Re-insulation Projects Offer Year-Round Rewards

<b>Re-insulation Projects Offer Year-Round Rewards</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Homeowners seeking to pad their homes and wallets should consider re-insulation projects that maximize energy efficiency year-round. Simple, energy-saving practices will not only reduce heating and cooling bills every month, but also will result in a higher tax return next year.

The federal government expanded the scope of a tax credit program that rewards homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, giving homeowners a prime opportunity to increase their homes’ efficiency. Homeowners are eligible to receive a 30 percent federal tax credit up to $1,500 for weatherization improvements in their homes through Dec. 31, 2010,

And as far as energy-efficient improvements are concerned, re-insulation is a smart solution for the near and short term.

“Most of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency in the cooler winter months are equally as effective in the warmer summer months, when the thermal flows are simply reversed,” said Bohdan Boyko, building science manager with GreenFiber, a natural-fiber insulation product made from 85 percent recycled materials. “In most areas of the country, winter has the greatest temperature differences between inside and outside temperatures, but in either situation -; summer or winter -; a properly insulated home is one that will help cut energy bills, lower the home’s carbon footprint and help keep a family comfortable.”

Homeowners can find information on the benefits of re-insulation, including R-Value education, how to’s and tax credit information from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, at www.greenfiber.com, where researchers engineered a special new blow-in product that aids in retro-fit projects. Older homes or homes where current insulation is inadequate can benefit from attic air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulating and side wall insulating. Because the insulation is literally “blown in” through a tube, it can reach high crevices and deep places in walls. “Re-insulation is a fast and easy way to improve a home’s energy efficiency, often with little up-front cost,” said Boyko. “A blow-in insulation product will perform better than material that is cut to fit, because it provides complete coverage and fills gaps, unlike fixed-dimension insulation products.”

Do-it-yourselfers should have no difficulties renting equipment and tackling a blow-in natural-fiber insulation project in an afternoon. And because natural-fiber insulation is made from recycled content, it provides the greatest benefit to the environment, diverting materials from local landfills and reducing the energy a home could draw.

GPS and the Road to Greater Savings

<b>GPS and the Road to Greater Savings</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Unwilling to ask for directions? Prepare to pay the price in gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Your efficiency behind the wheel can affect your bank account. If you get lost too often, you’ll waste gas while putting unnecessary miles on your automobile. And in a down economy, when every penny counts, few Americans can afford taking “the scenic route.”

If your sense of direction or map-reading skills prove subpar, you might want to consider purchasing a GPS device. Today’s GPS devices are relatively inexpensive and offer a wide range of useful services and may actually save you money in the long run. Here are a few ways in which a GPS device can improve your efficiency behind the wheel:

– You won’t get lost. With a GPS device, you’ll easily find your way to your destination, no matter how labyrinth-like the backcountry roads. GPS devices tell you what road you’re on, so there’s no getting lost down unfamiliar roads. If you do take a wrong turn, your GPS will offer new directions until you get back en route.

– You won’t miss your exit. GPS devices offer highway lane assistance, so you’ll know when your exit’s approaching. For example, the Magellan Maestro 4700 tells you street names, when to turn and when to change lanes. 3D landmarks give you visual cues for maneuvers. The device includes built-in AAA TourBooks, which provide ratings and descriptions on AAA-approved places to stay, dine and save. A OneTouch menu lets you access your favorite places and searches instantly, while a voice-command feature simplifies navigation. Avoiding unnecessary exits, U-turns and backtracking will improve your fuel efficiency.

– You’ll avoid traffic. Idling in traffic wastes fuel and raises stress levels. A GPS unit with an integrated live traffic receiver and a subscription service will give you real-time traffic reports and offer alternative routes when roads become jammed.

– You won’t go out of your way to find services en route. You can program your GPS for several destinations, helping you plan the most efficient route possible. When traveling to new areas, you can use your GPS to find the nearest ATM, bank, coffee shop, restaurant or hotel so you don’t waste time hunting for the services you need.

For more information, visit www.magellangps.com.

Evict That Home Energy Hog for Good

<b>Evict That Home Energy Hog for Good</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In 1980, kitchen appliances accounted for nearly 44 percent of an average annual home’s energy consumption. With innovations in cooking, cleaning and preservation appliances, that figure is just above 10 percent today — and still dropping — much to the delight of consumers seeking green options throughout the home.

In a recent Whirlpool Corporation survey fielded by Harris Interactive, 84 percent of consumers said that energy — not water or time — is most important to them when it comes to home appliance efficiency. Despite the significant gains in efficiency over the last 30 years, nearly 70 percent of consumers cited a kitchen appliance as the one that consumes the most energy on a day-to-day basis.

“In the past, consumers did not need to look beyond the kitchen to find the home energy hog,” said J.B. Hoyt, Director, Regulatory Affairs and State Government Relations, Whirlpool Corporation. “Even today, cooking appliances are not ENERGY STAR qualified. However, recent innovations in appliance efficiency, particularly when it comes to the refrigerator and dishwasher, can really help consumers conserve resources.”

For example, the Resource Saver Refrigerator from Whirlpool brand uses less energy than it takes to power a 60-watt light bulb, exceeding federal efficiency standards by 30 percent. Moreover, the Resource Saver Dishwasher uses one-third less water and energy than dishwashers manufactured before 2000.

“Efficient appliances like these should help consumers save on their energy bills,” said Hoyt. “They are an important first step toward achieving an ‘eco-kitchen.’ However, homeowners also need to make sure to do their part to help.”

Small lifestyle changes can help appliances run at peak efficiency and conserve energy. For example, running the dishwasher late at night can help consumers avoid peak hours, and keeping the refrigerator stocked and at the recommended temperature can save energy as well.

Similarly, consumers can reduce energy when preparing a meal. Placing multiple foods in the oven can efficiently utilize heat, and selecting an appropriately sized pan for each burner can increase the efficiency of the range.

Cooking appliances also feature innovations to help conserve energy. The Whirlpool range with Energy Save mode conserves electricity when the oven is not in use, while the over-the-range Velos microwave can cook up to 47 percent faster than a traditional thermal bake oven when in SpeedCook mode.

To learn more about energy-efficient kitchen appliances, consumers can visit www.whirlpool.com.

Simple Tips to Keep the Change

<b>Simple Tips to Keep the Change</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Every penny counts, especially in tough times. So hearing, “You’ve got to spend money to save money” may seem counterintuitive as people tighten their belts. But simple and inexpensive things can be done around the house to ensure you save energy and money.

Start with your appliances. They total the majority of your household’s energy consumption. In a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Whirlpool Corporation, 84 percent of consumers surveyed stated energy as the most important attribute with regard to appliance efficiency.

Look for the ENERGY STAR label on appliances to help save money on utility bills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion per year.

“People may be surprised at the affordability of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances,” said Mary Zeitler, consumer scientist, Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science. “The ENERGY STAR-qualified Whirlpool Classic is a top-load washing machine that pays for itself in water and energy savings in less than five years.”

As you ready your home for energy efficiency, consider the following tips from the Department of Energy:

– Replacing single-pane windows with new ENERGY STAR windows could save $126 to $465 in annual energy bills, depending on your climate zone. If you aren’t ready to replace them, caulk the window seals around the glass for better insulation.

– Properly sealing and insulating your attic can save 10 percent annually in energy bills.

– Weather-stripping the seams around your house provides better insulation; keeping cool air in will help reduce electricity bills during the summer.

“Saving money doesn’t mean abandoning convenience,” said Marilyn Strefling, senior consumer scientist, Whirlpool Corporation. “By scraping dishes into your compost or disposal and not rinsing them before loading into an ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwasher, you can save up to 20 gallons in water, which translates into considerable savings for the environment and extra money in your pocket.”

While doing household tasks, remember the following:

– Drying a few loads of laundry in succession takes advantage of leftover heat in the dryer.

– To make your wardrobe last, carefully read fabric-care labels to ensure that clothes are properly cleaned.

– Using a coil-cleaning brush and vacuuming underneath the refrigerator increases efficiency.

For additional efficiency tips, visit www.instituteoffabricscience.com.

Finding Your Fit in High-Efficiency Laundry

<b>Finding Your Fit in High-Efficiency Laundry</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – More than 80 percent of consumers said that energy — not water or time — is most important to them when it comes to appliance efficiency, and almost 60 percent understand what high efficiency (HE) means with regards to laundry appliances, according to a recent Whirlpool Corporation survey fielded by Harris Interactive. However, few consumers realize that they have a choice when it comes to the configuration — top-load vs. front-load.

Traditionally, consumers seeking high-efficiency laundry turn to front-loading machines. In fact, the survey uncovered that more than a third of consumers agreed that top-load washers use more energy than front load machines — a common misconception in today’s marketplace.

“Historically, front-load laundry pairs have led the industry in capacity and efficiency,” said Mary Zeitler, home economist, Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, “but nearly three-quarters of American households rely on top-load laundry configurations. Now, as more families look to save on energy, water and utility costs, it is important to understand that they can enjoy the best of both worlds.”

High-efficiency washing machines use up to 50 percent less energy than traditional models by washing clothes in a smaller pool of water. With less water in the cycle, the machine needs less energy to heat the clothes. Additionally, HE machines spin clothes at a faster rate and extract more water, thus reducing the amount of time required in the dryer.

“Now that high efficiency is available in both configurations, it is important that consumers understand the difference between a high-efficiency machine and other models,” said Zeitler. “Since an HE machine has such a tremendous impact on household energy and water bills, I recommend consumers seriously consider these models when replacing older machines. The savings add up fast.”

With proper maintenance on their HE machines, consumers can ensure peak efficiency and energy savings for years to come. It is best to use only HE detergent with HE washers to prevent oversudsing and build-up of residue. Futhermore, it is best to run full loads, but not overload the washer, to make sure clothes come out clean.

Whirlpool brand now offers two of the most eco-conscious top-load washing machines on the market — the Cabrio HE washer and an updated “Classic” conventional washer, in addition to the popular front-loading Duet model. All three models are ENERGY STAR qualified and use at least 50 percent less water and energy than conventional machines.

For more information on high-efficiency and HE laundry, consumers can log onto www.whirlpool.com.

Looking to Truckers for Gas-Saving Tips

<b>Looking to Truckers for Gas-Saving Tips</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – High gas prices affect every business, but trucking companies especially feel the hit.

As diesel prices rise, truckers spend big bucks on shipments. Companies feel reluctant to pass extra costs on to consumers, so higher gas prices tend to cut into truckers’ profits. But many shipping companies and owner-drivers are taking steps to make big-rig transportation less expensive.

The tips that truckers use can help anyone save fuel -; and money -; whether they drive an eighteen-wheeler or a Mini Cooper. The folks at North South Leasing Company (www.nsleasing.com), a company that leases and sells trucks to businesses and individuals, offer these tips to drivers looking to save money on the roads:

– Don’t idle. Running your engine while your car is stopped wastes gas -; you get zero miles per gallon. Trucking companies are putting in policies to prohibit drivers from idling their trucks unless it is absolutely necessary. You should do the same.

– Maintain your car. Truckers constantly fine-tune their rigs. Likewise, car owners can improve their fuel efficiency by taking their vehicles to the shop at least four times annually, or whenever the seasons change. Making sure that filters remain unclogged and that engine components work properly can boost efficiency, so vehicles will use less fuel.

– Properly inflate your tires. Low tires reduce fuel efficiency, so make sure that your tires’ air pressure levels meet their manufacturer’s recommendations. Keeping your tires properly inflated at all times can save you well over 100 gallons of gas per year.

– Don’t drive aggressively. Aggressive behavior, like taking sharp turns and making sudden starts and stops, does not just risks lives -; it also reduces fuel economy. Try easing into stops and coasting down hills to reduce fuel usage and to reduce wear and tear on vehicle components.

– Drive the speed limit. Most cars lose efficiency when they exceed speeds of 65 miles per hour. Con-way Freight of Ann Arbor, Mich., has lowered the top speed of its fleet of 8,400 trucks from 65 mph to 62 mph. It may seem like a small amount, but it saves approximately 3.2 million gallons of fuel a year and about $1.2 million in fuel costs each month for the company.

For more information, visit www.nsleasing.com.