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

September 2003

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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.

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.

What's New With Hot Water

Boiling Over There's a rift in the home-heating industry that pits professionals on the water side against those on the air side. That is: hydronic vs. forced warm air. Some contractors prefer one type of heat to the other, but many have learned that to serve their customers well they must offer both types of heat. The term hydronic heat may sound like an obscure, futuristic form of heat production. Yet, it has been around for centuries and is widely regarded as the finest type of heat available for the home.

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.

Where Wi-Fi Operates

Wi-Fi uses part of the radio spectrum - the 2.4-gigahertz (GHz) band reserved by the Federal Communications Commission for unlicensed use. This means that although the equipment you purchase has been approved by the FCC (and its regulatory counterparts if you're outside the United States), you don't need a license to operate it. Nor are you assured of exclusive use of the band. Wi-Fi uses a transmission technique called spread spectrum, which broadcasts over a swath of different frequencies at different times.

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