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

November 2001

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Busting Your Ice Dams

Anyone living in a cold climate has seen ice dams - those sparkling bands of ice that form along a roof's edge in the heart of winter. While they may look beautiful, they can be quite destructive. Ice dams develop when snow on the upper part of the roof melts. Water runs down the roof slope under the blanket of snow and re-freezes into a band of ice at the roof's edge, creating a dam. More melted water pools against the dam and eventually leaks into the building under roofing or through roof trim.

Houses That Really Work

Thirty years ago I was teaching physics at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and living in an old farmhouse. In winter, the best that could be said of my 1809 farmhouse's uninsulated walls was that they slowed the wind to a moderate breeze. Many were the nights my wife and I couldn't keep a candle lit and took to our bed for survival. Some sympathetic soul lent me a copy of Rex Roberts' Your Engineered House. In it, Roberts, an MIT-trained engineer, dissected the structures we call home into their major components and subjected each to two questions: 1.

Saving with Shade

A site plan showing the best places for windbreaks and shade trees in much of the U.S.We all know that trees improve our lives. They make our homes look better, clean the air and make outdoor activities more pleasant. Yet not everyone knows that trees also provide financial benefits.

Letting Nature Clean the Pool

The problem with swimming pools is what goes into them. To keep them safe, you have to add chemicals like chlorine, which not only detract from the swimming experience but cost serious money as well. Europeans, however, are increasingly turning to nature for an alternative. "Natural pools" aren't kept clean with chemicals. Instead, about half of the pool (or pond, as some call it) is set aside for plants that cleanse water naturally, such as lotus and water lilies.

Zapping Germs With Ozone

More homeowners have become concerned lately about harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. While chemical antibacterial products can eliminate these organisms, they aren't the best to use when preparing meals - who wants a salad sprayed with chemicals? The folks at Waterpik have devised a way to zap germs without nasty chemicals. The Waterpik Aquia infuses ordinary tap water with ozone, a highly reactive form of oxygen, to kill bacteria. After destroying deadly organisms, the ozone quickly dissipates, leaving no trace on food or food preparation surfaces.

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