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

January 2004

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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!

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.

Big, Bad Batteries

There is a lot of potential power behind the concept of home fuel cells -- enough, say proponents, to some day substantially reduce U.S. dependency on imported oil, reduce fossil-fuel pollutants and diminish dependency on centralized power stations. Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen (the fuel) and oxygen from the air to generate power. This is accomplished without combustion and, under ideal conditions, without pollution. Pure water and useable heat are the only by-products of the chemical reaction.

The First Jacuzzi

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but inspiration can come from just about anywhere. When it comes to the creation of the first whirlpool bath, its origins can be traced through a single family with a long and remarkable history, whose name has come to symbolize aquatic respite Jacuzzi. It began when seven Jacuzzi brothers immigrated to California from Italy at the turn of the last century and soon began making technological advancements in aviation.

Soak Yourself in Hot Water

Water therapy has long been a part of our collective culture -- from Roman baths to Finnish saunas to geothermal mineral soaks in Iceland. However, what used to be a communal experience is today often practiced at home, transforming many a simple bathroom into a personal health spa retreat. Restorative and therapeutic benefits are often attributed to cleansing the body through long soaks, circulating water and steam.

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