Innovative solutions for creating healthy, efficient, eco-friendly homes

January 2002

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Pool Owners Warming To Solar

The fastest-growing market for solar water systems is swimming pools. Last year, about 95 percent of the square footage of all solar collectors shipped to U.S. markets were for swimming pools. And there are good reasons why the number is that high. Solar heating systems for swimming pools can be very cost-effective. A recent analysis of such systems for pools in Florida found that homeowners generally recoup their investment in 1.5 to seven years. A system typically costs from $2,000 to $4,000 installed.

Glazing Glossary

Conduction: Heat transfer through a solid material by contact of one molecule to the next Convection: Heat transfer involving motion in a fluid (such as air) caused by the difference in density of the fluid and the action of gravity Gas fill: A gas other than air (usually krypton or argon) placed between windowpanes to reduce the U-factor by suppressing conduction and convection Low-emissivity (low-E) coating: An ultra-thin, transparent metallic coating that reflects selected wavelengths of light and heat radiation R-Value: A measure of the resistance to heat flow.

Home Q&A: Chimney Cleaning

QUESTION:I've read a lot about dangerous chimney problems - fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, to name just two. How often should I have my chimney cleaned? ANSWER: Although many people know that their wood-burning chimneys need to be cleaned once a year, they neglect maintenance of other heating-appliance venting systems, including oil- or gas-burning furnaces and hot water heaters. All of these systems are as important to care for as your fireplace.

The Multi-talented Multimeter

To troubleshoot household, appliance or automotive wiring, you can buy all sorts of devices: receptacle analyzers, continuity testers, circuit finders and voltage testers. Or you can buy a multimeter. These multi-talented little devices are widely available for as little as $20 in both analog (swinging needle) and digital form. Even if you prefer your clocks to have hands, get the digital version of the multimeter. It is more accurate and more rugged. There are about as many uses for a multimeter as there are devices in a home.

The Roofing Revolution

Few parts of your house are exposed to the elements as completely as the roof. The roof has to rise above anything the sky throws at it - rain, snow, hail, ultraviolet radiation. Its surface suffers the extremes of temperature, in many places reaching 120° F in the summer sun and falling well below zero in the winter. And after it contends with those challenges, we still expect the roof to shed water and keep the structure snug and dry. It's no wonder a new roof is often one of the first major maintenance projects that homes require.

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