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May 21,2006
Decorating with a variety small houseplants, adds aroma and decor of the residential home. Houseplants are very healthy to everyone, because plants take in carbon dioxide (which is exhaled), toxins, and pollutants, and in turn release clean oxygen. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to certain types of houseplants. An indoor houseplant adds brightness to a room, and always a cheerful sight, on any gray day or a dreary winter day. Using an unconventional pot to ... [full story]
1620 times read - No comment posted

May 27,2006
They look like pretty plants nestled in decorative containers, filled with layers of dirt and decorative rocks. Or pretty plants nestled in semi-enclosed containers filled with dirt and decorative rocks, much like terrariums. Lisa Hoerr-Grandstaff insists they are the next new thing in gardening - tabletop gardening. People have always had houseplants, she explains. But tabletop gardens are different. They're like stylish miniature container gardens. "That, in itself, makes them different from some ficus sitting in the corner," ... [full story]
2170 times read - No comment posted

May 28,2006
Dear Jim: Our wood deck gets hot, almost too warm to be comfortable, in the summer sun. It seems to make adjacent rooms hotter. I am also tired of the maintenance. What decking options do I have to keep it cooler? -Ron H. Dear Ron: An old dark discolored deck can become comfortably warm in the summer. This heat will reradiate in through windows and make your house walls warmer. If the prevailing breezes are ... [full story]
3160 times read - No comment posted

Jun 15,2006
Dear Jim: I want to use filtered water to remove chlorine when bathing and showering. Installing a whole-house filtering system is expensive and seems wasteful. Is there any way to filter just the bath water? - Jerome H. Dear Jerome: When people think about filtering and purifying the water in their homes, they usually think about water used for drinking and cooking. Actually, the exposure to chemicals in water is also significant when hot water ... [full story]
1595 times read - No comment posted

Jun 22,2006
Dear Jim: My family likes to be cool during the summer, but the electric bills kill my budget. What are the best ways to use ventilation to stay comfortable without using the air conditioner as much? - Michael A. Dear Michael: Proper ventilation can keep you feeling cooler and reduce your electric bills for air-conditioning. The actual air temperature in your home is not really important. What is important is how you feel. Human nature being ... [full story]
2163 times read - No comment posted

Jun 29,2006
Dear Jim: Our water bills are pretty high. We still have two old water-guzzling toilets which we like and they flush well. What can we do to them to save water instead of purchasing new efficient toilets? - Claudia H.    This shows a dual-flush kit installed in a clear toilet tank. Notice the instructions on the handle indicating which way to move the handle for more or less water. - Athena Controllable Flush   These are the actual ... [full story]
3253 times read - No comment posted

Jul 06,2006
Dear Jim: With high utility bills and all the recent severe weather, I thought about adding rolling window shutters. Do they let any light in when they are closed and what options and features should I consider? - Julia K. Dear Julia: Rolling shutters can protect your windows and sliding glass doors from severe weather. In many hurricane-prone areas, such as Florida and the Texas coast, new homes and one's having major improvement projects are required ... [full story]
1533 times read - No comment posted

Jul 13,2006
Dear Jim: I am thinking of building one of those concrete/foam block houses for efficiency, security and strength. Since concrete feels so cold, it is really energy efficient and will I be limited on house styling? - Scott W. Dear Scott: You mentioned "concrete/foam block" houses, but that is just one subset of a construction method called stay-in-place-forms. Another term for this construction method is insulated concrete forms. This type of construction produces one of the ... [full story]
1690 times read - No comment posted

Jul 20,2006
Dear Jim: I have plenty of fiberglass insulation on the attic floor, but it still seems as though the bedroom ceiling is warm on sunny days and the air conditioner runs like crazy. What can I do to keep it cooler? - Steve P. Dear Steve: If you put you hand against the ceiling, you would be surprised how warm it actually is. This extra heat will increase your cooling electric bills.   Low-cost single-sided foil is ... [full story]
2195 times read - No comment posted

Jul 28,2006
Dear Jim: I want to spend more time outdoors with my family. We get a nice breeze, so a screened room over the patio would be perfect. Also, we will not have to air-condition as much. What options do I have? - Cliff Dear Cliff: You have the right idea about spending more time outdoors with your family. If the sun is blocked by a patio room roof and there is a nice breeze, you ... [full story]
1548 times read - No comment posted

Jul 28,2006
Some blame it on El Nino, others on La Nina.  No matter what the cause, the majority of the states in our Union are likely to experience the driest summer on record. The National Weather Service is predicting record high temperatures and drought conditions will prevail across parts of the Midwest, the Southwest, the Mid-Atlantic and the South. With conditions so dry, it's important for everyone to practice good water management practices.  Among the things ... [full story]
1676 times read - No comment posted

Aug 03,2006
Dear Jim: I am landscaping close to the house walls and I want it to be efficient (both for water and energy). I don't know whether to use stone/gravel or low-growing ground cover plants. Which is best for me? - Kathy C.    Low-water-usage ground cover plants and boulders are shaded by trees during the summer and help warm the home during winter   Dear Kathy: Proper landscaping can impact the energy efficiency of your home and obviously the ... [full story]
1404 times read - No comment posted

Aug 18,2006
Dear Jim: I want to install something on my windows and door glass to block the sun's heat and glare, but I want to be able to remove it during the winter. What do-it-yourself options are available? - Robert H. Dear Robert: There are several do-it-yourself options to improve the energy performance of glass during the summer. With the high cost of heating, it makes sense to remove heat- and sun-blocking improvements to get full ... [full story]
1602 times read - No comment posted



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