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

September 2002

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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.

Safety Notes

Woodburner Installation: Before burning wood in any wood stove or fireplace, have local officials inspect the installation for clearances. A wood stove placed too near a wooden wall or mantel can heat it enough to ignite it. Chimney Cleaning: Be sure your chimney flue is cleaned properly after each burning season. With the right equipment, you can clean your own chimney. Most people hire chimney cleaners, who for $50 to $75 will brush and vacuum the flue and issue you a cleaning certificate.

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.€

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.

Uninvited Guests Eating You Out of House and Home?

Carpenter ants and termites are wood-destroying insects that cost us billions of dollars every year. More than 90 percent of the homes in the United States are wood framed. But even homes built of masonry and steel serve up delicious wood treats to these pests. Left unchecked, they systematically destroy our homes and valuable wood objects in them. Termites pose a considerable economic threat to wood structures. As a nation, we spend two-thirds of our annual pest-control budget on termites.

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