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The Mortgage-Free 320 Square Foot Home

By Kirsten Dirksen
June 9, 2011
File under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building Design, Resource Management, Saving Money

Two years ago, Debra and her family lived in a nearly 2000 square foot home on an acre and a half of land. Then her husband lost his job and they began to work 4 jobs between them to pay the mortgage, until one day they remembered they had a choice.

Before having their son, Debra and her husband Gary had spent 9 years living in very tiny homes in South America. Living small hadn’t felt like a sacrifice, but a way to stay focused on what is important. They decided they wanted to get back to that.

They stopped working so hard, sold or gave away all of their extra stuff and began looking for the perfect tiny home. …read more of The Mortgage-Free 320 Square Foot Home here

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LEGO Apartment Transforms 1 Room Into 5

By Kirsten Dirksen
May 16, 2011
File under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building Design, Green Building Techniques, Living Space, Remodeling Green, Saving Money

Christian Schallert’s tiny apartment morphs from kitchen to bedroom to living room to dining room all within a matter of minutes.

When he isn’t cooking, dressing, sleeping or eating, his 258-square-foot apartment looks like an empty cube. To create a room, he has to build it:

Lego KitchenKitchen: he clicks a spot on his vast wall of click-able furniture, and a spring-loaded door swings up to reveal an instant kitchen: double-burner, dishwasher, sink, countertop and microwave oven. The full-sized refrigerator and freezer click open just alongside.

lego Bedroom

Bedroom: he rolls his bed out from under the balcony, his stairs become become bedside tables and he can even swing his tv out from the wall.

lego dining

Dining Room: he lowers a plank from the wall, his flower-stand becomes a support and his stairs become a bench.

Located in Barcelona’s hip Born district, the tiny apartment is a remodeled pigeon loft. Christian says its design was inspired by the space-saving furniture aboard boats, as well as the clean lines of a small Japanese home.

One of Christian’s friends has dubbed his apartment “G.I. Joe’s flat”. There is definitely more work involved in constructing and deconstructing your dining room/kitchen/bedroom every day or meal, but Christian likes it that way. He says it’s what helps keep him in shape.

Dig Mini-Homes? Take a look at handbuilt tiny homes built in America, a DIY home for less than $3,500 and a modern hobbit house.

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Top 3 Things To Make Your Home More Comfortable This Winter

By Tyson Dirksen
November 12, 2010
File under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building Design, Green Building Techniques, Living Space, Natural Alternatives, Saving Money


You don’t need to buy a new efficient heater this winter to save money. It’s more important to make sure the heat that is being produced goes into your home and then stays there. Here are 3 things you can do to help in that process and save up to 40% on the energy used to heat and cool your home.

While most people could probably complete the following three tasks on their own, an experienced and knowledgeable home performance contractor will not only do them for you, but should also verify that all tasks were completed correctly using an infrared camera, blower door, duct blaster, and other tools of the trade. Make sure your home performance contractor “tests in and tests out” – tests your home when he or she arrives to determine their scope of work and tests your home when they are about to leave in order to verify their work.

…read more of Top 3 Things To Make Your Home More Comfortable This Winter here

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Is Danger Lurking in Your Living Room?

By Cameron Bard
October 7, 2010
File under: Health Concerns, Remodeling Green


Recent EPA studies have shown that air pollution inside homes can be a shocking two to five times higher than outdoor levels. But what kind of pollution are we talking about, and where is it coming from? Well, you might be standing, sitting, or looking at it right now.

The following guide will help you identify polluting agents lurking in your home and the best ways to avoid or take care of them. So get ready to clean up your home environment, while doing some favors for the planet at the same time. …read more of Is Danger Lurking in Your Living Room? here

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Bug Off: Fight Mosquitoes and Insects Naturally and Effectively

By Justin O'Neill
July 3, 2010
File under: Pest Control


Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other pesky pests are an annoying and ubiquitous part of the summer. Besides being irritating, insects like mosquitoes and ticks are carriers of serious diseases like Lyme Disease and the West Nile Virus.

Common insect combatants include chemical sprays (smelly, annoying to apply), zappers (often ineffective), and citronella candles (smelly). Chemical solutions are dangerous for your body and the environment, and many chemicals end up killing the natural predators of the pests you are trying to control.

There is another way. Controlling insects through biological pest control is an effective and fascinating natural way of improving the comfort of your summer days outdoors. Insects (especially mosquitoes) have a lot of enemies other than humans.

Drawing these natural predators to your yard will lower your pest numbers and keep unsafe chemicals like DEET out of the air and off your skin.

Here are a few ideas for keeping your insects away:


Bird vs. bug: Besides being beautiful to look at and listen to, birds will keep insects at bay, so why not put up a birdhouse, birdbath, or birdfeeder?

Many birds (such as chickadees, house wrens, gray catbirds, bluebirds, warblers, orioles, some sparrows, and more) control bugs like mosquitoes and wasps by turning them into snacks. Birds won’t eat enough solve your problem completely, but having a bird-friendly yard will surely create a dent in your airborne pest numbers.


Bat them off: A lot of people are spooked by bats.  So are mosquitoes, and for good reason. Bats are nature’s mosquito chowing machines.  Some bats can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes per hour.

Installing a bat house will attract bats to your property and keep the mosquito population down. Put it somewhere nearby—it doesn’t have to be right next to your house. Bats come out after sunset and naturally try to avoid humans while hunting bugs.

Not all bats live in caves, and they love having a cool, dark place to “hang” out. Learn all about bat houses and how you can get one from Bat Conservation International.


Praying for prey:  Praying mantises are hungry, carnivorous creatures that will rapidly and ravenously eat ticks, mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and other insect pests.

You can purchase praying mantis pods that birth up to 300 for about $3-$9.00 per pod from online sources or garden shops. Just 3 pods planted in your yard will protect up to 5,000 sq feet. This bug-on-bug defense might just be the answer to your prayers.


Water solutions: If you are lucky enough to have a pond or marsh on your property, consider planting cattails or bulrushes to attract dragonflies, which also eat mosquitoes (and are usually killed by the same chemicals used to attack mosquitoes).

Certain fish, including one called the Mosquitofish (no brainer), love to munch on mosquitoes. Introduce these and Guppies to your pond and let them feast on up to 168 mosquito larvae every eight hours.

There’s something beautiful about all this. Biological pest control is a holistic way of fighting insects through an understanding of the innate interactions of the many organisms that inhabit our yards and gardens.

Insect control is complex and no one method is sure to be effective, but these all-natural and educational techniques are certainly worth a shot. By taking full advantage of the natural processes in our local ecosystems, we can create much more comfortable summer surroundings that will let spend as many hours outside as possible.

Now if only we could do something about the rain…

By Justin O’Neill, 

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