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

July 2002

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Tapping Your Home's Value

Using a home-equity credit line to borrow against the equity in your home has become a popular source of consumer credit. Depending on your creditworthiness and the amount of your outstanding debt, home-equity lenders may let you borrow up to 85 percent of the appraised value of your home, less what you still owe on your first mortgage. The interest rate on a home-equity loan tends to be lower than credit cards and personal loans because your home is collateral for the loan. The interest is also a tax deduction in most circumstances.

Sprinklers Find a Following

Depending on where you live, the new home you build may require a feature that most people have never thought to include before: a fire-protection sprinkler system. These cousins of the systems found in commercial and institutional buildings are steadily making their way into new construction and some older homes as well, thanks in large part to local ordinances that mandate sprinkler systems in new construction or in major renovations.

Modular Homes Deliver

Shelli Lachance is a hard-nosed shopper. She generally knows what she wants in a new home and won't stop looking for it until she gets it - at the right price. "When someone says, "No, you can't have that,' I get stubborn and start looking around, checking to see how to do it, doing whatever I have to do to get what I want," says the 40-year-old mother of five. As a prospective new homeowner, Lachance's buying attitude therefore meshed perfectly with the modular homebuilding world, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of the residential construction market today.

When the Water Runs Low

Water is a resource we often take for granted - until there is a drought. About 80 percent of Earth's surface is covered with water in some form, yet only 1 percent is fresh water that we can easily use. The rest is either saltwater or water frozen in glaciers. For most of us, water is as close as the nearest sink or toilet. It always seems to be there when we turn on the tap. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Throughout history, there have been cyclical patterns of too much or too little rain.

The Lowdown on High-Definition TV

If you want the best picture money can buy, high-definition television (HDTV) offers jaw-dropping clarity. But when you start making decisions about which set to buy, that picture looks muddy. As with any new technology, the prices are falling - they already dropped about 40 percent over the last three years, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, and are likely to fall further. And the bells and whistles are becoming more sophisticated as competition increases. So there's a lot to be said for waiting.

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