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

September 2002

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Building a Better Basement Floor

Building a Better Basement Floor One of the most popular and economical ways to expand a home's living space has always been to finish an unfinished basement statistics show that nearly 900,000 homeowners do it every year. And a project of that type almost always starts with a professional laying down a lot of pressure-treated lumber over the concrete slab in order to attach a floor system. This method can be expensive and often does not solve the problems of cold and dampness associated with basement rooms.

Time-of-use Pricing

When the temperature in the Florida panhandle steams into the 90s and air-conditioners thirst for electricity, Gulf Power strains to keep up. On the hottest midsummer afternoons, the system can hit critical - the point at which all of Gulf Power's generating resources are put online to meet the swelling demand. While most of the Pensacola utility's 300,000 residential customers pay a fixed rate of about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour - no matter how limited the supply - a fraction of them fork over a staggering 29 cents per kWh during periods of peak usage. And they do it willingly.

The Ins and Outs of Reverse Mortgages

If you or a loved one own a home but are strapped for cash, i.e., house-rich but cash-poor, a reverse mortgage may be just what the doctor ordered. Until fairly recently, there were only two ways to get cash from your home - you could sell your home and move, or you could borrow against your home and make monthly loan repayments. Now there is a third alternative called a reverse mortgage, and it is another way to draw cash from your home - without selling it or making regular loan repayments.

Electronic Caretakers

Imagine arriving at your ski house one Friday night to discover that the furnace had failed during the week, causing the pipes to freeze and burst, resulting in thousands - maybe even tens of thousands - of dollars in damage. This grim scenario illustrates the unique risks facing second homes or vacation homes that sit unoccupied for weeks or even months at a time. With the combined threat from weather, burglary, fire and water, even minor events can become acute problems when left undetected and unrepaired.

Green Building: A Consumer Status Report

Homebuilders are gradually constructing more environmentally friendly homes around the United States, but deeper-green environmental building is still slow to emerge. One sure way builders will include more environmentally friendly features is by informed consumers asking for them more frequently. According to interviews we conducted, homebuilders are not yet reporting increased consumer demand for aggressive green-building approaches, but they are responding to energy efficiency, health (mold resistance) and low-maintenance needs.

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