OnTheHouse Express

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OverTheHill Fitness
OverTheHill Fitness


Rebuilding Together
Rebuilding Together

Westcoat Specialty Coatings
Westcoat Specialty Coatings


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Dr. Roof

Keep the top of your house in top condition. Dr. Roof’s advice can keep you from needing costly housecalls.

On The House Express
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Serious Materials

Help The Economy and Receive up to $1,500 with SeriousWindows

This acquisition, along with additional expansions in Colorado, Chicago and California, are driving a 10-fold increase in manufacturing capacity for super-insulating SeriousWindows and SeriousGlass product lines.

SeriousWindows can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 49%.* Since windows are the biggest source of heating and cooling energy loss in building, up to 40% of HVAC costs are lost through inefficient windows.

On February 17, President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that makes energy efficient home improvements, including SeriousWindows, even more affordable. The new tax credits refund up to 30% of the cost of the eligible windows and doors up to a limit of $1,500.  Qualifying window and door products must have a U-Factor of 0.30 or lower and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30 or lower.

How to qualify and claim the tax credit:**

  1. Purchase qualifying windows or doors, including SeriousWindows, with both a U-Factor of 0.30 or lower and an SHGC of 0.30 or lower. Click here to see which SeriousWindows meet the U-factor and SHGC criteria. There are many options to choose from depending upon your budget and needs.
  2. Purchase and install qualifying products beginning January 1, 2009 thru December 31, 2010.
  3. Save your sales receipt and the performance label (NFRC or ENERGY STARŪ labels).
  4. Claim the Federal tax credit.

Limitations on tax credit:

  1. Tax credit is for the cost of the products only – the credit does not include installation costs.
  2. Tax credit is 30% of the amount paid for the qualifying product up $1500.
  3. These tax credits do not apply if you are building a new home.

*According to internal modeling with ResFen software & modeling parameters established by the Efficient Windows Collaborative.

** Many SeriousWindows will qualify.  Please consult your tax advisor and review all IRS guidelines.

The above information is a summary of the revisions to the federal tax code (U.S. Code Title 26, Section 25C), as updated by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Serious Materials bears no responsibility for the validation of obtaining the tax credit.  Please consult with a professional tax advisor or the IRS.

Applying Paint

. One of the first home-improvement tasks we learned was painting. Both of our folks loved to paint. Although mom's most often was done with an aerosol can, she, like dad, did her share of painting with a roller and brush.

Our parents not only taught us how to paint, but impressed upon us, at an early age, the great impact that a fresh coat of paint has on the appearance of a surface, space or building. Thus, as kids, when our friends were playing ball, we sometimes took pleasure from wielding a brush.

Consequently, the front porch of our old family home was always a shiny red enamel, the block wall surrounding the side yard an unscathed beige and the wrought-iron patio furniture a rust-free white. While many of our long-ago paint jobs have faded, our interest in and satisfaction from painting hasn't.

It is often said that the key to a top-quality paint job lies in the preparation. How true. A clean, dry and well-prepared surface will significantly improve the appearance and lasting-quality of a paint job. Equally important is the quality of the paint. Paint is an investment. If you like spending your free time painting, buy inexpensive, low-quality paint. It won't last, and you'll find yourself giving a repeat performance sooner rather than later.

Preparation and paint quality are two of the three important elements of painting. The third is how the paint is applied. Paint can be sprayed, rolled, brushed, sponged or applied with a pad. Although there are a host of other means of applying paint such as rags and combs, the aforementioned are the most popular.

Once you decide on the means of application you'll need to choose an applicator. For example, if you decide to apply the paint with a brush, you will want one that will give the best result. Brushes come in many shapes, sizes and materials. The elements to consider when choosing one are the type of paint (oil or water), the desired finish (smooth or textured), and the size of the object being painted. The latter will determine the size of the brush or roller to use.

The drill is simple. When painting with oil (or solvent thinned paint or stain), use a Chinese Bristle brush made from natural animal hair or hog bristle from China. These brushes tend to be more expensive and should not be used in water-based finishes. When using water-based paints or stains, use a brush made of man-made synthetic bristles such as nylon, polyester or a combination of the two.

If you will be painting a large, flat surface such as a door, a 3-inch to 4-inch brush is the best choice. With windows or trim, use a trim brush. There are two types of these. One has bristles cut straight across and the other has bristles cut at a slight angle to the ferrule. The sharper pointed edge of the angular sash brush lets you do precise trimming or fine-line work. In addition, the brush handle is generally long for pencil-grip control.

Rollers are used when there is a need to spread lots of paint over a large area. Though the standard roller is 9 inches wide, they are available in various widths to suit the project. When roller shopping, you will notice a difference in the length of the nap or fibers. Some rollers have a short smooth surface, while others have a long, bushy look. A roller with short nap is designed for smooth surfaces whereas long nap is best for rough or textured ones.

Aside from the size and the length of the nap, fabric type determines which roller is best to use. As with paintbrushes, a roller can be made of natural material such as mohair or man-made polyester. Mohair, woven to prevent shedding, works especially well when used with polyurethane, oil-base enamels and solvent thinned paints and stains.

Formed paint sponges and fabric covered paint pads have become popular in the last few years. We have found the foam sponges to work exceptionally well for minor flat wall touchup or for small craft projects. We don't recommend them for serious painting jobs where quality is a concern. The same goes for fabric-covered paint pads. They are well suited for applying stain and/or varnish to smooth surfaces such as a deck or hardwood floor, but are not considered to be effective for applying paint.

A nifty tip: Save time and wear and tear cleaning up paint-covered brushes and rollers at the end of a day of painting by wrapping the brush or roller cover in plastic food wrap and placing it in the refrigerator. Remove the brush or roller from the fridge the next morning, allow it to come up to room temperature, and continue where you left off.

Homemade Floor Cleaners

. When we were kids we sometimes camped out in the foothills near the town where we were raised. The caves made perfect shelters, and setting up our campsite always included building a campfire, storing our groceries and cleaning the floor so that we could spread out our bedrolls.

That was nearly forty years ago, yet today, after all that time, we still find ourselves cleaning floors. Only now, they are floors of a different nature - vinyl, hardwood, ceramic tile, and more. We would like to share a few homespun concoctions with you that we hope you will enjoy making and using on your floors.

Linoleum is probably the most common of floor coverings. It is comparatively inexpensive and it is durable and long-lasting. A mild detergent (such as dish soap) is perfect for daily cleaning. A damp mop is all that it takes. For grease spots, simply add a few drops of vinegar to the solution. To get rid of dull greasy film on no-wax linoleum, use a half-cup of vinegar in a half-gallon of hot water. When cleaning, always use hot water. Often, hot water is all that is required to dissolve most dirt and crud.

Rubber tile isn't quite as damage-resistant as vinyl flooring, so be careful here. Oils, solvents and strong detergents are a no-no. They can harm the surface. For best results, wash with plain old-fashioned hot water. In some cases a mild detergent might help. Use a damp mop.

When cleaning wood floors, think salad dressing - the oil and vinegar variety. Use it to clean and brighten your hardwood floors. Mix equal parts of vinegar and vegetable oil. Do not add salt and pepper to taste. Use this cleaner sparingly. You don't want to make a slippery mess out of your family-room floor.

If your wood floors are painted, use washing soda. Washing soda is basically sodium carbonate. It can be found at the pool supply store in a product called PH increaser. Mix one teaspoon of sodium carbonate into one gallon of hot water. Scrub with a sponge, mop or soft bristle brush.

When cleaning brick and stone floors, muratic acid (pool acid) is the cleaner of choice. Unfortunately, muratic acid is wicked stuff. The vapors can cook your lungs and a splash on the skin can cause severe burns. Although you ultimately might have to resort to muratic acid, trying a milder solution of vinegar first is prudent. Mix one cup of white vinegar into one gallon of hot water. Scrub with a bristle brush and rinse with clear water.

Linoleum, vinyl and wood floors also respond well to oil soap or club soda. Read the last sentence again we said "or" not "and." We have never tried mixing them together, but as stand-alone cleaners, oil soap and club soda can make your floors glisten.

Nothing makes a floor look less appealing than a layer of yellowed wax. To remove it from vinyl or asbestos tiles, try club soda. Pour some onto the affected area, scrub it in with a bristle brush, let it stand for a while and then wipe the yellow away. If this fails, use a heavy-duty wax remover applied with a commercial floor-scrubber. Try the club soda first. It's cheaper and easier.

To remove wax from linoleum, use isopropyl alcohol. Mix a solution consisting of one part alcohol to three parts water. Use a mop to scrub the solution in, and be sure that the area is adequately ventilated.

Stay Younger, Longer

New studies show that antidepressant medications don’t work, exercise and particularly resistance training workouts or strength training, is far superior in curbing anxiety and depression than either low intensity training or being a couch potato.

Besides with all your savings gone what better investment is there than investing in your health.

I am now 62 and plan to work until I am at least 90.

So get moving and set some goals, then find a support system to which you can be accountable.

Plan ahead and before you know it, you will be making newer cells that are better than the old ones.

How is that for staying younger, longer?

For more info on food choices and exercise tips log on to www.overthehillfitness.com


As an example, Lennox Industries – a leading provider of customized home comfort systems and indoor air quality products – recently introduced the first integrated solar power-assisted residential heating and cooling system as well as a dedicated dual-fuel heat pump system designed to alternate seamlessly between electricity and natural gas to ensure efficient operation.

Lennox SunSource™

Featuring innovative, patent-pending technology developed specifically for use in residential settings, the new Lennox SunSource uses solar energy to help power a heat pump that both cools and heats a home.

The new, environmentally friendly technology will help homeowners reduce their consumption of electricity and lower their utility bills, while also maintaining their overall comfort. In addition, because of its use of solar energy, Lennox SunSource will contribute to reducing the strain on the country’s electricity grid during peak electricity usage periods.

“As photovoltaic panels become more affordable, solar power becomes a more viable solution for reducing peak residential energy consumption, lowering energy bills and reducing your overall carbon footprint,” said Bill Cunningham, the SunSource product manager at Lennox Industries. “There is nothing else like SunSource on the market today. Our team of product engineers designed SunSource to make use of solar energy during the time of day when peak air conditioning loads are highest, thus reducing the peak electric demand when needed most.”

“It also represents an affordable way for homeowners to give solar energy a test drive without having to invest in solar panels for the entire house,” Cunningham added.

Lennox SunSource integrates solar power with a traditional heat pump – an all-in-one heating and cooling system. The unit draws energy from a single solar panel measuring approximately 3 feet by 5 feet, providing power to assist the fan motor that moves air across the outdoor coil, a critical component in any home comfort system.

The solar panel, which should face southwest for maximum exposure to the sun, can be mounted on the home’s roof, on a fence, or on a pole in a convenient location. Even on days with limited sun exposure, Lennox SunSource takes advantage of the available solar resources and reduces energy usage. According to Cunningham, Lennox also is evaluating the integration of Lennox SunSource technology with traditional air conditioning units.

Lennox Dedicated Dual-Fuel Heat Pump

In addition to SunSource, Lennox recently introduced another new green product – the Lennox XPG15 dedicated dual-fuel heat pump. It features an intelligent control that automatically switches between efficient electric heat to gas heating based on outdoor conditions, ensuring the best efficiency possible and helping minimize greenhouse gases.

Much like popular hybrid vehicles that use both gas and electricity, the Lennox dedicated dual-fuel heat pump can be paired with a high-efficiency gas furnace. During milder winter temperatures, the heat pump efficiently warms the home using electricity. But when temperatures drop to near or below freezing, the gas furnace will kick in and take over for the heat pump, ensuring efficient use of energy and optimizing comfort for the homeowner.

According to Lennox, homeowners with a dual-fuel heating system can expect to save on average between 15 and 25 percent on their energy bill versus using a single, standard gas furnace. That’s because you’re able to take advantage of the most efficient heating source available during peak usage times – whether it’s natural gas or electricity.

For more information about the new Lennox SunSource or the Lennox XPG15 dedicated dual-fuel heat pump or to obtain a price quote for customized installation of a Lennox home comfort system, homeowners can contact their local Lennox dealer, visit Lennox.com or call 1-800-9-LENNOX.