When investing, it may initially seem logical to focus only on the companies that offer the highest returns. However, in a rapidly evolving world, economics is about far more than crunching numbers. After all, while an organization's balance sheet may tell a lot about its solvency, it often fails to take into account the potential value that can be created by a company or region through social initiatives such as bringing more women to the workforce.

These factors are often neglected by common metrics used to gauge a company or region's value, but for individuals who are interested in investing for positive change as well as financial returns, these factors are invaluable. They're also precisely what "The Anglica Fuentes Foundation is focusing on with their Gender Equality Fund - or "GEF".


"The Anglica Fuentes Foundation was launched a little over two years ago," says Anglica Fuentes, founder of the organization. Fuentes explains that since its founding, the foundation has had "direct impact in four million girls' lives." She explains that they've "learned a great deal about what financial independence does to women. How the benefits are not just for them, but for their families, and their communities."

In order to ensure their efforts are successful in the long term, Fuentes explains that her team strives for financial sustainability in their work. Along those lines, The Anglica Fuentes Foundation "is currently finalizing a project that will link the top of the corporate community with the women at the base of the pyramid, to come together and further gender equality and women's economic empowerment," Fuentes says. "That project is GEF, and that's the Gender Equality Fund."

GEF allows people to invest in a fund consisting of bundled up publicly traded US companies "who have better or improving practices on gender equality and women's economic empowerment," says Fuentes. "We're going to have a bias toward capital preservation, and that's what our investments are going to be focused on."

Higher Returns Through Gender Equality

Fuentes believes that "by focusing on the performance of the fund, it will create infrastructure - or will subsidize the infrastructure - to allow the women at the base of the pyramid...whether they be here in the United States, or abroad, the possibility to be micro-investors, doing away with the transaction costs that would make it almost impossible for them to do so, and having the possibility for the first time in their lives, of capital market returns."

While any investor would be more than happy to see dramatic economic growth, Fuentes hopes that GEF will also lead to positive social change. "When women come, through an opportunity, to the workforce, it creates economic growth, but it also fosters social development," Fuentes says. She goes on to explain that "women tend to invest a lot more in their children's education and health, versus their male counterparts. There's a study that Mckinsey Global Institute put out, that says 'by advancing women's equality, we can add up to $12 trillion dollars to global growth.' That's how important women's equality, women's advancement is for the global economy."

A Proven Record of Gender Progress

Of course, there are still many people in economics who are skeptical of mixing finance with philanthropy. However, Fuentes has a proven track record in business as well as social awareness, having served at the executive level at a number of major companies in Mexico. "Coming on board as CEO of Omnilife, which is a nutritional supplements company, and Angelssima, which is a cosmetics line...it was very important for me to advance women," Fuentes says. "When I took over the administration, there was somewhere around 40% women, 60% men, because it was a direct sales company. When I ended up being the CEO, it was more 70% to 30%, women to men, doing the business of direct sales."

To make this shift, Fuentes explains that she was focused on creating "policy within the company that could be family friendly. Because, anything you do for a woman is not just for a woman, it's for society, it's for the family, it's for everybody. So we instated flex time, home office. I even created breastfeeding infrastructure for women."

Paving the Way for Greater Social Change

Fuentes explains that in many cases, the efforts of private companies with regard to gender issues can actually serve as a template for greater societal change. "We actually gave two weeks paternity leave two years before Mexico made it law to have one week of paternity leave. I allowed women to take the 90 days - in Mexico, there's maternity leave, 45 days before you have a baby, 45 days later - so I allowed women to take the 90 days. Women are not sick when they're pregnant and give birth. So, those 90 days allow women who were pregnant and had their babies to come back to the workforce. There's incredible talent out there - female talent. We just need to give them the opportunities."

"When we finally finalize the project that is GEF, The Gender Equality Fund, I think companies will actually start seeing the benefits of having invested funds in their companies, by us really keeping track of what they're doing, as far as gender equality, and women's economic empowerment, internally and externally, is concerned. And I am sure that a lot of the companies will follow through, and by that, they will allow other women, and it will be more diverse, and they will, I'm sure, have more possibilities of having better performance in their companies."

Reference Sources: Equities.com

To stay up to date on the United Nations SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), Gender Equality and social businesses initiatives that impact growth in our economy be sure to follow Matthew Bird on Huffington Post and check back for weekly updates. Matthew Bird is the active Director of Public Relations of the United Nations SDG Media Zone. Matthew Bird is the CEO at 1-800-PublicRelations "1800pr".

Connect with Matthew Bird on Twitter or LinkedIn or email directly at matt.bird@1800pr.com

Mexico has featured prominently in the 2016 presidential election, often as a catalyst for hostility and anti-trade sentiment among GOP voters. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump launched his unlikely candidacy on the central promise of building a wall (financed by Mexico) between the United States and its southern neighbor. The real estate mogul turned presidential candidate hasrepeatedly and falsely accused Mexico of sending criminals, rapists and drug dealers into the U.S. Trumps rocky relationship with Mexico reached its nadir in late August after a surprise meeting with current Mexican President Enrique Pea Nieto resulted in protests and aTwitter feud over who would pay for the wall.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has taken a decidedly cautious and subdued approach when it comes to Mexico.A proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, Clinton and her campaign have repeatedly criticized Trumps controversial rhetoric directed toward Mexico and Mexican immigrants, while maintaining her focus on U.S. voters. As a result, while many Mexicans are clear on Trumps position toward their country, theyre not as sure where Clinton stands.

In an exclusive Q&A for HuffPost Mexico, the Democratic presidential nominee took some time to answer questions over email, touching on issues related to Mexican-U.S. diplomacy, Latin America and the role Latino and Hispanic youth will play in the upcoming election.

What is your personal and professional relationship with Mexico and Latin America?

I have visited Mexico many times since 1972 for vacation and work. In fact, Bill and I spent part of our honeymoon in Acapulco in 1975! And during my official visits to Latin America as First Lady, I developed strong personal relationships with leaders in the region. As Secretary of State, I visited Mexico five times and made dozens of trips to countries in Latin America. Through these relationships, we were able to start the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas and create regional strategies to fight international drug cartels and gang violence.

Theres enormous potential in our relationship with Mexico if we get it right. Not only do we share a 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico, but our economies and cultures are highly integrated. And decades of immigration have strengthened our familial ties. Ive seen firsthand how local, state and federal officials from each country work together every day to manage our border security and ensure the safety of American and Mexican citizens from natural disasters, public health threats and crime.

Not only do we share a 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico, but our economies and cultures are highly integrated. And decades of immigration have strengthened our familial ties."

Of course, we still have a lot of work to do to address the challenges we face, including poverty, ongoing violence, human rights abuses, corruption and migration. As president, Ill work closely with our partners in Mexico and Latin America, leading the region toward solutions through relationships founded on mutual respect.

Do you have any Mexican Americans on your senior staff? Can you tell us what experience or insight they bring to the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

Im proud to say that Hillary for America mirrors the diversity of our country. Over 50 percent of our staff is female and approximately one-third are people of color figures that roughly match national statistics. I think this is a great indication of what the federal workforce would look like under a Clinton-Kaine administration. Mexican Americans play an important role at every level of this campaign. My treasurer is Jose Villarreal; Amanda Renteria is our national political director;Carlos Sanchez, our deputy political director. They all bring a depth of experience to the campaign from working in the private sector and on Capitol Hill. Jorge Silva, our director of Hispanic media, and Cristbal Alex, our deputy national director of voter outreach, are both hard at work to make sure we engage with voters leading all the way up to Election Day. And those are just a few of the many Mexican Americans involved in this campaign. Im so lucky to have them working alongside me.

How do you envision the next 10 years with your Latin American allies and neighbors, in terms of trade and security?

Too often, we look east and we look west, but we dont look south. No region in the world is more important to our long-term prosperity and security than Latin America. And no region in the world is better positioned to emerge as a new force for global peace and progress. Strong ties between the United States and our partners in the Americas are one of our great competitive advantages in the 21st century.

No region in the world is more important to our long-term prosperity and security than Latin America. And no region in the world is better positioned to emerge as a new force for global peace and progress."

We have more in common with Latin America than just our proximity. We share common values, interests and heritage. Our economies, our communities and even our families are intertwined. So instead of building a wall, we should be building a new era of partnership and prosperity.

To get there, we have to set common goals and work toward them together. We need to help our partners and allies in Latin America address ongoing challenges like poverty, violence, human rights abuses, corruption and migration. And we should start by working with our Latin American communities here in the United States, to help strengthen our partnerships throughout the region.

What kind of help do you expect from Mexican partners to create lasting immigration reform?

America is a nation of immigrants, and we should treat those who come to our country with dignity and respect. Thats why we cant wait any longer for comprehensive immigration reform. In my first 100 days as president, Ill put a bill before Congress that includes a pathway to citizenship, fixes the family visa backlog, and strengthens our economy.

Comprehensive reform will bring millions of workers into the formal economy to pay taxes and compete on a level playing field. And it will add $800 billion to our GDP, creating new jobs and more growth. It will also help secure our border in a more humane, targeted way that will benefit both of our nations like ending the flow of weapons to Mexico, and ensuring refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. have a fair chance to tell their stories.

We also need to do everything possible under the law to keep families together. So as we fight for reform, we must also defend and expand DACA and DAPA. What happens next door matters to us for both our security and our prosperity.

We should remember how much we stand to benefit from Mexicos success, and how much Mexico stands to benefit from ours at meeting these shared challenges. A strong Mexico will mean safer American communities, a stronger American economy, and given the connections between our people, a more vibrant society. To make that a reality, Mexicos leaders need to take steps to support economic reform, strengthen the rule of law, and restore its citizens feeling of security and trust in government. Continuing to work together on these challenges will be key to ensuring that North America remains the most dynamic, secure and prosperous region in the world.

What was your biggest lesson from the 2008 U.S. presidential election?

The 2008 campaign was a tough race, but Im grateful for all the lessons I learned. One major takeaway was remembering to take criticism seriously, but not personally.

Ive faced a lot of criticism in my life and throughout my career. And even in the face of losing, I had to remember why I got in the race in the first place. I had to remember the people I was fighting for and its those same people Im fighting for in my campaign today.

Everything I learned from 2008 has made me a better candidate this time around. And thats a good thing, because the stakes in this presidential campaign are higher than ever before. My team and I have improved our strategy, and were focused on earning every single one of your votes. And most importantly, were still guided by the ideals that have been central to my entire career: that every child in our country should be able to live up to his or her God-given potential.

Irfan Khan via Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talks to an undocumented farm worker Maria Licea, 49, and her 9-year-old daughter Jasmin Aguilar.

How does your campaign plan to win the Latino youth vote?

Im not taking anything or anyone for granted in this election, and I know Im going to have to work hard to earn every single persons vote. Latino youth are a growing and vibrant part of our democracy. As one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, Latinos will play an even greater role in determining the direction of our country in the coming years.

Thats why my campaign has ramped up our efforts to engage, energize and mobilize millennial Latino voters. I want every young Latino to know that Im committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform, creating a debt-free future for college graduates, tackling climate change and strengthening our investments in good-paying jobs.

In the weeks ahead, I am going to continue my commitment to meet young Latinos where they are, hearing from them about the challenges they face and the priorities they value.

Is there a Latino or Hispanic American who stands out to youa hero, or someone whose life work you admire in particular?

The contributions of Latino and Hispanic Americans to our nation are countless and inimitable. Two of my heroes that come to mind are Cesar and Helen Chavez. They spent their entire lives fighting for farmworkers to receive the fair wages and benefits they deserve. And its really their determination and tirelessness in the face of countless obstacles thats inspired me, and thats helped countless workers also stand up for their right to be treated with respect and dignity.

Im proud to have the support of Dolores Huerta, Cesar and Helens partner in their movement, and another indefatigable advocate of worker and immigrant rights.

I also have enormous respect and admiration for DREAMers like Astrid Silva and Juan Salazar who Ive met along the campaign trail. One of my first campaign events was a roundtable with DREAMers. These young people no longer wanted to live in fear or secrecy. Instead, they stepped into the public as undocumented.

Thats not just brave its a real testament to their belief in the American dream. People like Astrid and Juan remind me that we cant ever stop fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.

You had a special moment with the daughter of two undocumented immigrants who was afraid that her parents would be deported. You took her into your arms and assured her youd do everything in your power to help.Do you have a message for other families in the same situation?

Meeting Karla was a powerful moment, and her words have stayed with me throughout this campaign. When she told me she was scared her parents would be deported, I told her to let me do the worrying instead. After all, Karla should be worried about finishing her homework and making friends in her new class, not about her parents being taken from her.

Too many children in America go to school in the morning worrying their parents wont be there when they come home. Instead of breaking up hard-working, law-abiding immigrant families who have enriched the United States for years, Ill work to keep families together and ensure a more humane immigration enforcement system focused on violent and dangerous people.

We would not be the country we are today without the generations of immigrants who have made their lives here. The United States was built by immigrants, and our economy depends on immigrants. Our future will always be written in part by immigrants and I dont want anyone to forget that.

Too many children in America go to school in the morning worrying their parents wont be there when they come home."

Do you have plans to appoint Mexican Americans to your cabinet?

I firmly believe that all Americans, including Mexican-Americans, must be represented at the highest levels of our government. Communities of color have too often been shut out of careers in public service. Thats not right and its not smart either.

There are nearly 35 million Americans with Mexican heritage in the United States, and their views and needs should be represented at the federal level. Thats why Ill work to appoint Mexican-Americans to key positions in federal agencies, and form a government that looks like the people it represents.

For years, Ive worked to make sure Americans of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds have their voices heard. As Secretary of State, I made it a top priority for the State Department to reflect the diversity of the American people just as my campaign staff does now. And as president, Ill bring this same commitment to diversity to my administration.

This interview first appeared on HuffPost Mexico, where it can be read in Spanish.It has been updated and edited for clarity.

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MANY Brexiteers built their campaign on optimism. Outside the European Union, Britain would be free to open up to the world. But what secured their victory was anger.

Anger stirred up a winning turnout in the depressed, down-at-heel cities of England (see article). Anger at immigration, globalisation, social liberalism and even feminism, polling shows, translated into a vote to reject the EU. As if victory were a licence to spread hatred, anger has since lashed Britains streets with an outburst of racist abuse.

In this sectionRelated topics

Across Western democracies, from the America of Donald Trump to the France of Marine Le Pen, large numbers of people are enraged. If they cannot find a voice within the mainstream, they will make themselves heard from without. Unless they believe that the global order works to their benefit, Brexit risks becoming just the start of an unravelling of globalisation and the prosperity it has created.

The rest of history

Todays crisis in liberalismin the free-market, British sensewas born in 1989, out of the ashes of the Soviet Union. At the time the thinker Francis Fukuyama declared the end of history, the moment when no ideology was left to challenge democracy, markets and global co-operation as a way of organising society. It was liberalisms greatest triumph, but it also engendered a narrow, technocratic politics obsessed by process. In the ensuing quarter-century the majority has prospered, but plenty of voters feel as if they have been left behind.

Their anger is justified. Proponents of globalisation, including this newspaper, must acknowledge that technocrats have made mistakes and ordinary people paid the price. The move to a flawed European currency, a technocratic scheme par excellence, led to stagnation and unemployment and is driving Europe apart. Elaborate financial instruments bamboozled regulators, crashed the world economy and ended up with taxpayer-funded bail-outs of banks, and later on, budget cuts.

Even when globalisation has been hugely beneficial, policymakers have not done enough to help the losers. Trade with China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and brought immense gains for Western consumers. But many factory workers who have lost their jobs have been unable to find a decently paid replacement.

Rather than spread the benefits of globalisation, politicians have focused elsewhere. The left moved on to arguments about culturerace, greenery, human rights and sexual politics. The right preached meritocratic self-advancement, but failed to win everyone the chance to partake in it. Proud industrial communities that look to family and nation suffered alienation and decay. Mendacious campaigning mirrored by partisan media amplified the sense of betrayal.

Less obviously, the intellectual underpinnings of liberalism have been neglected. When Mr Trump called for protectionism this week, urging Americans to take back control (see article), he was both parroting the Brexiteers and exploiting how almost no politician has been willing to make the full-throated case for trade liberalisation as a boost to prosperity rather than a cost or a concession. Liberalism depends on a belief in progress but, for many voters, progress is what happens to other people. While American GDP per person grew by 14% in 2001-15, median wages grew by only 2%. Liberals believe in the benefits of pooling sovereignty for the common good. But, as Brexit shows, when people feel they do not control their lives or share in the fruits of globalisation, they strike out. The distant, baffling, overbearing EU makes an irresistible target.

Back to the future

Now that history has stormed back with a vengeance, liberalism needs to fight its ground all over again. Part of the task is to find the language to make a principled, enlightened case and to take on people like Ms Le Pen and Mr Trump. The flow of goods, ideas, capital and people is essential for prosperity. The power of a hectoring, bullying, discriminatory state is a threat to human happiness. The virtues of tolerance and compromise are conditions for people to realise their full potential.

Just as important is the need for policies to ensure the diffusion of prosperity. The argument for helping those mired in deprivation is strong. But a culture of compensation turns angry people into resentful objects of state charity. Hence, liberals also need to restore social mobility and ensure that economic growth translates into rising wages. That means a relentless focus on dismantling privilege by battling special interests, exposing incumbent companies to competition and breaking down restrictive practices. Most of all, the West needs an education system that works for everyone, of whatever social background and whatever age.

The fight for liberalism is at its most fraught with immigration. Given that most governments manage who comes to work and live in their country, the EUs total freedom of movement is an anomaly. Just as global trade rules allow countries to counter surges of goods, so there is a case for rules to cope with surges in people. But it would be illiberal and self-defeating to give in to the idea that immigration is merely something to tolerate. Sooner than curb numbers, governments should first invest in schools, hospitals and housing. In Britain new migrants from the EU contribute more to the exchequer than they take out. Without them, industries such as care homes and the building trade would be short of labour. Without their ideas and their energy, Britain would be much the poorer.

Liberalism has been challenged before. At the end of the 19th century, liberals embraced a broader role for the state, realising that political and economic freedoms are diminished if basic human needs are unmet. In the 1970s liberals concluded that the embrace of the state had become smothering and oppressive. That rekindled an interest in markets.

When Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, amid the triumph of Soviet collapse, an aide slipped Mr Fukuyamas essay on history into her papers. The next morning she declared herself unimpressed. Never take history for granted, she said. Never let up. For liberals today that must be the rallying cry.

Utah Governor to Sign Legislation Declaring Pornography Consumption a "Public Health Crisis"Photo: APOn Tuesday morning, Utah Governor Gary Herbert is expected to sign two measures, passed by the state legislature last year, deeming consumption of pornography a public health crisis. The legislation purports to ameliorate the sexually toxic environment created by porn.

One of the measures is a concurrent resolution and one is an actual bill. The resolution, sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler, declares that pornography normalizes violence and abuse of women and children and that it equates violence towards women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography.

Potential detrimental effects on pornographys users can impact brain development and functioning, contribute to emotional and medical illnesses, shape deviant sexual arousal, and lead to difficulty in forming or maintaining intimate relationships, as well as problematic or harmful sexual behaviors and addiction, it continues. Recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive, which means the user requires more novelty, often in the form of more shocking material, in order to be satisfied.


The bill, meanwhile, imposes stricter punishments on computer technicians who find child pornography in the course of their work and fail to report it to the authorities.

After the state senate passed his resolution unanimously in February, Weiler told the Salt Lake Tribune that he doesnt want pornography to be banned altogether but to be treated similarly to how tobacco is treated.

My goal in passing this resolution is to start a national movement to do the same thing with pornographynot to ban it, but to protect our children from it, he said. Within a few clicks, they can see some of the most vile and disgusting images that the mind can imagine. For us to pretend that this has no impact on our values and on our society and culture and the brain development of our adolescents is very nave.

According to the Atlantics James Hamblin, the notion that porn constitutes a public health crisis originates with self-declared radical feminist, longtime anti-porn advocate, and sociologist Gail Dines. Earlier this month, Dines penned an op-Ed for the Washington Post under the headline, Is porn immoral? That doesnt matter: Its a public health crisis.

No matter what you think of pornography (whether its harmful or harmless fantasy), the science is there, Dines wrote. After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equalityfor the worse. By taking a health-focused view of porn and recognizing its radiating impact not only on consumers but also on society at large, Utahs resolution simply reflects the latest research.


Well, maybe. Utahs resolution also, however, reflects Diness own lobbying efforts, which have taken her as far afield as Iceland and Poland, Hamblin reports. Last year, Dines addressed legislators (including Weiler) at an anti-pornography summit at the U.S. Capitol Building.

But declaring something a public health crisis is usually a decision made based on outcomes, not risk factors, Hamblin writes, and the existing body of research is actually quite small. I think the conclusions we can draw from the science are very limited, pediatrician David Hill, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media, said.

Which is to say, the fight against porn doesnt seem to be motivated by scientific evidence at all. Weiler cites the facts offered by Utah-based anti-porn group Fight the New Drug, which declares authoritatively that pornography hates families, leaves you lonely, and changes the brain. FTND consistently frames regular pornography use as an addiction.

All of FTNDs founders are Mormon, The Daily Beasts Samantha Allen reports, though the group denies any official affiliation with the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Its not a religious or a moral approach, its just the facts, co-founder Clay Olsen told the (Mormon-owned) Deseret News in 2010. We think that once people in our generation know how manipulative and harmful pornography can be, they wont want to have anything to do with it. Early on, the group received the blessing of both Governor Herbert and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff: Its pretty bold, and its certainly visionary, the governor said at a launch event. What youre doing is significant.

Olsen is also a board member of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, which hosted its 14th annual conference (sponsored by the LDS Church) in March. The keynote speaker was Elder Jeffrey Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostlesone of the most powerful Mormons in the country. I cant tell you, really, much you dont already know about the evils of pornography, he said.

Ill tell you that pornography is steadily, inexorably, unendingly present, that there is more of it, that its easier for everyone, including children, to access, and that it continues to rend the very moral fabric of our society whether that be the family, or the community, or the very state or the nation. That is because in every case, it rends the moral fabric of the individual.

Incidentally, in 2009, a Harvard Business School study found that Utah was the most-subscribing state to online porn.

Facility Maintenance Companies will help you get going. Are you searching for information about HVAC systems because you have had problems in the past? Maybe you would just like solid tips on how to maintain the one you have? Either way, the following article was written as a guide to help anyone keep their HVAC system running the right way, so continue below.

Although most people are thinking of their heating systems during the winter months, air conditioning is also important. When installing a new furnace or heating system, make sure the air ducts are also set up to work with your air condition system. Using the ducts for both heating and cooling is the most economical choice.

Do a tour of your house before you call in help if you are having issues with your HVAC. Note which rooms are hot and which are cold. This gives the repairer a starting point to work from.

Be sure to get every quote or estimate in written form. You have no recourse on a verbal agreement, so a written contract is a must. If something goes wrong or you don't get what you were promised, protecting you from shady contractors, this will allow you to follow up.

Look to your neighbors and family to get recommendations of good HVAC specialists. Likely there's someone you know who's already done a ton of research. Use this knowledge to help get you the best specialist you can. This can save you many hours of research money and time too.

Put your outdoor unit in places with shade. The unit will have to do less work cooling this air.

The energy efficiency of a unit should be taken into consideration when purchasing a new cooling and heating system. Although you should be concerned about the price of a unit, the efficiency of the unit will save you thousands over the lifetime of the heating and cooling system and should weigh heavily on your buying decision.

Before they are willing to get started on the work they were hired to do, try to stay away from HVAC contractors that ask for upfront payments. In many cases, this means that they are more concerned about getting paid than they are about making sure the job is done well.

Looking for an efficient way to cool your home? Consider installing a whole-house evaporative cooler. They use water to cool air instead of traditional chemical coolants, using a ton less energy to cool your home than those other units. That said, they do work best in dry climates and not at all in humid ones.

Consider turning down the air conditioner in the summer and turning the heat down in the winter if you are looking to save money with your HVAC system. Putting on a sweater on a cold day can save you a ton of money on your utility bill, as can enjoying a cold drink instead of heavy air conditioning use.

As well as cut down your overall power bill, install ceiling fans in commonly used warm season rooms, if you want to seriously extend the life of your HVAC system. Energy-star certified ceiling fans can sometimes cut your HVAC use in half. You won't physically notice a difference in temperature, however.

If you have a window air conditioner, be sure to check and see if it has an Energy Saver button. Use it if so! This turns off the fan when the unit isn't actually cooling the air, which can save you as much as 30 kwh over the period of a month!

Make sure your HVAC is clear when working outside. You should try keeping any vegetation about two feet away from your outdoor units. Keep the areas above it and on each side of it clear. Make sure you aim your grass clippings away from the unit when mowing. Keep leaves from getting inside your unit in the fall.

Look for blockages right away if your HVAC system is clicking. It could be that debris has made its way into the system. That is a simple solution just take the debris out. Look before calling in a technician.

While price should be one of the considerations you make when you are hiring an HVAC contractor, do not allow it to cloud your judgement. There are other factors that need to be considered in order to make a sound decision. Experience level, work ethic and positive reviews are a few things that should be considered as well.

If you hear clicking inside your HVAC unit, look for an obstruction. The issue may be debris hitting the fans of the cooling system. All you need to do is remove the debris to solve the problem. Look carefully at it before you call up a service technician.

Make sure to be specific about everything that is written in your contracts. It should detail the work that is being done, the materials being used and the amount of time it will take to complete the job. If something goes wrong, leaving anything out can give the contractor an exit.

Don't use duct tape on your HVAC if you live in a hot climate. It just dries out and falls off, leaving you with leaks all over the place. Instead, use mastic sealant to cover any holes or gaps in duct work and you'll keep your home comfortable all year long.

Expect an evaluation. Any good HVAC contractor will want to look at your home before proposing any changes or recommending any products. Every home is different and what works for one home may not work well in another. Look elsewhere if a contractor starts trying to sell you on a particular HVAC system without actually seeing your home.

Check the licensing of any HVAC company that you plan to hire. By making sure they are fully licensed, start. They should be in compliance with your state's business laws. Good HVAC companies should be fully insured. This is to protect their company, their employees, and their customers should anything happen when they are performing a service at the home of a customer.

A great HVAC can truly keep your home the best place to be year round. These tips have shown you have to maintain that system so that you are always comfortable. Be sure to make use of what you have learned so that you can enjoy your home every single day.

facilities maintenance companies
Story highlightsTed Cruz says that "the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats"Cruz also criticized media, saying journalists aid Democrats in blaming the GOP for shootingsThe Republican presidential contender told radio host Hugh Hewitt that Democrats -- aided by a "salivating" media -- attempt to use mass killings to damage conservatives politically.

His comments came as Cruz discussed the shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado -- which Democrats have followed with calls for the GOP to stop denouncing the organization and pushing for its defunding on Capitol Hill.

"Every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing, you could almost see the media salivating, hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies," Cruz said.

He continued: "Now, listen, here's the simple and undeniable facts: The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn't report that."

Asked for evidence to support that claim, Cruz's campaign cited research by the University of Pennsylvania's Marc Meredith and Stanford University's Michael Morse, which found that ex-felons who register to vote have, in the states the researchers examined, overwhelmingly registered as Democrats.

In their study, published in the January 2014 edition of "The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science," Meredith and Morse also cite previous research that showed felons are more likely to be Democrats based on factors like ethnicity, income, age, employment, marital status and education.

Cruz said that Democrats "for years have been viewed as soft on crime" because judges appointed by the party's executives have released violent criminals.

"They go in and fight to give the right to vote to convicted felons. Why? Because the Democrats know convicted felons tend to vote Democrat, and so the media never reports on any of that and doesn't want to admit any of that but you can see in every one of these -- every time there's a terrible crime, they're so excited, 'Come on, please one of these be a Republican so we can try to paint the other side,'" Cruz said. "It is one of the more egregious examples of media bias but it's something we see over and over and over again."

The issue of criminal sentencing reform has come up during the 2016 presidential race. Several Republican candidates, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have advocated shorter prison sentences and alternative methods for non-violent offenders.

VALLETTA, Malta The 53-nation Commonwealth has said climate change poses an existential threat to some of its member states, and urged participants at the Paris climate talks to produce a legally binding agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Commonwealth a grouping of Britain and many of its former colonies that is home to more than 2 billion people includes industrialized economies such as Canada and Australia, resource-hungry India and small island states vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Climate change actually unites us, puts us all in the same canoe, Baron Waqa, president of the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, told a news conference Sunday at the end of the biennial Commonwealth summit in Malta. When a big wave comes, that canoe is going to be washed away, and everyone in it.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the Commonwealths convergence on the issue boosted chances of a deal at the Paris talks, which start Monday.

In a statement, Commonwealth leaders said that many of our most vulnerable states and communities are already facing the adverse impacts of climate change ... (and) for some it represents an existential threat.

They said the Paris talks should produce an ambitious, equitable, inclusive, rules-based and durable outcome ... that includes a legally binding agreement.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said one country had expressed reservations on that point. He did not identify the dissenting country.

The United States has cast doubt on whether Paris will produce a legally binding deal. Secretary of State John Kerry said this month that there were not going to be legally binding reduction targets agreed at the meeting.

The Commonwealth leaders called for developed nations to spend $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change.

At the end of the three-day gathering in Malta a which has been an arrival point for thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa Commonwealth leaders also promised to combat extremism and to boost international efforts to control irregular migration.

The summit was opened by the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, who during her 63-year reign has helped unite an organization seen by some as ineffectual and by others as a relic of the British Empire.

It had been speculated that this might be the queens last Commonwealth summit, because at 89 she has given up long-haul travel.

But the organization has decided its next gathering will be held in Britain in early 2018. It had been due to take place in 2017 in Vanuatu, but the South Pacific nation was devastated by a cyclone in March.


Lawless reported from London.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

There are still 24 staffers from Doctors Without Borders missing after the airstrike that hit the charity's hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

At least 22 people died in the Saturday morning strike, including 12 staffers, the charity's international president said Wednesday.

The organization is known internationally as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or by the acronym MSF.

Guilhem Molinie, its representative for Afghanistan, said that of the 461 staffers who were in the hospital at the time of the strike, there are still 24 missing. Of the patients, there are still nine missing.

"Our largest loss of life has occurred at the hands of American forces," he said.

President Obama called MSF international president Dr. Joanne Liu Wednesday to apologize for the strike.

MSF has called for an independent investigation into the fatal air strike, saying an outside group must get involved, "given the inconsistencies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened," Liu said Tuesday.

Among the claims made since the strike was that U.S. or Afghan troops may have felt threatened by Taliban fighters who were shooting at them from around the hospital, though that has not yet been confirmed.

MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said that the charity's hospital was operating under the agreement of all parties involved in the conflict. He said that they had shared their GPS coordinates with military authorities and their staff and patients felt safe as a result.

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