Going green has never been more high tech


Think going green will cost too much or take too much time? You might be surprised at how much time, energy and money you can save by making a few changes in your home to make it more energy efficient. And don’t worry that it will be too much work because some new high tech tools are making it easier than ever.

 
Green living expert Megan McLendon is the executive producer at www.doyourpart.com, and she recommends several options for making a powerful impact.

 
Take stock of the situation
Do you really know how much energy you use to run your household? Think about everything you run or turn on during the day. Consider your heating and cooling systems, appliances and electronics. The average single-family household racks up more than $2,000 in energy bills each year. Home electricity monitors make it easy to see how much energy you use and what you spend on it. A device called The Energy Detective can monitor the energy your home consumes in real time and the exact amount it’s costing you. You can chart 10 years’ worth of data and even review your information remotely. The basic model costs around $200. Then, there are free ways to help you see what’s using the most energy at home and help you target those hot spots. MyEnergy.com compiles information directly from your utility companies and is able to compare your usage to that of some of your neighbors. You can also earn reward points for using less energy.

 
Hit the energy hogs
Now, that you know how much energy you’re really using at home, it’s time to hit those energy hogs hard. Start with making your heating and cooling systems more efficient. So-called “smart” thermostats are now available and are easy to use. The Nest thermostat is one such device that actually learns from your family’s behavior. Soon after installation, it will automatically begin to lower or increase the temperature when you go to bed or leave the house. It even allows you to look at its daily energy use and access the thermostat from your computer or smartphone. 

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There are also other intuitive devices to help you reduce your energy consumption at home. A power strip for sale by Belkin will shut down power going to a series of electronics by simply turning off one of the components. This is a great solution for home offices and entertainment centers. And here’s another smart tip: For those items at home which run off batteries, invest in reusable ones. They will cost a little more than regular batteries but more than make up for that cost in the long run. A gadget that will easily help you make the switch is the Energizer Universal Charger. This device will charge AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries, so you also reduce clutter by only having one charger for all of your battery charging needs. 

 
Put it all together
Once you have the information you need, you can easily put it all together to analyze. EnergyHub has a product that works as a command center for your home. You can access all your energy information in one place so you can control your thermostat, lights and appliances from a central home location or remotely. General Electric is also rolling out a hub system called the Nucleus that does the same thing and is compatible with smart meters.
Knowledge is power. When you know how much energy your home is using, it’s easier to come up with strategies to lower your energy usage and lower your utility bills. It’s another important way to do your part without wasting your energy.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Reviewing your energy consumption regularly can help you see how much energy you use and where you can cut down.
Caption 2: Intuitive devices like this advanced power strip and battery charger help you reduce your energy consumption at home.
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Upgrading to the house of your dreams


The real estate market has many homeowners staying in place and looking for ways to make their current abode the most comfortable it can be. Because they’re not selling, homeowners are looking at remodeling rooms, changing out decorating schemes and in some cases, even adding on to the home.

 
Incorporating a new look into the home – whether it’s in the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom – can really change the feel of the house. Upgrading a bathroom is a great place to start, because it’s a smaller room and is used by both occupants and guests.  A remodel can also help you save money on your utility bills. With a new bathroom adding a spa-like feel to your home, you may even rethink your desire to move when the housing economy turns around.

 
Here are some tips to changing the bathroom of your home into a beautiful and comfortable space:

 
* Vanity: Used for hand washing, preening in the mirror and brushing teeth, the vanity is one item in the bathroom that is the center of activity. Add an artistic – and economical – touch to your vanity with TOTO’s Wyeth Faucet, characterized by its refined good looks. When on, this budget-friendly, universal design faucet runs a mere 1.5 gallons of water per minute, earning it the green WaterSense label. In addition to the faucet, consider upgrading your mirror with a model that combines beauty and elegance in the room.

 
* Walls: A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in changing the look and feel of a room. Don’t forget about the ceiling. Even if you only give it a new white coat, the fresh look can make all the difference. Choose a paint that handles high humidity well to give your upgrade a longer lifespan.

 
* Toilet: The toilet tends to be the largest water consumption appliance in homes. But replacing your older toilet with TOTO’s 1G, a one-gallon per flush ultra high-efficiency toilet, can really affect your utility bills. This gravity-fed toilet uses Double Cyclone Flushing technology to provide excellent performance and exceptional bowl cleansing action to create a green, clean flushing system that saves you money, water and time cleaning the toilet, always a thankless task.

 
As you upgrade your toilet, don’t stop with just installing a high-efficiency, self-cleansing toilet. Bring the spa to your own home and consider upgrading your toilet with TOTO’s Washlet S350e or S300e, which turns a toilet into a warm-water personal cleansing unit. These new additions to the Washlet family use eWater+ technology, which is applied after each flush and once every eight hours when the unit is not in use, disinfect the bowl, reducing the need for harsh chemicals during cleaning, which saves money and is better for the environment.

 
* Flooring: High humidity often found in bathrooms can quickly age the flooring, causing peeling and even cracking of dated linoleum. Plus, modern flooring products are much higher quality, and are built to withstand more traffic and high humidity environments. Consider using ceramic, clay or stone tiles, or laminate in stone or wood styles to modernize the look of your bathroom.

 
Upgrading a bathroom will transform your entire house with a new look and feel. And if you love the change enough, you might decide to continue the upgrade to another room, like the kitchen or master bedroom, turning your home into the beautiful house of your dreams.
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How canned foods help you cook like the pros



For starters, they have most of their ingredients measured and ready ahead of time, “magically” shaving time off their meal-prep demonstrations. What trips up many home cooks is timing. They get started on a recipe and one of the ingredients gets overly browned or over-cooked while waiting for the next ingredient to be ready to go into the dish.

Relying more on canned foods, which come pre-cleaned, chopped and cooked, and easily portioned, can help you quickly assemble delicious and nutritious meals like the pros. Think of them as your personal prep kitchen. But, as evidenced by a recent consumer survey, Americans are unsure of the benefits canned foods bring to the table.

The fact is many professional chefs, accomplished home cooks and registered dietitians regularly incorporate canned ingredients into their recipes, so you can feel confident doing so as well. Consider these five key facts about canned foods.

1. Canned food is filled with important nutrients, including fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy diet. Yet, less than half (42 percent) of Americans surveyed realize the nutrients in canned food count toward meeting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary recommendations.

2. Research shows canned foods offer comparable nutrients often at a lower cost than their fresh or frozen counterparts, particularly when waste and prep-time are considered. Additional research demonstrates that recipes prepared with canned ingredients rated the same or better in terms of taste and nutrition compared to those using fresh or frozen ingredients.

3. Canned food contributes less than 1 percent of the sodium in consumers’ diets and there are more no-salt added, low- and reduced-sodium options on grocery shelves than ever before. A quick drain and rinse can further reduce sodium content by 41 percent.

4. Canned foods are considered minimally processed foods. After being cleaned, peeled, chopped and trimmed, as necessary, foods are cooked in the can to lock in nutrients and flavor.

5. Steel cans are strong, tamper resistant and feature an airtight seal to help guard against foodborne illness and contamination. In addition, steel cans are the most recycled food package.

So, the next time you are inspired to experiment like a pro, using recipes such as these tuna and black bean lettuce wraps, plan to work in a few canned ingredients to ensure you have plenty of time to enjoy the company of the family and friends gathered around your table.

To learn more about the facts about canned foods and discover more great recipes featuring canned ingredients, visit www.Mealtime.org/Myths.

Tuna and Black Bean Salad Wraps

Ingredients:

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (11 ounces) tuna in olive oil, drained

3/4 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or canned diced tomatoes

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1 tablespoon minced Serrano peppers

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 large butter lettuce leaves

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine beans, tuna, tomatoes, onion, peppers, oil and lime juice. Toss gently, being careful to keep tuna in bite-size pieces. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Add parsley and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Spoon tuna salad into lettuce leaves. Fold up leaves and eat taco style. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories 270; Total fat 17g; Saturated fat 2.5g; Cholesterol 15mg; Sodium 200mg; Carbohydrate 14g; Fiber 5g; Protein 18g; ; Vitamin A 25%DV*; Vitamin C 20%DV; Calcium 4%DV; Iron 10%DV * Daily Value

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Budget-friendly ways to refresh old outdoor spaces

(BPT) – Indoors or outdoors, your home decor needs some TLC to look its best. Replacing worn or dated furniture or flooring inside your home is considered fairly easy. But when outdoor spaces start to appear shabby, do you decide to live with the tired look because you think freshening the space will be too time-consuming or costly?

A few budget-friendly improvements and decorating touches can revitalize worn outdoor spaces and help them look new and inviting again. Here are some common challenges, and tips for overcoming them:

Worn decks, patios or porches

Decks, patios and porches are popular spots for home improvements – ones that create a staging place for outdoor entertaining or just relaxing and enjoying nature. When a wood deck becomes old and worn, or concrete patios crack, you may think the only solution is to replace them. But before you take that costly step, consider alternatives that can revitalize the existing surface without the need to replace it.

According to Scott Richards, senior vice president of marketing at Behr Paints, BEHR DECKOVER Solid Color Coating is a smooth finish resurfacing product that brings old, weathered wood or concrete surfaces back to life with a unique solution that hasn’t existed before, and it’s a budget-friendly alternative to replacing deck boards, railings, porches, boat docks, pool decking or patios.

“BEHR DECKOVER protects against the elements, while refreshing the appearance of wood and concrete,” says Richards. “With just two coats and no primer needed, the thick coating covers splinters and fills cracks up to a quarter of an inch, spreading as easily as paint. We’ve created a way to achieve a low maintenance deck that resists the elements, repels water and creates a smooth, slip-resistant finish that is comfortable for bare feet.” It’s available at The Home Depot stores nationwide and comes in 54 colors. Visit www.behr.com to learn more.

Adding accents like decorative railings or lighted post caps can also revive the look of older decks. Deck manufacturers offer a variety of options for railings, from carved wood to metal and even glass. In most cases, you can add these railings to your existing deck boards, allowing you to replace just part of the deck and achieve a brand-new, designer look.

Tired furniture

Replacing sun-faded, weather-damaged cushions on outdoor furniture is a good start, and easy enough to do. But what do you do when the furniture frame has seen better days? Depending on the type of construction, you have several options including painting and reupholstering.

Landscaping and lighting

Modern outdoor settings allow nature and technology to meet. Give your exterior living space a new modern look by upgrading both landscaping and lighting. Improving your landscaping can be as easy as planting a few container gardens around your deck or patio and filling them with flowers that will bloom throughout the season. Nothing looks fresher and livelier than flowers.

Next, look at how your outdoor space is lit. Adding lighting allows you to enjoy the space safely after the sun goes down, but dated lighting can make your deck or patio look dull. Plus, older lights are often not as energy-efficient as newer options. Upgrade lighting by replacing old fixtures with newer options, such as solar-powered lights or ones that use energy-sipping CFLs or LEDs.

Making your old outdoor space look like it belongs beside a new showcase home doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. With a few budget-minded tips and tools, it’s possible for any do-it-yourselfer to make everything old new again.

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Keep kids injury free while playing their favorite sports this summer


Summer vacation gives children a break from schoolwork, but for many, their participation in sports will continue in warm weather months. Parents, coaches and players need to keep injury prevention in mind to ensure sports stay safe and fun throughout the summer.

 
In a new survey commissioned by Safe Kids Worldwide  and Johnson & Johnson, “Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries: A Report on Youth Sports Safety,” parents report one in three kids who play team sports sustain injuries severe enough to require medical attention.

 
“The report’s findings are particularly alarming because experts tell us more than half of these injuries are preventable,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “There is a gap between what we as coaches and parents can do to keep our kids safe and what we’re actually doing. With some simple precautions, we can change these troubling statistics and keep our kids healthy and enjoying the benefits of sports.”

 
Safe Kids shares some advice for parents and coaches to help kids avoid injury while playing sports this summer:

 
Before the game begins:

 
* Give kids a break. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) say children should take a two- to three-month break from a specific sport each year to prevent overuse, overtraining and burnout. Yet, the Safe Kids survey found that nine out of 10 parents underestimate the length of time kids should take off from a particular sport. If your child plays soccer from August through May, for instance, switch to a different sport over the summer. Not only will it give your young athlete’s body a break, your child may enjoy discovering a new activity.

 
* If your child missed her pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE) at the beginning of the school year, take this opportunity to have her checked out. A PPE can uncover underlying conditions and prevent potential medical emergencies. Not sure what the exam should entail? Go to www.safekids.org/sports for a printable copy of the form.

 
* You probably know it’s important to stretch before physical activity, but did you know you should begin with a 10 minute cardio warm up? A light run, jogging in place and some jumping jacks can help raise the heart rate gradually. Follow up with stretches that work all the major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

 
* Make sure your child wears the appropriate safety and sports gear. All gear should fit properly and be in good condition to help avoid minor and serious injuries.

 
While in the field or on the court:

 
* The health impact of concussions on children is drawing attention across the country. The Safe Kids survey found that more than 50 percent of coaches believe there is an acceptable amount of head contact that’s OK during play. The truth is, bumps, blows and hits to the head need to be taken seriously, and parents, coaches and players all need to take preventative steps, including learning about concussions and the policies for their state and/or sports league. Learn the signs and symptoms of concussions at www.safekids.org. 

 
* Four out of 10 parents underestimate the amount of water a typical child athlete needs per hour of play, according to the Safe Kids survey. Kids should drink 30 minutes before they start to play, and every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity to avoid dehydration.

 
* Rest is essential. In addition to taking one season away from any given sport every year, kids should get rest breaks during practices and games and take off at least one day from sports activities every week.

 
* Consider attending a sports safety clinic. Safe Kids offers free Youth Sports Safety Clinics for parents and coaches that teach ways to keep young athletes healthy and injury free. Go to www.safekids.org to find a clinic.

 
“Culturally, there’s an attitude that injuries are a natural consequence of sports and that good athletes tough it out when they suffer an injury,” says Carr. “But that attitude is hurting our kids. By adopting some basic, proven practices, we can protect our kids and help them stay healthy and active in sports throughout their lives.”
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Five super nutrients that help you age well


(BPT) – Parents often use the adage “You are what you eat!” to encourage children to make healthy food choices, but the saying is equally true for mature adults. Providing your body with a variety of nutrients lets you feel your best, and may even prevent disease and help you live longer.

Allison Tannis is a nutritionist, author and professional consultant. She believes that aging well means eating well. She recommends these five super nutrients to help baby boomers and older adults age well and stay healthy.

1. Omega-3s

“It can be hard to see fat as healthy, but omega-3 fatty acids are potentially one of the most important nutrients for our health,” says Tannis. “Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to the maintenance and function of our eyes, brain and nervous system – parts of us that start to weaken with increasing age. In addition, these healthy fats have great ability to fight inflammation that is the cause of painful joints, cardiovascular disease and even wrinkles.”

How can you get your daily dose of 1 to 2 grams of omega-3s, as recommended by the American Heart Association? Wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines and Arctic char are good sources of omega-3s. Plant sources of omega-3s include flax, chia and hemp. It can be difficult to get enough omega-3s from food sources, so supplements are a good alternative.

“Every morning I wake with the best intentions of eating healthy, but then life can get in the way,” Tannis says. “Using daily supplements ensures my body gets all of the essential nutrients it needs to be at its best. I take Nordic Naturals fish oils, available in liquids, soft gels and even an effervescent drink.”

2. Vitamin D

“Vitamin D is really only available to us from the sun,” explains Tannis. “Sure, there are foods such as milk and orange juice that have added vitamin D. For some, these foods are a great choice, but for others, it can be hard to ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin through fortified foods.”

Older people are prone to vitamin D deficiency, and therefore, may experience muscle weakness or impaired intestinal absorption. Tannis suggests that everyone, no matter their age, consider a vitamin D supplement if diet and sun exposure aren’t adequate. From tasteless liquid drops to pills that combine multiple nutrients, there are a variety of options for vitamin D supplementation.

3. Probiotics

“Probiotics fight inflammation, promote digestive health and much more,” says Tannis. “With age, there is a decrease in the most prominent probiotic in the colon, Bifidobacteria, leaving the colon prone to inflammation, which increases the risk of disease and discomfort.”

Foods like kefir and yogurt are common sources of probiotics, but often it’s not enough to get the full benefits. Probiotic supplements are a great way to maintain and rebuild probiotic levels in your digestive tract. “Seek out one with lots of different probiotic species,” recommends Tannis. “You’ve got hundreds of kinds of probiotics in you. Each probiotic offers its own unique health benefits to your body, so having lots of different kinds in your system can help your body be at its best.”

4. Green foods

“Greens are packed with more nutrients per bite than almost anything else on your plate. They are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and more,” says Tannis.

What green foods are the best?

“The best greens to eat are the ones you like – you don’t have to hate your food. Love your food! Choose some greens that you enjoy and then, once a week, try something outside your comfort zone,” Tannis suggests. “If you simply can’t stomach enough greens, there are plenty of powders available, from simple single ingredient products to complex formulas.”

5. Multivitamins

No matter what your age, eating a balanced diet provides your body with plenty of nutrients. “Try to ensure that at some point each day you enjoy foods from each color of the rainbow, and artificial coloring doesn’t count,” says Tannis.

Taking a multivitamin is one way to ensure your body has the minimum amounts of the essential nutrients it needs each day to function properly. If you are considering a multivitamin, look for one that is designed for your age, activity level and gender. –

“Food hasn’t changed, even though it feels that everyone is telling you something new about it,” says Tannis. “Enjoy a well-balanced diet, rich in colorful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and fish. Nutrition really can be easy to swallow.”

 

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