Archive for the Worth Repeating Category

How To Make Your Carved Pumpkin Last Longer

Posted in Holidays, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , , , on October 23, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Did you carve your pumpkin, creatively, last year only to have it rot days before Halloween? What causes the pumpkin to decay? There are several primary causes of “pumpkin rot”:

  • Dennis Haunted House v23 (Gene Granata |

    Photo credit: Gene Granata |

    The intact skin of a pumpkin protects it until you carve it. Then, various organisms (fungi, bacteria, molds, protozoans and insects) can get inside and break it down.

  • Oxygen in the air can also easily enter and break down the pumpkin.
  • Simple dehydration (drying out) will begin the moment the pumpkin is carved.

All of this will turn a happy pumpkin face into a sad old man in a short period of time.

How to stop pumpkin aging:

  • Sterilize the pumpkin’s carved surfaces to kill fungi, mold, bacteria and bugs.
  • Seal the surfaces to prevent drying and to keep out new little organisms.

Essentially, it is like embalming your pumpkin. Follow these simple steps:

  • Remove dirt; wipe the exterior surfaces of the pumpkin clean using a damp cloth.
  • Make a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle.
  • SPumpkinspray the pumpkin inside and on all areas of the pumpkin with the solution. This will kill much of the surface bacteria and mold that causes rotting. This is best done outside and away from children and pets.
  • Let it penetrate and dry for about 20 minutes.
  • Next, rub all of the carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly. This will keep out new bacteria and molds as well as dramatically reduce the dehydration.
  • Wipe away excess with a paper towel.
  • Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible, but above freezing.

A little, simple Halloween magic with household items will make your Jack O’Lantern last longer.

Preparing Your Home for Winter

Posted in Around Your Home, Home Maintenance, Worth Repeating with tags , , on October 16, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Fall is the time of the year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter. As the temperatures drop, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape throughout the winter. Here are some tips to help you prepare your home for winter:

Furnace Inspection:

  • Furnace FilterCall a HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean the ducts.
  • Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.
  • If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one.
  • Set the humidifier to the winter setting.
  • Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

Get the Fireplace Ready:

  • Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out critters.
  • If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
  • Buy firewood or chop wood. Store in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
  • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.

Inspect the Roof, Gutters and Downspouts:

  • Adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
  • Check flashing to ensure that water cannot enter your home.
  • Replace worn shingles.
  • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
  • Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from you home.

Check the Exterior:

  • Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes and seal them.
  • Replace cracked glass in windows. If you replace the entire window, prime and paint any exposed wood.
  • If you have older, non-insulated windows, install the storm windows.

Check the Foundation:

  • Rake away all debris and vegetation from the foundation.
  • Seal entry points to keep small animals from crawling under your home.
  • Tuck point or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.

Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

  • Smoke Alarm/Detector Buy smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and water heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.

Prevent Plumbing Freezes:

  • Locate water main in the event you need to shut it off.
  • Drain all garden hoses. Turn off water to outside hose bibs.
  • Have your irrigation system blown out and shut off.
  • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on set to at least 55 degrees.

While these tips may seem like common sense and part of your fall routine, it is easy to become preoccupied with weekend football games and other fall activities; therefore, forgetting the necessary maintenance.

Playing it Safe While Using a Ladder

Posted in Around Your Home, Home Safety, Worth Repeating with tags , , , on October 2, 2013 by Pat Hansen

With the advent of fall, comes the need to do fall chores. Gutter cleaning, window washing, removing tree branches and limbs on the roof, can all be hazardous without following some simple safety rules for using a ladder:

  • If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder.
  • Do not use ladders in high winds or storms.Ladder safety
  • Wear clean slip-resistant shoes. Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are not considered sufficiently slip-resistant.
  • Before using a ladder, inspect it to confirm it is in good working condition.
  • Ladders with loose or missing parts should be rejected.
  • The ladder you select must be the right size for the job.
  • The Duty Rating of the ladder (maximum weight it can carry) must be greater than the total weight of the climber, tools, supplies and other objects placed upon the ladder.
  • The length of the ladder must be sufficient so that the climber does not have to stand on the top rung or step.
  • When the ladder is set-up for use, it must be placed on firm, level ground and without any type of slippery condition present at either the base or top support points.
  • Only one person at a time should be permitted on a ladder—unless the ladder is specifically designed for more than one climber, i.e. a trestle ladder.
  • Ladders must not be placed in front of closed doors that can open toward the ladder. The door should be locked or blocked open.
  • Never jump or slide down from a ladder or climb more than one rung/step at a time.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up and down; keep your body centered between both side rails.
  • Don’t get too ambitious and over extend your reach. Make sure you keep your weight evenly distributed.

Holiday decorating is just around the corner and many families often use ladders to spread holiday cheer to the highest places, such as roofs and rooftops, trying to get those decorations just right. Unfortunately, as helpful as they are, people often underestimate the dangers associated with ladders – more than 163,000 people make emergency room visits every year due to ladder accidents.

Decorate Your Yard for Autumn

Posted in Around Your Home, Lifestyle, Worth Repeating with tags , , on September 25, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Autumn has arrived and it is a beautiful time of the year. The leaves are beginning to turn color and the fields are full of bounty. Take a drive into the country and stop at a farm stand or farm market where cornstalks, gourds, pumpkins and colorful cobs of corn are sold. Use the bounty of the harvest and other natural items such as bales of straw to bring your home alive with color and texture.

Porch DisplayWhen you arrive home with these items, choose a place that will allow your focal point to be easily seen from the inside of the house and from the street. Stand the corn stalks behind the bales of hay and place the gourds, pumpkins and corn-cobs strategically around it to make a colorful and beautifully textured autumn display. Sit a scarecrow on a bale of straw or in a chair on your porch. A scarecrow is easy to make. Just stuff some old clothes with newspaper or grocery bags. Add a hat and a pair of old boots for effect.

  • Flower Beds – Remove the dead annuals from your flower beds and window boxes. Place a variety of pumpkins, cornstalks and straw to transform the beds and boxes into beautiful displays. Pumpkins and large gourds are available in different textures and a variety of colors. Window boxes can be filled with straw, gourds and chrysanthemums. Add a few pieces of evergreens or a garland of artificial leaves for color and texture.
  • Corn StalkStairsIf your stairs are wide enough to do so without creating a safety hazard, set colorful chrysanthemums on the side of each step. For a different effect, place a rust-colored chrysanthemum on every other step and a pumpkin on the steps between. If the stairs have a railing, drape a garland of colorful artificial leaves along it.
  • Door DecorationIf you have cornstalks left over, tie the husks together with colorful ribbon and hang on your door. Craft stores sell straw wreath forms, which can be decorated with picks of leaves, flowers, pumpkins, pods, etc. These items are often on sale at this time of the year.

There are many ways to use items from nature to bring your yard and garden alive in the fall months from now through Thanksgiving. All it takes is some imagination and creativity, and your yard will be the talk of the neighborhood.

Window Cleaning Without Streaks

Posted in Around Your Home, Home Maintenance, Worth Repeating with tags , on September 18, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Recently, I was parked in front of a restaurant where I pulled over to talk on my cell phone, and saw a window washer doing a wonderful job of washing a large window without leaving a single streak. When I got off the phone, I went Windowup to him and asked him what he used — he pointed to his bucket and said, “Dish Soap”. I thought he was joking since I thought I’d heard every way to clean a window, but I had never heard of anyone using dish soap. But here he was, and there was no argument that he knew of what he spoke as the window sparkled. No newspaper, no vinegar, no ammonia—just dish soap. Then he explained his window cleaning process to me.

First, you need to assemble your window cleaning tools. He said you need to purchase a mop and a squeegee, but they shouldn’t cost more than $10. You’ll need a bucket, water, dish soap, a clean, dry, lint-free cloth such as really old t-shirts and a window mop and squeegee. He suggested a squeegee that is covered with cotton terry cloth or lambs’ wool. He mentioned that unless you intend to use these only to clean picture windows or sliding glass doors, bigger is not always better. He likes the one about 12” wide. If the squeegee is wider than most of the windows you’ll be cleaning, it will be more difficult to get a streak-free shine quickly. He said they are available at hardware stores or in the cleaning section of a supermarket and K-Mart or Wal-Mart.

Next, you must know when the right time is to clean windows, or rather when the wrong times are. If it is very windy, the sun is shining directly on the window, or if it is raining, you will fail in your quest for streak-free glass. So, if it’s overcast or you are cleaning windows on the shady side of the house on a dry day, it’s a “go”.

Fill your bucket half way with cool water. As long as you can dip the window mop in, you’re fine. Now put 1-2 drops of dish soap in and mix it up. You don’t need bubbles. If you put in too much soap, you will create streaks and smears. Even if the windows you clean are really dirty, don’t make the solution stronger because it will be difficult to get the residual soap off. If you are trying to clean particularly dirty windows, just change your soap water solution more often.

The key to shiny, clean windows is to not allow the solution to dry on the glass, so don’t soap up more windows than you can squeegee off before they dry (which is why you don’t clean windows in direct sunlight or on windy days). Now, dip your new window mop in the soap water and mop the windows. Don’t just wet them down; go over the surface 3 or 4 times. Fly specks and bird splatters will not come off with just one pass of the mop.

Next, place your squeegee squarely against the top of the pane and with even pressure, pull it downward. Remove the squeegee and tip it over the bucket to allow the water to drain off. Use your cloth to wipe the squeegee dry. This is key—if your squeegee is not dry, you’ll leave stripes. Return to the top of the window and overlap the squeegee by about an inch on the already dry surface, then draw it downward to the bottom. Repeat until the entire window is squeegeed (coined). Using a dry portion of your cloth, wipe the outside perimeter of the window. If you happen to notice that you’ve missed a spot or left a streak, use another dry portion of your cloth to rub it, it should clean off without trouble. You should now be looking through your perfectly clean window—of course you have to do both sides.

The technique is not difficult, but it might require some practice for you to be comfortable. Once you’re comfortable with it, you will probably find that this is the fastest, easiest and surest way to get your windows sparkling and streak-free.

Playing It Safe During An Electrical Storm

Posted in Around Your Home, Home Safety, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , on August 21, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Proper storm safety measures are vital to avoiding injury from lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. When a thunderstorm roars, go indoors.  As the thunderstorm approaches, residents should take several measures to avoid injury or damage from a lightning strike, including:

  • Lightning DamageUnplug appliances. To avoid damage from a lightning strike, unplug all appliances – even those that are connected to a surge protector. Surge protectors are often ineffective in the event of a direct or near-direct lightning strike.
  • Move cars into the garage or away from trees. If a garage is available, park the car(s) inside to avoid damage from hail, downed tree limbs or wind-blown signs and debris.  If no garage is available try to relocate the car to a location that is out in the open to prevent damage from downed trees or limbs.
  • Stay away from water and pipes.  If a lightning bolt strikes nearby, the electricity can travel through water pipes.  Prevent electrocution, by avoiding the sink, toilet, shower and bath tub.
  • Don’t use the telephone.  Lightning strikes can send a surge of electricity traveling through phone lines. Be sure to have a fully- charged cell phone available.
  • Stay away from windows.  There have been many cases involving people who have been struck by lightning while standing near a window.  A downed tree or limb could come crashing through a window, resulting in serious injury for anyone standing nearby.
  • Remain in an interior room during a severe thunderstorm. Some severe thunderstorm systems have been known to produce tornadoes. Bring children and pets into an interior room or hallway. The goal should be to place as many walls as possible between the residents and the outdoors.
  • Have a battery-operated radio or TV within arm’s reach. This will enable residents to stay informed about any life-threatening developments, such as a tornado

If you think your house was struck by lightning:

  • Make sure everyone is accounted for and immediately evacuate the house.
  • Lightning DamageCheck all around the interior and exterior to make sure that it did not start a fire. If you smell or see smoke, use your cell phone to call 911. The fire department is dispatched in all cases of lightning strikes. The fire department will assess the damage and use thermal imaging cameras to make sure there are no fires within the walls.

If your house was struck by lightning:

  • Call the insurance company.  Check with the insurance agent before you discard any items you plan to claim as damaged. Find out what is covered and what is needed to file a claim.
  • Call an electrician.  Have the electrician check the entire house including all the appliances, wall outlets, outside receptacles, attic fans, doorbell and garage door opener. Damage may be random; some items may be harmed, others may be spared.

According to the National Weather Service, more than 100,000 thunderstorms occur each year in the U.S., with lightning striking more than 30 million points on the ground. The chances of a U.S. home being struck by lightning is one in two hundred, and the insurance industry estimates 6.5% of all property/casualty claims are related to lightning strikes.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , , , on August 14, 2013 by Pat Hansen

The time has come to make a change.  Your kids are out of the house, or perhaps you are a young family in need of more space.  You think the market has stabilized and you want to sell your house.

  1. Prepare yourself to sell your home. Do your best to see the house no longer as your home, but as a product to be marketed.Inspection Report This takes work, especially if you have lived in the home for a long time and have many memories there.
  2. Consider a professional whole house inspection.  An inspection will most likely uncover any major defects before they become an issue with a potential buyer. It also signals to buyers that you are a responsible seller.
  3. Prepare the house.  Stand back and look at your home as objectively as possible. Would you buy this home? Ask friends and neighbors to do the same, asking them to be totally honest. Overlooking flaws could cost you money.
  4. EntryDo what is necessary to make your home stand out from the competition. Make certain that your home is fresher, cleaner and better maintained. Correct any problems discovered during the inspection, otherwise they could be a potential negotiating tactic.
  5. Make sure your home has positive “Curb Appeal”. It doesn’t cost much to spruce up the landscaping and add colorful plantings. The entry door should be attractive and welcoming.
  6. Personal-ItemsRemove most of the “imprint” that you have made on the home. Having a few family pictures around is fine, but if your home is a “shrine” to your family, you should take some steps to de-personalize it. Buyers must be able to envision themselves in the home.
  7. Visit “Open Houses” in the neighborhood. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with Real Estate agents what the comparable prices are. An agent may offer you a free CMA or Comparable Market Analysis in order to get your listing. Knowing what your home is worth is one of the first steps in beginning to market the property.

The majority of home sellers take on the task with an ally; a Real Estate Agent. They feel that it is better to entrust the sale of their home to a professional, rather than attempting to learn about selling a home in a trial and error method.

How do you choose an Agent who will be effective? The following questions should be asked of any prospective Real Estate Agent in order to assess their capabilities and philosophies:

  • Are you a full-time Agent? Choose a full-time Agent
  • How long have you been in the Real Estate business? 10 years in the business is a minimum
  • Are you an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Member? MLS listings exposes your home to more buyers
  • How familiar are you with the area where our home is located? Local knowledge of the market gets your home priced correctly, which will help sell it quicker.
  • How many homes did you sell in this area last year? Is the agent successful in a difficult market?
  • Can you supply 3 names and addresses of recent clients for whom you sold a home that we can contact for reference purposes? You know the answer to this one!
  • How did you arrive at the suggested listing price for our home? The agent’s experience should be apparent through the answer.
  • What is your specific marketing plan for our home? Does the plan make sense to you?
  • How do you plan on keeping us informed of the sale progress of our home? When you check references from past sellers be sure to ask this question:  Did the agent communicate as promised?

Check your local newspapers and homes magazines. An agent with a number of advertisements most likely has a fairly extensive marketing experience. Be certain, though, that the Agent does not have too many listings to effectively service the sale of your home.

I Wish I Had Thought About That – Master Baths

Posted in Around Your Home, Home Maintenance, Homeownership, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Building a new home or remodeling is an opportunity to consider some new concepts or products for your new Master Bath.  Creating a wish-list will help you identify the must-have items and help eliminate those last minute, budget-busting extras.

Here are some of the ideas you may want to consider:


  • Larger showers with frameless enclosures
  • Coated, clear glass enclosures for easy cleaning
  • Dual shower heads; wall-mounted, hand-held shower heads with sensor temperature controls
  • Shower fixtures in oil rubbed bronze, Tuscan bronze, black, brushed nickel and more
  • Pulsating water jets that provide spinal and foot massage
  • Warm, neutral tile tones with colorful glass tile accents 
  • Recessed shelves for shampoo, etc. tall enough for Costco-size containers
  • Built-in benches


  • Tubs separated from showers
  • Smaller soaking, jetted and non-jetted tubs
  • Sunken Roman tubs
  • Eco – friendly stone and wood bathtubs
  • Artificial stone bathtubs available in various shapes


  • Pump powered, pressure-assisted quiet, dual-flush system
  • Comfort height versus regular height toilets
  • Water efficient models
  • Heated seats


  • Vessel sinks in glass, porcelain or metal
  • Geometric and free shaped modern sinks
  • Hand painted sinks integrated into vintage furniture  vanities
  • Stainless steel sinks


  • “His” and “Hers” separate vanities; his with additional height.
  • Separate vanity locationsFramed-Mirror
  • Storage garages for hair styling equipment
  • Coffee bar cabinets with refrigerator
  • Side storage cabinets above countertop
  • Armoire cabinet for linen storage


  • Antique framed mirrors above furniture vanity
  • Contemporary, stainless steel custom frames
  • Wall-to-wall, countertop to ceiling or crown molding
  • Steam-resistant glass


  • Glass tile in ocean colors
  • Metallic accent pieces for ceramic tile
  • Combination of glass and porcelain tiles creating borders or accents

Today’s homeowner is looking to make the master bath more comfortable, stylish and personal. For homeowners who aren’t confident in their design capabilities, it is best to consult a professional. It is better to get expert advice ahead of time, instead of after a project has gone wrong.

Safe Home Tips While on Vacation

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , , , on July 30, 2013 by Pat Hansen

The anticipation and excitement of an upcoming vacation can distract you from considering the risks of leaving your home unprotected. It pays to take precautions before you leave on vacation.  Creating a checklist ahead of time takes a bit of planning but is worth the effort and will increase your peace of mind while you travel.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that the majority of residential break-ins occur during the months of July and August.  Experts in home security say that the key to keeping your home secure while on vacation is to make sure your home is the least appealing target on your street.

By following the tips below, you can make your home harder to break into, and give yourself peace of mind that you have taken all necessary precautions.

  • Stay Quiet

While using personal pages on the Internet may be a convenient way to keep in touch with friends, sharing your itinerary can cause problems while you are away from home. Show some caution when you talk about your trip.  Your Blog isn’t the best place to announce that you will be away from home.

Be aware of who is around when you discuss your trip. Make sure that other members of your family are discreet, too.  The less information you put out there, the less likely it is to reach the wrong ears and eyes.

  • Lock Up

Before you leave on vacation be sure you physically secure and check all windows and doors. This seems obvious, but it is easy to forget. Locking your home makes it less attractive to burglars; if you don’t make it easy, there is a better chance that when you get home, your home will be in the same condition as you left it.

  • Unplug Electronics

Turning off your garage door is an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote.

Don’t leave a portable GPS in your car when you use the long-term parking at the airport. It will alert thieves that you are not at home and may give them a convenient map to your home.

  • Maintaining Appearances

If your home is obviously uninhabited, you may be at risk of becoming a target for a burglar. Remember . . . an occupied home looks lived in. Lights go on and off, and cars come and go. When you’re away, everything stops. To help create the illusion that the residence is still occupied, invest in timers that turn on the interior lights for a few hours every night. If you can get a neighbor to take out your garbage and put away the cans after the pick up, it’s another way to send the message that everything is proceeding normally at your home.

Paying someone to keep the yard mowed while you are away is a good idea if you will be gone for a significant amount of time in the spring or summer. Parking a car in your driveway can also make it appear as though someone is home. If you keep your blinds or window treatments open when you are home, be sure to do the same while you are away.

  • Mail Delivery

Piles of mail and newspapers can make it obvious that you are away. While you can temporarily stop mail and newspaper delivery, the fewer people who know that you are away, the better.  Ask a friend or a neighbor to pick up mail and newspapers, daily, to prevent telltale piles from accumulating.

  • Protecting  Your Home

A burglar alarm, while not foolproof, helps secure your home. While alarm systems are expensive, the Insurance Information Institute reports that a sophisticated alarm system can result in insurance discounts of 15 to 20 percent.  If you don’t have an alarm system, installing deadbolts on doors and windows can make it more difficult for thieves to enter your home.

The Insurance Information Institute also recommends turning your computer off and locking up important documents to prevent burglars from accessing financial and personal information. Placing expensive jewelry and small electronic devices in a safe or lock-box before leaving home will help you avoid the theft of your most valuable possessions.

  • Consider Hiring a House or Pet Sitter

The best way to make sure your house is safe while you’re gone is to have someone you trust stay in it while you’re away. You may be lucky enough to have a tidy and conscientious relative who will move in temporarily and water the plants, feed the pets and pick up the mail and newspapers. If not, there are services you can use for house sitting and pet sitting while you’re away. This can be a pricey option, but it’s a solution that touches all the bases.

  • Returning from Vacation

When you return from your trip, be sure to inspect your home immediately. Look for signs of entry or missing items. If you notice anything amiss, be sure to call the police immediately. It’s a good idea to wait outside the home until the police arrive and when they do, be sure to allow them to collect fingerprints. Be sure not to allow anyone to walk on the lawn until the police have left.

Easy Ways to Green Your Home

Posted in Green Building, New Homes, Renovation, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , on July 24, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Green building, where new homes are built using materials that conserve energy and environmental resources, is one of the fastest-growing segments of the home building industry today. But for the owners of the millions of existing homes in the United States, remodeling is the only way to incorporate green.

The National Association of Home Builders Remodelers offers the following suggestions to home owners who want to increase their home’s efficiency, decrease costs, and take advantage of the other benefits that green offers:

1. InInsulationstall maximum insulation. Forty percent of the energy consumed in a typical house goes to heating and cooling. Adding insulation is an easy way to increase efficiency. Insulation is rated by its ability to resist heat flow, known as “R-value.” The higher the R-value, the more effectively the insulation resists heat flow. Adding insulation will help save energy costs, increase comfort by better controlling temperature, and improve indoor air quality by eliminating gaps through which dirt, dust, and other impurities can enter.

2. Seal exterior penetrations. You can reduce cold air drafts and heat loss by inspecting your home from the inside and outside and plugging cracks or openings. Be sure to check the areas where window frames meet the structure or siding of the house. Use caulking to seal small cracks on non-moving surfaces and install weather stripping on windows, doors and other movable parts of the home.

3. Purchase ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, ranging from dishwashers and refrigerators to computers and televisions, meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. Qualified refrigerators, dishwashers and vent fans incorporate advanced technologies that use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models – more than making up for the slightly higher cost of these products.

4. Install low-flow water plumbing fixtures. In the average home, flushing toilets accounts for some 30 percent of water usage. By using low-flow plumbing fixtures such as toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads, you can save up to 25 percent of that water compared to conventional fixtures while providing the same utility.

5. Install high-efficiency windows. New-WindowOrdinary window glass transmits ultraviolet heat rays from the sun, which can increase your air conditioning bill dramatically. ENERGY STAR windows can help control this effect. These windows may have two or more panes of glass, warm-edge spacers between the panes, improved framing materials, and microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on windows to reduce radiative heat flow.

6. Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR-rated or tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand at a preset temperature rather than storing it. Replacing an electric water heater with a solar model can reduce costs by up to 80 percent a year. Over its 20-year lifespan, a solar heater will prevent more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. A low-cost option is to wrap insulation around your heater, which can reduce standby heat loss by 25 to 45 percent.

7. Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford. Over a ten year period, the average home owner spends more than $10,000 for heating and cooling. Installing high efficiency HVAC equipment can reduce costs on average by 10 to 30 percent over minimum efficiency equipment. It also can improve home comfort with better heating and cooling and a quieter operation, and often features higher quality components that result in longer equipment life.

For more information on green remodeling, visit

This article is courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders.

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