(NewsUSA) - People are not prone to change. We are creatures of habit, and even small sacrifices -- despite potentially handsome rewards -- can be difficult. Businesses are no different.
Although LED technology has been around for decades, most companies have used metal halide lighting, in part, because it wasn't until recently that LED bulbs have had commercial applications, and to make the switch when it became available meant a large financial commitment to retrofitting current lighting with LED bulbs.
Now, however, one company is hoping to help businesses pad their bottom line while curbing their energy use by changing from traditional metal halide lights to LED direct-replacement bulbs.
OEO Energy Solutions has created an energy-saving EZ LED light bulb that requires no wiring, no ballast bypass or no electrician, and unlike metal halide lights, the LED bulbs contain no mercury.
"Simply change bulbs, and your conversion to LED technology is complete. It's energy savings simplified," said John Einarsen of OEO Energy Solutions. "LED direct-replacement [light bulbs] for metal halide [lights] save 68 percent simply by changing bulbs."
By changing out metal halide lights for OEO's EZ LED light bulbs, the Illinois-based energy solutions company estimates that the savings would be about $364 per year, per light, not including rebates.
For one businessman, the changes have proved significant.
"With the EZ LED from OEO, my energy costs are down by almost 70 percent just by screwing in the EZ LED bulbs," said Brian Brandel, founder of hero247.com. "It was simple, and I don't expect to change a warehouse light again. My employees are happier with the far superior light quality, and I am delighted with the drastic improvement to my bottom line."
Currently, the OEO EZ LED is rebate-eligible in most states, and the return on investment is less than one year, prior to rebates. In addition, the light bulbs have a five-year warranty or 55,000 hours of life.
For more information, visit http://www.oeo.com/oeo-products/warehouse-industrial-solutions/high-bay-lighting/product/157-oeo-ez-led or call 800-553-2112.
(NewsUSA) - Winter is far from over, but it's not too soon for homeowners to begin thinking about all the damage that homes may have sustained from prolonged cold, snow and ice. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that ice dams are one of the most troublesome winter-related home problems as they can create the perfect environment for termites.
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining properly. The melting snow backs up behind this dam and can leak into a home, causing water damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and drywall and providing enough moisture to attract termites as they begin to emerge at the first signs of spring.
Termites are known as silent destroyers because their constant gnawing can go unnoticed until significant structural damage to the home occurs. Even more problematic is that termite property damage, which according to NPMA accounts for at least $5 billion each year, is not covered by homeowners insurance. Depending on the extent of the destruction, homeowners can be saddled with large repair bills.
Before the ground warms, and termite swarms emerge in search of new structures to feast on, homeowners should take necessary steps to ensure winter hasn't done a number on their homes and left them vulnerable to pest problems in the spring.
To prevent ice dams and possible subsequent termite infestations, NPMA offers the following 10 tips:
1. Promptly clear snow off roofs before it freezes and becomes harder to remove.
2. Install snow and ice shields on the roof.
3. Clean out gutters, and install gutter guards.
4. Cover an attic or house fan during winter.
5. Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
6. Add insulation to the attic rafters and ceiling.
7. Seal and insulate HVAC ducts.
8. Install chimney flashing to prevent leaks.
9. Seal gaps around electrical cables and vent pipes.
10. Install eave and soffit vents to circulate cold air.
To find a pest professional or learn more about termites, visit www.pestworld.org.
(NewsUSA) - Everyone knows heart health is vital. Yet, more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year -- or one in every four deaths -- according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By arming yourself with information about nutrition, fitness and lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk for heart disease.
From picking protein-rich foods that are low in saturated fat to snoozing for the optimal amount of time each night, here are some valuable tips to keep your ticker happy:
* Get your protein from foods that are low in saturated fat. While a good steak or hamburger can be enjoyable, it is also high in saturated fat. Better choices are fish, poultry and nuts. If you want something even lighter, consider a protein shake. The Bowflex Body French Vanilla Fitness Shake (www.bowflexbody.com), for instance, offers 15 grams of protein per serving and a scant 1 gram of saturated fat. An added bonus is that these shakes activate the metabolism and help build muscle, burn calories and boost energy.
* Put down the smartphone. In today's world of 24/7 connectivity, it's important to unplug from work, email and devices for at least an hour a day. This helps reduce stress, which is important for keeping your blood pressure and heart rate levels from going too high.
* Get some rest. Experts recommend aiming for around seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Consistently getting too few or too many zzz's can be unhealthy.
* Move your body. A recent study from the University of Cambridge determined that inactivity is more dangerous to your body than obesity. There are limitless activities to get your heart pumping, such as walking, swimming or biking, to name a few. Looking for a workout you can do at home? The Bowflex TreadClimber (www.treadclimber.com) combines the motions of a treadmill, a stair climber and an elliptical for a comfortable low-impact workout that delivers high-impact results.
* Free your inner social butterfly. Better yet, work out with a buddy to help keep you motivated and on track. Research shows that having a strong social network and spending time with others can help reduce blood pressure and other heart disease-related factors.
"Even small steps, like adding one strength-training workout a week, can make a big impact," says Tom Holland, Bowflex Fitness Advisor and "Beat the Gym" author. "Plus, the Internet is a great resource to find more tips and information."
For a good place to start, visit www.bowflexinsider.com.
(NewsUSA) - Back in December of 2014, Congress passed a spending bill that will fund the government through September of 2015. That's good, right? No government shut-down. However, this spending bill includes yet another funding haircut for the IRS, which is probably going to make your life a little worse this tax season. This "haircut" means roughly $350 million in spending cuts.
So, how might that affect you this tax season? Well, for one thing, your odds of getting through to the IRS Help Line while you're still in your youth have gone from slim to none, now that IRS funding has been reduced to 3 percent less than last year and $1.5 billion below the president's requested amount. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson was predicting before the cuts that 2015 would bring us the "worst filing season" in years. No crystal ball is needed to see that administering more than 40 new provisions under the Affordable Care Act for the first time this year is going to call for more IRS staff standing by to answer questions, not fewer.
In December, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told reporters that, in the last four years, the IRS budget has been cut by approximately $1.2 billion, and its staff reduced by about 13,000. IRS's $11.3 billion budget for 2014 was 7 percent below the level appropriated in 2010. On top of frustrating taxpayers in need of answers, Koskinen predicts that the reductions in staff will result in nearly $2 billion in uncollected revenue this year.
If the idea of hanging on hold with the IRS for hours isn't appealing to you, this may be the year for you to join the nearly 60 percent of U.S. taxpayers who hire a paid preparer. Licensed preparers know the intricate and constantly changing tax laws, regulations and codes, and how they can be applied for your benefit to save you money.
Enrolled agents, America's tax experts, are required to complete IRS-approved annual continuing education, ensuring that they have the most up-to-date strategies to make sure you pay only what you owe and get any refunds you are due. Enrolled agents not only specialize in tax preparation and tax planning, they can also represent you before the IRS.
Find an enrolled agent in your area on the "Find an EA" directory at www.naea.org.
(NewsUSA) - If you want to make your workday a bit better, just turn to coffee. That's according to a survey where coffee was identified as key to securing some of offices' best business deals, improving networking and giving office workers a feeling of being at their best.
In fact, the recent survey conducted by Harris Poll and Keurig Green Mountain showed that of the 843 adults who were interviewed (presumably around the coffee machine), 89 percent said a good cup of coffee makes their entire workday even better.
"Clearly, coffee plays an important role in our society and means so much more than just taking a break from work," says Nicole Williams, Career Expert and founder of WORKS. "It has become a way of bringing individuals together, for colleagues to brainstorm or collaborate, to interact with your boss in a more casual way or even spark one's own creativity."
Without their daily cup of joe, coffee drinkers can feel a range of negative emotions -- exhausted (36 percent), irritable (35 percent), unproductive (30 percent), disorganized (20 percent) or forgetful (14 percent). The data only re-enforced Keurig's take that coffee has a variety of surprising social and professional benefits, which is why the company took on a new challenge -- to brew a better carafe of coffee, faster. With its new BOLT System, Keurig believes it has changed the way coffee is brewed in the workplace.
The company challenged its engineers to come up with something nearly everyone in the office will appreciate -- a system that brews a better pot of coffee with no mess in two minutes. What came of the collaboration between the mechanical and electrical engineers and software team was a system that could brew 64 ounces of delicious fresh coffee, faster than ever before -- which may be a huge boon for office workers' productivity.
"The next time you plan a big meeting, go one step further by making a large carafe for everyone in the room," says Williams. "Almost half of office workers who drink coffee agree that coffee has been the key to making some of their office's best business deals happen. The more time and effort you put into planning a great meeting, the better your team will appreciate you and the task at hand."
To learn more about the future of office coffee, visit keurig.com/Bolt.
(NewsUSA) - It's a fact. When you give kids a chance to create their own meals, they're more likely to eat them. It's also true that kids don't often make the wisest choices. That's why parents are grateful for fruit. Naturally delicious and notoriously healthy, fresh fruit is the perfect ingredient for getting kids to the table. It's a smart food that tastes like a treat.
A lot of parents can't wait for summer and the arrival of fresh fruit season. But thanks to another "best of both worlds" scenario, they don't have to wait. When it's winter in North America, the weather in Chile is just heating up, and its robust fruit industry ensures that fresh fruit is available year-round.
So, what fresh ideas can parents spring on the kids this winter? A great place to start is "nature's candy," fresh Chilean grapes. The perfect finger food, grapes can also be the centerpiece of an appetizer plate, the sweet addition to savory snacks, and the fun ingredient in unexpected places. Green, red and black grapes provide endless inspiration for kids of all ages to be creative and enjoy. Here are a few ideas to inspire!
* Grapes and cheese cubes on pretzel skewers
* Grapes as the center of cheese sunflowers with a celery stem
* Grape turtle with an apple slice as the body
* Frozen grape caterpillars with mini chocolate chips for eyes
* Grape salsa as a topping for tacos or baked brie
* Roasted grapes tossed in grain salads and layered in yogurt-granola parfaits
* Halved grapes tucked into grilled cheese sandwiches
* Heart-shaped cookies decorated with grapes
Winter is also a good time for fresh blueberries, the little blue dynamos that work magic in all manner of kid-friendly dishes. And if it seems like ages since you've enjoyed fresh plums and nectarines, you'll find ripe, flavorful stonefruit from Chile waiting for you in many American produce aisles.
Year-round availability of fresh fruit and kid-friendly recipes give parents sweet options for long winter months.
(NewsUSA) - Throughout the years, chronic back pain sufferers haven't had much in the way of options to relieve their pain. Aside from drug therapy, surgery was often it -- leading many who understandably wanted to avoid an invasive approach to search for an alternative. Now, many patients are saying they've found that relief through chiropractic care. To learn more, visit www.F4CP.org/findadoctor.
Watch the video at: http://youtu.be/e2a1_IZsimU
(NewsUSA) - It's not easy being green -- especially when you share space with more than 3 million people. And yet, one Southern California business is making it easier.
BP Gardens, a subsidiary of GreenGro Technologies (OTC: GNRH), an Anaheim-based eco-friendly technology company, is taking local farming in a crowded urban environment to a whole new level by designing vertical gardens. Its hope, says GreenGro CEO James Haas, is to provide local communities, restaurants and grocers with locally grown, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.
BP Gardens began as the seed of an idea from Haas. The thought, he says, was to use as little water and energy as possible, while still yielding fresh, locally grown produce and herbs for customers.
According to Haas, there will be two separate locations and growing methods. BP Gardens Buena Park currently sits on 4.5 acres in Anaheim, California, and features a 5,000-seat full hydroponic grow system, while its sister company, BP Lincoln Gardens in northern California, employs a zero-waste, 80 percent water-saving aquaponics solution with a 40,000-seat capacity.
"With California consistently facing severe droughts, these systems will help change the way we grow [food], modernizing its processes to become more sustainable for the future," says Haas.
Currently, Buena Park has completed its construction and has planted its first crops, which is ideal for leafy greens, while Lincoln is in the process of installing floating raceways and introducing fish in preparation for its first crops. This location will focus on the growth of heavy greens and Sacramento Perch for its customers. Between the two structures, Haas said he anticipates growing 45,000 heads of lettuce a month.
In addition to finding a way to combine technology and food production while reducing the company's own carbon footprint, Haas has also stumbled on a niche market in the medical marijuana industry. While GreenGro does not participate in the sale of medical marijuana, Haas said GreenGro's equipment and advanced hydroponic systems benefit that business as well.
Although Haas estimates that about 60 percent of his customers buy his gardening equipment to grow medical marijuana, he says he is focused on his BP Gardens projects, and isn't content to stop with the California market, but believes he can take his idea worldwide.
"BP Gardens wants to go big," says Haas. "We want to be the source for food and not have to have it travel, and save the Earth."
For more information, visit http://bpgardens.com.
(NewsUSA) - A simple, inexpensive lighting update can completely transform your kitchen from dull to dynamite.
According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), good lighting design makes kitchens more functional, as well as more enjoyable, relaxing and suitable for entertaining.
"Good lighting is vitally important in kitchens," says Jeff Dross, corporate director for education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting. "Perhaps more work in the home is done in the kitchen area than any other room, and having improper lighting would be tantamount to candles in a warehouse or flashlights on a factory floor.
"Food preparation is a vital, though sometimes tedious, task performed virtually every day," Dross continues. "Cooking in a poorly illuminated space only increases the drudgery and the danger. Good lighting adds to the overall space, and increases the pleasure in using said space."
The very fact that kitchens are spaces where people spend a lot of time makes them valuable areas when reselling a home, as well. For this reason, many experts agree kitchen renovations are among the best ways to boost the value of your home. Along with bathrooms, kitchens are an integral part of the home to virtually everyone.
Unfortunately, when it comes time to updating kitchens with a new look, lighting does not always get the attention it deserves. According to Dross, this is to the detriment of home design.
"Lighting is as important a design element as wall coverings, flooring and countertops," says Dross. "It can make an average kitchen look great and elevate a fabulous design to perfection. Need to increase the visual size of a room without tearing down a wall? Add lighting above the cabinets and at the toe-kick space.
"The importance of good, high lumen output for task (under-cabinet) lighting cannot be over emphasized," Dross adds. "Wall-mounted cabinets create shadows on countertop work surfaces. The only way to alleviate those shadows (and the accompanying dark spots on the cutting board) is with under-cabinet lighting."
Another factor to keep in mind relates to energy usage, and by extension, your power bill. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that American consumers use electricity for lighting the kitchen more than any other room in the house. So, to save electricity costs, invest in energy-efficient lighting in the kitchen.
To see the most up-to-date fixtures and shades, and to consult with a professionally trained lighting expert, visit your local ALA-member retailer, or go online to americanlightingassoc.com.
(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - As health care costs continue to increase, employees are turning to voluntary benefits like accident, critical illness and hospital plans as a way to fill in coverage gaps. In fact, according to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report nearly 88 percent of workers agree they consider voluntary benefits an important part of a comprehensive benefits package.
See full-sized image here.