Energy-Efficient Heating Keeps Cost-Conscious Homes Cozy

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – With many Americans watching their budgets, heating homes has become an unwanted, though necessary, expense.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, many American homes will experience higher heating costs this winter due to increased fuel prices. Thankfully, simple behavior changes and energy-efficient appliances can help homeowners cut their heating bills and still enjoy the same level of comfort.
“Energy-efficient heating means that you use less energy to heat the same space,” said Phil Weeks, chief operating officer of Rinnai America Corporation, a company that manufactures gas heating appliances. “This saved energy translates into reduced utility costs for homeowners.”
Some energy-efficient heating devices, like Rinnai’s hydronic furnace, which works in conjunction with the company’s tankless water heater, can heat a home while still conserving energy. Featuring a high-efficiency motor that offers up to 48 percent better efficiency than a comparable traditional motor, the hydronic furnace is powered by Rinnai’s gas-modulating tankless technology, so it uses only the energy needed to maintain a room’s desired temperature. Because the unit utilizes hot water from the tankless water heater to heat air, the heat it provides is less dry than that of a typical forced-air furnace.
Another efficient heating option is to forego a traditional furnace in favor of a direct vent wall furnace. These ductless units are capable of comfortably heating whole homes or specific zones, depending on the need, and save energy by constantly adjusting heat output and blower speed to meet current demand. Rinnai’s gas-modulating direct vent wall furnace also can serve as a supplementary heat source for basements, guest rooms, room additions and generally hard-to-heat areas, thus reducing the demand placed on a home’s central heating system.
Of course, homeowners can take steps to help their current heating units operate on less energy. Consider the following efforts:
* Seal and weather strip doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping the home.
* Reverse the direction of ceiling fans (so they turn clockwise) to push warm air down from the ceiling.
* Minimize the use of bathroom and kitchen hood fans as they can quickly remove heat from the air.
For more information, visit www.rinnai.us.

Insulating Window Treatments Save Energy and Look Good Doing It

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Light. Openness. Beauty. Windows bring all of these and so much more to a room. Without windows, our homes would lack comfort, sanctuary, inspiration. Yet controlling window dynamics, such as glare and heat transfer, can be a challenge. Without any control, your home may be uncomfortably hot in the summer, cold in the winter or expensive to heat and cool, and your furnishings may be getting ruined by harmful UV rays.
There are a lot of window-fashion options out there, but one product in particular, cellular window shades, was designed specifically to help a homeowner save money — and it looks good doing it without impeding all the benefits of the window.
“Our window shades, which we manufacture right here in Vermont, are of such high quality they can pay for themselves in 5 to 8 years through reduced energy costs.” Says Michelle Graveline-Welch a representative for CellularWindowShades.com, an online store making and selling insulating honeycomb shades. “The thing is, they don’t just save money — they help with privacy and glare, and they are really beautiful to look at. We tell customers, if they are on the fence, to put them in just one room, and inevitably they come back for more because they really do work.”
Insulating cellular shades work by blocking solar heat gain outside in the summer and trapping it inside in the winter. There is also a sidetrack system, which creates a four-sided seal so the energy savings are even more powerful.
Homeowners can proactively keep their homes more comfortable without relying on heating and cooling systems as much. Simply closing their shades during the day and opening them at night in the summer will help capture and keep the cool night air, and reversing the process in the winter will help contain the solar gain.
One added benefit of cellular window shades with the energy saving sidetrack system is the tax savings. After all, what homeowner doesn’t want to save money on energy bills and taxes? By insulating windows with the sidetrack system, homeowners can earn a tax credit for 10 percent of the cost in 2011, up to a maximum of $500 through Dec. 31, 2011. For more information on the tax credit and saving energy with window fashions, visit CellularWindowShades.com.

Hunkering Down With Home Improvement: 3 Sensible Projects

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – With many Americans watching their budgets, heating homes has become an unwanted, though necessary, expense.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, many American homes will experience higher heating costs this winter due to increased fuel prices. Thankfully, simple behavior changes and energy-efficient appliances can help homeowners cut their heating bills and still enjoy the same level of comfort.
“Energy-efficient heating means that you use less energy to heat the same space,” said Phil Weeks, chief operating officer of Rinnai America Corporation, a company that manufactures gas heating appliances. “This saved energy translates into reduced utility costs for homeowners.”
Some energy-efficient heating devices, like Rinnai’s hydronic furnace, which works in conjunction with the company’s tankless water heater, can heat a home while still conserving energy. Featuring a high-efficiency motor that offers up to 48 percent better efficiency than a comparable traditional motor, the hydronic furnace is powered by Rinnai’s gas-modulating tankless technology, so it uses only the energy needed to maintain a room’s desired temperature. Because the unit utilizes hot water from the tankless water heater to heat air, the heat it provides is less dry than that of a typical forced-air furnace.
Another efficient heating option is to forego a traditional furnace in favor of a direct vent wall furnace. These ductless units are capable of comfortably heating whole homes or specific zones, depending on the need, and save energy by constantly adjusting heat output and blower speed to meet current demand. Rinnai’s gas-modulating direct vent wall furnace also can serve as a supplementary heat source for basements, guest rooms, room additions and generally hard-to-heat areas, thus reducing the demand placed on a home’s central heating system.
Of course, homeowners can take steps to help their current heating units operate on less energy. Consider the following efforts:
* Seal and weather strip doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping the home.
* Reverse the direction of ceiling fans (so they turn clockwise) to push warm air down from the ceiling.
* Minimize the use of bathroom and kitchen hood fans as they can quickly remove heat from the air.
For more information, visit www.rinnai.us.

Cut Heating Costs by Winterizing Your Home

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – As Old Man Winter makes his mighty push, 79 percent of Americans expect to pay the same or more to heat their homes as compared to last winter, according to a recent survey by the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance, a section of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
To save money on those heating bills, though, homeowners can take steps now to stay warmer and more comfortable this winter. For example, caulking and extra insulation are relatively inexpensive and easy projects that will pay dividends all winter.
Another way to cut home heating bills 20 to 35 percent is by installing a vent-free gas fireplace or heater in the room you use most. According to Sue Walker, chairwoman of the AHRI’s Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance Section, this “zone heating” strategy allows you to turn down the central furnace and take advantage of the inherent efficiency of supplemental vent-free gas heating.
“For every dollar you spend on gas using a vent-free appliance, you get 99 cents worth of heat in your living space, as these products are 99 percent efficient,” said Walker.
Vent-free gas products have been around for more than 30 years, according to Walker. “With more than 20 million units installed in homes, they are time tested for savings and safety.
Because a vent-free gas heating system does not require tearing out walls to run vent pipe, professional installation is surprisingly inexpensive, fast and cost-effective.
For a home with an existing wood-burning fireplace, converting it to a vent-free gas log set or insert turns a messy, inefficient system into a clean, hassle-free, highly economical heat source. Environmentally friendly vent-free appliances are heated with natural gas or propane, among the cleanest of all fossil fuels according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both gases are domestically abundant and are secure sources of energy.
“Clean-burning fuel and super efficient operation — that makes vent-free a truly green heat source,” said Walker.
For more information, visit ventfree.org.

Tips to Keep Packed Food Cold This Summer

For millions of families, the coming summer season means activities — and lots of them. From the beach, to the pool, to games, camping, picnics and backyard barbecues, it’s often a mad dash from one adventure to the next with no break in between. Coolers have become the must-have summer accessory for busy families, helping to keep food and drinks cold as they travel from place to place. And under the current economic conditions, more people are relying on coolers to keep their meal costs down.

For Healthy Summer Fare,Try U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish

<b>For Healthy Summer Fare,Try U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For a savory, healthy meal this summer, prepare light and flavorful catfish with a Mediterranean twist.

U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish are raised on a special diet to ensure a uniformly mild flavor, making them one of the most versatile fish available. Embrace the spirit of heart-healthy Mediterranean cuisine by looking for this sustainable fish raised closer to home.

Baked Mediterranean Catfish

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup zucchini

1/2 cup red onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup mixed Mediterranean olives, halved

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon capers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, optional garnish

Directions.

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini, onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes or until the onions become translucent. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the olives, tomatoes, basil and capers.

3. Lightly brush the catfish fillets with olive oil, then season them with salt and pepper. Place the fillets into a lightly oiled baking dish. Spoon equal amounts of the vegetable mixture on each fillet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and serve.

For more recipes, visit www.UScatfish.com.

Get Your Car In Shape For Summer

<b>Get Your Car In Shape For Summer</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The days are longer, the sun is stronger and beach season is almost here, but getting in shape for summer means more than hitting the gym. It is also important to keep your car in tip-top shape before you get on the highway for an early summer getaway. Firestone Complete Auto Care has the following tips to get your vehicle road-trip ready:

Preparation

* Before the summer heat hits, be sure to have a full vehicle inspection — including the air conditioner — to be sure it is cooling correctly. Taking this step may help avoid costly repairs.

* Check all four tires, as well as the spare, at least once a month and before every long trip. Use an accurate tire gauge to make certain your tire pressure is at the recommended level. Also, check the treads using a tread depth indicator.

* When you are packing up vacation necessities, take care not to overload your vehicle. This could create excessive heat inside your tires and even cause tire failure.

* Take a few moments to prepare and pack an emergency kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight and batteries, gloves, simple tools, flares, nonperishable food and water, and, if you have one, your auto club membership card.

Getting on the Highway

* Use good driving habits. Accelerating quickly and stopping abruptly can prematurely wear out your vehicle’s engine, transmission, tires and brakes.

* To improve your fuel economy, try to maintain a constant speed in order to reduce strain on your vehicle. Use the cruise control setting when it is safe.

* Caught in traffic with a rising temperature gauge? To eliminate some engine heat and help prevent your vehicle from overheating, put the vehicle in neutral and give it a little gas.

Just like you invest the time to stay in shape, in your haste to get on the road, don’t forget to take the time to make certain your vehicle is up to the task of safely hauling your family to your vacation destination.

Tips to Keep Packed Food Cold This Summer

<b>Tips to Keep Packed Food Cold This Summer</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For millions of families, the coming summer season means activities — and lots of them. From the beach, to the pool, to games, camping, picnics and backyard barbecues, it’s often a mad dash from one adventure to the next with no break in between. Coolers have become the must-have summer accessory for busy families, helping to keep food and drinks cold as they travel from place to place. And under the current economic conditions, more people are relying on coolers to keep their meal costs down.

Of course, not all coolers are created equal. California Innovations has engineered insulated coolers that withstand the rigors of summer. And to help people get the most out of their coolers, they’re offering the following tips:

* Use a high-performance cooler. Arctic Zone IceCOLD coolers use radiant barrier technology to deflect heat from the sun, helping the interior of the cooler stay cold.

* Pack a lot. Don’t be afraid to pack your cooler to the max, because that cuts off the flow of air, which can warm the cooler. The tighter the fit, the less air is able to circulate.

* Keep the cooler in the shade as much as possible. Heat from the sun will warm up your cooler faster. So stick it under a tree or an umbrella to protect it from the sun’s rays.

* Place the cooler on a table or blanket. The ground absorbs heat and transfers it directly to your cooler. Keeping it elevated makes it tougher for the warm air to get in.

* Always keep the cooler closed when not in use. It’s easy to forget, but even a few minutes can make the difference between having ice or water. Using a cooler with zipperless technology makes it easier to open and close quickly.

* Use plenty of ice or ice packs. The more ice you pack, the longer the contents stay cool.

* For faster cooling, add a little extra water to the ice. The water aids in surface conduction, which speeds up the cooling process. However, this method can also cause the ice to melt faster.

To find the right cooler for you this summer, go to www.californiainnovations.com.

Prepare for Healthy Fun in the Sun

<b>Prepare for Healthy Fun in the Sun</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Cold weather is in the rear-view mirror, and families across the country are gearing up to get active outdoors. With the threat of cabin fever waning, now is the time to get familiar with a few helpful tips to ensure a safe and stress-free season for the entire family:

* Avoid insect and tick bites. Bug bites can be dangerous, so take precautions, such as wearing insect repellent, tucking pants into socks or shoes when hiking in the woods and staying in the middle of trails to avoid overhanging branches. Avoid scented soaps and lotions that can attract bugs.

* Always wear sunblock. Limit exposure to the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when sun rays are at their strongest. Use sunblock that offers UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply sunblock 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply it every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel-drying.

* Avoid heat stress and heat stroke. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of outdoor activities, but in extreme heat conditions it’s important to not push beyond your physical limits. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and be on alert for symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke, such as thirst, cramps, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fever.

* Get your physical. If children are planning on participating in camp or sports over the summer, it’s important that they have a physical exam to ensure they’re physically ready to be active. Take Care Clinics, professional walk-in health care clinics located at select Walgreens across the country, are now offering sport and camp physicals for just $35 through September 2010.

A sports or camp physical is a perfect opportunity to interact with a trusted health care professional. Take Care Clinics are a convenient option for parents with busy schedules, as these clinics are open seven days a week and on weeknights, and don’t require appointments.

* Use your best judgment and take the appropriate precautions. If an accident does occur, seek treatment from a health care professional. Take Care Clinics can be a great resource for high-quality, affordable and convenient care for everyday illnesses, minor injuries like splinters, sprains and strains, and treatment for an expanding range of skin conditions including sunburn, tick and other insect bites, poison ivy, wart removal and more.

To find a clinic near you, visit TakeCareHealth.com or call

1-866-Take-Care (1-866-825-3227). High-school and middle-school level, pre-participation sports physicals are not available at Take Care Clinics in Kansas.

U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Turns Up the Heat

<b>U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Turns Up the Heat</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – When you think about catfish, your mind probably turns to Southern fish frys. But U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish has a pleasing, mild taste that lends itself to a wide variety of flavors.

Take this recipe for Spicy Catfish Strips with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce. You’ll find that it packs some heat, making for a jazzy dinner party entrée or a great way to spice up a humdrum weekday:

Spicy Catfish Strips with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

Makes 2 servings

2 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets cut into 1 inch strips

2 tablespoons chili sauce, such as Siracha

1/2 cup fish breading

1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice

2 cups vegetable oil

1 recipe Thai Peanut Sauce for serving

1. In a small bowl, combine the catfish and the chili paste.

2. In another small bowl, mix together the breading and Chinese Five Spice. Add the catfish strips a few at a time, tossing gently to coat with the breading and shaking off any excess.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil to 350 degrees. Add the catfish strips slowly, and cook until golden brown, turning once (at about four minutes).

4. Remove them from the oil, and drain on paper towels. Place on a serving dish with Thai Peanut Sauce for dipping.

Easy Homemade Thai Peanut Sauce for Spicy Catfish

1/2 cup reduced fat coconut milk

3 tablespoons creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1. In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients over medium heat; bring to a simmer.

2. Reduce heat to low; cook for five minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature before serving.