Friday, July 14, 2006


If you’re serious about cutting your home energy costs, you might want to take a second look at your home landscaping. You may not be aware of it, but energy-efficient home landscaping can reduce your household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling by as much as 25 percent. Proper placement of trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and hedges lets you modify the microclimate around your home to maximize shade during the summer and reduce wind chill during the winter. Energy-efficient home landscaping is one of the best investments you can make, because aside from its potential to increase the resale value of your property, it can generate enough savings to return your initial investment in less than eight years. Therefore, it is not surprising that more homeowners than ever are implementing energy-conserving home landscaping ideas on their property.

Developing a Home Landscaping Plan for Energy Efficiency

There are countless home landscaping strategies for energy conservation, but not all of them may be appropriate for your property and climate zone. Before you plant those evergreens in your backyard, make an assessment of the comfort and energy shortcomings of your current home landscaping. Factors such as the property’s microclimate, house orientation, and the presence of surrounding structures will influence your energy-efficient home landscaping plan. Microclimate is the climate immediately surrounding your home, and along with the regional climate, it helps determine which plants and trees will thrive and provide the best energy-saving benefit to your home landscaping. Your home’s orientation affects your dwelling’s exposure to the sun, wind, and water, consequently shaping your home landscaping needs. Nearby buildings, walls, trees, and bodies of water can produce significant climatic effects that would impact your home landscaping strategies. A thorough analysis of your property’s features enables you to devise an energy-efficient home landscaping scheme that addresses your needs and goals.

Home Landscaping to Maximize Shade

Properly planned home landscaping can reduce your air-conditioning costs in the summer by providing shade from the hot morning and afternoon sun. Deciduous trees (trees that shed their leaves in winter) give adequate shade in the summer when its leaves are in full bloom and warm the home in winter by letting low-angle winter sun filter through its bare branches. Home landscaping that maximizes shade can reduce temperature inside the home by as much as 8 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Interestingly, shading your air-conditioner through home landscaping also increases the unit’s efficiency. In addition, shading the ground and pavement with trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants reduces surrounding air temperatures. Other heat-reducing home landscaping ideas include building a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio and planting a row of shrubs to shade a driveway.

Home Landscaping for Wind Protection

Home landscaping to divert the flow of cold winds helps cut down your home heating costs in the winter. Trees, shrubs, bushes, walls, and fences make effective windbreaks for winter-protected home landscaping. You can achieve adequate wind protection through home landscaping by planting evergreen trees and shrubs along the north and northwest areas of your property. Windbreaks can decrease wind speed for a distance as much as 30 times its height, although maximum wind protection occurs at a distance of two to five times the mature height of windbreaks. For optimal wind protection, make sure that the foliage density on the windward side of your property is 60 percent. A well-designed home landscaping provides energy savings year-round. Enjoy the warmth of the winter sun by not planting evergreens too close to the south side of your home. Shrubs, bushes and vines planted close to your house create dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer.

Tip for Installing a Privacy Fence
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Tooth Whiteners

Tooth whitening was discovered by accident by dentists who traditionally use peroxide in the mouth after dental surgery. They noticed the effects of peroxide on tooth discoloration due to coffee, tea, colas, smoking, and other substances. Whitening has now become a common process.

There are two main kinds of tooth whitening treatments, those carried out in a dentist's office and those done at home. The procedure in the dentist's office, with laser activation, can take a little over an hour; the procedure at home can take days or weeks. This article will discuss the latter, home treatments.

Home treatments include those dispensed by dentists and those bought over-the-counter. To get to the root of the differences, you must first look at who regulates or sets guidelines for tooth whiteners. Since they are not considered as drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA does not regulate them.

In place of regulation, the American Dental Association (ADA) has set minimal guidelines for safety and effectiveness. The only products to have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance are tray-based products dispensed by dentists. The active ingredient in these ADA-accepted products is carbamide peroxide at 10% concentration. The active ingredient found in many over-the-counter products is hydrogen peroxide.

Your dentist should be your first advisor on which over-the-counter product is best for you, based on the nature of your tooth discoloration and your dental history, as well as safety. You can also ask your dentist or do your own research online as to which manufacturers have a reputation for making quality products, and which manufacturers conduct their own research.

As a general rule, there has been extensive testing of carbamide peroxide-based whiteners, but very little of hydrogen peroxide, something to be taken into consideration when choosing.

Another consideration is the condition of your teeth. It is safe to whiten your teeth yourself without consulting a dentist if your teeth are healthy, but if you have dentures, fillings, capped teeth or teeth blackened by fillings or decay, ask your dentist what would be right for you.

Whitening toothpastes are the safest, as they gently whiten with mild abrasion and do not necessarily contain peroxide. They typically can leave your teeth one shade lighter with continued use. On the other end of the spectrum, dentist-applied light activated whitening can lighten teeth by up to 8 shades.

Whitening gels and strips use peroxide in lower concentrations than if administered by your dentist. They can lighten teeth by several shades in a few days to two weeks, and the effects can last up to 4 months.

Tray bleaching at home is done typically for 1-2 hours per day, or overnight, for up to 4 weeks for maximum results. This method is much cheaper than having your dentist do the job.

Possible side effects of tooth whitening include cold or heat sensitivity, or gum irritation. If you use over-the-counter products at home and develop sensitivity in your mouth tissues, discontinue use and consult with your dentist. Your dentist can apply whitener and keep it from contacting your gums, plus he can control the amount and maximize contact with your teeth for optimal whitening and minimal irritation.

Whether you choose to whiten your teeth with your dentist's help or on your own, educating yourself will give you the best chances of achieving that dazzling white smile.

Professional Engagement Photo
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Thursday, July 13, 2006

A mountain bike is meant for rough riding
The most rugged bicycles are mountain bikes. They are meant to be ridden on dirt tracks, on steep and pebbled inclines and across hairpin bends. Very rarely the cyclists drive on paved mountain roads. Most cyclists love to use their mountain bike on...

Bicycle control depends on braking and steering
The earliest bicycles had no brakes. For bikes to become popular, an effective mechanism for slowing and stopping had to be devised. That is how brakes came into existence; they increased the frictional force on the wheels enabling the rider to slow...

Biking gear can make cycling safe and enjoyable
When you buy a bicycle you should not forget to buy appropriate biking gear. You will find that cycling is much more safe and enjoyable when you are attired in the right gear. You can ride a bicycle wearing track pants or running shorts but you will...

Banana Seat Bicycle

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Removing Unwanted Items From Your Computer

Removing an unwanted item from your computer can range from the trivial, to the downright nerve-wracking. Part I of this article describes some of the most basic types of unwanted items. Part II discusses specific procedures aimed at their removal.
First let us classify the various types of 'unwanted items' in existence. Also for the purposes of this article, assume that a Windows-based computer is the object of this exercise.
Unwanted items in the most generic sense may appear in the form of files (items of data), or programs (executables), either fully installed in the normal fashion (using the Windows Installer program), or simply stored in some folder location. The latter simply needs to be clicked on for it to run as intended, or unintentionally triggered by some other process. Moreover, programs may be 'hostile'. In other words they may be malware - a virus, trojan, spyware or Adware.
Below are listed some of the more common types of unwanted items that may be found on your computer.
Unwanted Data:
Removal of unwanted data can be simply by identifying, locating and deleting the data file, followed by emptying the trash can.
However, you should be aware that if security is an issue, simple file deletion as described above will not completely remove all traces of the data. To ensure that sensitive data is removed 'forever' the data must be overwritten with new data designed according to recognized secure methods. Details of such a procedure are beyond the scope of this article.
Since it is theoretically possible to retrieve even data that has been overwritten, some would argue that the only secure way to prevent sensitive data from ever being retrieved is to physically destroy the hard disk originally used to store the data. It is safe to say, though, that such retrieval would be way beyond the capabilities of all but the most technically sophisticated.
Cache Files:
Cache files are used by Windows to help speed up the execution of routing and/or repetitive operations. While these are not 'unwanted' in the strictest sense of the term, over time the cache file size may grow unnecessarily large, thereby degrading computer performance.
Internet Temporary Files:
During the course of the normal use of Internet Explorer of other Internet browser, many temporary files are created.
Windows Temporary Files:
Windows creates temp files during software installation as well as various other operations. These files provide the ability to easily recover from various possible 'glitches' that may occur during execution of a given process.
Similar to Cache files, Windows uses 'temp' (temporary) files to provide smoother operation of various installed programs. Temp files are conspicuous by their '.tmp' file extension. For example, you will find temp files being created whenever programs such as MSWord or Excel are used.
Unwanted Installed Programs:
Any program originally installed using the Windows installer may be uninstalled by the usual (recommended) method of going to the Control Panel and running the 'Add/Remove Programs' utility. Many programs are also supplied with their own uninstaller. In such cases this feature should be used as a first option for its removal from your computer.
It should be noted that if the program's own uninstaller and/or Windows Add/Remove Program utility fail to remove the program, other more intrusive means of removal may be employed. This option will be covered in Part II of this article.
The removal of malware (spyware, adware, etc.) is typically the most challenging of all the procedures described thus far. In fact, the initial obstacle is recognizing that such an 'infestation' does indeed exist.
Some of the first signs of possible malware infestation are:
- Erratic computer operation. - Computer crashes. - Slower-than-normal operation. - Pop-up messages warning of virus infestation or other problem (trying to scare you into taking some particular action, such as visiting a website promising to fix the problem). - Your Home Page suddenly being changed from the normal site (home-page hijacking).
To be sure, there are other factors that may slow down your computer or cause erratic behavior, such as file corruption, or software bugs. However, there are a few procedures you can follow which will reduce or eliminate the possibility that your computer is in fact the victim of a malware 'attack'.
It makes good sense to run a complete check for malware and remove any items found, and then perform routine maintenance procedures (temp file removal, etc.).
The basic recommended procedures for removal of unwanted items from your computer are discussed in Part II of this article.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Save On Your Electric Bills This Summer

Now that summer is here, electric bills are skyrocketing with the heat. Air conditioners are coming on by the millions in an effort to cool down. Add that to the electrical appliances, televisions and other electronics that consume power, and your electric bill soars. Here are some tips to reduce those costs.

1. Closing your curtains and blinds on the sunny side of your house will help keep it cooler when temperatures are high. You can also apply window film to your windows. This will cut radiant heat and still allow you to see the view outside. Painting your house a light color and using window awnings will also help reduce heat inside your house.

2. If you use a window air conditioner, put it in a window that is located on the shady side of your house near the center of the house. Cooler air outside means cooler air inside.

3. Make sure that your cooling system (and heating system in winter) is working efficiently. Have your systems checked by a reputable maintenance company at least once yearly. Change the filters on your furnace and air conditioner monthly.

4. Turn off your air conditioner or furnace when you leave home for short periods of time. Of course, if you live in a desert or severely cold climate, you would turn your thermostat a bit higher or lower than you would normally have it.

5. Plant trees and shrubs outside your house to shade it. Be sure that shrubs placed near air conditioning units are trimmed so that they have sufficient air flow.

6. Electronics that are turned off may still use electricity. Unplug them when going on vacation or when leaving your house for an extended period of time. For other electrical units like razors or hair dryers, plug them into a power strip that you can switch off when you're not using them.

7. Use fluorescent light bulbs instead of standard incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs use ten times the power of fluorescent.

8. When you are shopping for a printer, scanner or other computer equipment, look for those that will automatically go into "sleep mode" or turn off when they aren't being used.

9. When you're deciding between the microwave or electric stove to cook a meal, choose the microwave. Not only does it use 90 percent less energy, it will not heat up the house - thus using even more electricity to cool it.

10. Replace appliances that are older than ten years old. Older refrigerators and other major appliances cost more to run than newer appliances. Modern appliances must conform to "Energy Star" efficiency and are ten to twenty percent cheaper to operate.

11. If your electricity should go off during a "brown-out" or "blackout," turn off or unplug as many appliances as you can. Otherwise, when everyone's power comes back on at the same time, another transformer could blow out.

Using some of these ideas will help keep your electric power bills lower. The more ideas you use, the lower your costs will be. Save your pocketbook, and your environment, by conserving electricity.