Six Tips to Prepare Your Kitchen for Entertaining

Nothing brings people together like a dinner party, potluck or barbecue – but entertaining can put strain on the kitchen as well as the host.
As you clean your home, consider giving your appliances tune-ups to keep them running more efficiently. The home economists at Whirlpool Corporation offer several quick tips and tricks to prepare the kitchen for entertaining:
1.    Change the water filter. Be sure to change the refrigerator water filter every six months to keep water fresh and free of contaminants.
2.    Use the dishwasher. According to ENERGY STAR, the U.S. government program that certifies energy-efficient appliances, washing dishes by hand uses much more water than using a dishwasher. Using an ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing will save 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs and 230 hours of your time each year.
3.    Stop pre-rinsing dishes. When you pre-rinse dishes, the detergent doesn’t have any grease or grime to stick to. As a result, the detergent will attack dishes, making them appear cloudy, scratched or etched.
4.    Get rid of dust bunnies. Use a slender vacuum attachment or hosiery wrapped around a yardstick to clear out dust and debris from behind and underneath the refrigerator. Dusting will help the fridge run more efficiently.
5.    Switch to electric. Electric cooktops are about twice as energy-efficient as gas. Electric elements have high-efficiency insulation surrounding the element, and the close proximity to the pot or pan allows efficient heat transfer.
6.    Do a clean sweep. Cleaning appliances on a regular basis can keep unwanted odors at bay, since it has the tendency to exist anywhere moisture is present in a closed environment. Dishwashers and garbage disposals fit the bill — clean them every 30 days to prevent odors from leftover food particles and residue.
To help make this chore a little easier, Whirlpool Corporation developed affresh Dishwasher and Disposal Cleaner, the only two-in-one product on the market that removes unwanted odors in dishwashers and garbage disposals. Recommended for monthly use, consumers simply drop the tablets into the dishwasher and disposal for a convenient and affordable solution to unpleasant odors.
For additional information and product availability, please visit

Are You Replacing Your Air Filter Too Often?

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For years, experts including the Environmental Protection Agency told motorists to change their car’s engine air filter frequently for maximum fuel economy. However, a recent study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy found that air filter condition has no significant effect on the fuel economy of modern fuel-injected engines.

Automakers used to recommended air filter replacement at regular mileage intervals, but that practice failed to take into account the wide variety of real-world driving conditions. Two months driving in a dusty rural environment can cause the same amount of air filter restriction as a full year of vehicle use in a relatively clean urban setting.

Today, most automakers recommend that the air filter be inspected regularly, but replaced only when needed. More frequent replacement wastes money without improving fuel economy.

How do you know when a filter needs replacement? Visible dirt on the filter surface is not a good indicator. Instead, remove the filter and hold it up to a 100 watt light bulb. If light passes easily through more than half of the filter, it can be returned to service.

The light test only works with conventional pleated paper air filters. Some cars have extended-life factory filters with dense filtering media that are highly effective but do not allow light to shine through. Replace these filters at the mileage interval specified by the manufacturer.

A few vehicles, primarily pickup trucks, have a filter service indicator on the air filter housing. Check the indicator at each oil change, and replace the filter when the indicator says it is time to do so.

For non-do-it-yourselfers, the certified technicians at more than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America will be happy to help with air filter inspection and replacement, along with any other automotive maintenance and repair needs you may have. AAA Approved shops can be identified by the Approved Auto Repair sign, or by searching online at

John Nielsen joined the AAA executive management team in 1998 as national director of the Approved Auto Repair network. Nielsen has 30 years of experience in the automotive industry. He has held an ASE Master Automotive Technician certification, authored the book “Making Sense of Car Care,” given testimony to the state and national legislatures, and now serves as Editor in Chief of AAA’s new car and truck reviews. He is a regular guest on radio and TV shows throughout the country.

Expert Tips for Proper Pool Closing

<b>Expert Tips for Proper Pool Closing</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – You might not think about your pool too much after the end of summer, but what you do at the end of swimming season will determine your workload come spring. Properly winterizing your pool will make opening it easier, not to mention help prevent damage.

Poorly winterized pools may sustain freeze-thaw damage, broken equipment, underground drain damage and poor water quality in the spring. Every year, Americans spend thousands of dollars repairing pools that were not closed properly.

BioGuard, a company that supplies water treatment products for recreational and industrial use, offers the following tips for pool owners looking to properly close their pools:

* Conduct a final pool water test. Bring a water sample to your local BioGuard dealer to receive a quick, computerized water analysis. The water analysis will ensure that the water in your pool is balanced. After the dealer tests your water, he or she can recommend and provide the exact materials you need to close your pool for the winter, including information on protecting your pool surfaces and equipment.

* Brush the walls and floor of your pool and vacuum it thoroughly. Clean the skimmer basket and lint trap.

* Use a special filter cleaner to thoroughly clean the filter. A dirty filter can cake and harden over the winter, leaving a messy and difficult clean-up job.

* With the pump and filter on, add the appropriate amount of winter shock around the edges of the pool. Wait an hour, then add winter algaecide. Keep the pump and filter on for another hour.

* If you completely cover and close your pool, drain it to just below the return water lines. Also, drain your equipment and then add pool-winterizing anti-freeze to pipes and equipment. In colder climates, it may be advisable to remove the pump and filter, and store them in an enclosed structure. Consult your local BioGuard dealer for specific instructions.

* Finally, cover your pool to protect from winter winds, leaves, dirt and debris.

For more information, visit or visit your local BioGuard dealer.

As the Seasons Change, So Should Motor Oil

<b>As the Seasons Change, So Should Motor Oil</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As the weather starts to get cooler, it may be time to think about changing your vehicle’s motor oil.

Most automotive service providers recommend getting an oil and oil filter change every three months or 3,000 miles, or as directed in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Although getting regular oil changes can seem like a hassle, they go a long way toward extending the life of a vehicle’s engine.

According to experts at Firestone Complete Auto Care, a vehicle’s engine contains many moving parts that rub together and cause friction. Motor oil lubricates the surfaces of these moving parts, reduces friction and cools the engine by carrying away heat. It also helps carry away debris from the engine and prevents corrosion.

Over time, oil gets dirty and loses its ability to stick to the metal components of the engine. If the oil and oil filter are not changed regularly, the debris, heat and friction can cause severe engine damage, requiring repairs that can cost several thousand dollars.

Oil comes in a variety of grades and weights (or viscosities). To fully protect your engine, maintain your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty and optimize performance, be sure to follow the recommendations in your vehicle owner’s manual.

Regular oil and oil filter changes can help extend the life of your vehicle and maintain its performance. Let the changing seasons be a reminder that it may be time to change your oil.