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

January 2004

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Bringing Your Spirit Home

You've heard the clich, Home is where the heart is. More appropriately, home is where the spirit is. Enter the latest trend in home amenities meditation rooms, devotional sanctuaries or prayer rooms, a move fueled by the restless times just outside our front doors. Bringing spirituality into the home is not a new concept. Religious followers have built shrines and meditation corners in their homes for centuries. Not limited to eastern religions, Catholic, orthodox Christian, and Native American cultures have practiced similar customs for centuries.

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!

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.

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.

Take Away That Toggle Switch

If you're like most homeowners, when you walk into a dark room, you reach for the light switch and turn it on. That's so 20th century. Increasingly, homes are being outfitted with advanced lighting controls. At the top end, there are systems that can automatically illuminate areas, to varying degrees, indoors and out, based on time of day or the homeowner's wishes. The most sophisticated systems turn off lights when no one is in a room, or can be activated remotely from a cell phone, for instance. You can control audio systems, heating and air conditioning, too.

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