Gunning Daily News

Heating with Oil? Mind ECC's Late Winter Safety Tips

March 18, 2013 5:36 pm

March 20 may be the first day of spring, but many parts of the country continue to face winter's wrath.

So as we look tentatively toward spring and the warmer weather it promises, the heating oil industry’s Energy Communications Council (ECC) wants homeowners remember a few important points to help stay warm and safe during extreme weather.

With that in mind, the ECC presents the following tips:
1. Make sure you have an adequate heating oil supply in case roads may be inaccessible for delivery. Consider automatic delivery, which allows retailers to use computerized systems signaling them when tank volumes are low and need to be refilled.
2. If consumers have an in-ground tank, ensure that fill pipes are clearly marked and readily accessible for oil heat delivery drivers. A thin wire stake with a colored flag inserted into the ground next to fill pipes can work well. The marker should be higher than the average snow cover depth for your area.
3. Keep heating vents clear and make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are installed in your home. If a vent is obstructed, an appliance may malfunction and create a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.
4. If oil heat tanks are located behind a home or business, consumers should ensure that fence gates can be opened and there is a clear path for deliveries. A hundred foot heating oil hose can weigh more than 100 pounds.
5. For above-ground outdoor tanks, large amounts of debris, snow or ice sliding from roofs have the potential to damage heating fuel lines. Consumers should try to safely clear and debris, snow or ice buildup from the areas above their fuel lines, before damage occurs.
6. For a permanent solution to potential winter weather hazards, many oil heat dealers sell weatherproof enclosures for outdoor tanks.
7. After a storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the entire area for any damage to an outdoor oil heat tank. Immediately call your local heating oil dealer if you suspect that any hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

More information is available at www.HeatingNews.org.

Make Your Home Green and Beautiful

March 18, 2013 5:36 pm

(Family Features)—When it comes to improving your home, it's easier than ever to make eco-friendly choices that save you money, are better for the environment and make your home more beautiful. Here are a few easy ways you can go green all over the house.

Light it Up - As you make the switch from incandescent bulbs, it's important to look for a bulb that will not only conserve energy and save money, but that gives you the kind of illumination you want. Look for an alternative with even light distribution, such as 3M LED Advanced Light. It lights up a room as beautifully as you would expect, and lasts for 25 years, delivering energy efficiency without compromise. It uses one quarter of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb and can save you up to $140 worth of electricity over the bulb's lifetime. In addition, it contains no mercury and does not need special disposal. Learn more at www.3MLighting.com/LED.

Decorate with Recycled Materials - Whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or want to buy ready-made items, there are plenty of options that keep materials out of landfills. Look for furniture made from reclaimed wood, carpets made from recycled plastic, flooring made from sustainable resources such as bamboo or cork, and wallpaper made from managed timber sources. You can find glassware, dinner sets and accessories made from recycled glass, and textiles like curtains and blankets made from organic fibers.

Save Water with Style - Upgrading your water-using devices can help you use less water and save money. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that products with the WaterSense or EnergyStar labels will cut down on your water usage. For example, replacing faucets and aerators with WaterSense models can save you an average of 700 gallons of water per year. Replacing your showerhead could save 2,900 gallons of water per year, and a new toilet could save you 13,000 gallons of water per year. Look for the EnergyStar label on dishwashers and washing machines -- they can use up to half as much water and 40 percent less energy.

Clean Green - Keep your home sparkling clean with eco-friendly cleaners and detergents. Look for products with plant-based ingredients and that are free from artificial chemicals, colors and fragrances. And learn to make your own cleaners, too. Baking soda and vinegar are natural products with a lot of cleaning power.

Making some green improvements around your house is easier than you think -- and the payoff is a beautiful home and a better environment.

Source: Family Features

Money Matters: Lessons for Kids Age 7- 8

March 18, 2013 5:36 pm

Kids are full of curiosity, so it's only natural this curiosity would extend to money and finances. As kids approach ages seven and eight, they are in full learning mode and are interested in becoming more responsible for themselves. This is the perfect time begin bolstering their financial sensibility, if you haven’t already.

BMO Harris Bank recommends parents with kids in this age group start with these lessons:

Start saving. It's not uncommon for kids to receive money through either a small allowance or gifts, making it a great time to begin teaching the importance of saving money. Talk to your kids about what financial goals they have, such as buying a gift for a family member. Then, help them save small amounts of money toward it and track their progress. You may want to give a small reward each time a savings goal is reached.

After a larger amount is reached, you can go to the bank to open a savings account. Most kids think it's fun to come to the bank and for many of them it's the first time they've opened an account of any kind.

Learn the value of everyday items. Kids in this age group are ready to learn that everyday items, such as food, household items and toys, cost money. One of the best ways to teach this lesson is to use examples that are relevant to them. For example, if your son wants a new video game, you can help him find the cost and then figure out how much he needs to save to eventually purchase the game. It's also an opportunity to help your kids research the best bargains and in turn help them become smarter and more frugal with their money.

Spend monetary gifts responsibly. Whether it's a $20 gift or a $100 gift, you can use these amounts to teach kids the importance of dividing their money to achieve different financial goals. Instead of letting him or her spend 100 percent of the gift on toys, allow just 50 percent to be spent now, set aside 30 percent in a savings account and use 20 percent toward a charitable donation.

Consistent messages pay off

As a final point, it's important to provide kids with a consistent message about financial matters and setting an example on how to be responsible with money. Make sure both parents agree on the approach to speak and teach about money. Although parents may have different views about handling finances, with kids you need to make sure you are giving the same message.

Source: www.bmoharris.com

Word of the Day

March 18, 2013 5:36 pm

Prepayment penalty. Fee charged by the lender when a borrower repays the loan early.

Q: What Are the Specific Responsibilities of the Contractor vs. the Architect?

March 18, 2013 5:36 pm

A: Beyond having an architect create the design and the contractor implement it, both professionals have additional responsibilities. The contractor is responsible for pricing the project and ensuring that it is completed in a timely fashion. The architect is responsible for getting the construction drawing completed with proper specifications and architectural detail. Since many jurisdictions require architectural drawings to be reviewed to ensure the plans sufficiently meet local codes, the architect may also be responsible for applying for and securing the permits. Make sure that everyone, you included, understand who is responsible for what before work begins in your home.

Q: What Should I Consider when Redoing My Kitchen?

March 15, 2013 3:34 pm

Q: What Should I Consider when Redoing My Kitchen?

A:
It is tempting to discard existing appliances when you build new cabinets around them. Rethink the idea. If the appliances are workable, keep them – and save yourself from $1,000 to $5,000, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Also keep the present location of major fixtures, appliances and utilities relative to the plumbing, gas and electrical outlets. Rearranging plumbing, wiring and jacks can be very expensive. Refacing existing cabinets can reduce the cost of your kitchen remodel considerably and eliminate the need for new flooring, countertops and appliances. If you must get new cabinets, options such as spice racks and slide out wire baskets can be added later. Also, install cabinets without soffits to decrease labor cost; and avoid trim moldings, or use a simple trim. If you must have a new wood trim to match the new cabinets, order pre-finished trim to decrease labor cost; avoid having the painting or staining done on-site. Other helpful tips: choose neutral colors for fixtures, appliances and laminates and avoid the need for a new floor by sanding and refinishing a hardwood floor that may be underneath the existing vinyl flooring.

Word of the Day

March 15, 2013 3:34 pm

Refinance. To pay off one loan by taking out another on the same property.

Protect Young Eyes in the Technology Age

March 15, 2013 3:34 pm

(Family Features)--Whether it's a tablet with an educational purpose or a big screen displaying the latest video game, the use of electronic technology is skyrocketing among kids. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages eight to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours with electronics every day.

Unfortunately, all of that screen time can cause eye fatigue, and ultimately have an impact on your child's overall vision and eye health.

To view things closer, our eyes automatically adjust by drawing inward; our pupils get smaller to focus, and our eye muscles adjust so we can see a clear image. As a result, extended use of electronic screens can cause tired, blurry or irritated eyes.

Intense focus on a video screen also leads to a diminished blink rate, which can result in eye injuries.

Although there is no scientific evidence that computers and handheld electronic devices directly cause vision problems, using these devices wisely can help prevent eye fatigue and strain, as well as associated headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.

To help protect your child's vision, consider these tips from Ameritas, a leading provider of dental, vision and hearing care plans:

• Know that prolonged use of electronic devices can exacerbate underlying eye conditions, so electronics should be used in moderation. Limit screen time to two hours or less a day (including watching TV, playing video games and using mobile phones).
• Encourage intentional blinking while electronic devices are in use to help refresh eyes with natural moisture that helps prevent bacterial infections, dry spots and corneal breakdown.
• Reduce additional eye strain by managing glare from windows and using low-watt bulbs in light fixtures.
• Keep computer screens 20 to 28 inches away from the face.
• Practice a rule of 20s to give eyes a rest. Every 20 minutes, ask your child to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds before refocusing attention up close again.
• Move around and change positions periodically while using a device.
• Watch for signs of eyestrain while electronic devices are in use, such as squinting, frowning at the screen or rubbing eyes.

If vision problems or discomfort arise, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for a professional evaluation.

When taking into account time at the office in front of a computer screen, many adults regularly use electronic devices for as long as, or even longer than, their children. Following the same advice not only sets a good example, but it can help protect your own eye health.

Source: www.ameritasinsight.com.

Five Home Improvements for the Love of Spring

March 15, 2013 3:34 pm

(BPT) - Improved value, curb appeal and livability are the benchmarks for any smart home improvement. But some upgrades you do for the sheer joy of it. The best home improvements deliver all those smart qualities and speak to your heart at the same time.

With spring home improvement season approaching, here are five home improvements that you can do for the love of spring - and the love of your biggest investment:

Add/replace a skylight
Abundant natural light and fresh air are among the joys of spring, and replacing an old, energy-inefficient skylight, or adding one where none existed before, is a great way to welcome sunlight and spring breezes into your home. Sunlight's positive effect on mood is well-documented, and adding a fresh-air skylight, which comes with a screen, offers other health benefits as well. Opt for an energy saving solar powered fresh-air skylight and you can enjoy the benefits of passive ventilation to reduce humidity and stale air in your home along with more natural light.

From a practical standpoint, installing an Energy Star-qualified skylight like those made by VELUX America can help you control heating, cooling and lighting costs in your home. Replacing an older, less efficient skylight with a new solar-powered, fresh-air skylight with a rain sensor, can also ensure your home stays protected from spring showers. You can also choose solar powered blinds for even more energy efficiency, and both are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more about energy-efficient skylights, visit www.veluxusa.com or energystar.gov.

Add/improve a deck
The trend toward outdoor living spaces continues, with decks being one of the most sought-after amenities among home buyers. In fact, adding a wooden deck can recoup more than 77 percent of the deck's cost when you sell your home, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.

If you don't already have a deck, adding one - whether wood or composite - not only enhances your home value, it will be a great place to celebrate the arrival of spring. If you already have a deck, consider value-enhancing upgrades like new balusters, lighted post caps, built-in seating and even planters.

Install a kitchen backsplash
Spring brings a bright, colorful feel to the world and you can easily incorporate that sentiment into your kitchen by adding a backsplash. A project easily within the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers, backsplashes are both functional and decorative. Granite, ceramic or glass tile protects the wall behind the range or cook top from splatters of food or grease while brightening valuable workspace and serving as a visual focal point for the room.

Great kitchens sell homes, and the room is one of the most-used in any home. Upgrading your kitchen is almost always a good investment, one that improves resale value and your enjoyment of your home.

Upgrade bathroom floors
Bathroom renovations are also popular and a minor bathroom remodel can return more than 65 percent of the cost at the time of resale, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. While replacing countertops and fixtures are common remodeling tasks in a bathroom, don't overlook the biggest surface in the room - the floor.

Many modern builders install vinyl floors in bathrooms because they are durable and cheap. Switching out this common material for stone or ceramic tile is a great way to brighten the room and give your bath a whole new look.

Improve your entryway
Your front door and entryway are the first impression visitors have of your home's decor. A welcoming entry invites guests in and gives you a mood boost every time you walk through it.

This year, celebrate spring by replacing an old worn wooden door with a sturdy, decorative steel door - an improvement that recoups nearly 85 percent of its cost when you sell, according to Remodeling Magazine. To really celebrate spring, add a screen door. You'll be able to let in fresh air and spring breezes while keeping insects out. Plus, a screen door is essential Americana, creating a welcoming openness that epitomizes the joy of spring.

Word of the Day

March 15, 2013 2:30 pm

License. A privilege or right granted to a person by a state to operate as a real estate broker or salesperson.