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Owning a home is both a blessing and a curse. It's nice to have a place to call your own and to fill it with things you love. On the other hand, there's no denying that it requires you to give entire weekends over to do-it-yourself projects, cleaning and otherwise protecting your sizable investment.

I'm sure you can think of a dozen things that need to be done at your house right now. From cleaning out gutters to fixing drippy faucets, it never seems to end.

The good news is that, thanks to the Internet, you no longer need to be overwhelmed. I've selected some websites that will help you become smarter and more efficient about home maintenance. They may even help you reclaim a few of those lost weekends.

Personal Color Viewer: Inside or out, painting your home is a major burden. We've all seen houses painted colors that were poorly chosen ... sometimes we wonder if an extended trip to the bar was involved before the paint-buying began.

How many times have you gone to the paint store, returned home and taped a mishmash of color samples to the wall? Then, after a few days of painful indecision, you pick a color. You head back to the paint store to buy a quart, drive home and brush it on - and it doesn't look anything like you expected!

This website brings paint selection into the 21st century. You can download stock photos of houses or, even better, actual photos of your own home. You'll see the colors displayed on your home's exterior or on the walls of the room you are painting. Once you make an informed choice, you'll print out the color codes and head to the store, ready to buy and get started.

How to Clean Anything: Dust happens. The need to clean is never going away. Fortunately, cleaning is more time-consuming than difficult - most of the time.

Once in a while, though, you run into a stain or an odor that mocks your most vigorous efforts. When that happens, visit this site (www.howtocleananything.com). As its name promises, it will tell you the best methods and tools to clean anything, from your makeup brushes to your barbecue grill.

HomeSpotHQ: When life becomes crazy, it's easy for home maintenance to fall by the wayside. Or in a flurry of cleaning, you might have thrown out the manuals for your appliances.

This site (www.homespothq.com) tackles both problems; it's like a control center for your house.

It stores important manuals, part numbers and paint colors. The site also helps you schedule important maintenance tasks and plan improvement projects. Need to hunt down a part or supplies for your project? HomeSpot can even point you to the best deals in your neighborhood.

Roomle: Rearranging furniture can make a room seem fresh again. However, it can take a toll on your back when you try several layouts and none of them work.

This site (www.roomle.com) helps you create a floorplan and fill it up with virtual furniture. Move pieces around until you find just the right arrangement - all without breaking a sweat or scratching your grand piano. Click a button to see your design modeled in 3D. You can also post the image to Facebook and get feedback from your friends.

DIYorNot: Can you save money by doing that remodeling project yourself? Not always.

This site (diyornot.com) gives you an estimated cost and timescale for any project. It also offers thousands of tutorials so you can see the effort that a potential project will require.

You might decide that a professional will cost less, in both money and aggravation, in the long run. On the other hand, it might give you the confidence you need to tackle it all by yourself.

EnergySavers: Your home uses a lot of energy to keep you cool in summer, warm in winter, provide you with hot water and to power all your home electronics. Making your home more energy efficient can result in significant savings for the long term.

This site (www.energysavers.gov/your_home), hosted by the Department of Energy, walks you through a do-it-yourself energy audit to help pinpoint where your home might be leaking dollars. Then you can read up on how to install insulation, apply sun shading film or tackle other easy-to-do energy-saving projects.

By Kim Komando

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