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Geothermal Cooling Energy Savings Appliance Updates Color Palettes Protect Your Home Prevent Fire Solar Power Green Heating and Cooling

Geothermal Cooling Systems: Quiet And Cost Efficient

(NAPSI)-Here's hot news: Geothermal heating and cooling systems not only save you money, they allow for more peace and quiet at home. Unlike ordinary air conditioners or heat pumps, there's no noisy outdoor unit to disturb your environment or your neighbors. Geothermal systems are designed and constructed for "whisper quiet" operation, similar to your refrigerator.

In addition, they provide precise distribution of comfortable air all year long, eliminating hot and cold spots. Using a series of underground pipes called a "loop", a geothermal system removes heat energy from the earth to heat your home. In hot weather, the system delivers cool, dehumidified air by pulling heat out of the building and depositing it back into the cooler earth. The ground maintains a steady temperature because it absorbs 47 percent of the sun's energy as it hits the Earth's surface. Geothermal systems are designed to use that free energy just under the surface.

Geothermal systems are easy to install, especially when replacing a forced-air system. They're also good in areas unsuitable for fossil fuel furnaces because there's no combustion, and therefore no need to vent exhaust gases. Most systems don't need much maintenance beyond a periodic check and filter changes. According to the experts at WaterFurnace, a leading manufacturer of geothermal cooling and heating equipment, homeowners with geothermal systems can anticipate an average system life span of more than 24 years, along with less maintenance and lower life cycle costs than a traditional system.

Geothermal systems can also supplement your hot water by capturing the unwanted heat from your home and using it to preheat water in a storage tank.

A geothermal system may mean higher resale values when it's time to sell. Many real estate agents now list homes as "ecocertified," which can mean 12 percent more than noncertified homes, according to a report by the non-profit Earth Advantage Institute at www.earthadvantage.com.

Many homeowners can even get a tax credit for installing a geothermal system. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides a one-time tax credit of 30 percent of the total investment for homeowners who install residential ground loop or groundwater geothermal heat pumps. To qualify, the systems must meet or exceed Energy Star requirements. Units installed through 2016 can take full advantage of the credit.

To learn more, visit www.waterfurnace.com or call (800) GEO-SAVE.

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Newer Appliances Can Offer Energy Savings

(NAPSI)-There's good news for those looking for ways to cut energy spending around the home. Experts say replacing older home appliances is the most practical and effective step a homeowner can take to reduce energy consumption.

For example, replacing an eight-year-old refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer with new appliances of average efficiency will save consumers about $95.00 per year in energy bills. In most cases, the savings over the life of the appliance will more than pay for the cost of the new appliance.

Cleaning Up On Savings

Replacing an eight-year-old clothes washer will save more than $60.00 in electricity costs and nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year. Additional energy can be saved through the following tips:

• Take advantage of your dishwasher's "eco" option that reduces water use, or use a no-heat air dry feature.

• Use load-size settings. If you are washing a small load of clothing, be sure to change the load setting. Use cold water settings whenever possible.

• Always clean the lint filter on the clothes dryer after each use. A clogged filter can reduce dryer performance.

A Cooler Way To Save

Energy consumption in refrigerators continued to decline in 2009 with new refrigerators using an average of 450 kWh per year, over 50 percent less than units made in 1990. These easy tips will help you save more money:

• Allow hot foods to cool before placing them in the refrigerator, and always cover foods that may release moisture in the refrigerator.

• Limit opening the refrigerator and freezer doors. Label foods or use clear food storage bags to easily identify foods.

If you are looking to purchase a new appliance, consider an ENERGY STAR model. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to identify energy-efficient products that will help you save on your energy bills without sacrificing the quality of the product. These appliances will help save 10−20 percent more energy than a non−ENERGY STAR model. Visit the ENERGY STAR website to find rebates or special offers available in your area. You may also find recycling incentives for the proper disposal of old products.

For more information on energy savings, visit www.aham.org/consumer.

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Hot Tips For Kitchen Remodels, Appliance Updates

(NAPSI)-When thinking kitchen redesign, it's important to remember that your appliances speak louder than words-even if they're quiet as a whisper. The average appliance life span is more than 10 years and reflects both home and personal style. Whether you're looking to get better organized, go green, streamline, or impress friends and family, today's appliances offer innovative design and advanced technology to help improve overall style, performance and quality of life.

When preparing for a remodel or refresh, consider appliances with features that make sense for your lifestyle for the perfect fit.

• Sleek Design--While stainless steel offers high design, it does not work with every kitchen's style. Consider appliance features such as interior LED lighting and LCD control panels for a sleek finish.

• Sound--Quiet operations help appliances, especially dishwashers, better blend into the home and provide a peaceful atmosphere when in use.

• Freezer Space--If you max out space in your freezer, consider drawers for enhanced organization, with Tilt-N-Take functionality for quick access to frequently used items. If you prefer a side-by-side refrigerator, in-door icemakers are sure to add freezer space.

• Space Savers--Look for appliances that maximize space, like dishwashers with a third drawer for long cookware or refrigerators with SlideAway Shelves to better organize and store oddly-sized items.

• Sustainable--EnergyStar-qualified appliances are hot as Americans look to cool their carbon footprint and make a difference. Ensure that your appliance can provide energy-, money- or water-saving benefits.

• Fresh-Food Kitchen--Culinary fever is on the rise and, in turn, so are appliances that boast restaurant-quality features. This might include convection functionality in the oven or the right refrigerator crisper to extend the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables. Look for models with Airtight Moisture Lock to retain moisture and keep produce fresher longer.

Kenmore eases the kitchen remodel process with refreshed style and innovation to meet many needs and lifestyles. The new Kenmore Elite Trio refrigerator offers 28 cubic feet of usable interior space, more than other leading brands, in addition to advanced style with an LCD display, intuitive SmoothTouch controls and interior LED lighting. Additionally, Kenmore Elite dishwashers feature exclusive 360º PowerWash™ Technology and an advanced LCD screen that combines sleek design with top performance. Options like this ensure that the various home needs are met without sacrificing kitchen space or personal style.

Learn More

You can learn more online at www.kenmore.com.

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Create A Warm And Welcoming Home-Inside And
Out-With Time-Saving Products

(NAPSI)-Creating the right color palette for your home can be simple, fun and personally satisfying. A few hints can help your home look outstanding outside and in.

Here are some things to consider before picking a new paint color from design trend forecaster and color expert Erika Woelfel, director of color at Behr Paints:

• If your house's exterior is mostly painted in subdued hues, the front door can be a great place for a splash of color. Consider red, yellow or electric blue. Visitors will have no trouble finding your house.

• Window trim in pure white adds a refreshing quality to dark exterior colors.

• Surrounding your home with the natural beauty of lush plants and formal gardens can add a soft touch of graciousness.

• It's a bright idea to remember sunlight affects the appearance of a color. Intense sunlight will make the color on a house appear more vibrant. Light colors can often look washed out in bright sunshine as well. To give your home a more stately appearance in direct light, try working with colors that are a little more muted or earthy in tone.

• Indoors, lighting can give colors a warm glow, an energetic brightness or a muted softness. Too much light can wash out colors, while too little makes colors appear darker.

• Consider color combinations. Choose your main wall color, then experiment with varying trim and accent colors. Create different palettes of two or three colors each, then determine which is most pleasing. Get paint samples of each color and paint a small area of the room.

One way to easily change the colors of your home is with a product that's paint and primer in one, Behr Premium Plus Ultra, available in both interior and exterior. Because the paint covers existing or uncoated surfaces without a separate primer, you save time and effort.

Formulated to deliver outstanding coverage, the paint uses NanoGuard technology for a denser and more durable paint film. When dry, the exterior product forms an extra-protective shell that resists damage from sunlight, moisture and dirt.

Additionally, all interior sheens resist penetration by common household stains and abrasions, so spills and marks are easier to wipe off and clean.

The paints are low-VOC. The line, including 8-oz. sample sizes in a flat finish, is available exclusively at The Home Depot stores nationwide. Samples like these make it easy to select new colors for your home.

For an engaging living space inspired by the colors of summer, construct a palette around warm shades.

For example:

• Capture the energy of the sun by painting your walls a fiery yellow shade or bring the serenity of a beautiful cloudless day indoors by applying a brilliant blue.

• Peach is a welcoming color, and using it in your home creates an inviting space that is great for family time and entertaining.

• Aquamarine accents add vibrancy to a soft palette, giving a room a lively yet relaxed feel.

• A subtle and delicate presence is created by using soft pink as an accent trim against pale white walls. Soft pink brings a romantic and charming feel.

You can find more information and advice in the Design Library at www.behr.com.

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Your Home's Exterior: The First Line Of Defense
Against Mother Nature

(NAPSI)-Huge fires scorch hundreds of thousands of acres in the United States every year, causing billions in damage-much of that in the form of homes lost. Hailstorms, from Colorado across the Plains, exact a toll that annually costs homeowners millions in repairs. And, along the Gulf Coast , there are many reminders of how hurricanes impact homes, both from wind and floods. No matter where a home is located, there's a pretty good chance that it will face Mother Nature's fury at some point.

Giving a home a fighting chance against natural disaster starts with exterior cladding. Of course, nothing is going to survive 100-year floods, being in the center of a firestorm, baseball-sized hail or sustained 170 mph winds, but, for everything else, careful consideration of a home's siding is critical to withstanding "lesser" disasters. People tend to immediately think of a heavy, solid material as the best protection. For example, brick would seem a logical choice, given its resistance to fire and impact, but it suffers structurally from moisture exposure and freeze/thaw, which are issues in much of the country-and it's very expensive. In fact, most traditional siding materials require some sort of trade-off.

Practical, Beautiful Protection

Over the last 20 years, a different material has emerged as a builder favorite for exteriors. Fiber cement is widely used because of its noncombustibility rating and use in several one-hour fire-resistance-rated wall assemblies, in addition to being rated to withstand 150 mph winds and earning a FEMA Class 5 flood resistance rating. It's as beautiful as it is durable, too, designed to closely mimic the look of wood.

Since 2007, a national survey by Builder magazine has consistently rated James Hardie fiber cement siding products No. 1 in the U.S.; more than 4 million homes are clad in James Hardie siding. In addition to providing highly rated disaster protection, the company's products are engineered for climate, meaning they perform best in specific climate conditions, called HardieZones. The HZ5 product line, formulated for the upper half of North America, is optimized to protect against freezing temperatures, snow, ice and moisture and maintains its dimensional stability under severe weather conditions. The HZ10 product line, designed for North America's lower half, is resistant to moisture damage, cracking, splitting, rotting, swelling, salt air and high winds. Both are resistant to termites and flame.

"One well-prepared house with HardiePlank and boxed eaves survived, and houses on either side didn't," said Chief Kevin Dubler, of California's Julian Fire Department, referring to a home that survived the record-setting blaze that ravaged San Diego County in 2003. "That tells you something about the product."

James Hardie siding looks remarkably like wood and is available with ColorPlus Technology-a multicoat, baked-on paint finish applied at the factory that lasts twice as long as traditionally applied paint. The siding also comes with a 30-year, nonprorated, transferable product warranty and the ColorPlus is warranted for 15 years.

Learn More

For more information about James Hardie products and real-life examples of how they have helped homes survive fire, flood, hail and hurricane, visit www.jameshardie.com/homeowner/whyJamesHardie.shtml or call (877) 336-2339 for a free brochure.

The inside scoop on how to give your home a fighting chance against natural disasters can start with the outside-fiber cement can be an attractive way to protect your home.

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Enforcing Building Codes Provides
A Solid Defense In Wildfire Zones

(NAPSI)-When wildfires sweep the western U.S. , bone-dry conditions contribute to their start and spread as much as human carelessness. Construction companies building in wildfire zones have two effective weapons: building codes and fire-resistant materials. The greater the risk and the higher the number of people utilizing the building, the higher the level of fire resistance generally required.

Exterior walls are a concern when a building is being designed to resist fire. To satisfy fire codes for the exterior walls of buildings, builders can choose materials including steel, concrete, cement block, brick and mortar, gypsum wallboard and, in some cases, fire-retardant treated wood (FRT).

Gypsum and FRT introduce drawbacks, however. Gypsum is fragile, offers little strength and can mold when wet. FRT is engineered to fight flame spread by decomposition of the wood when exposed to heat; yet even before a fire, the chemicals in it can reduce the wood's strength. Chemicals in the treatment process are designed to form acids when heated, decomposing the wood before it catches fire; unfortunately, this chemical transformation can be activated prematurely by the sun's heat.

One Minnesota-based company, Barrier Technology Corporation, (www.intlbarrier.com), is building fire-resistive exterior walls and roof decks with wood-based structural panels treated not with chemicals but with an environmentally friendly, noncombustible laminate. The company's structural fire-rated wood panels use a patented, nontoxic, noncombustible coating that releases water in the heat of fire.

The coating, Pyrotite™, consists of materials including magnesium oxide that, when mixed with a salt- water brine and reinforced with fiberglass fibers, forms a noncombustible, ignition-resistant barrier. Two quarts of water per 4' x 8' panel become moisture only when exposed to a fire's intense heat. The water's release helps the panel resist burn-through, slows the spread of the flames and allows additional time for evacuation and firefighting department response. Also, the fiberglass-reinforced Pyrotite laminate increases the strength of the panel.

Dr. Michael Huddy, president and CEO of Barrier, says, "Pyrotite-treated panels have a noncombustible, ignition-resistant surface that will provide burn-through resistance nearly triple that of untreated wood panels. In addition, the coating is environmentally friendly, impact resistant and easy to handle and install."

As an increasing number of homes are built within wildfire zones across the western U.S., innovations like Pyrotite are steadily strengthening the ability of construction companies to fight against the flames.

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Innovation Takes Solar Power Mainstream

(NAPSI)-Energy efficiency is the topic du jour for many homeowners--especially with energy bills rising--and it's becoming easier for a homeowner to take control of heating and cooling costs.

One way to take control is to go solar. By installing solar panels, you protect yourself against future energy rate increases and add value to your home. In fact, The Appraisal Journal states that in the United States, a home's value increases about $20 for every $1 decrease in energy costs. Therefore, if solar panels decrease your energy bills by $1,000 a year, they could potentially increase your home's value by about $20,000.

Understanding solar systems need not be daunting. Here are the ABC's to get you on the path to saving money and lowering your energy bill:

About Solar Power

Solar power systems turn sunlight into electricity that is connected to your existing home electrical system--as well as the electric grid. It may surprise you to know that even on cloudy days, solar systems can generate electricity. Optimum electrical production occurs with bright and sunny weather conditions, but solar panels also work on cold, cloudy days because they work on light, not heat.

On sunny days, you not only benefit from using electricity directly from your solar system, but you also send electricity back to your provider, building credits that offset your nighttime electric use. At night, your home draws on utility company power, essentially using the electrical grid as a giant storage battery.

As a bonus, those credits you can generate on sunny days may roll over monthly. This means if you generate excess power during the summer and use more power during the winter, you can break even, and perhaps make some money.

Always keep in mind the shade around your home when installing solar panels. Look for a reputable installer who can work with you on designing rooftop installations to avoid structural shading so you can get a quicker return on your investment.

Benefits Without Disruption

All solar power panels are not created equal. One company offers innovative solar power systems that feature built-in technology that delivers safe AC power and provides consumers with what they are looking for most: high performance and reliability.

"We have always used revolutionary technology in our patented panels and are proud of their continued superior performance and dependability," said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse Solar. "Our panels are sleek and attractive. Most importantly, they come with the trusted backing and quality of a name synonymous with reliability."

Solar panels require little upkeep, which means you get the benefits of solar without disrupting your everyday life. The only maintenance they may require is a semiannual washing, accomplished by simply hosing them down. Some solar system manufacturers also offer computer-based real-time monitoring systems that allow you to track the performance of your system from any Web browser.

Cost Savings

Solar energy savings can be a smart investment, delivering inexpensive power to your home for years. Government programs can also offset up to 50 percent of a system through a variety of tax credits and rebates. Once installed, a solar power system can pay for itself in five to seven years.

To arrange a free, on-site solar evaluation of your home from a qualified solar representative, visit www.westinghousesolar.com.

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A Really Green Way To Cool And Heat A Home

(NAPSI)-A growing number of environmentally conscious home- owners are using a home energy system that really is considered down to earth.

They've installed a geothermal comfort system, considered by many to be one of the "greenest" ways to cool and heat a home. By installing this type of system, homeowners can save energy, lower their heating and cooling costs and help protect the environment by using renewable energy from the earth. Using such a system can also provide your home with hot water.

A geothermal home comfort system uses a series of pipes--called an earth loop--buried just below ground level to efficiently cool a home in the summer and provide heat in the winter. It is able to do this because the temperature belowground stays fairly consistent year-round, absorbing the sun's energy regardless of climate or season.

Geothermal systems can also generate free heat for hot water in the summer months. This is done by capturing the unwanted heat from your home and using it to preheat water in a storage tank.

Investment in geothermal systems can contribute to the growth of renewable energy and homegrown energy solutions. And because geothermal systems utilize the free renewable supply of energy found in homeowners' backyards, the use of geothermal reduces U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

It also makes it possible for homeowners to reduce both their carbon footprint and their utility bills. According to the experts at WaterFurnace, a leading manufacturer of geothermal cooling and heating equipment, the energy savings provided by one of their geothermal systems can be as much as 70 percent compared to using a traditional system.

In addition, geothermal systems don't emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or other greenhouse gases that are considered to be major contributors to environmental air pollution. This can help to reduce a homeowner's carbon footprint.

To learn how you can take advantage of renewable geothermal energy, visit www.waterfurnace.com or call (800) GEO-SAVE.

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