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Calgary Breeze March 2010

A Dozen Ways To Save On Your Heating Bill

The following energy-saving tips are very simple to follow and will help reduce your heating energy cost no matter what fuel you use in your home:
DIAL DOWN. For every degree you reduce your thermostat setting you may save about 3% on your heating bill.

SET THE THERMOSTAT BACK. At night, and when leaving your home unoccupied for a long period of time, set the thermostat back at least 5 degrees. Installing an electronic thermostat will allow for an automatic reduction at pre-set times. Note: This suggestion is not advisable for homes with heat pump systems, as a large temperature setback may mean a long delay in returning to normal temperatures or a switch over to more expensive electric resistance heat until desired temperatures are reached.

ThermostatDON’T BLOCK REGISTERS OR RADIATORS. Keep rugs, furniture or drapes clear of heat registers or radiators.

DON’T FULLY HEAT UNUSED ROOMS. Close registers or turn off radiators in rooms not being used, and close the doors. Caution: To protect any pipes in these rooms, make sure the temperature is above freezing.

CLOSE EXTERIOR DOORS. Keep all exterior doors as well as those to all unheated areas, such as the garage, attic and basement, tightly closed.

USE THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE HOUSE TO BEST ADVANTAGE. Open blinds or drapes to let the sun’s rays in to help warm the house. At night or on cloudy days, close the draperies to prevent heat loss.

KEEP YOUR WARM AIR HEATING SYSTEM CLEAN. Clean or replace dirty filters that restrict air flow through your furnace.

INSULATE YOUR HOUSE WHERE IT IS NEEDED. Proper insulation will conserve more energy than any other single item. Increasing insulation levels from a minimal depth to the currently recommended amount for your area may save significant amounts on your heating (and cooling) bills.

INSULATE DUCTS AND PIPES. Ducts that carry warm air or pipes that carry heated water to the living areas may go through unheated areas. To increase the efficiency of the heating system, these ducts and pipes should be covered with insulation.

WEATHERSTRIP AND CAULK AROUND WINDOWS AND DOORS. Sealing gaps in exterior walls will reduce cold drafts and keep warm air in. This is one of the least expensive ways to save energy and improve occupant comfort

SEAL AGAINST AIR LEAKAGE TO THE ATTIC. Don’t forget to insulate and weatherstrip all attic access doors. Even small cracks around attic entrances can result in substantial heat loss.

CLOSE THE FIREPLACE DAMPER OR DOORS WHEN NOT IN USE. An open fireplace allows the heated air in the room to rise up the flue and escape to the outside. Even when a good fire is burning, more heated house air can be drawn into the fireplace and up the chimney than the fireplace can radiate into a room. So use your fireplace prudently.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue.

Creamy Basil & Tomato Pasta

Creamy Basil Tomato PastaIngredients

2 cans (19 fl oz/540mL each)
stewed tomatoes, drained
(about 3 cups)

1 pkg. (250g) Philadelphia
Brick Cream Cheese, cubed

1/4 cup Kraft Signature
Sundried Tomato and Oregano Dressing

450 g (1/2 of 900-g pkg.) linguine

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted


TOSS tomatoes with cream cheese and
dressing; cover. Set aside.

COOK pasta as directed on package;
drain. Return to pot.

ADD tomato mixture, basil and pine nuts;
toss lightly. Cook on medium heat 2 to 3 min.
or until cream cheese is slightly melted.

Questions and Answers

Q. We had ceramic tiles installed on our kitchen counter. The grout between the tiles looks okay but is covered with dust. I keep washing it but the dust remains. The installer says the grout just needs to be washed several times. Any ideas?

I’d wash it a few more times and if the dusting continues after that I would ask the installer to correct the problem. If a grout sealer wasn’t used (it sounds like it wasn’t), then the application of a sealer might reduce or stop the dusting as well as protect the grout from future staining from food, water, oil, or dirt; and will make it easier to clean.

Q. I want to put new siding on my 34-year-old house. The outside walls are poorly insulated. Several installers of vinyl siding said they don’t use insulating panels under the siding. Most just use a house wrap. What do you suggest?

The insulation sheets used under vinyl siding are more to provide a smooth surface than to provide any meaningful insulation. In some cases, insulation led to moisture problems in the walls because the insulation formed a barrier that wouldn’t let water vapor pass through. Housewraps generally work well to provide an air barrier, while allowing moisture from the inside of the house to pass through.

Insulated vinyl siding is also available that can add up to an R-4 value. The insulation is supposedly “breathable” and will not cause a moisture-barrier problem. If you still want wall insulation, there are several products, including fiberglass and cellulose that can be pumped in. Contact an insulation company for more information and the pros and cons of the different products.

Q. We bought some stainless steel appliances a couple of years ago and are having trouble keeping them clean. I’ve tried a stainless steel cleaner as well as soap and water, and still have streaks. Can you help?

I’ve heard from several people that they get good results cleaning stainless steel using microfiber cloths, sold at many stores that sell cleaning supplies. The cloths can be reused many times. Some stainless-steel appliances are “clear coated” with a coating that is supposed to help make them easier to clean. In general, stainless steel cleaners that can be used on uncoated steel should not be used on these coated surfaces.

If you have an owner’s manual for your appliances, you should see what cleaning methods the manufacturer recommends. If you don’t have a manual, contact the manufacturer and try and get one, and also ask for advice on handling your specific cleaning problem. If you cannot get any help from the manufacturer and simple washing and drying or microfiber cloths don’t help, there are several other ways to try and remove the streaks. Try a half-teaspoon of dishwashing detergent in a pint of warm water, applied with a sponge, then wiped dry; or , rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or club soda, applied with a soft cloth. First try any cleaner in an inconspicuous place to make sure it doesn’t cause additional stains.

Q. Our older house has stone basement walls. We get a lot of water in the basement, more than our sump pump can handle. We can’t afford expensive basement treatments. Will waterproofing paint help?

How you clean depends on the type of floor finish. Excessive water can be harmful to any wood floor. Even if the floor has a tough surface finish, water can seep into cracks between boards and possibly lead to warping and other problems. If the floor is relatively new, try to track down the manufacturer to get their recommendations.

Waterproofing paint probably won’t help in your case. Those products work well to help stop minor seepage through materials such as concrete or concrete block, but your water is probably entering through cracks between the stones and at the wall-floor joint. A coating would not do any good in these areas.

The first step in any water proofing project is to check all exterior features that might contribute to seepage. You should check your roof gutters and downspouts to make sure they are not damaged or clogged and carry the collected rainwater well away from the foundation. The soil grading around the foundation should also divert any rainwater away and swales or drainage provisions should keep any water from draining toward the house. If there are obvious cracks or gaps in the mortar or wall, you may be able to plug them with fast-setting hydraulic cement.

If you want to go beyond that, it may be costly. But you may not have a choice if you want a dry basement. Drain piping can be added around the perimeter, either inside or outside. Obtain some estimates from qualified water proofing companies, but make sure they address issues related to keeping water out, rather than just trying to control it when it seeps in. If the mortar work is bad throughout, the wall may need a major tuckpointing job or a coating of gunite, a mortar-like material used to line swimming pools. If your pump can’t keep up, a larger or second pump may help. Also consider a battery back-up in event of a power failure.

How to Reinvent Yourself and Thrive in 2010

SuccessIf this is the year you want to create a new you— whether that means being healthier, having better relationships, earning more money or leaving behind a non-productive behavior—here’s a proven way to get there:

1. Ask yourself some questions. What’s your special gift or talent? What assistance do people come to you for? What would you do with your life, even if you weren’t getting paid? What would you be, do or have if you knew you could not fail? Uncover your strengths, passions and dreams. This is the first step to a new YOU!

2. Set your goal. Be clear and specific. It’s not just “achieving career success”, it’s “becoming self-employed in the IT field and earning $75,000 annually by the end of 2011”. Make your goal achievable and easy to measure. Don’t just say you want “to lose weight, get fit and look fabulous”, say you want “to lose 30 pounds, be able to swim 100 lengths per week and be in a totally new wardrobe by October 31st, 2010”.

3. Envision how you’ll feel when you achieve it. Imagine how healthy and energized you’ll feel after you’ve been eating fresh, organic food that you prepared yourself. See yourself behind that corner-office desk. Experience the feeling of achieving your goal, and use that energy to keep you motivated.

4. Create a plan to get there. Ask yourself what steps you need to take, then draw up a detailed plan. Focus on making slow, steady progress and getting used to new behaviors. When you experience doubt, re-imagine what it’ll feel like to succeed. Be sure to reward yourself for each step you complete.

5. Fill your mind with successful examples. Spend a few minutes every day reading or listening to stories of people who are already living the life you want to live. This will inspire and motivate you to keep charging forward.

6. See setbacks as opportunities to learn. There will always be failures along the way. But don’t beat yourself up. Analyze what happened and why, and what you could have done differently. Then take a new path that will get you to your goal!

Get healthy by eating pure organic chocolate

ChocolateNo, you’re not dreaming. It really is possible to improve your health by eating something you love. In fact, organic raw chocolate has so many health benefits, many experts are calling it a super food. BUT you have to eat the right kind of chocolate or all the benefits will be lost!

The processed chocolate you buy at the candy counter contains milk products, sugar, fat, wax, fillers, preservatives, pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. As a result, it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Not so tasty sounding, is it?

Organic raw chocolate, on the other hand, hasn’t been overheated or processed so it’s full of nutrients. It’s dark and flavorful and is often sweetened with organic cane sugar. Not only does it taste great, many studies suggest it provides important health benefits:

Next time you reach for chocolate, make it dark organic raw chocolate, and enjoy some guilt-free pleasure!