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

January 2003

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Engineered Wood

  An I-joist is a wood version of a steel beam. Their structural performance is much better than old-fashioned dimensional lumber.

The Care and Feeding of Your Septic System

Do you know what happens when you flush the toilet? While it usually isn't a topic discussed at cocktail parties, it can be a critical issue for many homeowners. People who live in a city rarely think about it because their waste usually goes through a central sewer system to a wastewater treatment plant. Approximately 25 million suburban and rural homeowners using onsite wastewater systems, however, do need to pay attention, because a failure in their system could affect their property or even their drinking water.

Keeping Your Whole House in Hot Water

On a cold winter's night, nothing is nicer than a cozy, warm house. If you live in an area of the country that calls for home heating for the better part of three seasons, then hydronic heating can be a very comfortable choice for a new heating system. Yet many people in the United States are not familiar with hydronic heating because, as yet, it still only commands a small percentage of the overall domestic home-heating market. But the market for hydronic heating is warming up, and with good reason.

Water Instead of Wires

No electricity under the sink? No problem - and no call to the electrician is necessary. Homeowners who want a food-waste disposer without the hassle or expense of installing electricity under the sink can opt for HydroMaid, a water-powered food-waste disposer. "About half of homes in the United States do not have electricity under the sink," says Ron Turner, head of customer service for HydroMaid. HydroMaid, which was originally designed for use on nuclear submarines, became available to consumers three years ago.

Power to the People

A transfer-switch system is the safest and most effective way to connect a portable generator to your home. Installed next to the home's main panel, it allows users to choose which circuits to run in an outage. A house without electricity is like a car without gas, but it doesn't have to be that way.

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