Contributed by James Dulley

Sensible Home: Insulating window coverings provide added comfort, savings

Q. I would like to replace my old windows before winter, but I cannot afford more debt right now. Is installing insulating window shades or curtains a viable alternative? If so, which types are best? A. Old, inefficient windows can account for a substantial amount of heat loss from a house. A single pane of … Read More »

November 19th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Chimney maintenance is important both inside and out

Q. We use our woodburning fireplace for heat. It has not been cleaned out for the year, and we noticed bad spots on the outdoor chimney brick. What maintenance steps can we do ourselves? A. There are some maintenance items you can do yourself, but you must first have the chimney flue professionally cleaned by … Read More »

October 15th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Durable, eco-friendly roofing options abound

Q. The old, dark asphalt-shingle roof on my house is leaking — again. I prefer to install a longer-lasting roof this time, even if it costs a little more. Other than metal, what durable roofing materials are available, and which ones are environment-friendly? A. There are many nonmetal roofing options that have a significantly longer … Read More »

September 17th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Harness sun’s energy to efficiently prepare food

Q. I want a solar cooker to help keep my kitchen cooler and save energy. It would also help in case of a power outage or emergency. Can I make one that really works, or should I buy one? A. It is wise to try to do some of your baking and cooking outdoors in … Read More »

August 13th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Portable air conditioners offer economical comfort

Q. We have central air conditioning, but it seems wasteful to cool the entire house when just the two of us are home. Is using a portable air conditioner in various rooms more efficient overall? A. Natural ventilation is the most efficient method of cooling. In many climates, though, such as hot, dry areas or … Read More »

July 16th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Screen-door options provide ventilation, increase comfort

Q. I like screen doors for natural ventilation, but they are expensive and inconvenient, and they don’t look really good. Are hideaway retractable screen doors easy to operate, and are they durable? A. Natural ventilation is obviously more efficient than using fans or air conditioning. Just a gentle breeze can make it feel like the … Read More »

June 18th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Cordless mower offers eco-friendly lawn-care option

Q. I am tired of the maintenance for my old gas-powered lawn mower. I might buy a rechargeable cordless mulching one. Are these mowers powerful enough for a normal yard, and what features are best? A. I have used cordless lawn mowers for many years, and I would never switch back to a gasoline mower … Read More »

May 14th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Rolling exterior shutters provide safety, energy savings

Q. I want a strong window shutter for security and storms, but I don’t want it to block my outdoor view. Is a rolling shutter strong enough, and will it improve the efficiency of a large window? A. Installing rolling shutters can protect your windows and sliding glass doors from damage during severe weather. In … Read More »

April 16th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Today’s dishwashers offer energy-saving features

Q. I am looking for a new dishwasher. My very old one is noisy, has only two cycle settings and does not clean well. What features should I look for in a new, efficient model? A. Even the least-expensive new dishwasher will be more efficient and quieter than your old one. As with most appliances, … Read More »

March 12th, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sensible Home: Sunroom can double as living space, heat source in winter

Q. We think adding a sunroom to our house would give us more space and assist with winter heating. What design factors should we consider when building a sunroom, either from a kit or from scratch? A. Adding a sunroom can be a good investment by providing more living space at a reasonable price. This … Read More »

February 12th, 2017 at 6:00 am