Gunning Daily News
June 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Stamped concrete has found its way into many different areas of the home. Innovations in this popular technique have inspired homeowners and contractors to find new uses for the medium indoors. ConcreteNetwork.com, an online leader for concrete information, has released a list of the four most popular uses for concrete stamps in the home.
While consumers are most often used to seeing stamped concrete outside on patios, walkways, driveways, and even public spaces, more and more consumers are discovering the benefits of installing a stamped concrete surface indoors too. Here are four of the most popular interior stamped applications:
1. Entrances, kitchens, family rooms and basements
2. Vertical applications on walls and fireplaces
3. Concrete countertops, bar tops and bathroom vanities
4. Existing interior concrete floors using a stampable overlay
Stamped concrete offers the durability of traditional concrete, with the added versatility that decorative concrete applications have to offer. The ability of concrete stamps to produce close replicas of brick, natural stone and even wood makes this technique a viable option for consumers wanting to update their interior spaces this summer.
For a more in depth look into how stamped concrete is being incorporated into homes across the country, visit StampedConcrete.org.
June 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Your RIS Consumer Confidant wants homeowners to be very bright when it comes to energy-saving lighting, and that means keeping up-to-date on new developments in the lighting industry. There’s even been some illuminating news lately related to “old-fashioned” incandescent bulb technology.
Though conventional incandescent light bulbs have been criticized by both government and energy advocates as huge energy wasters, lighting companies have been rapidly adapting with new and improved incandescent halogen bulbs that use 25 to 30 percent less energy on average, and can last up to three times longer than older versions.
The light given off by incandescent halogen resembles the familiar warm glow of old-fashioned bulbs. They are dimmable and are the most similar in shape and size to standard light bulbs, but also reduce energy use.
Fans of incandescents, mainly the majority of opponents to new lighting standards, criticize the harshness of the light emitted by older LED and CFL bulbs. But newer bulbs have been developed to emit warmer and softer light.
Other concerns include the delayed start time and inability to dim older CFL bulbs. Similarly, however, newer, higher-quality CFLs are available without these issues.
In addition, CFLs contain an infinitesimal amount of mercury, requiring CFLs to be recycled instead of thrown in the trash.
Meanwhile, new incandescents are mercury-free, and produce light similar to the old-fashioned bulbs with a similarly immediate startup. For a detailed comparison, the Department of Energy’s website has an article describing each new category of energy efficient light bulbs.
Just remember, every time you switch any fixture in your home to a newer, energy saving alternative, that fixture will begin manufacturing savings for you. Start by selecting the bulb appropriate for the light fixture. Then choose a new bulb that will create your desired room ambience.
Energy Star also has developed a guide showcasing the difference between the various types of energy efficient bulbs.
If you are just beginning a transition into energy efficient lighting, first decide which light fixtures you use most, and start by changing out the bulbs in those fixtures. These are the areas where you will see the most drastic results in energy savings.
June 20, 2011 5:51 pm
Q: Is there anything I should know about closing day?
A: Yes. The following to-do list can help save you a few headaches and keep the closing on track:
• Keep extra money in your account. Something unexpected can pop up during the closing that will require more money out of your pocket. Take your checkbook. Even better, find out how much you will need to pay and write a certified check for the total amount.
• Take your loan commitment letter. Use it to verify loan approval in case of a mistake or misunderstanding with the lender.
• Take your contract to purchase. Pull it out if something a little suspicious comes up.
• Take your personal ID. A driver’s license or other personal identification will due.
June 20, 2011 5:51 pm
Blanket mortgage. Single mortgage that covers more than one real property, i.e. a house plus the vacant lot next door.
June 20, 2011 5:51 pm
Climate Right—the patent-pending, portable air conditioner designed for small spaces—is being touted as a go-to product for pet owners concerned about pet safety during the "dog days of summer." Featured on Good Morning America recently, the unit is built to cool up to 350 cubic feet of space—more than enough power to moderate temperatures in outdoor dog houses.
Unlike humans, dogs lack sweat glands, which means they can be more susceptible to summer heat issues than people. As summer heats up, help your canines stay cool by incorporating these climate control tips.
• Manage doghouse temperatures. Outdoor doghouses are heat traps during the summer. Just as people are taken aback by extreme temperatures inside cars, dogs feel similar shock from their doghouse. Keep temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees—not too cool, not too warm. The Climate Right, as featured on Good Morning America, is a doghouse air-conditioner specifically designed to protect dogs during the hot summer months.
• Prevent sunburn. Yes, dogs can get sunburned, too. Keeping fur/hair a bit longer in the summer months or using a sunscreen specifically formulated for dogs can help keep the burn away. Apply sunblock to ears, nose, lips, groin and other places where skin is exposed to the sun.
• Keep pups hydrated. Hydration helps regulate a dog's body temperature. According to experts, animals should have about 28 milliliters of water per pound of body weight per day. (In other words, a 40-pound dog should have a liter of water every day.)
• Have fun while staying cool. Staying cool can actually be enjoyable—for both you and your dog! Just see what happens when you throw your dog an ice-cube dog bone! Additionally, if your furry friend enjoys the water, try a "puppy pool," or even a dip in the swimming pool or lake.
• Monitor for heatstroke warning signs. According to the AKC, heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, bright gums/tongue, balance challenges, uncontrollable urination and lethargy/unwillingness to move are all potential warning signs of heatstroke. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, contract your veterinarian right away.
June 20, 2011 5:21 pm
While the joys of summer are just around the corner, so is bug season. It is no surprise that summer welcomes more than just barbeques, pool parties and outdoor fun—it also brings back a variety of pesty annoyances. An insect invasion may be hard to avoid unless proactive steps are taken to prevent a major infestation.
“When it comes to choosing a product to control pests, one size rarely fits all,” says Larry Coltharp, director of insect control research and development with Black Flag®.
Black Flag® experts recommend homeowners protect their homes both indoors and out by spraying early in the spring, reinforce protection in the summer during peak insect season, and seal homes in the fall to keep bugs from seeking shelter. By doing so, homeowners may save more than $100, the average cost of contracting a pest control service.
Tips for Keeping Pests under Control:
• To kill bugs attempting to enter the home, apply a continuous, uninterrupted spray around the home's foundation and other possible entry points such as windows, doors and crevices.
• Check walls for cracks and crevices where spiders and ants can enter.
• In the kitchen, avoid open food containers, or water leaks under the sink, and other sources of food and water. It’s also a good idea to inspect paper grocery bags to make sure they don’t contain any uninvited guests.
• In addition to attracting mold and mildew, cardboard storage containers can make an attractive meal for many insects, such as spiders, roaches and silver fish.
• Keep kitchen trash in a closed container, both indoors and out.
To learn more about keeping your home pest free, visit www.blackflag.com.
June 20, 2011 5:21 pm
Summer is here, so fire up the grill, design an outdoor kitchen and set the mood with your pool ambience.
With the uncertain economy and high gas prices, homeowners are doing more staycations than vacations. But there's no need to stay inside—move the party out.
"Enhancing the backyard for entertaining has become popular," says Mary Kennedy Thompson, president of Mr. Rooter Corporation. "Homeowners find outdoor living spaces make their homes more appealing."
Follow these top 10 tips from Mr. Appliance Corp., Mr. Rooter® Plumbing and Mr. Electric® to create your backyard tropical paradise.
• Fire it up! Burn off last summer's leftovers by turning burners on high, closing the lid and letting the grill run for 30 to 45 minutes. Once complete, brush burned leftovers away.
• Seasoned to perfection. Just like chefs have seasoned cast-iron skillets, grill masters have seasoned grates. Avoid soap or strong chemical cleaning products on the grates.
• Nice catch. Make sure to dump food that falls between the grates housed in the large drip pan and to check for grease overflow in the smaller one below it.
• Take the plunge. Purchase stainless steel sinks for their sturdiness and their ability to withstand weather better. Heavy duty brass fixtures don't corrode and are rust free.
• Chill out. Install a water line for outdoor kitchen sinks, refrigerators and icemakers and a drain line for the kitchen sink. These can be DIY projects, but hiring a plumber is recommended.
• Summer heat. Set up a gas line for outdoor ranges and grills as well as patio heaters and fireplaces. It's best to hire a service professional to ensure proper and safe installation.
• Set the mood. When installing lights near a waterfall, pool or garden, hire a certified electrician to avoid electrical hazards.
• Dig deep. To ensure the safety of children and pets, cover all electrical wires.
• Rock on. What's a party without music? For outdoor speakers, enlist an electrician to make sure there is no faulty wiring that could cause a fire.
Use these tips to impress your guests. By turning your bland backyard into an outdoor oasis, you can be off to your own little paradise in no time.
June 20, 2011 5:21 pm
Despite challenging economic conditions, a landmark survey of nearly 400 mayors in all 50 states has found that energy and sustainability efforts have maintained momentum within cities. The study, prepared for The U.S. Conference of Mayors and sponsored by Siemens, was based on survey research conducted from April to May, 2011, by the international research consultancy GlobeScan.
Among its key findings, the survey noted:
• Three in four cities expect their use of clean energy technologies to increase over the next five years.
• LED/efficient lighting, low-energy building technologies and solar electricity generation are the top three "most promising" technologies for reducing energy use and carbon emissions.
• Mayors are looking to the economic benefits of these clean energy solutions as drivers of their energy strategies.
• For one in three cities, adapting to climate change is already an element of their capital planning or capital improvement programs.
• One-quarter of all cities have already set targets for the use of renewable energy.
According to the study, acknowledging financial restraints, cities are taking full advantage of available federal resources and looking to partner more with the private sector, among others, to continue their energy drives. The full survey report, Clean Energy Solutions for America's Cities, is now available at: usmayors.org/cleanenergy.
"The overwhelming response to this survey—396 mayors in all 50 states, representing about 74 million people—underscores the strong commitment of the nation's mayors to clean energy technologies and energy efficiency solutions," says Conference President Burnsville (MN) Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz. "Mayors are acting on these commitments, which also support our nation's greater goals on energy independence and security," she explains.
"As a company that provides many of today's technology solutions for cities, we're pleased how cities are embracing the many economic benefits of sustainable technologies," says Daryl Dulaney, president and CEO of Siemens Industry, Inc. "Our next challenge is to help cities come up with financing solutions that have minimal budget impact and keep cities on track with their sustainability goals using proven technologies."
"LED and other efficient lighting sources are the technology of choice for cities aiming to reduce future energy use and climate-harming emissions," says Conference Vice President Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. "We know from our experience in Los Angeles that LED streetlights are the way of the future and having a tremendous impact globally. They save money, protect the environment, and create jobs." The City of Los Angeles is now replacing 140,000 existing streetlight fixtures with LED units in order to save energy by a minimum of 40 percent, reducing carbon emissions by approximately 40,500 tons per year.
Conference Second Vice President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter—whose home to the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings—says, "Making our buildings more energy efficient through the use of new technologies is a clear priority for the nation's mayors. It is something we can do today, paying dividends to all us well in the future."
"The key drivers behind much of this activity are, not surprisingly, economic: to attract new businesses and jobs, reduce energy costs, and more generally, develop a greener economy," says Tom Cochran, the Conference's CEO and Executive Director. "Mayors credit energy block grants (EECBG funds) delivering federal resources directly to cities as crucial to the expanded investment partnership between businesses and cities on clean energy technologies and energy efficiency."
Rob Kerr, Vice President of GlobeScan, which conducted the survey, says, "The survey reaffirms trends that we're seeing in different countries around the world - that cities are taking the practical lead in pushing national sustainability objectives by actually deploying the technologies today. Sustainability efforts are not going to just go away in tough economic times."
About The U.S. Conference of Mayors: The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,210 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.
June 16, 2011 2:21 pm
Summer is around the corner, and it's more important that ever to conserve water. From checking the kitchen faucet to watching your laundry loads, there's plenty we can all do to save water.
Here are some tips from Pennsylvania American Water on how you can conserve water and reduce the environmental impact of water consumption both indoors and outside the home:
1. Water your lawn only when it needs it. An easy test to tell if your lawn needs water is to simply walk across the grass. If you leave footprints, it's time to water. (An added benefit of watering less often is that fewer, deep-soaking waterings encourage deep root growth and stronger turf.)
2. Water in the early morning. As much as 30 percent of water can be lost to evaporation by watering during midday.
3. Set your lawn mower one notch higher to make your lawn more drought-tolerant.
4. Use drip irrigation hoses to water plants, and water in the early morning or evening.
5. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk, driveway, or patio.
6. Forego the hose and wash your car with a bucket and sponge instead. According to EPA WaterSense, a hose left running can waste as much as six gallons per minute while a bucket and sponge uses only a few gallons to do the job.
7. Keep a bottle of cold tap water in the refrigerator. You'll avoid the cost and environmental impact of bottled water and you'll have cold water available in the summer without running the faucet.
8. Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are full. If you have a water-saver cycle, use it.
9. Adjust the water level of your clothes washer, so that it matches your load size.
10. Regularly check your toilet, faucets and pipes for leaks and have them fixed promptly. An easy test for toilet leaks from EPA WaterSense: Place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color tints the water in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
June 16, 2011 2:21 pm
It's not just happening to you. If you've filed for bankruptcy recently, you're among thousands of Americans who file each month in the U.S. "More than 1.5 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy last year, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center," says Kristy Welsh, editor of Creditinfocenter.com. "That's the highest level since 2005."
The question becomes: once you're through the rigors of bankruptcy court, what happens next? "You can start your recovery the day after you receive your discharge papers," says Welsh. "Rebuilding credit and getting a little money saved can begin immediately." Here are the steps Welsh recommends:
• Those credit card payments you no longer have to make—start putting them in the bank. Most likely, you've wiped out credit card debt in your bankruptcy. You can take at least a portion of what you would be paying on those cards and put them into savings.
• If you have a retirement saving plan at work like a 401K, especially if there is a matching program, start contributing. Retirement is expensive. Even a little money put away each month can add up over the long term. • Get catastrophic health insurance if you don't have any kind of medical coverage. The number one reason for filing bankruptcy in the U.S. is medical bills. A health plan with a high deductible is often very affordable and can save you financially in the case of an accident or a sudden life threatening disease like cancer. Protect your new savings plan with this type of insurance.
• Apply for secured credit cards. Welsh suggests trying your local bank first. If you're having difficulty finding one, however, see Creditinfocenter's recommended secured credit card list.
• Check your credit report to make sure it's been updated to properly show which debts were included in your bankruptcy. You don't want to have any discharged debts show an open balance.
For more information visit www.CreditInfoCenter.com