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Make Your Spa Sensational Homeowner To-Do-List Lawn Growing And Mowing The Perfect View Energy Efficient Roofing Lights Bulb Myths Debunked Protect Your Deck Woodworkers Contest For Cash

How To Make Your Spa Sensational

(NAPSI)—When the weather cools, few things can beat a nice warm spa. A bubbling spa soaks away the stresses and strains of the day. Here are hints to help you make the most of yours:

• Make your spa a place of refuge and peace. Twinkling candles around the perimeter can set the mood for romance or quiet solitude. Use sturdy pillars, container candles, votives or flameless LED candles. Or string strands of twinkle lights along the fencing and watch the light dance on the water’s surface.

• Use your digital player or computer to fill the area with your favorite music.

• Surround the spa with pots of fragrant flowers such as lavender, phlox and roses.

• Try the aromatherapy of Moments from SpaGuard, available in bottles or pillow packs infused with six natural aromas. A few capfuls set free the heady scents of intoxicating and soothing herbs and fragrances.

• Simple stretching exercises, combined with the warm water, can relax muscles tensed by the day’s stress.

• Host a “Girls’ Night In” spa party. Offer herbal-scented skin oils for after-spa application; a tray of steamed, soft washcloths wrapped around sprigs of rosemary for soothing eye packs; and hot-wax treatments for hands and feet.

• For a soft, soothing spa environment, try a bromine-free, chlorine-free sanitizer like SpaGuard’s Soft Soak.

• Have a stack of warm towels nearby to make leaving the spa a little easier.

• Hang decorative pegs for robes and use a wood deck box to hold towels and keep slippers dry.

• Preventing problems before they occur can keep your spa sparkling clear so you can enjoy it all season long. Test water regularly and use an EPA-registered sanitizer to protect bathers.

• Proper water circulation is important. Run the circulation system every day.

• Clean the filter every four to six weeks.

• To preserve spa surfaces and prevent dirt buildup, you can use Off The Wall Surface Cleaner and SpaGuard Cleaning Mitts—powerful, low-sudsingcleaners that work specifically with spa water chemistry.

• Regular draining and refilling is also an important part of spa maintenance. How often you drain and refill your spa depends on how often you use it. Experts advise you to go by this equation: spa gallons + daily bathers + 3 = days between draining.

You can learn more at www.spaguard.com and (800) 932-5943.

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The Simple Musts For Your To-Do List

(NAPSI)—Every homeowner’s to-do list will vary by the weather—cool and rainy, sunny and dry—but from indoor to outdoor projects, it is important to prepare your home for weather changes and make the transition easier on yourself and your home. Here, from an assortment of experts, are a few must-do’s to prepare your home for cooler weather:

1) Beautify Your Fireplace. When temperatures drop, many families light up the fireplace to relax and wind down from the day. Before you do, be sure to follow these cleaning tips. Make sure the floor around the fireplace is well covered with drop cloths. Mix a solution of high-alkaline cleaner and one ounce of chlorine bleach per gallon of warm water. Wet the surface of the fireplace well with the solution, but don’t use so much that it runs. Dirty water running down the face may cause hard-to-remove streaks. Scrub the solution in with a brush and rinse well. If you’re not comfortable, you may want to call in a professional from Merry Maids.

2) Keep Your Floors and Furniture Looking New. The best way to keep the look of your decor is very simple—keep up with the cleaning. ServiceMaster Clean experts recommend performing the following tasks consistently to enhance and maintain your home: Vacuum regularly, dust your floor, respond to spots immediately, deep clean carpets once a year, deep clean and treat hard-surface floors, and rid upholstery of oils that soil.

3) Feed Your Lawn. The experts from TruGreen know a little preparation with your lawn and landscape can go a long way. Late summer to early fall is the right time to feed your lawn to ensure its health and vitality. Lawns recovering from heat stress require the proper blend of nutrients to become thicker and develop a better root system. Heat-stressed lawns also need fertilizer in order to complete their growing season with healthy grass and a pleasing appearance.

4) Scale Away Pests. Rodents and insects will stick around in cooler weather, carrying harmful bacteria into your home through cracks and crevices. To protect your home against the nuisance, experts from Terminix advise placing weather stripping on the bottom of all exterior doors to ensure they seal tightly. Use caulk to seal any holes or cracks in your home. Eliminate cracks or openings around pipes and utility lines that enter the home. Make sure to close the flue damper when the fireplace is not in use. Move piles of firewood and other debris away from the home’s foundation. Trim tree branches and shrubs away from the house so rodents do not have access to your roof or other entry points in the home’s exterior.

5) Check Your Heating System. Before firing up your heater, the experts at American Home Shield recommend having an annual system maintenance service performed at least a month before the heating season begins. Other steps you can take to ensure proper heating include moving furniture that has been placed over floor vents to clear the airflow, checking your filters every month to ensure efficient operation, and visually inspecting your exhaust vent for rust, damage or deterioration.

6) Prepare Your Plumbing System. Plumbing is like any other machine: It requires basic maintenance to remain functioning properly. Insulate pipes prone to freezing, such as those near an outside wall, those in unheated areas of your home or any exposed plumbing such as outside faucets. Keep your water meter box covered with its lid and wrap outdoor or crawl space pipes with electric heat tape or insulation to prevent freezing.

More Information

You can learn more at www.servicemaster.com and (866) 348-7672.

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Lawn Growing And Mowing Made Easier

(NAPSI)—When your yard is saying “I want to be a lawn,” six tips can help the grass grow greener on your side of the fence:

1. Water rarely but thoroughly. Most lawns need a good soaking to a depth of six to eight inches.

2. Water early, generally before 10 a.m., so that the grass gets to dry before the sun gets too hot.

3. Mow weekly: Regular mowing makes your lawn healthier and easier to cut.

4. Keep the mower blade sharp for a clean cut and to reduce lawn disease.

5. When you mow, cut only a third of the height of the lawn to encourage strong roots. Cutting too short stresses the lawn, creating an environment ideal for weed growth and disease.

6. Get a good mower. To help, leading engine manufacturers are incorporating unique new features into their products that deliver professional results and make cutting the lawn a much easier and more enjoyable experience.

When selecting a walk-behind mower, it’s wise to look at the engine. Select a reputable engine brand and consider these questions:

• Is it easy to start? With some engines today, priming and choking are a thing of the past. Smart-Choke technology automatically manages the start-up process so there’s no risk of flooding the engine. Simply pull the cord and go.

• Is it easy to fill? Filling the fuel tank on many mowers can be a challenge. Engines with Accu-Fill, however, incorporate a unique angled neck as well as an opening that is 45 percent larger than those in most mowers. This translates to easier filling and less spilling of fuel, which is better for the environment.

• Will it perform? Look for an engine with Consistent-Cut technology. This system delivers more power to the mower in extreme load conditions for a great-looking cut every time-even in thick, wet grass that can stall other mowers.

• Is it well constructed? A cool-running OHV (overhead valve) design with cast-iron cylinder bore will help your mower stand up in harsh conditions—letting you mow longer and avoid costly trips to the repair shop.

All these helpful features can be found on Kohler Courage XT engines. They can be found in mowers from several popular brands, including Toro,Husqvarna, Ariens and Lawn-Boy.

Learn More

For additional resources to help identify and select an engine mower for your specific needs, visit www.KohlerEngines.com or call (800) 544-2444.

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In Pursuit Of The Perfect View

(NAPSI)—Getting windows clean and sparkly doesn’t have to be that hard.

Store-bought window cleaning solutions can work well but are not necessary for great results. Old-fashioned household cleaners are plentiful in most homes and inexpensive.

Experts at Andersen Windows have some suggestions on how to clean your windows to the envy of your neighbors. First, begin with the right stuff: rubber gloves, two buckets or one bucket with two wells; sudsy ammonia cleaner; white vinegar; rubbing alcohol; several clean, dry rags; a squeegee; coffee filters; and a ladder, if necessary.

Now follow these steps to a great view:

1. Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions on each cleaning agent and all tools before beginning. In addition, use extreme caution when using ladders and working around open windows to maintain safe operation and avoid injury. Don’t stand on furniture; use only equipment intended for that purpose, including ladders, scaffolding and step stools. Follow instructions for safe operation.

2. Fill both buckets with one to two gallons of the hottest water your gloved hands can stand. Use caution in handling hot water to avoid burns and scalding. This is your wash and rinse water.

3. In one bucket, add one cup each of ammonia and vinegar. In the other bucket, add two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. The latter helps water evaporate quickly and gives windows that twinkle factor.

4. To avoid dripping on your work, start at the top; top floor, top of the window.

5. Wipe the entire surface with the sudsy solution. Bugs, stickers and other stubborn marks may be removed using a synthetic scraping tool. Avoid straight-edge metal blades, as they can damage the window.

6. Rinse the window using clean water and immediately squeegee any remaining. Start at the top, pressing firmly in a vertical motion and drying the squeegee with each stroke. This reduces streaks from wet lines forming at the squeegee’s edge and limits drips from wet tools on your sparkling windows.

7. Use a clean cloth to wipe only the corners and sill. If lint is a problem, use a coffee filter—they’re lint free—to touch up these areas.

Some extra tips:

• Never leave a window unattended, especially when children are present. Falls may result in serious injury or death.

• Swipe in only one direction, horizontal or vertical, on the inside of the house and the other direction on the outside. If you find streaks, you’ll know which side needs touching up. Coffee filters are good for this, too.

• Change water often to limit or eliminate streaks.

• Tie a rope to your squeegee and secure it to the ladder or your belt in case you drop it.

• Clean windows on cloudy, dry days. Sunlight may dry the solution too quickly, making streaks more likely.

For more information about windows, patio doors, and building and home improvement, go to www.andersenwindows.com.

© 2011 Andersen Corporation. All rights reserved.

It’s a bright idea to clean windows on cloudy but dry days. Sunlight dries the solution too quickly and makes streaks more likely.

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New Roofing Lights The Way For Energy Efficiency

(NAPSI)—If your home is like most, it uses a lot of expensive energy. In fact, according to the experts at the California Solar Energy Industries Association, the residential sector of the United States consumes 22 percent of the nation’s energy. This means that you can make a big difference by reducing your home energy use—and that can help you save money.

What You Can Do

There are steps you can take to keep heating and cooling costs from going through the roof. One of them is to improve that roof.

Among the most effective ways to up energy efficiency at home is to use solar reflective roofing. By installing an asphalt roof with appropriate cooling granules—one that meets ENERGY STAR requirements—homeowners can earn 10 percent of the cost of the roof, up to $500 through energy-efficiency tax credits.

What’s more, thanks to recent industry advancements, solar products now offer increased durability and superior curb appeal. Rather than being limited to bland, white shingles, homeowners now have solar-reflective options in rich, dark hues that provide the authentic look of traditional shingles. There are even new shingle options that emulate the look of authentic wood shakes, such as Presidential Solaris and Landmark Solaris Platinum from CertainTeed.

Overall Protection

The roof makes up some 40 percent of a home’s exterior and gives homeowners more to think about than curb appeal or even energy efficiency. They also need to consider protection, durability and impact resistance. Fortunately, solar-reflective products now come in impact-resistant options. Choosing a more durable solar roofing shingle provides energy savings in the warmer months and peace of mind in the cooler ones, knowing that the roof can stand up to whatever Mother Nature brings. In some cases, insurance companies offer homeowners discounts for installing these impact-resistant shingles.

It’s a bright idea for homeowners to take advantage of solar energy for their homes with products that feature enhanced aesthetics, increased efficiency and protection from the elements.

Further Information

To learn more about solar-reflective roofing options, visitwww.certainteed.com or call (800) 233-8990.

 

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Bulb Myths Debunked

(NAPSI)—Here’s a bright idea: It may be time to get with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Soon, standard incandescent bulbs are going away as a result of continued demand for more energy-efficient lighting products as well as U.S. federal lighting efficiency standards. This means energy-efficient alternatives such as CFLs are becoming even more commonplace.

Though CFLs save considerable money on electricity bills and light homes with a bright, white light, myths still surround them.

To help, industry-leading experts from GE Lighting are shedding some light on myths and questions, including lighting legislation changes, atwww.gelighting.com/2012. Among the myths:

• Myth: CFLs contain high levels of mercury. GE CFLs contain a very small amount, 2 milligrams on average, which is smaller than a ballpoint pen tip. By comparison, older home thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take literally hundreds of CFLs to equal those amounts.

• Myth: If I break a bulb, I need to see a doctor. Scientists employed by the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the amount of mercury a person is exposed to in cleaning up a broken lamp is equivalent to a bite of tuna, and even the worst-case CFL breakage scenario measured by one state EPA was equivalent to eating just a single meal of albacore tuna.

• Myth: CFLs are too expensive. CFL costs have decreased significantly in recent years. Some cost less than $2 when part of a multipack.

• Myth: CFLs produce an unattractive blue light. Today’s CFLs can produce a soft, white light in color ranges similar to incandescents. Look for Kelvin numbers on packaging. Bulbs with a 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin (K) number emit a warmer, yellower color. Those with a 3,500 K to 6,500 K number emit a bluer or whiter light.

• Myth: CFLs give people headaches. Anecdotal reports of headaches are very rare, and there is currently no scientific evidence that CFLs cause headaches. While older, long-tube fluorescent bulbs in industrial settings could have caused headaches due to their noticeable flicker rate, today’s CFLs operate at a faster frequency to eliminate flickering. To learn more about advancements in CFL technologies, as well as halogen and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulb options, visit www.gelighting.com.

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Protect Your Deck For The Winter

(NAPSI)—Foot traffic, food spills and weather can take their toll on any deck, but you can clean and protect your deck to prepare it for the winter with a few simple steps.

• Clean Thoroughly: Ground-in dirt and barbecue stains can ruin your deck’s appearance and ultimately degrade the wood. Exposure to sun can cause wood to gray and weather and exposure to moisture can encourage the growth of mold, mildew, moss and algae.

Use a bleach-free cleaner specifically formulated for wood to restore your deck to its natural beauty without bleaching or yellowing as chlorine bleach can. Cleaners such as Jomax Deck Wash loosen and lift dirt from gray weathered wood and remove stains caused by mold and mildew to prepare the deck for a new protective coating. A convenient hose mount applicator makes it easy to use; just attach to an ordinary garden hose and spray.

If your stained or painted deck has seen better days, consider stripping any faded or deteriorating finish prior to applying a water-repellent sealer or stain.

• Apply a Protective Finish: After cleaning, it’s important to apply a water-repellent finish to protect your deck against the damaging effects of winter. Moisture from ice, snow, sleet and rain can penetrate the surface if it’s not protected and can cause splitting, cracking and warping. Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of premium exterior wood finishes that offer protection against the elements, while giving you the opportunity to achieve just about any look you like.

For example, if you’re looking for a clear water repellent to protect against water damage without changing the color of the wood, you can choose Rust-Oleum Premium Water Sealer. It can protect your deck against the elements for three years.

For maximum protection against water absorption and maximum durability, there’s Rust-Oleum Premium Deck and Fence Stain. It’s available in both solid and semi-transparent formulas in 22 different colors. What’s more, it’s backed by a 10-year satisfaction guarantee so it can keep your deck protected and looking beautiful for years.

The stain also features breakthrough Cool Touch Technology, which reflects solar rays to keep surfaces cooler to the touch.

For more information and helpful wood care tips, visit www.rustoleum.com.

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Doing Good With Wood

(NAPSI)—If you “do good with wood”—that is, use your do-it-yourself and woodworking skills to help others—now might be time for your “15 minutes of fame,” to quote artist Andy Warhol.

Winners of the Minwax Community Craftsman Award, which recognizes those who contribute to their community through woodworking and wood finishing, will be announced nationally, spring 2012.

Prizes include a cash grant of up to $5,000, wood-finishing products and a consultation with DIY expert and author Bruce Johnson.

Past winners include a group of volunteers who built safe, snug new beds for foster kids, a high school teacher who worked with a group of students to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, another teacher who built new bookshelves for his town library, and high school students who built therapeutic furniture for disabled children.

Applicants should send a brief summary of their project by Dec. 31, 2011 to Minwax Community Craftsman Award, c/o Brushfire, Inc., 2 Wing Drive, Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927.

Visit www.minwax.com for more information.

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