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Judy Browne

Buy Cheap, Change Often

Furnace Filters and Indoor Air Quality

A very important home maintenance task for homeowners with forced air heating systems is to change the furnace filter at regular intervals. The filter should be changed regularly during the heating season and for homes with whole house air-conditioning this should be done throughout the year.

The furnace filter is located between the air intake and the furnace motor. The original and most important purpose of the filter is to protect your furnace motor and internal components from airborne particles that could cause damage and reduce operating efficiency. Changing your furnace filter frequently will protect your furnace and improve its efficiency resulting in savings in both maintenance costs and energy use.

Today there are many different types of filters on the market along with marketing campaigns that try to convince you that you can use your furnace filter not only to protect your furnace but to improve the quality of your indoor air. Many of these claims can be very misleading.

My recommendation when it comes to furnace filters and maintenance is “buy cheap, change often”. According to a study done by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), using furnace filters as a way to improve your indoor air quality is not only expensive but makes only a moderate difference in the quality of your indoor air when compared to other changes you can make in your home. CMHC Study

Furnace filter recommendations

1. Don’t use your furnace filter as a way to clean your indoor air.

2. Buy an inexpensive filter and change it every month throughout the heating season or year round if you have whole house air conditioning.

3. If you choose to buy a more expensive filter check it each month to monitor it’s cleanliness to assure the airflow to the furnace is not being restricted potentially causing damage.

Recommendations to improve indoor air quality (from CMHC study)

1. Remove your shoes when entering your home

2. Keep major dust generators (smoking, pets, etc.) out of the house

3. Reduce dust collecting surfaces (open shelves, carpets, upholstered furniture, etc.)

4. Frequent vacuuming with an efficient vacuum cleaner

5. Reduce the entry of particle-laden outdoor air by closing windows

Be Green AND Warm This Winter

Going “green” doesn’t have to mean turning the thermostat down to 65 degrees and putting on 3 sweaters this winter. A new product on the market, Power*e Glass, may be the compromise you’ve been looking for.
Windows are usually the main source of heat loss in our homes. There are plenty of products on the market that can help minimize this heat loss but windows with Power*e Glass will not only stop heat loss through the windows it will provide a source of radiant heat for your room.
I first heard about this product from one of my students and we visited the facility at 585 Osage St here in Denver on July 31st. We spoke with Gino Figurelli, one of the inventors and also the Plant Manager. During our visit we got to experience first hand the warmth the glass provided in a large picture window in his office. My first thought was of my living room at home. With the large picture window and vaulted ceilings it is rarely a comfortable place to sit during the winter. Apparently that is a perfect place for a Power*e window.
Gino also shared with us the results from a recent study completed at the Kansas State University’s National Gas Machinery Laboratory. Some of the key findings include:

Ÿ When operated Power*e Glass stops 100% of the heat loss through the window
Ÿ As a radiant heat source it can reduce power consumption vs. conventional heat sources.
Ÿ Power*e Glass is 84-89% efficient

The cost of a window with Power*e glass is currently about 3 times as expensive as a standard double pane vinyl window but as demand increases this will surely come down. Although you may not want to invest the money to replace all of your windows with this new technology, it might be the perfect solution to that pesky room that never seems to stay warm.

What happens when it melts?

I was watching the morning news and there was a short segment with the above video about a guy who created a 35ft, 100ft long ice wall in his back yard. He shoots water at it 24/7 using a robot and program he wrote himself. It’s a very cool creation and it’s touted as “science as art”.

Here’s the thing, the way my mind works is all I could think of is “where does he think all that water is going to go when that thing melts?”. I envision a flooded basement/crawlspace, landscaping being washed away into the street and all kinds of other home maintenance problems.

In my classes and the talks I give to groups, one of my most often repeated reminders is “water is the greatest enemy of your home”.

I hope he has a plan for the run off come spring! In the meantime enjoy!

Do It Yourself Denver Meet Up

For anyone interested in meeting like minded ‘do it yourselfers‘ in the Denver area join our Do It Yourself Meet Up!

When: 2nd Tuesday of Each Month
Time: 6:00 pm – approximately 8:00 pm
Where: 47 W. Alameda Ave
Denver, CO 80223
(Workshop for Women location)

Format: Each month we have a speaker representing topics that are of interest to the members. There is plenty of time for socializing and discussing our current DIY projects and sharing information, contacts and advice. We’ve started to compile a “Recommended Contractors List”. This list contains contractors that have been used and recommended by our members.

Past speakers have included:
Cathy Schuberth – Green With Envy Interior Decoration (
Tom Quinlan – Quinlan Gas Fireplaces
Miriam Swihart – Home Rescue Handywoman Services
Brenden McEwen – Colorado Roofing and Exteriors ( )
Tracy Gray – Woodworks Studios (
Myself – Judy Browne – Workshop for Women (
The Green Home Team

I’m always looking for speakers willing to share information about how we can improve, maintain and repair our homes ourselves along with products, tools and materials that make those jobs easier. If you have someone you’d like to recommend as a possible speaker, please pass along the information.

Workshop for Women Home Improvement Classes

In 2003 I left a 20 year career as a Project Manager and Manufacturing Engineer to spend a year volunteering and building houses with Habitat for Humanity as an Americorps volunteer. My experience in construction with Habitat was the inspiration and motivation for me to start my own business, Workshop for Women.

At Workshop for Women we teach basic home improvement classes in a fun, inviting and comfortable environment. All classes are hands-on and there is plenty of time for practice and having questions answered. All tools, materials and equipment are provided for each student and each student is given reference material to take home with them.

I continue to modify the class offerings based on feedback from the students. The classes currently on our schedule are as follows:

  • The Morning After…Closing (Home Maintenance)
  • Finally Fixing That Hole (Drywall Repair)
  • My Screws are Loose (Hanging Things on Walls & Ceilings)
  • What the Guys Never Tell Us – Part 1 (Basic Power Tools)
  • What the Guys Never Tell Us – Part 2 (Basic Carpentry)
  • Trim Your Home (Interior Trim Clinic)
  • Do You Hear Water? (Plumbing 101)
  • Let There Be Light (Basic Electrical)
  • Old Faithful in Your Backyard? (Sprinkler System Repair & Maintenance)

Most classes are 2 to 3 hours in length with the Electrical class being 6 hours and scheduled in two 3 hours sessions, and all classes are offered during the daytime, evening and on Saturdays.

We’ve also grouped classes in series as a way to save money. The series titles are Basis Handywoman, Advanced Handywoman and Power Projects.

Details about the topics covered, cost and schedule can be found on the Workshop for Women website at

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have at 303-284-6354 or

The Beginning

I was motivated to start this blog after my short time as the Denver Home Improvement Examiner. At they recruit local ‘experts’ to write articles and submit posts on topics about which they are passionate. I signed on as the Denver Home Improvement Examiner about 6 months ago and have enjoyed writing articles, learning about new products and companies and having the opportunity to share information with others.

Unfortunately the commitment at is to post 3-4 articles a week and I have been unable to keep up with that commitment. I just sent in an email telling them I needed to move on. What has come out of that time though is the importance of having a venue to share my passion for home improvement and DIY topics.

I decided blogging was a way to continue that venture and this doesn’t feel like an obligation. It also allows me to share opinions, ask questions and encourage others to join me. I hope you find this blog informative and fun and feel compelled to share your ideas, comments and suggestions.