Weekly Home Help with information on how to prepare your windows for colder weather, upgrades to the iPod Touch and iPod Nano and much more.

When the days get shorter and cooler, the amount of sun that enters your home is important. Inadequate sunlight can influence seasonal mood changes, vitamin D deficiency and even your utility bills.


Prepare for winter by taking care of the portals that allow natural light into your home: windows and skylights.


Caulking and weather stripping are the two most common ways to prep windows, and the jobs are easily within the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers. Washing windows should also be part of your winter-preparedness measures; clean windows will allow the maximum amount of room-warming sunlight to enter your home.


Remove any debris that has accumulated around the exterior of any skylights. Take appropriate care when climbing on the roof, and consider hiring a professional if you're not confident of your safety skills.


Clean interior frames - often pre-painted wood or plastic - with a damp cloth or mild, soapy water for tougher dirt. Remove insect screens in venting skylights, spray with a garden hose and allow them to dry completely before replacing them.


-- Velux/ ARA


Decorating Tip: Use your pet for inspiration


Your pet can be a source of inspiration when choosing colors for your room. Paint a concrete floor the same shade of gray as your cat. Cover your sofa in a honey microfiber that matches your golden retriever. But it's important to give your dog something to chew on, or he might go after a chair leg. No messy pig's ears or greasy rawhide bones, however.


-- HGTV/ Scripps Howard News Service


Home-Selling Tip: When to hire a pro


Before you put your house on the market, you may decide to invest in a few updates, like a new backsplash or new floors. If you are a savvy do-it-yourselfer, you can save a lot of money going at it alone. However, if you are not confident in your DIY, it is best to hire a professional –– nobody wants to buy amateur workmanship.


-- FrontDoor.com


Going Green: Old cooking oil makes new plastic?


Scientists at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn Conference say that used cooking oil –– the same kind your use to fry your chicken –– is a viable option for producing medical-grade plastics. In addition, they say it is also cheaper than producing the plastics from scratch.


-- Earth911.com


Did You Know …


At the end July, there was a 6.4-month supply of homes on the market at the current sales pace, which is 31.2 percent below a year ago. -- Realtor.org


New Products: iPod Touch, iPod Nano get updates


The iPhone 5 might be the news of the moment, but Apple also announced changes to other products, too. The fifth-generation iPod Touch, for example, will look like the iPhone 5, says the Consumer Reports Electronics Blog, with the same 4-inch Retina display and iOS 6. The iPod Nano, says the blog, will have a 2.5-inch "Mulit-Touch display with a whopping claimed battery life of 30 hours."


Garden Guide: Fall décor from the backyard


Many of the plants in the autumn garden can be used to make decorations, said Martha Smith, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Making them can be fun for the whole family.


"Flowers can be collected and dried or preserved. Seed pods can be saved. There are also certain decorations we associate with fall – straw or grapevine wreaths, garlands, dried flower arrangements, and cornucopias," she said.


For example, roses can be collected in the bud stage as well as full flower. Hang them upside down from the rafters in a shed or garage. Spraying them with a clear shellac will help prevent them from shattering.


GateHouse News Service