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Articles by Jenny Sorensen

New homeowner Jenny Sorensen lives in Seattle, Wash.

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Last spring, I met with a real-estate agent and listened while she told me about the kind of house I should buy. A new house, she advised, with all new appliances and the latest innovations in wiring, plumbing, and heating — maybe even a condo. My horrified expression stopped her mid-sentence. Actually, I explained dreamily, I’m looking for an older home with charm and quirky character. I want big windows, hardwood floors, and a garden.

Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic LivingBy Annie Berthold-BondThree Rivers Press, 400 pages, 1999

And that’s what she found for me. I bought an old Seattle farmhouse, built in 1911, with lots of windows, original hardwoods, and a beautiful yard, full of huge rhododendrons, magnolias, peonies, and fruit trees. The heat? Electric. The appliances? Ancient. I settled in and began a jolting ride up the homeowner’s learning curve.

I found helpful companions in Better Basics for the Home and the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, books that target typical, American homeowners like me, providing sensible, sound advice on creating a healthier household th... Read more