pile up quickly in garbage cans. As you’re preparing fruits and vegetables for side dishes, cut them up beside the sink and toss them down the drain as you go along. Your disposer will thank you for this, as hard materials (like fruit pits) help scrape the inside of the grind chamber, removing any buildup.

• Make kebabs with small pieces of leftover meats and vegetables: Leftover grilled steak, chicken and veggies may be too little for a stand-alone meal, but put them onto skewers for a fun lunch or dinner the following day. This keeps you from tossing the leftovers and avoids unnecessary clutter in the fridge from extra baggies and containers.

For more information about disposers, visit www.InSinkErator.com.

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How Athlete-Moms Meet Household Challenges

(NAPSI)—Watching elite athletes perform at the highest level is inspiring. While most people never compete professionally in sports, it’s fun to see athletes attempt physically extraordinary acts.

But few examples may be as inspiring as the life led by the athlete-mom. She balances rigorous training routines and nutrition plans with laundry, diapers and playtime.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, professional athletes work more than 40 hours per week on average, including weekends and holidays. Some are also moms. Here are some household tips used by athlete-moms to manage their action-packed lives.

Strength in Numbers

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is finding time to exercise and make healthy choices. The solution? Find a friend or two, and make a plan to exercise together or brainstorm ideas for healthy dinners. If you are new to an area, sites such asÊ meetup.com are great for finding like-minded new friends in casual, fun settings.

Rise and Shine

Having a hard time checking those errands off your list? Looking for just 10 minutes of “me time” to have a cup of coffee and read your Tumblr feed? Do it early in the morning. It can seem like a painful idea to sacrifice any precious sleep, but let’s be honest: You could probably go to bed a little earlier. Chances are you’ll be too tired during the middle or end of the day to make any measurable or enjoyable progress. Get up early and tackle that to-do list when you’re rested and much of the world is still asleep.

Time-Saving Items

You can try to wrestle time back from your busy day or you can actually save some time with the right household products. Take it from Olympic gold-medalist, pro-swimmer and mom Amanda Beard, who recently switched to the high-quality Maytag Bravos XL washer and dryer. According to Beard, “I used to constantly rewash my son’s clothes because many spots just wouldn’t come out. My dryer never got hot enough, so I had to wait hours for everything to dry. Not anymore. My laundry is perfect every time, plus Maytag is an American company I know I can depend on. Go, TeamUSA!”

The next time you see an inspiring athlete who is also a mom, remember that it’s the little things that help her succeed in sports, as well as at home.

For more information, visit www.maytag.com.

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