Increase Your Comfort and Energy Savings
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
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,
• 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
• 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
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
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
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
number of products across all flooring categories promise to cut
maintenance, cleaning and care time.
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
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
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.
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
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
“Consumer demands for durability, low maintenance and lower
prices have led to innovation and variety across all
categories,” said Tom Jennings of the WFCA.
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
WFCA is the floor covering industry’s largest advocacy
organization, representing floor covering retailers, contractors
and allied service providers throughout North
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.
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.
more information, visit www.WFCA.org and www.WFCA-PRO.org.
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Keep Your Lawn Mower Running Right
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,
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;
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.
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.
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.
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
both a cost-saving measure and an environmentally responsible
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Cut Energy Costs
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.
further information on window films, homeowners can visitwww.3M.com/windowfilms.
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Tasteful Ways To Make Your
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
• 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
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
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.”
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
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
• 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
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Tips For A Mess-Free Barbecue
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.
more information about disposers, visit www.InSinkErator.com.
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How Athlete-Moms Meet Household Challenges
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
more information, visit www.maytag.com.
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