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Check out these tips:

1. Don't allow smoking in your house. If you smoke, you should quit. It's unhealthy. That's an easy tip. I'll give you more.

2. Change the filter on your furnace or air conditioner every three months. Use a high-efficiency filter to keep out a third more pollutants.

3. Get rid of your particle-board furniture. Particle board and other pressed woods often contain formaldehyde. That's a known carcinogen, Bub. Get rid of it.

4. Keep your home dry. Do you have a leaky faucet? A basement with water stains all over the floor? Dry that place out. Mold and mildew can be some of the most damaging things in your home's air.

5. Carpets can be horrible for air quality. There are some new kinds of carpet that reduce these problems, but for the most part, carpets collect dust and dander. Vacuum your carpets regularly.

6. Ditch the air fresheners. They may cover embarrassing bathroom smells, but they do a number on your air quality.

7. Use environmentally friendly cleansers. Those harsh, abrasive chemically potent cleansers aren't just tough on stains. They are tough

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  • Do not manually set back a heat pump's thermostat at night. Without a thermostat specifically designed for heat pump set-back, the electric resistance backup heat will engage when the thermostat is raised in the morning, resulting in much higher energy consumption
  • Continuous indoor fan operation can degrade heat pump performance unless a high-efficiency, variable-speed fan motor is used. Operate the system on the "auto" fan setting on the thermostat.
  • Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer's instructions. Filter and coil maintenance have a dramatic impact on system performance and service life. Dirty filters, coils, and fans reduce airflow through the system. Reduced airflow decreases system performance and can lead to compressor damage if it continues for an extended period.
  • Clean and lubricate the fan motor annually to ensure the required airflow is provided for proper operation. The fan speed should be checked at the same time. Incorrect pulley settings, loose fan belts, or incorrect motor speeds can all contribute to poor performance.
  • Outdoor units should be protected from high winds. High winds may reduce efficiency
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  • Locate a new air conditioner on the shady side of the house or, if this is not possible, place it on the north or east wall. The idea is to keep it away from the direct rays of the sun. Also make sure there's a tight seal around the unit.
  • Don't use the air conditioner anymore than is necessary, and don't cool rooms that are unoccupied.
  • Keep the air conditioner off during the day. If you want to come home to a cool house, buy a timer. Connect the air conditioner through the timer. This can be set to start a half hour before you come home.
  • Allow the air conditioner to “breathe.” Keep draperies and furniture away from grilles and airways.
  • Change or wash the air filter once a month during the summer months.
  • Clean the condenser and evaporator once a year. If the unit frosts on warm days, it may mean the refrigerant is low. Refilling is a job for a service rep.
  • Keep windows closed when the air conditioning is on.

  • Use draperies and shades or awnings to block windows that get direct sunlight. This reduces solar radiation into

6. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth – 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That's more than 10,000 times the world's total energy use.

5. The first silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered devices, was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954. On page one of its April 26, 1954 issue, The New York Times proclaimed the milestone, “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams -- the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”

4. The space industry was an early adopter of solar technology. In the 1960s the space industry began to use solar technology to provide power aboard spacecrafts. The Vanguard 1 -- the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells -- remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit – logging more than 6 billion miles.

3. Fast track to today and demand for solar in the United States is at an all time high. In the first quarter of 2012, developers installed 85 percent more solar panels compared to the first quarter of last year. Total U.S. installations may


Keep furniture and curtains away from warm air registers, allowing for adequate air flow.


For safety and efficiency, have your furnace/air conditioning unit checked annually..


Keep registers open. Closing them does not save money or energy.


Basic air filters should be changed regularly. More often if someone in your family has asthma or breathing problems.


To prevent costly repairs and a service call, protect your outdoor condenser from leaves and debris as well as ice and snow but leave enough space at the bottom to prevent mold and to keep rodents from becoming trapped in your unit.


Set your programmable thermostat, then don’t touch it.


To keep your home comfortable, humidifiers should be set at 20 to 30 percent relative humidity.


Running the blower or fan continuously helps prevent hot or cold spots in the home.


It's probably not news to you that, while the first considerations when buying a new home are usually the plumbing fixtures, cabinets, countertops or floor treatments, the heating and cooling system is often the feature with which most people are dissatisfied after they've lived in the home for a while.

The following is a checklist of the most important features of an HVAC system

Have your air conditioning system tuned-up for the season.
This will help ensure your A/C will run at peak efficiency. Operating at peak efficiency will save money because the system doesn't have to work as hard to do its job.

Replace your furnace or air handler filters on a regular basis.
Lack of regular filter changes and maintenance is the leading cause of system breakdowns and costly repair bills.

If you disconnected the power to your central air conditioning system in the winter, wait 24-hours after turning power back on to the system to run it.
Your compressor needs that time to warm-up.

Keep the thermostat constant.
Continuously adjusting the thermostat can be very inefficient. You can, however, raise the thermostat 2-3 degrees during the day while you're away to save money. For every degree you raise the setting, you can expect to cut energy consumption by up to 3.5%

Flip the fan switch on your thermostat into the "fan on" mode when cooling the house.
To save on utility bills and service calls, we urge you to take a preventive approach to heating and cooling. All of your heating and cooling systems should be included in a

Before each cooling season, it is recommended that central air conditioners get a professional tune-up. This is the biggest step to preventing major malfunctions in an AC unit.

Probably the most important step that can be done by a homeowner is to clean or replace the air filter every month. Electrostatic filters are the best. Do not run the unit with the filter removed. Check the owner's manual for filter cleaning procedure. Let a washed filter dry completely before reinstalling it.

Every month, especially during the summer months, remove any leaves or debris from outdoor condenser units.

Help keep the outdoor condenser fan running efficiently by cleaning the fan blades and the coils before each cooling season. (Always turn off the power before attempting anything other than superficial cleaning). Remove the fan grill and the fan blades. Gently brush off debris from the blades. Then uncover the condenser coils and gently brush the dirty side. Then hose water from inside the unit, using plastic bags to protect the motor and other components. Also check the base pan (under the unit) and remove any debris that has accumulated there as well.

If the condenser fan

If you’ve had your dishwasher long enough, you’ve probably noticed a white residue left on your dishes after you’ve run them through the machine. This residue is caused by mineral deposits that are present in hard water, and though these mineral deposits are unsightly, they are not unsanitary. But no one wants to eat off of dishes with white film on them. To keep your dishes free of white residue when they come out of the dishwasher, follow these tips.

Remove Mineral Deposits from Your Dishwasher

To get rid of white residue on your dishes, you’ll need to remove the mineral deposits from your dishwasher. You can pay for commercial cleaning products that do this, but it is much more economical to simply remove them with vinegar.

First, start your dishwasher, leaving it empty of dishes or detergent. Once the basin of your dishwasher has filled with water, stop the cycle. Open the door and add two cups of vinegar. Turn the dishwasher back on, and let it complete the cycle. The acid in the vinegar will break down and remove the mineral deposits caused by hard water.

Dishwasher Additives

Once your dishwasher is clean, you’ll need to make sure that hard water will not

When it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving meal, the right kitchen tools can make the experience much easier. Unfortunately, the sheer number of kitchen gadgets available can be overwhelming, especially to the new or inexperienced home cook. This list of must-have kitchen gadgets can help you figure out what you really need this holiday season.

Stand mixer: Regardless of whether your mixer is a Kitchenaid or another brand, no one will argue the benefits of a stand mixer on a busy Thanksgiving in the kitchen. Get those rolls or the whipped cream for pie made up in a jiffy with one of these bad boys.

Food processor: Did you know that you can make pie crust in the food processor? It can also make a mean cranberry relish. The food processor is a definite must-have for your holiday preparations.

Mandolin slicer: Nothing saves time and cleanup quite like a mandolin slicer. These ultra-sharp slices can prepare vegetables like onions, potatoes, yams, and peppers quickly and conveniently.

Vegetable peeler: Get all of those yams and russets peeled and onto the mandolin or into a pot quickly with a good vegetable peeler. All veggie peelers are not created equal—try out a few in the store to see which one fits

Laundry seems so simple at face value: you put the clothing and soap in the washing machine, move it to the dryer, fold and put away. However, there are a few oft-made laundry mistakes that can harm your clothing, ruin your appliances and generally make the process far more complicated than it needs to be. Here are the top ten laundry mistakes to avoid.

1. Using too much cleaning product. Do you add heaping scoops of detergent rather than measuring it out carefully? If so, you’re putting extra wear and tear on your washing machine and causing soapy buildup in your clothing. Learn more about how to use laundry detergent correctly.

2. Adding clothing at the wrong time. If you are using bleach, let the washing machine fill before adding the bleach and then the clothes. If you are not adding bleach, then you can put in the clothing, then the detergent, then water.

3. Overusing bleach. Bleach is not necessary for most stains and certainly not for your everyday pile of whites. Bleach is destructive to fabric, and it can eventually leave your whites brittle and yellowed. You’ll get more mileage out of your clothes if you use bleach only for an

The holiday season is finally here, bringing with it delicious food, brightly wrapped gifts, quality time with family—and cornucopias of clutter. Streamline your holiday celebrations by decluttering your home before the first wreath even comes out of storage.

There are a few reasons to invest time in decluttering now. First, getting rid of extraneous objects will make your seasonal decorations stand out even more. Second, decluttering leaves room for new gifts and belongings you might acquire over the holidays. Third, decluttering now will make your massive post-holiday cleanup much less complicated.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to clearing out the clutter just in time for the holiday season:

1. Do a purge. Go through each room in your home with two bags: one for donations and one for the trash bin. Get rid of broken toys, half-burned candles, ill-fitting clothes or shoes and any other items that you have not used in the past year or will not use in the next one. Organizing a whole closet or room full of things that you do not love or need is a waste of energy.

2. Make a list of things that need replacing. Many people have trouble making a Christmas wish list, leaving their loved ones with

Dishwashers are expensive, and many homeowners will delay replacing theirs as long as possible. However, dishwashers are only meant to last about a decade. While it’s okay to put up with small problems such as a detergent cup that does not open easily, there are a few signs that your dishwasher needs to be replaced altogether.

Your dishes aren’t coming out hot. Your dishwasher has an element inside it that heats water to a temperature that will thoroughly kill germs. If your dishes are not hot immediately after a wash cycle, you might be brewing a germ cocktail in your dishwasher.

It doesn’t drain completely. If there is still a pool of water at the bottom of your dishwasher after a cycle, you have a problem with your drain. This might be a simple plumbing problem like a clog in the line, or a more complicated problem like a cracked drain. Broken drains can lead to leakage and floor damage.

The door does not latch properly. This can indicate the need for a simple repair, like a latch replacement. It can also mean that the entire unit has warped and no longer fits well together. A warped unit cannot hold water inside it

There are over 150,000 kitchen fires in the US annually, many of which lead to injuries, destroyed homes and even deaths. You need to act fast to keep a kitchen fire from getting out of control. But what should you do when faced with a cooking fire? That depends on what type of fire you have.

If the fire is coming from your microwave or the oven, close the door and turn the appliance off. Keep the door closed, and hopefully the lack of oxygen will suffocate the fire. If your oven or microwave continues to smoke or the fire does not go out, get outside and call the fire department immediately.

If you use an oven mitt to protect your hand, you can put out a flash fire in a cooking pan by putting the lid on the pan. You should remove the pan from the burner and turn off the stovetop. Putting the lid on the pan should deprive the fire of oxygen and put out the flames.

If you are using a pan that does not have a lid, or if you cannot safely put the lid on the pan, you should use a fire extinguisher to put out the

Engineer Percy Spencer invented the microwave in 1945 after he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted when he worked on his active radar set. Ever since its household popularization, the microwave has saved home cooks innumerable hours. But even though the microwave has arguably been one of the most useful inventions of the modern age, it still has its limitations. Microwaves can be the time-pressed cook’s best friend, but it can also be downright scary when you microwave the wrong thing.

Here are some items that should never, ever be microwaved:

1. Plastic Bags
Even though it’s sometimes convenient to just leave food in the plastic bag in which it was stored, it’s certainly not a good idea to attempt to microwave your food in that bag. This includes everything from sandwich bags to grocery bags. Not only will the plastic melt, but the chemicals from the plastic will also leak into the food.

2. Grapes
If you don’t want a glowing ball of plasma to explode in your microwave, keep this fruit clear away from your microwave. Although it’s hard to say why you’d microwave grapes in the first place.

3. Travel Mugs (or any kind of metal)
It doesn’t

For many homeowners, the idea of making home repairs can feel like a daunting task. Most home projects, however, are truly simple at their core. People often assume that lighting a pilot light can be dangerous, but in reality, it’s a simple task that can be completed safely in just a few minutes.

The first step to safely lighting a pilot light on a gas stove is to examine the device (or its owner’s manual, if you have it) for instructions. Some devices require you to take specific steps before the pilot light is properly lit—knowing these steps can save you both time and frustration. If there are no instructions available, examine the device for any loose wires or hoses before proceeding. It’s also a good idea to open the windows of the home to increase ventilation before you start. The only tool needed to light a pilot light is a long butane lighter, which can be found at any hardware store or big box store.

Simply lift the top cover of the stove to reveal the pilot light location by slipping your fingers under the seam on the side of your stovetop. On a typical gas stove, there will be two main

The winter doldrums can set in quickly, especially when the sun goes down early and the frigid weather keeps everyone cooped up inside. These three tips offer terrific ways to brighten your home and combat those long, dark winter afternoons.

1. Play with Light: The basic overhead lighting and lamps you have in your house are great for year-round lighting, but they may not be enough to brighten up your home throughout the winter. Bring some of those fun Christmas lights inside for a change—try draping them over a mantel with a garland or wrapping them around a stairway rail or window rod. Their cheery glow will jazz things up just in time for the holidays. During the daytime hours, keep heavy curtains drawn to take advantage of natural light. A well-lit home is a terrific way to combat the wintertime blues.

2. Warm Up:
It’s important to stay toasty during the coldest of winter days. Light some candles to create a happy, warm glow in your dining room or den and save on your electricity bills all winter long. Take advantage of the fireplaces you have in your home by maintaining them throughout the fall so that they’re ready

Potpourri can be expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. Even if a bag isn’t pricey, if you have the right key ingredients, you can make your own potpourri. In colder months, the warm smell of vanilla and cinnamon potpourri can make any home feel inviting; in spring and summer, floral-scented potpourri will bring the scents of outdoors inside. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make your own potpourri for your own home or to give away as a gift.

1. Gather Supplies
Plant parts, aromatics and essential oils are the main ingredients you’ll need for your potpourri mix. You can pick up plants from a nursery, or you can round up the family for a nature walk and collect interesting leaves, stems, bark, flower petals and pinecones you see along the way. You might also consider using things like orange peels, dried apple slices, cloves and cinnamon sticks in your mix, especially if you’re aiming for an autumn or winter scent.

2. Dry Your Plants
Once you have your fresh supplies, the drying process will take about two weeks. Make sure to designate a safe, dry environment for your potpourri ingredients where they won’t be disturbed. String up flowers

Cabin fever is perhaps the biggest enemy to family harmony each winter. The mere thought of being stuck inside for endless winter days can send some people into the doldrums. But winter doesn’t have to be a time of feeling gloom or the restlessness of cabin fever; with a little planning and some determination, you can take charge of enjoying your winter instead of dreading it.

Stay Active
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to kick out those winter blues and stay cheerful throughout the winter is to stay active. According to the National Institute for Health, regular activity is just as effective at combating winter blues, a companion to cabin fever, as taking medications. Getting to the gym, buying home exercise equipment or taking a walk—even in the cold—is one of the first steps to beating cabin fever.

Find a Winter Hobby
The old saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” holds true for cabin fever, too. When you accept the inevitability of winter each year and find ways to enjoy it, cabin fever has no chance. Some fun outdoor winter hobbies include cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowmobiling and even creating snow or ice art. Each of these is

There are few better things than a clean, organized house. Not only is a clean home pleasant to look at, but it can also help reduce anxiety and bring about a sense of peace. But plenty of people don’t know how to clean their homes thoroughly and correctly. Read up on these common cleaning mistakes to ensure that the valuable time you spend your sprucing up your home is wisely spent.

Mistake #1: Using Too Much Cleaning Product

It’s tempting to think that more is better when it comes to cleaning. If a little cleaner works well, then more cleaner should work better, right? But it doesn’t really work that way. Using too much cleaning product often leads to leftover residue, which will actually attract more dirt. It’s also just a waste of money. Always start with a small amount of product and add more from there until you find the amount that will get the area really clean.

Mistake #2: Not Taking Advantage of the Tools at Your Disposal

Too many people don’t fully utilize all the cleaning tools they have at their disposal, including their dishwashers and the oven’s self-cleaning settings. People often believe that it’s less wasteful to wash dishes