(BPT) – When you dine, do you prefer clean and attractive tableware? Does ambiance enhance your enjoyment of your food? Birds feel the same way about their dining habits – the type and cleanliness of your bird feeders directly affects the number and species of birds that will visit your backyard this season.

To attract birds, you need to understand not only what they prefer to eat, but how they like to eat it. For example, while many species prefer seed, some birds like to eat their seed from elevated platforms, others prefer hanging feeders and still others are content to forage on the ground. All birds appreciate a clean feeder to prevent the spread of disease, and none of them like those pesky, seed-stealing squirrels any more than you do.

The bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some guidance for choosing the right feeder styles to attract the maximum number of feathered friends to your yard:

* Keep it clean – Everyone knows you should clean your feeders regularly to prevent disease, but many feeders are a pain to disassemble, clean and reassemble. Many people keep feeders less than pristine because of the hassle of cleaning. Look for feeders that make the process easy. All Cole’s tube feeders have a Quick Clean feature that allows you to remove the bottom of the feeder with the push of a button for easy cleaning access- no need to completely disassemble the feeders to clean them.

* Tube feeders are terrific – For versatility and wide appeal, it’s hard to beat a tube style feeder. These workhorses of the feeder world can handle seeds both large and small – from sunflowers to petite mixes. Tube feeders make great all-purpose feeders or excellent starter feeders for people just beginning backyard birding. Most songbirds will happily dine at a tube feeder.

* Some seeds are special – Niger is a favorite seed type for finches, siskins and several other appealing species, but not all tube feeders can handle this oily seed. If you’ll be serving niger, consider a specialty feeder like the Nifty Niger Feeder. The feeder dispenses the seed through special, tiny holes to limit the amount of waste.

* Cater to the clingy – Some birds, such as chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers and bluebirds, like to cling to the feeder. For these birds, a mesh feeder can be just what the diner ordered. Mesh feeders satisfy a bird’s desire to cling while also keeping larger birds from hogging the feeder. The Mighty Mesh Feeder is great for serving Nutberry Suet, Suet Kibbles, Suet Pearls, raw peanuts and any sunflower-based seed blend.

* The beauty of bowl feeders – Bowl feeders are another versatile style, and are great for serving not only seeds and seed blends, but also dried mealworms, fruit and suet in either kibble or pearl forms. The Bountiful Bowl Feeder comes with an adjustable dome cover that you can raise or lower to prevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to the food – and it also helps protect feed from rain.

* Hummingbird feeders are something to sing about – Hummingbirds are endlessly fascinating to watch, but you have to be quick to catch a look at them. Your best opportunity is when they’re eating, and a hummingbird feeder can help extend your viewing time. The Hummer High Rise feeder gives hummers a penthouse-view with elevated perches and keeps ants out of the nectar with a special built-in ant moat.

* Those darn squirrels – As much as you enjoy watching their antics, you probably don’t want squirrels on your bird feeder. These persistent bandits can wipe out a seed supply in minutes and damage even the best-made birdfeeders. One way to keep squirrels away from all your feeders is to install a Tough Bird Feeder Guard from Cole’s on your existing feeder poles. The simple device uses static pulse to train squirrels not to climb on feeder poles. Use your favorite feeders on your own shepherd staff or pipe-style poles and add the Tough Bird Feeder Guard to keep squirrels away. Only the tube portion of the guard is charged, so the pole and birdfeeder are safe to touch for humans and birds alike.

For more info on birdfeed blends and where to buy, visit www.coleswildbird.com.

Courtesy of BPT

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Five%20things%20to%20consider%20before%20sharing%20photos%20and%20videos%20onlineMore people are sharing photos and videos online with friends and family, as well as those they’ve never met. Consider this: One hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second. Pinterest, which lets people collect and share digital images, has grown to more than 12 million users since launching in 2010.

The growth of these and other websites makes it easier for videos and images to be shared and re-shared online – or at least end up in places beyond where they were originally posted. 

“With the advances in smartphones, digital cameras and social websites, more people are becoming interested in photography and videography, and they’re able to share their work broadly and quickly with others,” says Bill Robbins, an award-winning advertising photographer, commercial film director and current program chair of professional photography at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, graphic design, and photography. “But no matter if you’re a professional, amateur or simply enjoy taking and sharing pictures or videos, it’s important to consider how and when to protect your work. It’s something that we teach our aspiring professionals and something that others may benefit from learning.” 
Take well-known “mommy blogger” Danielle Smith for example: Smith, her family and her blog, ExtraordinaryMommy.com, made international headlines when a family photo – one used for their Christmas card – was taken from one of her sites and used in an advertisement in the Czech Republic. 
Whether you are an aspiring professional photographer, videographer or just someone who wants to share your unique content with others while still getting credit for it, here are five things Robbins suggests you consider before sharing your work online:
* Know what you’re getting into. Read the Terms and Conditions on photo- and video-sharing sites like Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa and Photobucket to make sure you fully understand and agree to the terms. Notice if the site has a designated copyright agent, displays a take-down procedure and has a clear copyright policy.
* Obtain a Creative Commons license and share your original content on sites that honor those licenses, like Flickr, Pinterest and YouTube. Creative Commons licenses – www.creativecommons.org – help creators retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make certain uses of their work. Every Creative Commons license also ensures licensors get the credit for their work they deserve.
* Keywording is key. “Keywording a photo is almost as important as the photo itself to drive people to your image online,” says Robbins. “Think of keywording as drilling for oil. You start with the obvious word and then keep drilling down until there is nowhere else to drill.” For example, if your image features a sumo wrestler, start by tagging your photos with words you think people will use to search for your particular image, like “sumo,” then use words that are more conceptual to the image, like “big,” “strong,” “powerful” and “wide body.”
* Consider your audience before you share. Are they trustworthy? Will they give credit where credit is due? Use programs that allow you to have control over your audience, and that let you select your own privacy settings to ensure you have full control over how and with whom your content is shared.
* Make it your own. Consider developing your own website or blog to post your original content so that it’s always tied back to your personal brand. Include a copyright disclaimer on your site. Then spread links back to your site through your social channels.



Courtesy of BPT

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When it comes to your home, you want it to be as unique as you are, and first impressions are very important. It makes sense to start with the part of your house that everyone will see first – your gates and railing. Wrought iron driveway gates are an ideal way to finish off your drive and give your home that wow factor.

Driveway gates and fences will enhance the beauty, privacy and security of your home. A driveway gate extends your home security to the boundaries of your property, and in a time where people are increasingly worried about their security, adding an iron gate at the driveway entrance has become popular. Having a secure fence and gate can be a great comfort, particularly if your house lies in an area of heavy traffic. In addition to the security benefits, adding a gate also contains animals, clearly marks property lines and makes a huge aesthetic improvement to your home.

When you choose an iron driveway gate for your home, you can be confident in the knowledge that they are known for their strength and endurance. This makes them less likely to break or bend. With today’s power coating options, wrought iron gates can become just as rust resistant as aluminum. Iron gates can be matched with existing fences, pedestrian gates and access control systems.

It can be very frustrating to finish a long commute only to have to get out of the car, open a gate, drive through it, get out of the car again and close the gate. With this in mind another trendy feature for your iron driveway gates is to install an automatic gate opener. Electric gates provide indispensable convenience, allowing a gate to be opened without ever having to leave your car and therefore eliminating all those cumbersome steps.

When purchasing electric gates you need to consider a few options. The most obvious is deciding whether you want your driveway gate to open by sliding or swinging outwards. Swing gates are more aesthetically pleasing but you must take into account the opening radius depending on the length of the gate. Sliding gates will eliminate this issue as they retract rather than swing out.

You will also need to consider how much power is required to open and close your driveway gate. The amount of power is dependent on the size of your gate, how it opens and how many times it will need to be opened each day.

Finally, how will your gate be accessed, and by how many users? Electric gates are operated by a controller which sends a signal to the opening mechanism.

There are several options for your controller:

•Wireless

•Wired keypads

•Keypads with intercoms

•Key card operated controllers

•Controllers operated by remotes or telephones

Each of these features will affect the price and your final decision should be based on your budget and personal preference. Once you have taken all these points into consideration you can narrow down your options and choose the best Driveway Gates for your specific needs.

by: Mehboob Talukdar

Article Source:

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7350.shtml

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If you are unsatisfied with the space in your kitchen, but need lots of room in the fridge, you should consider counter depth refrigerators. This kind of appliance does not stick out any farther than your kitchen cabinets, which means that it takes up less room than a traditional fridge. However, it is often a bit taller than most refrigerators so that you do not lose much space when it comes to storing your food. Think about the details to consider before you start browsing counter depth refrigerators.

This kind of fridge usually has different measurements than most types, as it usually sticks out into the walkway a few inches less than most, but is a few inches taller. This means that you need an appropriately high ceiling in order to fit this fridge into your home, so be sure that you measure the height as well as the depth. Of course, you should also consider the width like you would before buying any fridge, but the width of most counter depth refrigerators is typically the same as other types.

If you want to add style to your kitchen while adding space, you should consider counter depth refrigerators that blend into the cabinetry. If you go this route, you will need a custom fridge company, but the results are often worth it since having matching cabinets and appliances is certainly unique. Keep in mind that many of the popular counter depth refrigerators on the market come in the French door style, adding to the classy appearance that most homeowners crave.

Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this kind of fridge than most others, as the style is unique and up-to-date. Consider how important your kitchen's image is to you. If you rarely use it or show it off and want to save money, you might be better off sticking to traditional top freezer or side-by-side styles. However, homeowners who spend a lot of time in their kitchen and enjoy showing it off to guests will likely find this a worthy investment in their home.

Counter depth refrigerators are not for everyone, and if this style does not appeal to you, remember that there are several other types of fridges on the market. Before you browse counter depth refrigerators, you should first decide if this is the style you really want and can afford. The next step is to measure your kitchen and make sure that it will fit, and then determine whether you want a counter depth fridge from the store or from a custom refrigerator builder. Thinking about these details first can ensure that you are satisfied with this major purchase.

by: Heather Mills 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7259.shtml 

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(BPT) – Pools are great fun for kids and adults and when it is hot in the summer time or you’re on vacation, there is no better way to cool off. Most pools do require a lot of work to keep clean however and there is always that chlorine smell and the burning sensation that affects the eyes and skin. For many people it is the memory of the chlorine that is inescapably associated with all pools.

But for kids today this memory is quickly becoming a non-event thanks to the increasing popularity of saltwater pools.

Saltwater pools work by converting salt to chlorine using an electrolytic converter. This produces the same type of bacteria-killing chlorine found in a traditional pool, but in a radically different fashion. Since the salt generator is adding chlorine to the water at a constant rate, it is capable of displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount at all times.

As the water exits the converter and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine eventually reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced. However new salt does need to be added occasionally as salt levels can drop due to splash-out, rain and filter back-washing. Pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine and monthly for other water balance factors.

Saltwater pools require far less maintenance than traditional pools and are much less expensive to maintain as pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United State have already made the switch. Plus when it comes to initial construction and installation, the additional cost of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater can be paid off quickly.

Saltwater pools are certainly not new. The technology started in Australia and over 80 percent of all pools there use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water.

Some may be concerned about the effect of salt on pool equipment, construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. However the actual amount of salt used is very low, less than .01 as salty as sea water. You may be able to taste the salt in the pool, but much less so than you can taste and feel the chlorine in a standard pool. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, salt water has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks.

Since the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Mich., converted its 65,000-gallon pool to salt water, members have been pleased with the results. “The minute you walk into the pool area you notice a big difference,” says Jodi Owczarski, the center’s community relations director. “There is no longer that chemical smell. People also tell us that the water is much softer. In the old pool, people said they sometimes had to wash twice to get all those chemicals off, but in this pool, they only have to wash once. All in all, people have been thrilled with this new system.”

To learn more about salt water pools and other uses for salt, visit saltinstitute.org.

Courtesy of BPT

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Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. The short commute, the relaxed dress code and flexible work hours are all appealing benefits. But one of the greatest challenges of working from home is making it seem that you are not. Here are some tips to help turn your home space into a work space:

Websites are often the first introductory point of a new business, so make sure you have a clean, professional site with your own domain name and workplace email address. Avoid using “free” sites that are bombarded with other company’s advertisements; this can be very off putting to potential new clients. If you are not a skilled graphic designer, consider using a clean website-design template with basic, but necessary information.

It can be difficult to conduct a client call when the kids are picking up the handset to make their own calls and a telemarketer is calling on the other line. To avoid these distractions, consider a dedicated business phone line with a distinctive tone separate from your home phone. Take advantage of your existing high-speed Internet connection and use a voice over IP phone system. A sleek VoIP device like the Ooma Telo will save you money on the cost of a second line.

Whenever possible, have a separate room for your home office with its own door. This is especially important if you plan to host regular client meetings. Make sure the room is located far from busy areas of the house, like the kitchen and family room, to avoid excessive noise and distractions.

Differentiate your home address from your work address. Consider using a post office box if you don’t want clients knowing you work from home. Alternatively, you could add a “suite” number to your home address to help separate your business mail from your regular mail.



Courtesy of Newscanada

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(BPT) – When it comes to home improvement, Americans have embraced doing it themselves – in a big way. Among homeowners who plan to make improvements, 64 percent say they will do it themselves, according to American Express’ Consumer Spending and Saving Report. Yet one area of home improvement continues to give even adventurous and confident DIYers pause – bathroom renovation.

“Many people who don’t think twice about installing flooring or cabinetry or even tiling on their own, still feel they need a professional to upgrade their bathrooms,” says Gray Uhl, director of design for American Standard. “However, with the availability of easy-to-install products, like no-tools toilets and Speed Connect faucets, bathroom upgrades are well within the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers.”

Upgrading or adding a bathroom continues to be a winning home improvement for owners, whether they intend to sell or stay in their homes. A mid-range bathroom remodel recoups more than 65 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. An upscale bathroom renovation returns more than 58 percent.

If you’re considering remodeling a bathroom, here are quick, easy ways to spruce up your bathroom yourself, and still end up with professional quality results:

Start small: the power of bath accessories

When you think of bathroom accessories, towels and toothbrush holders likely come to mind. But anything that enhances the look of your bathroom decor can function as an accessory. Simple moves like swapping out dated cabinet hardware (or adding it where there was none) can help transform the look and feel of the bath.

Switching out a boring mirror with a beveled option can turn a functional background element into something eye-catching. Or, dress up an existing mirror by adding a frame. It’s easy to find mirror framing kits online or in your favorite home improvement store.

Keep thinking creatively when it comes to accessories, and imagine what you could do in the shower area. If your shower is a tub/shower combination, replacing a standard straight curtain rod with a curved one not only creates an elegant appearance, it can give you more elbow room while you’re using the shower.

If you have a shower stall with a door, consider swapping a plain glass door with a decorative one. Home improvement stores often carry a variety of designer options that are frosted or have a pattern. A new shower door can make an old shower look fresh and bold.

Style and function: replace toilet and bathroom faucet

The toilet, sink and faucet are essential elements that can be beautiful as well as functional. Replacing dated, inefficient models with newer options can give a bathroom a whole new look – and improve its usability. Easy-to-install products make updating these important bathroom fixtures simple and speedy.

Replacing a faucet can be a challenge when there are so many moving parts to contend with – not the least of which is the drain. Typical bathroom faucets can have as many as 14 parts to connect. American Standard’s Quentin bathroom faucet collection features a Speed Connect pre-assembled drain that requires no special tools or plumber’s putty.

Products like the American Standard Champion line of high efficiency toilets (HETs) blend powerful performance and water savings with easy installation. The WaterSense-certified Champion HETs use 20 percent less water than standard toilets without losing any flushing power. Available in tall height and elongated or round-front models, these toilets offer practical features like a slow-close seat that eliminates loud slams. Plus, their permanent EverClean antimicrobial finish inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew on the surface. Made for fast, easy installation by DIYers, Champion toilets that feature the EZ-Install kit include everything do-it-yourselfers need to install the toilet without the use of special tools or difficult bolt-cutting.

Added bonus: Buy a Champion and be a champion, joining a campaign by American Standard to raise awareness that almost half the world lacks a safe way to go to the bathroom. For every Champion toilet sold in the U.S. and Canada, American Standard will donate a hygienic latrine pan to a developing country to help raise the global standard of living through safe sanitation. Learn more at FlushForGood.com.

Courtesy of BPT

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We can’t live without it. Water is the very source of life. That is why we are so strongly attracted to it. Maybe because we cannot live more than a few days without water, we want to have it close by. Most people would like to live next to it, whether in the form of a stream, river, lake or ocean.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough bodies of water to go around for everybody, even for those who can afford living near them. The price of beach front property reflects the fact that it is scarce and in high demand. Even for those fortunate enough to own such property, there is a major trade-off and a good share of disadvantages.

Who wouldn’t like to have a water garden on their property, or a flower and vegetable garden, or even a wonderful orchard with oranges, apples, plums, peaches, lemons and avocado? Maybe a corral with a horse or two. So much for thinking about a garden with most ocean front property. You’re lucky if you have enough land to be able to walk between the houses!

We can now see why water gardens with waterfalls and ponds are becoming so popular. If you can’t take your home to the water, just bring the water to your home!

Why is it so peaceful, yet still invigorating at the beach? Is it the sight or sound of the ocean waves, the smell of the salt water? You may be surprised to discover that the actual feelings of peace, relaxation, stress, and anxiety release has little to do with the sight or sounds or smell of the ocean. Extensive research has shown that moving water puts additional negative ions into the air. Breathing this supercharged air has an extremely positive effect on our body. The ocean creates the greatest quantity of negative ions of all moving water.

Therefore, it has the most beneficial effects on our moods while drawing the largest crowds. For the same reason, waterfalls create such pleasant and relaxing environments. You have probably noticed how wonderful the air smells and feels just prior to, during and after a rain storm – again negative ions.

For a fraction of the cost of ocean or lake front living, almost every homeowner can reap the benefits of a waterfall and pond in their back yard. Ranging from an atmosphere of intimacy to one of grandeur, it’s whatever the budget can endure. Virtually everyone can own a portion of the best that nature has to offer. There are as many different varieties, shapes and sizes of waterfalls as there are rocks. Consequently, with a pond design of your choice, no two ever look the same and they provide a natural individuality for each homeowner.

Waterfalls can cascade into koi ponds, a stream, swimming pool, spa or simply spill through a rock-covered grate into a subterranean catch basin, from where it gets pumped and re-circulated. This type of backyard pond design is great for someone with small children, since it eliminates the need for a hazardous pond. It’s also perfect for someone with a very small yard or for those looking for little or no maintenance.

The soil removed in excavating a pond can be utilized to create a mound or berm to provide elevation for a cascade. A waterfall can pass through terraced retaining walls on its way down to a pond at ground level. By passing through rather than over the top, it will give the impression that the waterfall always existed and the retaining wall was constructed later on either side.

A backyard pond not only provides allure and charm to your property, it is as though you own a part of nature. The pond’s occupants provide a never-ending and forever changing source of entertainment and education. From the antics of a pair of acrobatic turtles to the male crayfish, claws clashing and gnashing over the prize of a fair lady, each day becomes a new chapter in the life of your pond. Are you the type that might say, “I don’t ever want to own fish!” and then eventually end up with several, even giving them all names? I’ve seen this happen over and over again, because pond owners become personally attached to the inhabitants of their water garden pond as if they were family members or pets.

At night a well-designed backyard pond becomes a whole new adventure, especially if you have built-in lighting. The cascading, splashing water against the lights create an amazing symphony of light and sound. Dancing light reflected on the surrounding rocks, plants, fence or house becomes hypnotic and mesmerizing. Most people only experience this atmosphere at expensive hotels or resorts. Now you can own the same experience in your own back yard..

If you are considering a water feature as an investment in your property, may I add several words of caution. Down the road, these may save you the heartache, sorrow and aggravation of dirty, murky, green, smelly water, sick or dead fish, leaky pond or waterfall, or high maintenance and energy costs.

1. Take your time.

2. Plan it out.

3. Research the subject thoroughly.

4. Seek out an expert in the field. A few years of experience are important.

5. Make sure the expert is licensed and bonded.

6. Accept only concrete and steel rebar construction. Never use a pond liner. Proponents of pond liners will claim there is a 40 or 50 year warranty on the liner. Not true! It’s only true if you leave the pond liner in the box. It would work only in a perfect world – where there were no gophers, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, tree roots, sharp rocks, pebbles or other such objects. Once you have a hole, it is impossible to find. Even a pin-hole will allow 5 gallons of water per day to pass.

7. Do not use submersible pumps. They are inefficient and expensive to operate and are difficult to maintain. Debris collects in them, requiring frequent cleaning. Submersibles can leak oil that may kill the pond inhabitants or, worse, short out and create a shock hazard.

8. Use a biological filter to help eliminate nitrates and nitrites from the water. (I recommend a pressurized back-flushable filter, not a gravity flow.)

9. Install a skimmer for removal of surface leaves and debris.

10. Use two anti-vortex drains on the bottom of the pond for suction line to prevent whirlpools and fish or turtles from being sucked into the drain.

11. Make sure your pond is a minimum of three feet deep to regulate water temperature in the summer months and to discourage herons and raccoons from dining out.

12. Build caves and ledges for turtles and fish to hide in.

13. Install an ultraviolet light to kill bacteria that cause smells and pathogens that kill fish and algae spores that create green water.

14. Do not use mechanical auto-fill valves; only use an electronic one like the AquaFill System. It does not stick or malfunction – thus preventing pond overflow and dead fish from chlorine poisoning.

15. Use plenty of water plants in the falls and pond. They provide extra oxygen and food for the fish and act as natural filters, utilizing the nitrate nitrogen in the water.

16. Use a high-efficiency, out-of-pond pump that conserves energy. By operating it 24 hours a day, a high-quality biofilter (such as one made by Aqua Ultra Violet) will receive a continuous flow of oxygenated water, which the anaerobic bacteria require in order to live. The bacteria are essential for breaking down hydrocarbons, nitrates and nitrites in the water.

17. Make sure you have proper drainage around the pond and waterfall so run-off from the rain storms does not enter the pond and contaminate it with silt, fertilizer, pesticides, etc.

18. Learn basic pond maintenance. (An ounce of prevention is worth a [pond] cure.)

When I say “everyone should have a waterfall,” I’m not simply promoting my life’s passion. Considering how much enjoyment a water garden and waterfall can give you, dollar for dollar, cubic foot for cubic foot, hour for hour, it is your best buy for many long, healthy and happy years to come.

From my experience with hundreds of pond owners in San Diego, I have discovered that the money spent on a well designed garden pond and waterfall will surely bring you more long term pleasure and joy than anything you ever purchased in your life.

Living is not truly living without water.

 by: Douglas Hoover 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7218.shtml 

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(BPT) – The Environmental Protection Agency has named indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental risks to public health citing research that indoor air may be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. With Americans spending 90 percent of their time indoors, purifying indoor air is paramount to keeping families healthy – especially those with family members suffering from asthma and allergies.

“Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a host of health issues such as headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea, fatigue, heart disease and chronic respiratory disease,” says Chris Chase, product marketing manager at Aprilaire. “For individuals that suffer from asthma or allergies, air particles such as pollen, dust and dust mites are known triggers for asthma attacks and allergic reactions.”

More than 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma and 50 million suffer from allergies. Dust alone is comprised of dead insects, dust mites, mold spores, pollen, dander, skin flakes and other particulates that can be harmful to health. Controlling indoor air quality can provide relief for asthma and allergy sufferers and protect your family from getting sick. You can improve indoor air quality with two simple steps:

* Prevent irritants from entering the house. Take measures to make sure dust, dirt and other pollutants are prevented from entering the house. Simple activities like removing shoes before entering the household, closing windows during high pollen days and not allowing smoking indoors help keep dirt and other irritants from entering the household.

* Install a whole-home air purification system. A whole-home air purification system is installed as part of the central heating and cooling system to capture and eliminate airborne contaminants. Whole-home air purification systems remove up to 98 percent of airborne contaminants down to one micron in size and are 40 times more efficient than a standard furnace filter. Each time the air system runs, the whole-home air purification system removes dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, viruses, fungi, mold and other dangerous substances from the air throughout the entire home, rather than just the air in the immediate vicinity like a portable air cleaner.

Other important considerations include maintaining humidity levels as well as proper ventilation; especially if your home is newer or has been recently updated with tighter materials for more energy efficiency.

For more information on whole-home air purification and total control of your indoor air quality, visit www.aprilaire.com. You can also find Aprilaire on Facebook at Facebook.com/Aprilaire.

Courtesy of BPT

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(BPT) – Do the words “aging in place” and “home improvement” conjure images of institutional-looking grab bars in bathrooms and overhead kitchen lights that could illuminate an airport runway? Many people eschew certain types of home improvements for the same reason others refuse to wear hearing aids – the negative connotations of age.

Changes in mobility, vision, hearing and stability are a reality of growing older for many Americans. Certain types of home improvements can make your home safer and more comfortable as you age, allowing you to live there longer. From lovely skylights that fill rooms with vision-friendly natural light and fresh air to slip-resistant flooring in designer colors, those “aging in place” home improvements can be beautiful as well as functional.

Here are a handful of aging-in-place upgrades that shout “fabulous” instead of “fogey”:

In the kitchen

We all spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, and it’s the room where we also do the most work. Upgrades that improve your ability to reach important appliances, enhance vision and boost safety will help you use your kitchen more efficiently for as long as possible.

Age-related vision changes can necessitate increasing the amount of light in your kitchen. Task lights and under-cabinet lighting can focus illumination where you need it most, and hide discretely out of sight without disrupting the clean lines and unmarked beauty of kitchen cabinets.

Overhead lighting is also important, but rather than opting for industrial-type lights that may cause harsh glare, consider introducing natural light. Research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests that natural light may be better for aging eyes than artificial light. A skylight is an upscale, beautiful home improvement that can benefit boomers with natural light.

Skylights can also help improve indoor air quality. Most exposure to environmental pollution occurs by breathing indoor air, according to research by the Greenguard Environmental Institute. No leak solar powered fresh air skylights, like those made by Velux America, not only provide healthful natural light, they also provide passive ventilation to reduce fumes, humidity and stale air – improving overall indoor air quality.

You can increase a skylight’s energy efficiency with solar powered blinds. The complete daylighting system, plus installation, is eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more about these Energy Star-qualified skylights, visit www.veluxusa.com. The website offers a skylight planner app to show you exactly how skylights and blinds will look in your home, as well as a tax credit calculator to figure your savings.

In the bath

Falls are a leading cause of injuries that result in hospitalization of older people. Most falls in the home occur in the bathroom, so taking precautions in this much-used room makes sense. Like them or not, grab bars improve safety in the bathroom. Fortunately, bathroom fixture manufacturers seem to understand the need for products that blend safety and beauty. It’s now easy to find grab bars in a variety of attractive finishes and designs that complement your interior decor.

Lighting is also important in the bath, and a fresh air skylight can be beneficial in this room. Skylights provide natural light and passive ventilation while ensuring privacy in the bath. If your bathroom is on the ground floor, without direct roof access, you can still enjoy natural light by installing a Sun Tunnel tubular skylight.

Flooring is another opportunity to blend beauty and practicality in the bathroom. Replacing slick, traditional ceramic tiles with slip-resistant flooring such as stone, vinyl or textured ceramic tile, can be visually pleasing and safety-enhancing at the same time.

Outside the house

Navigating from the car to the front door can be fraught with peril for older folks, yet many people dislike the way certain assistive devices, like ramps, look in front of their home. If you’re not ready to add a ramp, a decorative railing for outdoor stairs is a great alternative. It’s easy to find good-looking options and virtually any home contractor can help you create a railing that meets your safety needs and meshes well with your home’s exterior design.

Outdoor lighting is also important for safety. Make sure walkways are well lit with low lamps that put illumination directly at your feet. New high-output solar lights are a great way to effectively light a path while minimizing energy costs. Finally, keep concrete sidewalks and brick pavements in good repair. Take care of uneven spots or loose pavers right away, to reduce the risk of falling outside.

Courtesy of BPT

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