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

September 2003

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Not the Time to Fall Behind

  Freeze-proof faucets are self-draining -- as long as no hose is attached to them. Traditional faucets require removal of the hose and closing the valve inside the house to prevent bursting.

One Green Acre

The dishwater is eventually used to irrigate the garden, and the compost fertilizes it.Something about having a garden - watching those frail seedlings turn into mass-producing marvels, biting into a juicy, fresh-picked tomato, breathing in the sharp scent of oregano and mint - makes us appreciate the eternally forgiving spirit of Mother Nature.

The Home RF Alternative

You may have heard of another wireless networking technology called HomeRF. HomeRF uses the 2.4-GHz band just like Wi-Fi, but the standard is squarely aimed at the home and has had a slow start due to late approval from the FCC for a faster version that closely matches Wi-Fi's speed. Wi-Fi has built up momentum due to a rapid drop in price during 2001. Prices fell for most equipment by 50 to 70 percent, while HomeRF's fast version just started appearing in electronics stores last summer. If you expect to use a laptop or other portable device, Wi-Fi is the only way to go.

Dandy Ductwork

Let's face it, considering improvements to your duct system is not as exciting as choosing new tile or kitchen cabinets, but the benefits can be huge. The October 1998 Appraisal Journal reports that the value of a home increases $20 for every $1 decrease in annual utility costs. Translation: If your yearly heating and cooling bills total $800, and you make a change that saves 25 percent ($200), you will realize $4,000 in added value when you sell the house. And that doesn't include the $200 savings you pocket every year until then!

Your Tap Water: Fit or Failing

A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council graded the municipal drinking-water supplies of 19 major U.S. cities, and they were found to be lacking. While none of the cities failed outright, only Chicago earned a rating of excellent, and that was in only one of three categories tested.

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