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Fall Home Improvement

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Avoid common mistakes when the heat goes out

(ARA) - The phrase “you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone” can apply to many things in life, but it’s particularly relevant when the heat goes out on the coldest day of the year. In these situations, most homeowners will do practically anything to restore the indoor comfort level of their homes as quickly as possible - whether it’s paying for a quick fix or replacing an entire system. However, in the rush to prevent the family from shivering all night long, it’s easy to make a rash decision that could ultimately be a costly mistake in the long run. According to Bill Cunningham, a home comfort specialist with Lennox - a leading manufacturer of heating,

cooling and indoor air quality equipment there are three common mistakes people tend to make when the air stops circulating at home: Mistake No. 1: Thinking you’ll save more money by repairing an old, broken system instead of replacing it. Repairs to an existing heating and cooling may be the least expensive immediate option, but Cunningham says that simply repairing an old system may cost you more in the long run since older systems tend to break down more frequently and consume more energy. Replacement often is a better option, because new heating and cooling systems are much more efficient than those from several years ago and

they can save you money, time and headaches in the long run. For example, by replacing an older furnace that is 60 percent efficient with one that is 95 percent efficient, homeowners can save approximately 57 percent on energy bills and up to $5,513 over a fiveyear period. In addition, new federal tax credits for energy efficient home improvements make buying a new system more affordable than ever. Mistake No. 2: Buying a new system that is too big or too small. “Bigger isn’t always better, particularly when it comes to heating and air conditioning equipment,” says Cunningham. A correctly sized heating and cooling system is crucial to your

comfort and the efficiency of the system. According to Cunningham, an oversized system will cost you more to operate and may actually lower your comfort. In fact, an air conditioner that is too large for the home will cycle on and off more frequently than properly sized units, running up your utility bill, while also leaving rooms cold and clammy. Likewise, if the unit is too small, it will run too often and may be unable to heat or cool your home sufficiently. To help determine the proper size, it’s best to enlist the help of a rep-

utable home heating and cooling contractor. Mistake No. 3: Failing to take into account your long-term needs. When buying a new system, be sure to consider that it is priced within your budget, but don’t compromise your comfort level, household energy efficiency or longterm savings by purchasing a system that will not satisfy your needs well into the future. Choosing a new heating or air conditioning system that’s right for your home is more than just a matter of comparing the initial purchase price and installation costs. The

fuel costs to operate a home comfort system over its lifetime, which can span anywhere from 10 to 20 years, will likely be much more than the initial purchase price. Cunningham says purchasing a new furnace with an efficiency rating of 90 percent or higher or an air conditioner with a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) of 16 or higher can help offset fuel and operating costs over the long haul. For more tips and advice on maintaining or purchasing a home comfort system, visit Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Fall Home Improvement


Grilled beef adds sizzle to meals (ARA) - It’s that time of year when enticing smells from the grill waft from yard to yard, tempting taste buds. When it comes to selecting what type of meat to grill for your friends and family, beef ranks supreme. Not only are hamburgers and steaks the two most popular foods for grilling, according to research conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, but beef is also one of the most versatile kinds of food to grill. Grilling beef offers endless opportunities to create a variety of delicious and flavorful dishes — from mouthwatering kabobs to tender baby back ribs and juicy steaks. Yet many outdoor chefs stick with foods that are most familiar to them. Whether you’re new to the grill or just want to “beef up” the options in your recipe box, the good news is that beef is available in so many economical, simple-to-grill cuts that it’s easier than you might think to impress your family and friends, and to add some sizzle to your summer meals. “With beef, outdoor chefs have a lot of different options from which to choose to create delicious and interesting grilled meals all summer long,” says Genie Nicholas, culinary development manager at SUPERVALU. “In addition, with more people opting to cook at home because of the economy, grilled beef provides one of the easiest

ways to enjoy a restaurant-quality meal at home, at an affordable price.” Tongs up! Tips for grilling beef with confidence • Help is just around the corner: You don’t have to know everything about beef to try something new on the grill. You just need to know where to look. Many grocery stores have sections in the meat department stocked with varieties of beef specially cut for grilling, along with easy cooking instructions right on the packages. • Expand your repertoire: With a little experimentation, you can discover many ways to create a memorable meal of grilled beef that is sure to delight your family and friends. So, if you’ve never ventured beyond cheeseburgers, try a skirt steak marinated and served fajita-style. If you always grill steak, try preparing it in new ways, such as in beef kabobs or as the main component in a crisp steak salad. • The right ingredients:

Great chefs know the importance of starting with the freshest, highest quality beef. Look for premium beef, such as USDA Choice Angus Beef, at your local grocery store. • Liven it up: Even with less tender cuts of beef, there are lots of ways to create a delicious meal. Adding kosher salt or a variety of spices to grilled beef 10 minutes before grilling is an easy way to enhance the natural flavor. Or use a marinade for additional flavor and tenderness. • Not too hot: Most beef cuts should be placed 3 to 6 inches from the heat source and cooked over medium heat. Thicker cuts should be placed farther away from the heat to prevent the outside from getting cooked too fast, before the inside reaches the desired doneness. • Perfect doneness: An instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally is the best judge of beef perfection. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association advises cooking steaks to 145 F for medium rare or 160 F for

medium, and to always cook burgers to at least 160 F. • Savor the juices: Resist the temptation to flatten or pierce the meat while grilling, or the flavorful juices will be lost. Here’s a grilled beef recipe so easy it can make even a novice outdoor chef look like a pro. This colorful entree features boneless sirloin and ready-made marinade sauce, simplifying prep time so you can relax and get to the table faster. It’s one of many easy-toprepare beef recipes available at Courtesy of ARAcontent

Grilled Teriyaki Beef Kabobs Prep time: 15 minutes plus marinating Grill time: 7 to 9 minutes Amount: 4 servings Ingredients: 1 (1 1/2 pound) Stockman & Dakota Boneless Sirloin Steak 1 red bell pepper, cut into 24 chunks 3/4 cup Culinary Circle Shanghai Five Spice Teriyaki Marinade & Dipping Sauce 16 chunks fresh pineapple 8 wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes Cooked rice, optional Directions: Trim the fat off the steak; cut into 24 cubes. Place steak, peppers and marinade into a reclosable food storage bag and seal. Toss to coat. Place in refrigerator and marinate a minimum of 45 minutes or up to overnight. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Thread three beef, three pepper and two pineapple chunks onto skewers in desired pattern. Place skewers on the grill. Cook, turning occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes or until desired doneness is reached (145 F for medium rare, 160 F for medium). Additional marinade may be brushed on during grilling, if desired. Remove from the grill. Serve kabobs over cooked rice, if desired.


Fall Home Improvement

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Tips to save your home and life in case of fire (ARA) - Every year more than 500,000 fires occur in homes across the nation. To help protect your home and your loved ones, the experts have come up with the following easy-to-follow tips that could make all the difference. “Fires, even small ones, can quickly become out of control,” says Lou Manfredini, Ace’s “Helpful Hardware Man.” “Taking the time now to prepare your home can help save lives and money.” Protect your home Any home is susceptible to fire, and the first step to keeping your family safe is to purchase two essential items. • Fire alarms: Fire alarms are your first line of defense when it comes to fires. Make sure that you have one installed on every level of your home - even the attic. To get the most protection, install one in, or near, every bedroom. Fire alarms use three different methods to detect fire: photoelectric, which responds to smoke; ionization, which responds to smoke and gas; and thermal, which responds to heat. When choosing an alarm, select one that utilizes more than one of the above methods. Once the fire alarms are installed, be sure to test them once a month and change the batteries twice a year “A good reminder is to change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings,” says Manfredini. • Fire extinguisher: Every home should have a fire extinguisher, specifically one that is labeled as “ABC” which means it can be used on all types of

fires. Additionally, bigger is not always better when it comes to these products. It is important to select a size that fits within your appropriate storage location. “The general rule of thumb is to have one fire extinguisher on every floor of your home, especially a small one for your kitchen,” says Manfredini. The experts also suggest keeping a fire extinguisher within 10 feet of the stove, on the same side of the kitchen that has the exit. Many fires occur in the kitchen, such as grease fires, and keeping an extinguisher nearby can help you contain the damage. Once you have selected your fire extinguisher purchase the desired number plus one additional extinguisher for you to try out. Remember, you don’t want to have to learn how to use the extinguisher while there is a fire in your home. Stop fire before it starts While fires can start for any number of reasons, there are two common causes that are easy to fix. • Fireplaces: There is nothing better than sitting in front of a warm fire on a cold day, but unmaintained fireplaces can be a huge hazard. “Your chimney should be cleaned and inspected on a yearly basis,” says Manfredini. “This requires special tools and ladder work, so it’s a project that is better left to a certified chimney sweep.” After you get your fireplace cleaned, install a chimney spark arrester that will prevent stray sparks from catching your roof on fire and a fireplace

screen that will keep stray sparks from coming into your home. • Appliances: Electrical fires can occur out of nowhere, so if your appliance is emitting an unusual smell, unplug it and have someone repair it before using again. Additionally, replace frayed or cracked electrical cords and don’t overload extension cords. Never run cords under rugs. If you find you have too many plugs going into one outlet (or extension cord), purchase a surge protector, which will keep your appliances safe should a surge occur, and keep overloaded electrical systems from catching fire. For more home safety tips and advice, visit or stop by your neighborhood Ace Hardware store. Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Fall Home Improvement


Leaf mulching and fertilizer: A back-saving, soil-enriching way to deal with fallen leaves

(ARA) - As Mother Nature adorns the trees in your yard with riotous reds, vibrant yellows and exotic oranges, you can easily get swept up in the romance of the season - until those leaves turn brown, drop from the branches and litter your lawn. Then you start to think of the hours of backbreaking raking work ahead of you. This autumn, why not try working with Mother Nature by mulching those leaves instead of raking,

bagging and condemning them to a landfill? Leaf mulching is a timesaving, environmentally friendly way to deal with fallen leaves. Plus, if you live in a community that has cut back on collection services due to the economy, mulching can solve your dilemma of what to do with the leaves littering your lawn. “It doesn’t make sense to rake leaves and bag them, just to have them end up decomposing in a landfill,”

says Dr. Phil Dwyer, senior scientist at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. “Leaf mulching recycles a natural resource and enriches the soil of your lawn for free.” In fact, turf benefits by receiving more nutrients when you mulch fall leaves back into the lawn instead of raking them, according to a study by Michigan State University turfgrass researcher Thom Nikolai and ScottsMiracle-Gro scientists. Recycling fallen leaves saves time and mon-

ey, adds nutrients to the soil, speeds spring greening and reduces weeds. Here’s how to recycle this fall’s crop of fallen leaves: • Remove the grass catcher from your lawn mower. Mow over the leaves on your lawn. Repeat until they are reduced to dime-sized pieces. • Mow until you see about half an inch of grass through the mulched leaf layer. Any kind of rotary-action mower will do the job, and all kinds of leaves can be mulched. Throughout the season, you can chop up to 18 inches total of leaf clutter with several passes of the mower. Having a some-

what thick layer of mulched leaves is okay as long as you can still see the green grass blades poking through. As leaf bits settle into the ground, microbes and worms get to work recycling them. Once you’ve enriched your soil with leaf mulching, don’t forget that fall is the best time to feed and seed your lawn. A few simple steps can help ensure that your lawn will be strong next season and beyond: • After mulching, feed your lawn with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard fall lawn fertilizer to help build strong, deep roots for a better foundation and a more robust lawn next year. The

nitrogen in the fertilizer will also help the mulched leaves decompose faster. Be sure to sweep excess fertilizer off hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks. • After feeding, spread seed where needed. To reseed your bare spots, dig up bare areas, mix in compost, sow your seeds and cover with more compost. If the weather is dry, keep the seeded soil moist until new grass begins to grow. Seeding autumn bare spots will thicken the lawn and make it more resistant to future bare spots. To learn more about leaf mulching and autumn lawn care, visit Courtesy of ARAcontent


Beautify Your Yard This Fall!

The Fall season is the perfect time to plant trees! At Marcum’s we have many to choose from such asChinese Pistache, Maple, Oak, Lacebark Elm, Dogwoodand Japanese Maple just to name a few. We also have a Large Selection of Shrubs, Mums, Pansies as well as Fall and Holiday Décor to add color to your yard. Come See Us Today at Marcum’s Nursery!

ACRES OF TREES ALWAYS IN STOCK! I-35 at Goldsby Exit (405) 288-2368 Mon-Sat 8-5 CLOSED Sunday

2121 S.W. 119th St. (405) 691-9100 Mon-Sat 8:30-5:30 CLOSED Sunday Sunday 1-5



Fall Home Improvement

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Affordable outdoor improvements offer great return on investment (ARA) - With the real estate market yet to rebound from its dramatic plunge and credit still tight, housing figures show that more homeowners are staying put. But that doesn't mean they're sitting idly by. People are investing in affordable home upgrades that not only make an immediate impact, but make their property more attractive should they decide to put it on the market later. "Today, when it comes to upgrades for your home, it's all about bang for the buck. Homeowners are looking for the best return on investment as well as simple, inexpensive ways to make dramatic improvements to their homes," says Leigh Brown, real estate broker in Charlotte, N.C. "Outdoor living spaces, landscaping, decks and patios all make a big difference -- not only in how comfortable your current home is now, but how buyers see it when you're ready to sell." The trend in outdoor living space has moved toward creating outdoor living "rooms," and the options available to homeowners have grown with the number of available products on the market. "When you're looking

Decorative balusters and post cap accessories give homeowners affordable options when updating an existing deck.

at homes in a certain price range, you tend to see a lot of the same things. The features that make a home stand out and make people want to live there are often the outdoor spaces," Brown says. Chris Fox, marketing manager for Universal Forest Products of Grand Rapids, Mich., says his company's outdoor living products, including composite lumber decking and deck and fence accessories, have continued to sell well in this economy, even as new construction has slowed. "Our decking products, such as Latitudes Composite Decking, continue to be desirable for homeowners who are staying put and updating their existing homes rather than moving. Deck updates and upgrades are projects that make sense in this

economy and that create added value for the future, as well as enjoyment and added living space for right now," Fox says. Composite decking products are low maintenance and eco-friendly. Latitudes is made from 70 percent recycled materials. Brown says "green" home improvements can make a difference when buyers are comparing properties. Homeowners who already have decks find that swapping out balusters or adding decorative post caps or lights can also make a dramatic difference that adds beauty as well as value to their outdoor living space. Deckorators offers aluminum and glass balusters in a variety of styles to accent virtually any architectural look. Deck railing balusters can be installed on a

new deck or can be used to update the look of an old one. "In neighborhoods where every home has a deck, the nicer decks

sell the home faster. Typically, it's about the details even more than the size. Designer rails, lights and finishes make all the difference," Brown says. Dino Perelli, a real estate agent who specializes in lake property in Texas, says that deck and dock upgrades are one way his clients are setting their properties apart from the many others on the market. "Homes are sitting on the market longer, and that causes property owners to look for things they can do to set their property apart. In our area, that means

adding more living space to docks or replacing tired-looking wood decks with long-lasting composite material," Perelli says. Whether looking to update an existing home for personal enjoyment or preparing it for sale, outdoor living spaces present opportunities for improvement. Turning a generic deck into an inviting and attractive space to spend time sets a home apart, which is what real estate experts say home buyers will look for when the real estate market improves. Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Fall Home Improvement


You know it’s time to replace your roof when. . .

These attractive synthetic shake roofing tiles add value to the home and are backed by a limited 50-year warranty.

Gaping holes and messy leaks are two obvious signs that a roof needs to be replaced. But, sometimes the signs are less obvious. “Certainly if your roof is approaching the end

Rosewall with DaVinci Roofscapes. “However, a calendar shouldn’t be the only way you determine if it’s time to replace your roof.” According to Rosewall, you should seriously start thinking

of its life cycle — which is usually 20 - 25 years for asphalt shingles — it’s time to think about a new roof,” says Ray

about replacing your roof with synthetic roofing tiles when ... • Your neighbors have new roofs and you

want to maintain the value of your home. • Your neighbors have not added a new roof and you want to increase the resale value of your home. • Your geographic area has seen an increase in severe weather conditions, (including hail or tornados) that require a stronger roofing material to handle the dramatic weather changes. • Your existing roof is functional, but has staining that detracts from the look of your home. • You want to switch to a low-maintenance

roof that has a 50-year warranty. • You don’t want to worry about wood rot caused by wood shakes and termites. • Excessive snow in your area has caused substantial damage to your roof. “Too often, homeowners wait until their roofs are old and worn out before considering an upgrade,” says Rosewall. “Certainly curling, splitting and missing shingles are all warning signs that a roof needs to be replaced. However, with the changing weather patterns in our

country combined with the need for homeowners to add value to their properties, consumers should be vigilant about looking for signs of wear along with upgrading their roofs.” Rosewall recommends that, when researching new roof options, homeowners seriously consider lowmaintenance synthetic slate and shake roof systems. “Roofing tiles made from 100 percent pure virgin resins have consistency throughout each tile,” says Rosewall. “For our products, state-of-the-art UV stabi-

lizers are embedded throughout the polymer to create a durable synthetic roofing tile which resists mold, algae, fungus, and insects, with virtually no curling, fading and cracking so they’re headache-free.” All DaVinci synthetic roofing tiles are backed by a limited 50-year warranty, are Class A rated for fire retardance, Class 4 rated for impact resistant and have the highest ratings attainable for straight line wind testing at 110 mph. For more information, visit

Replacing your roof? What you should know about roofing systems (ARA) - Fall is prime time to put a new roof on your home. But before you spring into action, there are a few things you should know. Most importantly, buying new shingles without the rest of the roofing system is like buying a car with no engine. Any roofing system you purchase should address all key parts of the roof. From hip and ridge, ventilation, insulation, ice and water shield, underlayments, gutter protection and the shingles themselves, ordering a complete system like Owens Corning's roofing system ensures all parts will work together perfectly.

Choosing a contractor to install your new roof is just as important as choosing the roof itself. Use references from friends and family, and online resources like Owens Corning's contractor locator - found at - to gather names and information on candidates. Be sure to check contractors' license status before you seek bids from them. And don't automatically go for the lowest bid be sure competing bids are comparing apples to apples before you decide on one. To learn more about complete roofing systems for your home, visit


NORMAN WEST 1918 W. Main

NORMAN EAST 1000 E. Alameda

Fall Home Improvement  
Fall Home Improvement  

Want to put a fresh face on your home this fall? Just take a look here.