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

January 2004

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Outfitting the Modern Garage

The American garage has changed considerably in the past 100 years as the automobile has become an ever larger factor in our lives. At the turn of the last century, a carriage house was rare. If one existed on your property, it was not attached to the main house and it was simply a smaller version of a barn. At the turn of this century, the garage has emerged as our personal entry point into our house, the storage spot for garden tools and sports equipment, and some of us even park our cars there. That can make it a cluttered and even dangerous place.

Planting Cleaner Indoor Air

Back in the 1970s, houseplants were everywhere. Then decorating went high-tech and houseplants lost their cachet. But it turns out there are some very good reasons for growing plants indoors, and you might want to bring some into your 20th-century home. Houseplants are beneficial in a number of ways. There are aesthetic benefits, of course houseplants add color and soften the architecture of a room. Decades of research have shown that working with plants has psychological benefits, too.

Fireplace Fix: Gas Inserts Are Hot

Fireplaces top many homeowners™ wish lists, but reality rarely matches the romance. In fact, a recent survey by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association found that most people who have a fireplace don™t use it. Why the chilly reception? During conventional, or open, fireplace operation, warm air gets sucked out of the house and up the chimney. Meanwhile, in come cold drafts -- more work for your furnace. Older masonry fireplaces reach 10 percent fuel efficiency at best, and only when they are in operation!

Cost of Insulating

Cost = a0 + a1T + a2T + a3T T = insulation thickness in inches a0 = fixed cost associated with insulating a1 = cost per board foot (12x12x1) of insulation a2 = cost of extra framing for 1 board foot of insulation a3 = value of lost board foot of living space

Understanding Plant Growth

Most plants rest - go into dormancy - for part of the year. When a plant rests, it stops blooming and producing new leaves and shoots, and its color may look a little faded. During this time, cut back on watering so the soil is just marely moist, and do not fertalize. When you see signs of new growth in a month or two, gradualy increase watering and resume feeding.

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