To Cut Your Home Energy Bills
(NAPSI)-Think of the electric bills those poor souls living in much of the
East Coast must have run up recently. Even if you didn't sweat through those record-breaking,
100-plus-degree days yourself, it should've been a reminder of the one thing
every homeowner needs to know: If you really want to cut down on your own
costs--and who doesn't in this economy?--look skyward.
To your roof, that is.
During the home-buying frenzy, one of the more popular statistics thrown
around was how a roof represents about 40 percent or more of a home's
"curb appeal" to potential buyers. That's still true. Less
discussed, though, was how the components of the entire roofing system--particularly
the shingles and proper attic ventilation--can actually save you big bucks
year-round on both your cooling and heating bills.
"In the summer, I've seen some attics get so hot the shingles
actually fry," says JoAnne Liebeler, former co-host of PBS's "Home-Time."
How hot might that be? Without the right intake and exhaust vents in your
roof, shingles can reach temperatures hotter than 160 degrees.
"Moisture can seriously reduce the effectiveness of your
insulation," says Liebeler. "That means higher energy bills--and
who needs that?"
Okay, so now that you know why yours may be among the nine out of 10 homes
in North America that have been needlessly feeding the utility companies'
profits, here's what you need to do to fix it:
Check the insulation levels in your attic. Find out the current building
codes in your area and make sure that your attic contains at least the
minimum recommended levels. Updating would immediately help maintain
Embrace the new world of shingles. Liebeler is high on the Timberline Cool
Series line of shingles from GAF Materials Corporation (www.gaf.com), North
America's largest roofing manufacturer, which can shave another
7 to 15 percent, on average, off your air-conditioning costs thanks to its
new reflective technology. Plus, since both the white and color shingles are
Energy Star qualified--traditionally, only white got that nod--you could be
eligible for a tax credit to boot.
• Think ridge vents. They may not sound sexy, but they can help
remove excess heat and moisture when installed on a roof's peak. The same
applies to solar-powered, roof-mounted attic fans, which have a higher
"sexy" factor. And remember that intake venting is required for
your ridge vents to work properly.
In the meantime, you just have to get by the old-fashioned way: Close your
shutters and blinds when the sun streams in.
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Selecting Energy-Efficient Lighting
Home Just Got Easier
(NAPSI)-With so many lighting choices on the shelf at your local retail store,
it's not always easy to decide whether you should replace your burned-out
bulb with an incandescent, halogen, LED or other style. One variety that's
growing in popularity is energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL)
bulbs. Take GE's quick course on CFLs to better understand the facts, myths
and more and to learn how smart lighting choices can be one of the easiest
ways to save on energy costs.
Lesson One: The Basics
CFL stands for compact fluorescent light, but more importantly, it serves
as an energy-efficient bulb that uses two-thirds less energy, produces 70
percent less heat and lasts up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent
bulbs. While a standard incandescent bulb uses heat to produce light, a CFL
creates light using an entirely different method that is four times more
This means that you can buy a 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb that
produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt regular incandescent bulb.
Unlike the first models, modern CFLs don't produce the same flickering,
humming or dim light when initially turned on. CFLs also come in a variety of
wattages, shapes and sizes to deliver the same light as a standard bulb and
fit almost any fixture in the house.
Lesson Two: The Types
CFLs are ideal for everyday lighting. They can replicate cool, natural
light or simulate midday sunlight for warm, comfortable lighting. Most CFLs
are available in three-way and dimmable bulbs for adjustable light levels and
provide application versatility with a host of bulb options including
floodlights, chandelier, ceiling fans, globes, corkscrew-shaped and even
outdoor post lights.
One newer CFL option is a covered or incandescent-shaped bulb, such as GE
Energy Smart® CFL bulbs, where a corkscrew-shaped CFL is covered with glass
to give the appearance of a standard incandescent bulb. Covered CFL bulbs can
be seen as more aesthetically pleasing and fit in more lamps and fixtures
than standard corkscrew-shaped bulbs.
Lesson Three: The Applications
Lighting plays as big a role in home design as furniture, wall paint or
appliances. There are three main types of lighting: ambient (general
overhead), task and accent (decorative). CFL bulbs can be used for all of
these lighting functions to enhance the mood, improve visibility and offer
energy savings. Since color is key in home design, select CFLs that filter
out dull yellow rays and make colors "pop," such as GE Reveal® CFL bulbs,
which can help bring out patterns that may go unnoticed under ordinary incandescent
The tutorial doesn't end here--there's much more you can learn about CFLs
or lighting design by visiting Whatsyourlightingstyle.com.
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Attic Gives Year-Round Benefits
(NAPSI)-The blazing heat of the sun can raise the temperature of a roof to
as high as 190 degrees during the summer. For years, solar-panel makers have
been harnessing that energy to reduce and supplement the use of traditional
energy sources like coal, electricity and natural gas.
Now that same technology is being used to reduce some of the heat that
makes it from the roof into your attic. New solar attic vents can not only
cut cooling costs but may prolong the life of your roof. Proper ventilation
may extend the life of roof shingles and can help prevent ice dams. And solar
models accomplish it all without using any energy except what the vent
collects from the sun each day.
The solar vents start collecting energy as soon as the sun rises and can
operate from dawn to dusk without any other power source from the homeowners.
The latest versions of these solar-powered vents are made from durable
materials including tempered glass and UV-stabilized ABS color-dyed plastic.
Newer models can also be painted to match the roof color.
If you decide to install a solar attic fan, you may want to follow these
tips from the experts at TAMKO Building Products, Inc.:
• Make sure your attic is adequately vented as it can be the key to
an energy-efficient home. In the winter, allowing a natural flow of outdoor
air to ventilate the attic helps keep it cold, which reduces the potential
for ice damming (snow that melts off a roof from an attic that is too warm
and then refreezes at the gutters, causing an ice dam that can damage the
In warmer weather, natural airflow in a well-vented attic moves
superheated air out of the attic, removing moisture and protecting roof
• Don’t block the flow of air. Attic fans are intended to cool
hot attics by drawing in cooler outside air from attic vents and pushing hot
air to the outside. If your attic has blocked soffit vents and is not well
sealed from the rest of the house, attic fans will suck cool, conditioned air
up out of the house and into the attic. This will use more energy and make
your air conditioner work harder, which can increase your utility bill.
• You don’t have to forgo aesthetics. When buying a solar
vent, look for one that can get the most out of the sun while preserving the
aesthetics of the house. Look for a heavy-duty, whisper-quiet motor. The
TAMKO Solar Attic Vent features a 20-watt solar panel that ventilates up to
1,600 square feet and can be placed out of the line of sight while still
absorbing plenty of the sun’s rays.
For more information, visit www.TAMKO.com
or call (800) 641-4691.
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Shades To Create A Softer Look
(NAPSI)-A growing number of decorators are using complex neutral shades to
create a look that they say is not too bold and not too loud, but just right.
Running the gamut from the grays, khakis and beiges that most people
associate with neutrals, to some surprisingly deep and rich colors--such as
pinot noir purple or cappuccino brown--they are softer colors that whisper
quietly and blend seamlessly into a space.
Complex neutrals are created by adding gray tint to the paint, resulting
in hues that are veiled, misty and chameleonlike. They react to other colors
present in a room and can vary in appearance based on the lighting
conditions. This flexibility helps neutrals to blend seamlessly with the
variety of fabrics, flooring, furniture and colors that are already in a
Only Use White If You Mean It
Oftentimes, homeowners are looking for a neutral to create the perfect
atmosphere but end up defaulting to white. According to color expert Dee
Schlotter from PPG Pittsburgh Paints, The Voice of Color, "White should
only be intentional." Schlotter says that when the use of white is not
intentional, it can make a room look unfinished. "Instead of using white
or being overwhelmed by selecting a bold, bright color, homeowners should try
a complex neutral," says Schlotter.
Additional Tips On Color
Homeowners can consider the following tips when choosing a color:
• Pick paint color last--Select paint color based on everything that
is in a room: furniture, floors, tiles, curtains, etc. Selecting the wrong
paint color is easy to correct--just paint over it--while the wrong granite
countertop, carpet or furniture is more difficult to change.
• To make a room and space cohesive, use colors at least twice. This
will help to merge the walls, furniture, accessories and flooring.
• Our response to color is subjective and comes from our life
experiences and emotional associations, so select the colors that are
personal to create the right atmosphere.
To find your color personality, try the online color tools at www.voiceofcolor.com.
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To Buy A New Home
(NAPSI)-Increasingly, to get the home of their dreams, homebuyers are
purchasing a newly constructed home.
With advances in design and construction coupled with low mortgage rates
and historically low prices, many shoppers are finding new-construction homes
offer an opportunity to get more for their dollar.
With the affordability of new construction today, buyers are increasingly
weighing the benefits of new vs. resale homes. With that in mind, the experts
at Pulte Homes share the top five reasons buyers are choosing new:
1. Customization and decoration. One of the biggest advantages of buying a
new home is the ability to decorate it from the beginning exactly the way you
want. As the homeowner, you set the rules. Just ask Ashley and Steven
Kitzberger, who bypassed 15 used homes before purchasing a new home in Pulte
Homes’ Montrose Park community in Copley
Township, a suburb of Akron, Ohio.
Their deciding factor? The ability to hand-select interior finishes and
“We really liked being able to pick out our cabinets, countertops
and flooring and having everything just the way we wanted it when we moved
in,” said Ashley Kitzberger. “We also purchased a new home
because of the floor plans, which were open, airy and made good use of the
space within the home. Nine-foot ceilings were also standard, which is
something we wanted and were not able to find in many older homes.”
2. Latest architectural designs and modernization. According to Scott
Thomas, national director of product development for Pulte Homes, as consumer
trends and tastes evolve, home builders can nimbly respond with new floor
plans that provide open kitchens, great rooms and walk-in closets to
accommodate customers’ needs and even provide customization in many
cases. Said Thomas, “People’s lifestyles are different today,
especially given how much technology has impacted the way we use space.”
3. Energy efficiency. Advances in key components such as windows, heating
and cooling systems and insulation mean that new homes consume roughly half
as much energy as homes built prior to 1980. This translates into lower
utility bills, higher resale value and a more eco-friendly home.
4. Builder warranty. Reputable builders will provide a builder warranty
when you purchase a new home, which is a commitment that materials and
workmanship are warranted for a specific period of time after closing. The
warranty typically covers the overall structure, mechanical systems and other
elements of the home. Warranty periods can last up to 10 years.
5. Better quality and value. New homes require less maintenance and offer
the quality of advanced building materials, such as roofing, flooring,
plumbing fixtures and countertops, with enhanced performance characteristics
and lower maintenance costs.
For more information, visit www.pultehomes.com
or call (866) 460-0553.
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Solution To Building A Garden Wall
(NAPSI)-Homeowners looking to introduce color, texture and unique design
elements to a house’s exterior may consider building an accent or
garden wall. Fortunately, if the thought of a block-and-mortar wall seems a
little daunting, there’s an easier solution.
Using dry-stacked concrete blocks and a surface-bonding cement, it can be
easier than many homeowners realize to build a low-maintenance, affordable
The one-coat application of Quikrete Quikwall Surface Bonding Cement
provides structural strength and a textured “stucco” finish. The
Surface Bonding Cement is also excellent for rehabilitating and waterproofing
unpainted concrete walls.
Adding color to the wall can be simple with a liquid pigment additive
available in 20 standard color choices, Quikrete Stucco & Mortar Color,
that can be added to the mixing water during the mixing process.
To build the wall:
• Begin with the construction of a footing slab. Once the footing
has cured, dry-lay the first block row on top of the footing and chalk mark
the block positions using a level and mason’s line for accuracy.
• Remove the blocks and apply a 1-inch-thick bed of prepared
surface-bonding cement on the footing to bond the first course to the footing
and correct any irregularities. The mix should be stiff enough to support the
weight of the first row of blocks.
• Place the first row, embedding the block to the mortar bed, to a
final thickness of about ⅜ inch. Remove any excess material.
• Check the alignment and level after positioning every three to
• Start the second course with a half-block to create a “running
bond” pattern. Continue dry-stacking the remaining blocks to the
desired height; nonstructural dry-stack construction can go as high as six to
eight feet for privacy.
• Add a cap block to the top course of block. For additional
strength, fill the cavities with something such as Quikrete Concrete Mix.
• After dampening with a fine spray, apply an ⅛-inch-thick coating
of surface bonding cement to the sides, top and exposed ends of the concrete
block wall with a finishing trowel. Trowel to desired texture or finish.
• Moist-cure the wall after eight hours by dampening with a fine
spray. Repeat spraying several times daily for three days.
For detailed application instructions or additional project ideas, visit www.quikrete.com.
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Outdoor Living Season With A Dream Deck
(NAPSI)-While most people think about outdoor entertaining during the
spring or early summer months, the late summer or cooler seasons can be a great
time to transform a blah backyard into an outdoor oasis with the addition of
a beautiful deck.
Here are a few tips to help.
• Keep Your Cool--Installing decking and railing involves spending a large
amount of time in the great outdoors--especially if you've decided to handle
the labor yourself. Try to arrange to do the work when the temperature is
• Score a Deal--Taking the time to obtain price quotes from various
contractors may pay off with a substantial cost savings on labor. Just be
sure to ultimately select a reputable professional to tackle your
installation. To help, Trex Company, the nation's largest manufacturer of
wood-alternative decking, railing and fencing products, recommends
contractors with extensive training and product knowledge. Homeowners may
locate an experienced TrexPro® on www.trex.com.
• Look for Low Maintenance--If you want to spend more time enjoying--rather
than maintaining--your deck, choose materials that keep a "like
new" appearance for decades without the harsh chores of sanding,
staining and sealing. Wood-alternative decking such as the new Trex
Transcend™ can endure harsh weather and heavy foot traffic. It will even
stand up to BBQ stains, dropped grill tools and other cookout mishaps.
"For long-lasting beauty, choose high-performance decking that offers
the natural looks of wood while resisting staining and fading," says
Adam Zabanini, director of marketing for Trex. "Also, be sure to look
for decking that may be purchased with a complementary railing--which allows
for a customized look and sets it apart from others in the
• Prepare for Rough Weather--Homeowners with wood decks need to wash,
stain and seal--a process that can take several days. If you have a wood-alternative
deck, however, you'll simply need to do a basic cleaning with soap and hot
water--or a mild deck cleanser. Use a plastic rather than a metal shovel to
remove any snow from your deck and calcium chloride or rock salt to melt any
ice collected on the surface.
For more inspiration and information to create the deck of your dreams,
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Upgrades Can Extend Outdoor Fun
(NAPSI)--Cooler weather can be a great time to transform a patio or deck
into a cozy space to relax with family or entertain friends. Propane appliances
such as patio heaters, fire pits and lighting extend warm-weather fun, while
their portability and range of prices make it easy to customize an outdoor
space to fit any lifestyle or budget.
“As families look for ways to spend more quality time at home,
outdoor areas are becoming a natural extension of a home’s living
space,” says Stuart Flatow, vice president,
safety and training, Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “With
careful planning and safety in mind, simple upgrades offer year-round
Handy homeowners who are budget-minded may want to take on their outdoor
room redo as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. Before getting started, assess
your skills, patience, time and budget and decide when to bring in a
professional. To ensure a smooth process, PERC offers a helpful list of dos
• Do establish a budget
ahead of time, with a 10 percent cushion for unexpected expenses.
• Do conduct a background
check before hiring a professional.
• Do keep outdoor propane
appliances clear of flammables and away from structures.
• Do make sure the gas is
turned off during installation and check for leaks before operating.
• Do have a qualified
service technician inspect your outdoor appliances annually.
• Don’t install an
outdoor appliance indoors—or vice versa.
• Don’t assemble
appliances with propane cylinders yourself unless you’ve read the
manual and are prepared to follow all instructions.
• Don’t move a
portable appliance such as a heater or grill while it’s in use.
• Don’t store or
place a propane cylinder indoors, or in an enclosed area such as a basement,
garage, shed or tent.
Visit usepropane.com for more tips on
safely incorporating propane appliances into your outdoor remodel projects.
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