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

September 2007

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Bristling at Waste

Think about your paintbrushes. The handles never need replacement - just the bristles, right? So why do you have to buy a whole new brush? The theory behind the Envirobrush is a solution to this problem. The bristles can be easily removed and replaced by flipping a small clamp on the brush handle. The bristles, held together by a solid block of plastic at one end, are sold separately at a fraction of the cost of a full brush, the manufacturer says. The Envirobrush comes in three widths up to 2.5 inches. www.envirobrush.com

Hoophouse Heaven

Hoophouses consist mainly of clear polyethylene film stretched over steel arches. Most hoophouses serve as greenhouses, but ours also serves as workshop, storage shed, exercise room, writing room, wildlife blind and photo studio often with music in the background. In winter, a hoophouse can also function as a sun-therapy room and tanning salon. From spring through fall, it could even serve as a bedroom for overflow guests albeit good-natured ones. Have I mentioned the pleasant patter of rain on the roof?

Geothermal's New Twist

Four years ago, at a time when fuel prices were relatively low and Detroit was kicking out more SUVs than sedans, Del Leese sensed a looming energy crisis. When he and his family constructed their new home in Mechanicsburg, Pa., he made the decision to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. Now, while many of his neighbors are experiencing record-high electric and gas utility bills, Leese and his family are enjoying record savings.

Stress-Free Additions

American homeowners are increasingly looking to add to their home's size and its value as well. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the most popular remodeling jobs are new kitchens and room additions, and one of the most popular reasons for the work being done is to increase the home's value. Since most home additions are beyond the realm of even skilled do-it-yourselfers, architects and builders are often directly responsible for a project's completion.

Media Magic

Say goodbye to your CDs and DVDs. They're about to disappear onto the trash heap of technology, taking their place alongside 45- and 33-rpm vinyl records, 8-track and cassette tapes, and videotapes. Replacing them will be a single electronic box, called a home media server, that will store music, movies and photos digitally, record live TV shows and serve as a home entertainment hub. This trend has been developing for some time, but it really took off with the introduction of the iPod, Apple's popular digital music player that is, in a sense, a mini-server.

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