Gunning Daily News

Get Your Furnace Winter Ready

October 29, 2012 11:20 am

While you may not give thought to your home-heating devices until the first frost pulls ill, it’s actually best to inspect them before they are needed, according to Jimmie Cho, vice president of services for SoCalGas.


"Now is the time to perform maintenance on your home-heating appliances to check that they can be operated safely and efficiently," says Jimmie Cho.

Why should you check your furnace now? Failure to perform annual maintenance on gas appliances may result in exposure to carbon monoxide, which can cause nausea, drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, and even death.

Since home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill, the best way to keep bills lower is to get gas appliances serviced, Cho says.

Cho offers these tips for a safe, warm, and energy-efficient winter:

  • Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor.
  • Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
  • Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
  • Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.
  • When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas to have the condition corrected.
  • Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Source: http://www.socalgas.com

Fire Prevention Focus: Keeping ‘Fire Safe’ Year Round

October 29, 2012 11:20 am

In the next installment of our October focus on fire prevention, I have tapped the National Fire Protection Association for some potentially life-saving fire safety tips.

In a previous segment, the NFPA reported that cooking fires caused an estimated average of 2,590 civilian deaths and $7.2 billion in direct property damage yearly. And based on research by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), cooking was also the number one cause of home structure fires that went unreported.

We also learned that Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths followed by heating equipment and then cooking equipment. So consider following these words of advice from the NFPA:

  • Smoke outside - Ask smokers to smoke outside. Have sturdy, deep ashtrays for smokers.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach - Keep matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Inspect electrical cords - Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs, or have loose connections.
  • Be careful when using candles - Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Install smoke alarms - Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Interconnect smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month and replace conventional batteries once a year or when the alarm “chirps” to tell you the battery is low.
  • Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
  • Install sprinklers - If you are building or remodeling your home, install residential fire sprinklers. Sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive.

Homeowners can get more detailed information about each of the above prevention tips by visiting the NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org.

Word of the Day

October 29, 2012 11:20 am

Appurtenance. Whatever is annexed to land or used with it that will pass to the buyer with conveyance of title, such as a garage or fence.

Q: How Can I Finance a Remodeling Project?

October 29, 2012 11:20 am

A: There are many ways to finance a remodeling project. If you have equity in your home, a good credit rating, and steady income, you can refinance your mortgage and borrow a percentage of the equity to cover remodeling costs.

Refinancing is a good option if you can get a mortgage interest rate at least two percentage points below your current home loan rate. Other options include a second mortgage, a home equity loan, or an unsecured loan. Less popular options: margin loans, which are taken against securities you own, and loans from retirement plans, life insurance policies and credit cards.

How-To: Bring Bold Hues into the Kitchen and Bath

October 26, 2012 5:50 pm

(BPT) - Why is it that some people can do daring things with color in their living rooms or bedrooms, but stick with the strongholds of beige and white in their kitchens and baths? As bright hues are surfacing in kitchen and bath design trends, existing oft-neutral palettes make it easy to introduce bold splashes.
Whether it's with a new faucet finish, a vibrant wall color, a playful backsplash - even a brightly-colored sink - adding color instantly creates a personalized and pleasing look in your kitchen or bath. Debating the best way to bring new colors into your home? Consider these seven tips straight from two industry professionals:

1. Find your perfect (color) match. Before you begin mixing and matching paint chips with backsplash tile, identify a color that has long resonated with your own design or fashion aesthetic. “If a client isn't able to answer this question instantly, all I have to do is peruse the closet,” says Kohler interior designer Diana Schrage. “Chances are that repeated pop of color worn over the years belongs in his or her home decor as much as in his or her wardrobe.” Once that signature color has been identified, Schrage says homeowners often feel more confident introducing those brighter hues in a more permanent manner.

2. Make a color splash in the sink. “A brightly-colored sink makes a delightful and memorable impact,” Schrage says. “Whether it's on a Farmhouse sink in the kitchen or a lavatory in the powder room, a bright sink is a perfect piece to build upon as you bring new colors into your space.”

3. Harness the power of color. Color can have a big impact on mood andwhat happens in a space. Restaurants and retail outlets often enlist color psychologists to select colors that will encourage diners to splurge on dessert or draw shoppers into a store. So harness that same power in your home. Want your kitchen to be a comfortable space for your family that encourages an appetite in the pickiest of eaters? Incorporate orange. If you long for a peaceful bathroom oasis, bring in calming blues and soothing greens. “Blue in all of its many shades is the universal beloved color in the whole color world,” Adler says.

4. Make up your own rules
. “I feel like the world is often tame when it comes to color,” Adler says. “But embracing color is about embracing life. And to truly make a space your own, you have to make your own rules.” If your powder room feels plain and predictable, its small footprint makes it the perfect space to strengthen your color confidence by experimenting to show off your own design aesthetic. “The powder room is all about creating a memorable and gracious experience for your guests,” Schrage says. “Make it a fun one by incorporating color in an unexpected fashion by applying your favorite wallpaper to the ceiling with a complementing color on the walls, or a large installation of tile.

5. Focus on a focal point. Incorporating color doesn't require a complete redo. Instead, focus on a smaller project within the space to create a focal point or accent. Color can act as an eye magnet to create a focal-point-worthy design statement that draws a room together visually and gives you a solid foundation on which to build out the room's design theme. “A striking pairing of a faucet and sink can create a focal point,” Schrage says. “Throwing color into the mix only strengthens it.”

6. Layer for visual interest. If you want use color like a pro, learn to layer. Adler's go-to layering hue: navy. “It's a great base color to use with other bold colors,” he says.

7. Do your homework. If you're considering a fresh coat of paint, a bright backsplash or bold new sink, experiment with apps and different websites to see how new colors can best be applied to your space.
Once homework is done and the concept is complete, conquer any lingering hesitation with by remembering Adler's last bit of advice: “Incorporating an exclamation of color in a more permanent manner - such as a sink - resonates not only with your own design aesthetic, it means more permanent happiness.”

Source: Kohler

Business Tips: Advice to 'Boomerpreneurs'

October 26, 2012 5:50 pm

Are you a baby boomer looking to start your own business? You’re far from alone. The "Boomerpreneur" trend, which involves individuals on the cusp of retirement looking to realize their self-employment dreams, appeals to many for a variety of reasons.

For some, the change has been forced upon them by the tough job market. Others are taking the leap to escape boredom, become their own boss, pursue a passion -- or simply in hopes of striking it rich.
Whatever the motivation, entrepreneurs face a tough road.

So how can you beat the odds if you want to join the boomerpreneur boom?

While there are many benefits to opening a small business in retirement, 'Boomerpreneurs' should understand that entrepreneurship involves an enormous financial commitment that is best managed with the assistance of a financial professional. Lack of sufficient preparation could have a negative effect on the business owner.

BMO Harris Bank offers the following tips to Boomerpreneurs-to-be:

Do your research: Take advantage of the resources and network you have built over the years and learn all you need to know to set up your company. This includes gaining industry insight, arranging a new phone number, deciding whether or not to incorporate the business and looking into the potential tax implications.

Consider the pros and cons: Think carefully about why you want to start your own business. Being your own boss can offer some flexibility. However, other sacrifices, such as longer hours and a possible decrease in cash flow – starting up, and potentially over the life of your retirement -- may be necessary to ensure your success.

Develop a plan:
Stress-test your idea and research your marketplace, including what products and services you will be offering, their appropriate price point(s), who your potential customers will be and what your sales targets will need to be to cover your costs. Keep your end goal in mind as you build your company and maintain a positive, yet realistic, outlook as you progress.

Seek outside advice: Speak to an accountant and a small business banker. Financial specialists that can provide insight into setting up your company, market competition, personal and business capital and how it may change over time.

Source: http://www.harrisbank.com

Biggest Fear among Employees Revealed: Making a Mistake

October 26, 2012 5:50 pm

It's not ghosts or goblins or even public speeches that scare workers the most this Halloween: In an Accountemps survey, more than one in four (28 percent) respondents said making a mistake on the job is their biggest workplace fear.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 420 working adults 18 years of age or older and employed in an office environment.

Workers were asked, "Which one of the following is your greatest workplace fear?" Their responses:

  • Making errors on the job - 28 percent
  • Dealing with difficult customers or clients - 18 percent
  • Conflicts with your manager - 15 percent
  • Speaking in front of a group of people - 13 percent
  • Conflicts with coworkers - 13 percent
  • No fears - 3 percent
  • Other - 7 percent
  • Don't know/no answer - 4 percent
* total is 101 percent due to rounding.

"Mistakes will happen from time to time, and a healthy concern for avoiding them improves job performance -- as long as that concern doesn't undermine one's confidence," saysMax Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies®. "Fear of failure holds many people back in their careers, but without smart risks new ideas would never take shape."
Like successful trick-or-treating, navigating frightening workplace situations requires forethought and the right approach. Accountemps offers five tips:

Plan your route. A 20-page to-do list would scare anyone and is a recipe for mistakes on the job. To ease workload-related worries -- and be more efficient -- prioritize your responsibilities, and delegate when possible.

Ask for directions. When facing a challenging project or new responsibilities, make sure you know what is expected of you. If you have concerns, let your manager know, and work with him or her to develop a strategy for overcoming them.

Bring a friend. Don't be afraid to tap a mentor for advice on a particularly devilish challenge. When preparing a critical project or communication, ask a confidant for his or her feedback.

Say "thanks." Whether it's for candy or help with a difficult task, a sincere thank-you can go a long way toward building strong business relationships.

Give out treats. Volunteer to assist overburdened colleagues, and be quick with praise for those who deliver outstanding work. You'll make people -- including yourself -- feel good and foster an environment where colleagues help each other on a regular basis.

Source: www.accountemps.com

Word of the Day

October 26, 2012 5:50 pm

Appreciation. Increase in property value or worth due to economic or related factors; the opposite of depreciation.

Q: Does the Government offer Assistance with Home Improvements?

October 26, 2012 5:50 pm

A: Yes. Two very popular programs offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) include the Title 1 Home Improvement Loan and the Section 203(k) Program. In the first program, HUD insures the loan up to $25,000 for a single-family house to cover alterations, repairs, and site improvements.

The latter program, which also insures mortgage loans, is HUD’s primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single-family homes. Loans are also available from the Department of Veteran Affairs to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than that on conventional loans. The Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loan program, funded by the Agriculture Department, offers low-rate loans to low-income rural residents who own and occupy a home in need of repairs.

Funds are also available to improve or modernize a home or to remove health and safety hazards. The federal government isn’t alone in its efforts to provide assistance. Local and state governments offer special home improvement programs. Contact your governor or mayor’s office for more details.

4 Tips for Easy Kitchen Remodeling

October 26, 2012 4:20 pm

Move aside, bathrooms! Step back, master bedrooms. For the first time since 2008, kitchens have become the No. 1 remodeling project for homeowners, according to the "Fall 2012 U.S. Remodeling Sentiment Report" from RemodelorMove.com. A renovated kitchen not only enhances your living experience, but it adds value to your house, and is one of the top amenities buyers search for when house hunting.

However, before you call your contractor, be sure to do the following:

Consider if remodeling is right for you. You should consider a multitude of variables, such as: Can we comfortably pay for this remodel? Is my family emotionally ready to deal with the disruption? Would it be easier or less expensive to move instead?

Get a cost estimate. You can get remodel estimates online, or call a contractor. It's important to get an estimate early in the planning phase to give you plenty of time to arrange your finances, compare prices on everything from appliances to countertops to cabinetry, and make sure your kitchen remodel is as budget friendly as possible.

Make organization a top priority. You'll be dealing with a thousand tiny details, ranging from paint colors to cabinets to floor plans. Letting any one of these details fall through the cracks could mean extra expense and delays. Use the

Bring in the experts for answers. You may find that talking with a real estate agent, interior designer, architect, mortgage banker, or remodeling contractor can help you understand the true costs and benefits of remodeling.
Source: www.remodelormove.com.