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

March 2004

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Play it Safe

Whether it's two swings and a slide or an elaborate structure of climbing bars, tunnels and a pint-size rocket ship, the backyard play area is the ideal place for kids to stretch their legs and their imaginations. But before you send your children outside, you should consider some safety factors to help keep play time pain free. Not Just a Scraped Knee You might think your backyard is safer than the local community playground, but the numbers don't agree. An August 2001 press release from the U.S.

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).

Fresh Indoor Air

Have you had a lingering cough, headache, nausea or feel fatigued way too frequently? It may not be a cold or a virus it could be your house making you sick. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks poor indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health. Air pollution levels inside a home can be two to five times higher (and occasionally 100 times higher) than outside. And Americans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors.

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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