Reasons To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
And Save Money This Year
Federal Energy Tax Credit Program Ends Dec. 31, 2010
(NAPSI)-Even though the heat is on for homeowners wanting to cash in and make
energy-related home improvements before the end of the year, there's still
time to take advantage of the 2009−2010 Federal Energy Tax Credit.
Passed as part of the Economic Stimulus Bill and set to expire at the end
of the year, the 2009-2010 Energy Tax Credit allows homeowners to claim tax
credits equal to 30 percent of product and installation costs--up to $1,500--for
qualified energy-related home improvements. The tax credit applies as a
direct reduction of taxes owed.
As the deadline approaches, now is the perfect time to conduct an energy
audit of your home to determine which energy upgrades will provide the most
bang for the buck. An energy audit looks at the efficiency of a home's
heating and cooling system, ways to conserve hot water and electricity, and
helps determine exactly where a house may be wasting energy. These energy
assessments can be done by an individual homeowner or a professional energy
The average household will pay $2,200 this year on energy costs, with
heating and cooling accounting for nearly half that amount (source: Alliance
to Save Energy). These costs are projected to keep rising for the foreseeable
future. The good news: There's plenty that consumers can do to make a lasting
difference when it comes to home energy management and do something positive
for the environment at the same time.
Installing an energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning
(HVAC) system can provide homeowners with much-needed relief from rising
utility bills and energy costs. Top-quality HVAC companies like Trane offer a
variety of high-performing and high-quality systems for the home.
An additional benefit to making improvements can be seen in a home's
value. According to the Appraisal Institute, for every dollar saved in annual
utility costs, homeowners can expect to add $20 to their home's market value.
When looking at more efficient HVAC systems for your home, it is important
to remember two useful performance rating systems: the Seasonal Energy Efficiency
Ratio (SEER) and the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). They compare
systems on different scales, and a higher number or percentage indicates a
more efficient system. So for homeowners looking to stay cool before the end
of the year, the Trane XL20i air conditioner, for example, has a SEER of up
to 20.0, making this product one of the most efficient on the market.
When it comes to heating, the AFUE rating is key to helping find the most
efficient product for your home. According to the U.S. Energy Information
Administration, natural gas prices will jump 8.2 percent, followed by home
heating oil at 6.6 percent, in 2011, leaving homeowners with high-priced home
heating costs for the coming winter months. If upgrading your home's heating
system fits the bill, consider installing an efficient furnace with an AFUE
rating of 95, which uses significantly less energy.
If you are thinking of making home energy improvements this year and using
the tax credit, it's important to get started as soon as possible.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind as you contemplate making the
best energy upgrades to your home:
• Not every product qualifies for the credit;
• Products must be for the taxpayer's primary residence;
• Check with a Trane Comfort Specialist dealer and tax pro so you
know what systems qualify and to ensure that you have the proper documents
and tax forms;
• Products must be placed in service from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec.
• Products must have a manufacturer's Certification Statement to
• Save all receipts and paperwork.
For more information on energy-related savings and tax credit information,
please visit trane.com/Residential/Trane-Owners/Energy-Tax-Credit-Summary.
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Environment In Mind When Siding Your Home
(NAPSI)-Here's how to go green and turn your neighbors green with envy at
the same time: vinyl siding. It has a strong reputation as an affordable,
low-maintenance and long-lasting material that brings color and beauty to the
exterior of a home. A recent study by the Vinyl Siding Institute, Inc.,
however, reveals that vinyl is also a very eco-friendly material that can
help homeowners "green" their home.
Consider the ingredients that make up vinyl and work your way through the
product's life cycle.
Vinyl is primarily made up of two simple materials: common salt--one of
Earth's most common compounds--and natural gas. In the manufacturing process,
scrap material can be reworked into the production process, resulting in
virtually zero waste at the plant and alleviating the burden on landfills.
Vinyl requires less than half the energy and fuel needed to manufacturer
brick and mortar, making it an extremely efficient, more sustainable process.
A high-recycled content can be incorporated into vinyl siding, which is
one of the most coveted green product attributes. Products such as
CertainTeed CedarBoards Double 6-inch insulated siding boast a 60 percent
recycled content--the highest recycled content in the industry for this type
of siding. Additionally, vinyl siding is lighter than other cladding
materials, which means less fuel and few carbon emissions to transport.
Designed to withstand prolonged exposure to the elements, vinyl is built
to last. In fact, many vinyl siding products are backed by lifetime
warranties. New technologies that enhance color retention and impact
resistance contribute to long-lasting curb appeal. Ultimately, the longer the
siding stays on the house, the longer it will stay out of the landfill.
However, when homeowners are ready to replace their siding, it can be
recycled--yet another green benefit of using vinyl siding.
Few resources are needed to maintain vinyl other than soap and water. No
painting, staining or caulking is required, which helps eliminate the release
of harmful toxins into the environment. Also, vinyl is impervious to termites
and resistant to stains and moisture.
For those homeowners who love the look of wood, there are new technologies
that transform vinyl material into unbelievably realistic wood grain
textures. And, with such innovations as CedarBoards insulated siding,
homeowners can reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint.
Given the wide range of eco-friendly attributes vinyl siding brings to a
home, it's an excellent choice for homeowners looking to go green.
For more information or to find a contractor, visit certainteed.com.
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Projects Start With A Great Finish
(NAPSI)-An inexpensive way to help your home's exterior look elegant for
years to come can be done by refinishing the wood.
Amazingly, you can get professional-looking results even if you do it yourself.
Here are a few tips from Tom Lee, vice president marketing at Behr and an
expert in stains and finishes:
Tips for Wood Staining Projects
1. Pick the finish.
Lightly wood-toned finishes add color to wood while enhancing the wood's
natural beauty. These last longer than traditional clear finishes.
Semi-transparent stains let the natural grain and texture of the wood show
through and provide more durability than clear or wood-toned products. The
most durable finish, solid color stains reveal the wood's texture but
generally conceal the grain, making them good for older, blemished wood and
projects using different types of wood.
2. Prepare the surface.
For best results always follow the label instructions on the wood stain
products and any wood stripper or wood cleaning products used to prepare the
• Use plastic sheeting and painter's tape to cover all items that
cannot be removed (planter boxes, air conditioning units, drains, etc.). Wet vegetation
with a garden hose and cover with drop cloths for protection from overspray
• Be sure to use any recommended personal protective equipment such
as masks and gloves.
• Replace any damaged wood.
• Check to be sure you are using the appropriate sanding tool for
the surface (sanding block, pole sander, sanding pads, etc.) and lightly sand
the surface with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper.
• Clean surface and remove mildew stains if necessary.
3. Apply wood stain.
• Pour the stain or finish into a paint tray or 5-gallon bucket.
• Starting in a corner and following the grain of the wood, cut in a
2- to 3-inch-wide area with a brush where a roller cannot reach. Cutting in
means applying stain to the outer edges of the project area with a brush
• Dip roller into the product.
• Remove excess product by rolling onto the ribbed section of the
paint tray or bucket grid.
• Continuing in the same corner, roll the product approximately five
feet onto the surface that was cut in. Don't overlap onto a surface not being
• Immediately brush out roller-applied stain to unify the appearance
and work the stain into the wood.
• Reload the roller and apply the product to the next section, back
rolling into the previously applied area. Continue until the project is
Behr offers Premium Solid Color and Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Wood
Stains and Transparent and Wood-Toned Wood Finishes that use an advanced 100
percent acrylic resin to protect decks, siding and fences from sun, rain,
snow and ice for years.
The new formula allows the stains and finishes to penetrate even deeper
into wood fibers and provides a superior adhesive bond to the wood substrate.
Made with NanoGuard technology, the improved formulation was developed to
enhance resistance against moisture, UV damage and stains--the result is
improved surface protection and longevity. The added durability reduces the
likelihood of peeling, improves performance over knots and increases color
retention. The complete protection against the elements results in a
beautiful-looking, longer-lasting exterior wood surface.
What's more, Behr's Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains are
available in 8-ounce samples that let you test color and opacity before you
buy. In addition, you can use the samples for small projects such as bird
feeders, mailboxes, kids' craft projects and doll houses.
These stains and finishes are available exclusively at The Home Depot
where you can also get help on applicator recommendations, product selection and
project inspiration at the interactive WoodSmart by Behr Kiosk. The kiosk
also features a video demonstrating proper application and time-saving tips.
Further information is at www.behr.com.
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Repair? Appliances Now Do It For You
(NAPSI)-While household appliances have continued to evolve over the
years, one aspect has stayed the same: the occasional breakdown and need for
service. Thanks to the latest technology, however, even the traditional
repair call has gotten an upgrade.
A new kind of service program proactively monitors appliances 24 hours a
day, seven days a week and reports any faults or potential problems to a
service center. A fault code will either trigger an automated e-mail
(offering a corrective strategy) or analysis by a technician who, if need be,
will schedule a service appointment.
Using wireless, local area network technology and application software,
Miele's RemoteVision- enabled products are monitored 24/7. This dedicated
"link" allows for the secured transmission of vital performance
The most common service issues are user-related faults, whether it's a
refrigerator door left ajar or a washing machine with too much detergent.
Through modern technology, these former aggravations now have easy,
identifiable solutions. Owners might be provided with care recommendations,
troubleshooting e-mails, or service notifications alerting them that an
in-person appointment is recommended, all tailored to the product and
"With RemoteVision, we can help to immediately correct or even
prevent an issue simply by contacting a customer and avoiding any potential
frustration or downtime," says Matthew Kueny, Miele's director of
technology. The system is now available for all the company's refrigerators,
wine coolers and select washer and dishwasher models.
To learn more, visit www.mieleusa.com.
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Sources Of Indoor Pollution
(NAPSI)-If you like to think of your home as a safe haven to escape
pollution, you may want to take a deep breath before stepping through your
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor pollution
levels are two to five times greater than those found in the outdoor air.
While this can be a serious problem for those suffering from asthma,
allergies or emphysema, it's not healthy for anyone, especially small
children. Because they breathe in 50 percent more air per pound of body
weight than adults, children are more vulnerable to the effects of pollution.
Efforts to rid your home of dust, dirt and allergens could even make
things worse, as many poorly sealed and filtered bagless vacuums add to the
pollution by releasing lung-damaging particles back into the air.
Here are a few tips to help reduce indoor air pollution.
• Properly maintain heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems,
changing filters regularly.
• Use only nontoxic household detergents and cleaning agents.
• Open the windows when weather permits.
• Clean up water leaks that can lead to the formation of mold.
• Choose a vacuum cleaner with a filtering dustbag and reputation
for providing superior dust retention and filtration. Bagless vacuum cleaner
bins can be an environmental hazard when emptied into the garbage. Dust
poured from a bin emits fine particles back into the air. That's also true
for any open bag that's pushed into a garbage bag.
A recent independent scientific study shows that some vacuums with HEPA
filters do not effectively protect a home's air quality and unfiltered air
may escape, releasing as much as 2−14 million lung-damaging particles
per minute into the air on average.
These particles can pollute indoor air quality for hours after the vacuum
is turned off.
The scientific study showed that the Miele vacuum, with its Sealed System
engineering, equipped with a unique AirClean Filter-bag and certified HEPA
filter, had significantly lower rates of particle emissions than competitive
models. The vacuums captured and retained over 99.9 percent of harmful and
lung-damaging irritants, making them a serious cleaning tool for maintaining
an allergy-friendly environment.
For more information, visit www.mieleusa.com.
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For Eye Injuries At Home
(NAPSI)-Homeowners are busy with home improvements year-round, yet many
people fail to take the proper precautions to protect their eyes from
Nearly 1.5 million eye injuries in the United States occur annually in the
home, despite the fact that 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented
by using protective eyewear. Eye injuries most often occur when people are in
Eye injuries in the home can be prevented by taking the following steps:
• Remind family members to put on safety glasses when starting a
• Check the lawn for debris that could potentially become
projectiles before starting yard work.
• Keep a pair or two of protective glasses around the house in
places that will remind you to wear them.
For more information regarding eye safety, download The Vision Council's,
Eye Safety At-a-Glance Protecting Your Vision at Home, available at www.thevisioncouncil.org/consumers.
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Tips To Help
You Plan A Smooth Move
(NAPSI)-Some say it's a period of time that's worse than rush hour or tax
time. What is it? It's moving season.
Each year, 40 million Americans move, with half of all moves taking place
between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Although the average American moves 12
times in a lifetime, it never gets easy.
HGTV's Libby Langdon and David Gregg--she is a home design expert; he's a
new-product specialist--say "moving stress" stems from a lack of
planning and preparation.
"Nobody likes to move; it's a complete upheaval of your life,"
said Gregg. Both agree that by incorporating the right technology with the
right design elements, you can eliminate much of the stress.
Here are their tips:
Clear Out The Clutter
Gregg suggests that moving is a great time for introducing new
technologies to organize and de-stress your living environment.
"The average person has five to six remotes sitting around on the
coffee table," he said. "Moving is a perfect time to clear out the
clutter and get rid of them all, except for one. Upgrading to a universal
remote can help; they've gotten a lot simpler to both program and use."
Hide The High Tech
Also, Gregg recommends hiding all your tech equipment behind closed doors
or in other, less-traveled rooms. By using a device called a radio frequency
extender, you can keep your DVD player and other electronics hidden and still
operate them from up to 100 feet away.
Create A Familiar Feeling
As a designer, Langdon believes the key to a seamless move is to focus on
creating the feeling from your old house in your new home. She notes this can
be done in a number of economical ways.
"Think vertically when it comes to your drapes and hang them where
the wall meets the ceiling instead of at the top of your window frame,"
said Langdon. "This draws your eyes upward, making the ceiling seem
higher and your rooms feel bigger."
Update With Paint
Langdon also points out that when it comes to paint, people tend to be
fearful of picking the wrong color.
"Painting your walls is an inexpensive way to update the look of a
room with your existing furniture," said Langdon.
Creature Comforts First
Above all, Gregg and Langdon say you can eliminate a great deal of
moving-related angst by making sure creature comforts, such as your cable
television, your Internet and your phone services, are transferred prior to
your move. You can even schedule this transfer at no cost at www.cablemover.com, where you'll find
additional tech and design tips to "smooth your move."
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To Declutter Your Closets
(NAPSI)-In your household, what's the most difficult area to keep
organized? If you answered "bedroom closets," then you're with the
Seasonal bedding, clothing and shoes, limited closet space and people's
general reluctance to purge old or unused items all lead to our closets being
a constant mess. Here are some tips for taking control of your closets:
1. Purge and Donate Regularly. Don't let old or unused items take up
precious space in your closet. A useful rule of thumb is anything that hasn't
been used in the past year needs to be donated. There's somebody your size
out there who can use your old outfits, so pass them along and cut the closet
clutter. Your donation is probably tax deductible, too.
2. Store Off-Season Clothing and Bedding. Why let your winter coats and
extra bedding crowd out your summer dresses and lighter blankets, and vice
versa? Season-specific items don't need to take up space in your closet
year-round. Use spring and fall cleaning seasons as opportunities to move
seasonal items into another storage area. If extra storage space is at a
premium, you can store clothing and extra bedding under your bed, or in the garage, attic and basement by packing them
in Space Bag vacuum-seal storage packs. These packs not only compress items
enough to triple your storage space, they protect from dirt, dust, moisture,
mildew and odors, so you can store them almost anywhere.
3. Maximize Storage Space. If your closet's cluttered appearance is due to
a lack of space, there are easy ways to make the most of the space you have.
Hanging a second rod below your closet's original hanging rod will give you
plenty of extra space to hang shorter items. You can hang shelves in the
upper half of your closet to accommodate folded items, and if shoes are
taking over your closet, consider an over-door or under-bed organizer.
Need More Help? Check out the Space Bag Clean That Closet Challenge for the
chance to win $1,000 toward helping you get organized and a consultation with
a professional organizer. To learn more about the contest and for more tips
on how to tackle organization challenges all around your home, visit www.SpaceSaversCommunity.com.
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