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

March 2004

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Paint Like a Pro

When it comes to painting projects around the house, many Americans become consumed with selecting just the right hue, finding the perfect faux finish, and then starting the masking and taping. But experts say one of the most important ways to ensure a successful paint job is by using the proper brushes and rollers. Knowing what type of bristles to use, the proper brush size, how much nap your roller should have for a specific surface, and what effects varying qualities of brushes and rollers have on the painted surface are all key.

Installing Insulation

In the previous installment we reviewed how to determine the optimum amount of insulation, considering the nature of the construction, the fuel type and the climate. In this installment we will consider a building™s thermal envelope, the type of insulation appropriate to each surface, and how to install it properly. The Thermal Envelope Building scientists define a building™s thermal envelope as the collection of building surfaces (walls, floors, ceilings, etc.) that separate the conditioned (heated and/or cooled) spaces from the outdoors.

How to Boil Water

Astute readers (you know who you are) might think this is a Dave Barry column. Well, although both amazing and entertaining, it isn't one of his. It is my attempt to save the gazillions of BTUs Americans waste every year when they boil water. While you may now think this is a blonde joke, it is actually a very serious matter adversely affecting our national security. Assuming all 100 million U.S. households use the same water-boiling techniques as my spousal equivalent, Barbara, the exact amount of wasted energy is 1.05 x 1015 BTU, which equates to 178 million barrels of oil annually.

CRITICAL FACTORS IN CHOOSING GLUES

Toxicity Use glues with caution. Most have some precautions regarding chemical toxicity from inhalation, ingestion and absorption through the skin. Make sure you read the label and try to use the least-toxic glue for the job. Dry/cure time The manufacturer should tell you the setup time. However, there are external factors that may affect this time, including temperature (the colder, the longer to dry), humidity (dryer is better) and the amount of glue (PVAs and cyanoacrylates take longer the more you use, while epoxies set up faster in larger amounts).

Sticky Business

When I was growing up, the only glues I used were model glue and various brands of white paper glue. Even the local hardware store only stocked two or three types of adhesives. Now when you walk through your hardware store you are faced with a daunting array of glues and adhesives for every possible application. The problem, as with any large menu, is how do you know which is the right one? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a miracle adhesive that will work with all types of materials. As with many other homeowner decisions, you need to understand the basics.

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