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

September 2001

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Replacing Your Water Heater Element

Changing a water heater element is easy. Shown here is a screw-in element. If your water heater suddenly produces less hot water - and you haven't added a teenager to the household - you've probably burned out one of its heater elements. But don't worry. Unless the tank is leaking, it isn't dead.

Understanding Energy Star

Refrigerators are among the biggest successes in energy conservation.

Going Wireless at Home

The Nokia 9290 combines phone, fax, e-mail, calendar and imaging in a handheld unit.Americans communicate today in two parallel ways: their landline service at home and their wireless service on the go. Some people, however, are deciding to simplify their communications by doing away with the landline and relying entirely on cell phones.

A Power Plant Of Your Own

Fuel cell technology - the centerpiece of what's known as distributed generation - is hot these days. Manufacturers are rushing units to market that will allow individual homeowners or neighborhoods to generate their own electricity directly from natural gas or propane, in effect creating decentralized mini-grids. Fuel cells were invented in the 1830s, but they didn't enter the public consciousness until the 1960s, when they were used to power spacecraft.

A Natural Herbicide's Humble Roots

Corn gluten meal has gone from byproduct to wonder product. Researchers at Iowa State University in the 1980s were studying how effective a corn byproduct would be as a fertilizer. In the process, they realized the product acted not only as a growth stimulator, but also as a weed inhibitor. The result was a natural weed-and-feed product that gives homeowners a chemical-free way to feed their turf and kill weeds, such as crabgrass, dandelions, pigweed and plantain, before they take root.

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