Reinvesting in the American Dream: Make Tax Credits Work for You

<b>Reinvesting in the American Dream: Make Tax Credits Work for You</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – A place to call home is a value deeply rooted in American culture. Despite challenging economic times, many homeowners are reinvesting in the American dream by making improvements to their homes. Many smart investments have come to light, which can help homeowners save money on their utility bills while saving money on next year’s tax return.

To simplify taking advantage of the latest tax credits, CertainTeed Corporation has launched a new online resource, www.certainteed.com/energytaxcredit. The site offers an easy-to-understand explanation of the tax credit rebates available to homeowners and how they can reduce the amount of taxes they pay next year by up to $1,500.

Drawing from more than 100 years of experience, CertainTeed offers the following tips and advice to capitalize on energy-saving products and resources including:

– Conduct a home energy audit. An auditor can pinpoint areas where your home loses energy and can suggest ways to conserve heating fuel, hot water and electricity. Visit www.energystar.gov to locate an auditor in your area.

– Stay on top of rising energy costs. Plan ahead and don’t get blind-sided by high utility bills. Organizations like the Alliance to Save Energy, www.ase.org, offer tools that project upcoming energy costs in your state.

– Maximize energy efficiency with solar reflective roofing. Installing affordable, cool roofing products, such as Landmark Solaris, can help homeowners reduce energy costs while giving a boost to their home’s curb appeal. Thanks to new cool roofing technology, solar reflective roofing products are now available in rich, vibrant colors.

– Choose the right insulation for the right area of your home. For example, blow-in insulation, such as InsulSafe SP Premium Blowing Wool, and True Comfort provide uniform coverage that won’t settle and is perfect for attic areas. Fiberglass batt insulation is a popular option for walls and in below-grade areas, such as unfinished basements.

– Consider the “big picture.” Proper home insulation saves energy. This reduces fossil fuel consumption, resulting in less pollution. Considering the average home emits more than twice as much carbon dioxide — the principle greenhouse gas — as the average car, home insulation can go a long way in reducing your environmental impact. Homeowners should also be aware of the recommended R-value in their area. To determine the right R-value for an area, visit the U.S. Department of Energy Web site at www.doe.gov.

For more information or to find a qualified contractor, visit certainteed.com/energytaxcredit.

Outdoor Rooms Help Expand Homes

<b>Outdoor Rooms Help Expand Homes</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – If the economic downturn means a new house isn’t realistic right now, consider adding an outdoor room to your home. You can extend your kitchen, expand the family room, create a meditation place — the possibilities are endless. The best part? There’s no need to take out a second mortgage, because you can do it yourself.

“Most do-it-yourselfers will find that a brick patio is less expensive than a comparably sized wood deck — and there is much less upkeep,” said Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect for Pine Hall Brick, America’s largest manufacturer of genuine clay pavers.

To get started, place your outdoor furniture, the grill, kids’ toys, and other objects that you will want on the patio in the area of the proposed patio. Outline the area with a garden hose to see how much square footage you will need. You’ll also need to choose a pattern, keeping in mind that some patterns require more cuts than others.

To install, dig approximately eight inches down and six inches out beyond the area you will pave. Slope the soil about one-quarter inch per foot to allow for proper drainage.

Next, tamp the soil down with a hand tamper or a vibrating plate compactor.

Put down four inches — eight inches for driveways — of crusher run gravel, and compact it well with the tamper or plate compactor. Lay down two lengths of one-inch PVC pipe, parallel to each other and several feet apart. Cover the pipes with concrete sand, which is course and jagged, then use a board across the top of the pipes to screed the sand level.

Remove the pipes, and use a trowel to fill and smooth the voids. Lay the pavers in place. Then, install edge restraints, which can be metal or plastic; a row of finished pavers stood on end and buried to finished height; or troweled concrete that’s later covered with backfill.

For more information on do-it-yourself home improvement projects using brick pavers, contact Pine Hall Brick at 1-800-334-8689 or visit www.pinehallbrick.com.