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

September 2002

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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.

Turning Yard Waste Into Garden Gold

Composting crusaders have just about given up on persuading the rest of us that when we get to heaven, there'll be a compost pile just inside the Pearly Gates. These days they're preaching a less evangelistic message. "I just want people to know two things,€ says Rachel Solomon, who runs the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Urban Composting program. "It's easy, and it doesn't stink.€

How To Read Your Appliances

Since 1980, all appliances sold in the United States have been required by the Federal Trade Commission to carry an Energy Guide label. The original intent of this label was to inform consumers of just how energy efficient -or inefficient - their white goods (refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, etc.), heating and cooling equipment, and water heaters are in use.

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.

Which Lamps are Champs

It's Saturday morning, and like any other good homeowner, you are off to the local mega-hardware/lumber/appliance/flooring store to buy something for your weekend project. If your store is set up like mine, the very first products you see walking in the door are the light bulbs. This arrangement isn't by accident. The floor plans of these stores are carefully designed to promote sales, so one must conclude that light bulbs are big business. They are - last year, an estimated 1.3 billion "medium socket" bulbs were sold in the United States.

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