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

November 2001

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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.

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.

Understanding R-Values

There's nothing like talk of an energy crisis to get people pondering their insulation. Whether it's stuffed into an attic crawlspace or sandwiched into the cavities of a wall, the yardstick most people use to measure insulation is R-value. The more Rs you've got, the better equipped you'll be to ride out the next energy drought. But even for those well-prepared homeowners who can recite the R-value of their walls faster than their own Social Security numbers, this most fundamental measurement of insulation is often misunderstood. Few homeowners know what "R" is, never mind its value.

No-Fault Fire Protection

You may not have heard of arc fault circuit interrupter breakers, but you will. AFCI breakers are a new safety device designed to help prevent fires caused by damaged or worn electrical wiring. According to the National Fire Protection Association, problems in either a building's permanent wiring or cords feeding power to electrical equipment cause nearly 43,000 fires each year and kill some 370 people. The most common locations for these fires in a home are bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens and storage areas.

The Best Selections in Siding

When you give someone directions to your home, you usually throw in a description, but you probably don't describe the windows or the security system. You describe the exterior walls — usually the most notable part of any home.Siding is in fact the biggest exterior component of almost any home, usually covering more square feet of surface area than the roof, windows and doors combined. It performs a variety of important functions, some physical and some aesthetic.

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