You won’t believe what the first humidifiers were like

Pretty much since people have been heating their homes, whether with a fireplace, wood burning stove or old fashioned radiator, the problem of dry air has existed within the house. It's just hard to get the humidity right when you're inside, and the sun isn't providing all of the warmth that you need.

These days, there are a number of ways to fix the problem of low humidity in a house, but the best is to make use of a whole house humidifier in order to distribute moisture throughout the entirety of a home.

But before these fantastic devices were developed, there were other ways to try to humidify a space. People with wood burning stoves often place a pot of boiling water on top, in order to let the steam dissipate throughout the house.

There were also these little vases of water that would hook on to the front of a traditional radiator, and release water into the room. While most were just plain white, some of them are a little bit more decorative, featuring pretty floral designs or interesting architectural elements. That seems like a genius idea to me.

I'm so thrilled to have the humidifier in my house, otherwise the dry winter air would be made much worse with the heating. It's amazing how such a small appliance makes such a big difference in how comfortable you are at home.

And when you think about the fact that humidifiers of some sort have always been in homes, it makes a little bit more sense why I've come to rely on mine so much. These handy devices are a real life saver.

The thermostat has been around for a long time

With December just around the corner, Boston has gotten quite cold. It seems that whenever I return home at the end of the day, I have to turn up the heat in my apartment, because wherever it's already set just isn't warm enough.

As I was bundling up against the chill yesterday evening, I wondered what people did before they were able to walk up to the thermostat and turn up the heat. That got me thinking about when the first one of these devices was created, and I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that the first manual thermostat was developed by Warren Johnson during the late 1800s. When others were figuring out about electric lights and power plants, Johnson wanted to use this kind of technology in a more comforting way.

In 1883 he applied for and received his first patent for what would become the world's first electric thermostat. In fact, the company that he founded to create these devices, Johnson Controls, is still in existence today.

I think its amazing that so much of my house runs on the same technology that was used all those years ago. The manual thermostat in my apartment does exactly what it's supposed to do every time I go to adjust the temperature.

This evening when I head in from work, I'm going to think of Warren Johnson when I go to turn up the temperature. After all, it's because of him that I'm able to adjust the heat in my house to a desirable level, and save energy by turning it down. It's easy to forget that simple appliances like this one were invented by smart people too.With December just around the corner, Boston has gotten quite cold. It seems that whenever I return home at the end of the day, I have to turn up the heat in my apartment, because wherever it's already set just isn't warm enough.

As I was bundling up against the chill yesterday evening, I wondered what people did before they were able to walk up to the thermostat and turn up the heat. That got me thinking about when the first one of these devices was created, and I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that the first manual thermostat was developed by Warren Johnson during the late 1800s. When others were figuring out about electric lights and power plants, Johnson wanted to use this kind of technology in a more comforting way.

In 1883 he applied for and received his first patent for what would become the world's first electric thermostat. In fact, the company that he founded to create these devices, Johnson Controls, is still in existence today.

I think its amazing that so much of my house runs on the same technology that was used all those years ago. The manual thermostat in my apartment does exactly what it's supposed to do every time I go to adjust the temperature.

This evening when I head in from work, I'm going to think of Warren Johnson when I go to turn up the temperature. After all, it's because of him that I'm able to adjust the heat in my house to a desirable level, and save energy by turning it down. It's easy to forget that simple appliances like this one were invented by smart people too.With December just around the corner, Boston has gotten quite cold. It seems that whenever I return home at the end of the day, I have to turn up the heat in my apartment, because wherever it's already set just isn't warm enough.

As I was bundling up against the chill yesterday evening, I wondered what people did before they were able to walk up to the thermostat and turn up the heat. That got me thinking about when the first one of these devices was created, and I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that the first manual thermostat was developed by Warren Johnson during the late 1800s. When others were figuring out about electric lights and power plants, Johnson wanted to use this kind of technology in a more comforting way.

In 1883 he applied for and received his first patent for what would become the world's first electric thermostat. In fact, the company that he founded to create these devices, Johnson Controls, is still in existence today.

I think its amazing that so much of my house runs on the same technology that was used all those years ago. The manual thermostat in my apartment does exactly what it's supposed to do every time I go to adjust the temperature.

This evening when I head in from work, I'm going to think of Warren Johnson when I go to turn up the temperature. After all, it's because of him that I'm able to adjust the heat in my house to a desirable level, and save energy by turning it down. It's easy to forget that simple appliances like this one were invented by smart people too.With December just around the corner, Boston has gotten quite cold. It seems that whenever I return home at the end of the day, I have to turn up the heat in my apartment, because wherever it's already set just isn't warm enough.

As I was bundling up against the chill yesterday evening, I wondered what people did before they were able to walk up to the thermostat and turn up the heat. That got me thinking about when the first one of these devices was created, and I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that the first manual thermostat was developed by Warren Johnson during the late 1800s. When others were figuring out about electric lights and power plants, Johnson wanted to use this kind of technology in a more comforting way.

In 1883 he applied for and received his first patent for what would become the world's first electric thermostat. In fact, the company that he founded to create these devices, Johnson Controls, is still in existence today.

I think its amazing that so much of my house runs on the same technology that was used all those years ago. The manual thermostat in my apartment does exactly what it's supposed to do every time I go to adjust the temperature.

This evening when I head in from work, I'm going to think of Warren Johnson when I go to turn up the temperature. After all, it's because of him that I'm able to adjust the heat in my house to a desirable level, and save energy by turning it down. It's easy to forget that simple appliances like this one were invented by smart people too.With December just around the corner, Boston has gotten quite cold. It seems that whenever I return home at the end of the day, I have to turn up the heat in my apartment, because wherever it's already set just isn't warm enough.

As I was bundling up against the chill yesterday evening, I wondered what people did before they were able to walk up to the thermostat and turn up the heat. That got me thinking about when the first one of these devices was created, and I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that the first manual thermostat was developed by Warren Johnson during the late 1800s. When others were figuring out about electric lights and power plants, Johnson wanted to use this kind of technology in a more comforting way.

In 1883 he applied for and received his first patent for what would become the world's first electric thermostat. In fact, the company that he founded to create these devices, Johnson Controls, is still in existence today.

I think its amazing that so much of my house runs on the same technology that was used all those years ago. The manual thermostat in my apartment does exactly what it's supposed to do every time I go to adjust the temperature.

This evening when I head in from work, I'm going to think of Warren Johnson when I go to turn up the temperature. After all, it's because of him that I'm able to adjust the heat in my house to a desirable level, and save energy by turning it down. It's easy to forget that simple appliances like this one were invented by smart people too.

An electric heater can warm up a space with a lot of windows

When I was at my parents' house for Thanksgiving last week, I got to catch up with some of my old friends from when I was growing up. One of them, Marie, moved back to my hometown after graduating college so that she could pursue her dream of becoming a children's librarian.

Marie was able to land a job in the Children's Room at the local library, and has been loving it ever since. She's lucky that the library where she works has plenty of funding, and even underwent a big renovation a few years ago.

When I saw her last week, I asked her how she was liking the job. Marie told me that working with little kids in the public library is everything she dreamed it would be, but that it had just gotten much better.

I asked her to elaborate, and she told me that her workplace is really cold. The big floor-to-ceiling windows let the chilly winter air come right in. She and her fellow librarians were wearing their coats to work, but found that not many kids wanted to come read in the Children's room when it was this frigid.

A few weeks into the winter, Marie's boss said enough was enough, and bought a small electric heater for the space. Now she and her coworkers simply turn on the space heater whenever they're feeling chilly, and they're much toastier.

I told Marie that I was very happy to hear that she and her fellow librarians had found a solution to their chilly workplace. It's nice that they were able to have the option to add heat by using one of these portable machines.

Keep you cool and keep away pests? A new air conditioner can do it all

My roommate Laura works in public health. Even though her specialty is on the environment, she's always staying up-to-date on new public health initiatives that are happening around the world. When I got home from work yesterday, she told me that she had been researching new efforts to prevent malaria in developing countries.

One new product might be able to solve heat problems and ward off mosquitoes, she told me. Apparently, LG has recently unveiled an air conditioner that also uses ultrasonic technology to repel the pests. I thought that this was a great idea, since these insects only breed in high heat.

Laura told me that the machine emits a noise that humans can't hear but that is completely unbearable to mosquitoes. I can only imagine how great it would be if this was used to keep mosquitos from coming in and bringing diseases into people's homes.

Of course, malaria is not a problem here, so my window air conditioner does not need to ward off bugs, but if this catches on, people might be able to sleep with their AC on and the windows open, without worrying about nasty insects flying in.

Laura said that the device is supposed to ward of about 65 percent of the pests, so people would continue to be encouraged to sleep under the protection of a mosquito net. Still, it could mean a major reduction in the disease, since Malaria killed more than 600,000 people in Africa alone last year.

I never thought that a potential solution to a world health problem like malaria could come from an air conditioner, but this one might be enough to really change things.

A humidifier can help reduce static in hair

I love the winter. It's nice to bundle up and spend time indoors with all the important people in your life as the days grow shorter. Just last week I was even able to attend a big Thanksgiving meal with my friends before I headed home and celebrated with my family.

Since I have my heavy winter coat and a scarf, I don't even mind the blistering winds that this season brings. But a few days ago I was bundling up to go outside and I went to brush my hair out of my face while I had my gloves on. Much to my dismay, rather than moving out of the way, my hair stuck to my face because of static cling.

I forgot that the dry air of winter has this major drawback. Whether its in your hair or on your clothes, static is the kind of frustration that can really ruin your day.

When I got to my friend's house, she could tell that something was bothering me. When I told her that it was nothing more than the static in my hair Dana replied that she knew what I meant, and that she used to deal with the same problem as well.

Dana told me that last year she became fed up with static cling, and looked up cures for it online. She found out that this is caused by the dry winter air, and that using a humidifier can help.

As soon as I got home, I ordered myself a whole house humidifier in order to keep moisture in the air and get rid of my pesky static problem. Since I've been using it, I haven't had to deal with this nuisance at all, and I can enjoy winter again!

Electric fans can keep you comfortable in a warm house

This year, I was lucky enough to spend a good amount of time at my parent's house for the Thanksgiving holiday. It's been nice to see the family dog, eat home-cooked foods and spend time with my folks.

Yesterday evening, I stayed up late with my mom, planning our Thanksgiving menu and chatting about what was going on in each of our lives. It's really nice to be able to see my parents, since I don't get to do so very often. But I forgot one thing about my parents' house since I moved out: it's always really warm.

Of course it's nice to spend time in a toasty environment, especially when it's freezing cold and windy outside, but my parents can get a little excessive about it. Even though there's only a thin blanket on the bed in my childhood bedroom, I was having a hard time getting to sleep when I first arrived.

After my second nearly sleepless night at home, I remembered that there's an electric fan in the closet of my bedroom. I got the fan out, and plugged it in. I was thrilled to see that it still worked perfectly even after years of abandonment.

Since I remembered about the fan, I have been sleeping much more comfortably, because my room is still nice and warm, just no longer oppressively hot. It's amazing what kind of difference this little appliance can make over how comfortable you are.

I'm happy that I got to spend some time at home for Thanksgiving this year, and since I got the fan, I'm sleeping very well in my parents' house.

Electric heaters can help with high bills

My friend Dan travels a lot for work. While he has an apartment here in Boston, he usually spends the week hard at work in a different city. When he gets back to Boston, he has just enough time to get settled for the weekend before he jet sets off to another exotic location.

While all of that travel is giving him the opportunity to really see the world, I'm not sure I would like having to be so nomadic. A few weeks ago, I caught up with Dan while he was in town for the weekend and asked him how things were going.

After a long discussion of what he's working on at his job, which I barely understood, I asked him how things were at the studio apartment he rents. He told me that he likes the space, and the price is right for the little amount of time he spends there, but every time he comes home, it seems like there's a pile of bills waiting to greet him.

Particularly, Dan told me that his heating bill is out of control. He doesn't want to turn his heat off, for fear that his pipes will freeze and he will return home every weekend to an arctic apartment, but when he leaves it on, the bill is very high and he can't see the sense in heating an empty place.

I suggested that he turn the thermostat down as low as it can go without being completely off, to keep the apartment at a manageable temperature while he's gone. Then, he could use an electric heater to warm up the small studio while he's home. It would get the space toasty warm in less time, and in the end it would save him money too.

When I saw Dan last weekend, he told me that he took my advice, and his heating bills have been much more reasonable.

Appreciating the comfort of my air conditioner

I love the climate-control that my air conditioner and other appliances like my electric heater provide for me, but I never really thought about the people who work in this industry. I was reading the local paper a few days ago, though, and I read an interview that got me to realize that a number of people are responsible for making my home so comfortable all of the time.

The interview was with Shane Thetford, who works for a local business that installs everything from fireplaces to window air conditioners. While it's not something that most children dream of doing, Thetford said that he finds his work to be very rewarding, and that most of his customers are just thrilled when he arrives at their homes.

After all, he's bringing comfort into people's homes. I thought that was a great way of thinking about it, and started to really think about what my life would be like if I didn't have any of these comforting appliances.

Everything would be a lot worse, and I would likely be under a great deal more stress most of the time. I know that this year, when people ask me what I'm thankful for, I'm going to tell them that I'm thankful not just for my wonderful heater and air conditioner, but for all of the people who work on making these devices.

If I hadn't purchased my window air conditioner online, I would have had a terrible time this summer trying to keep myself cool in the onslaught of humid heat that these months bring. Since I had one, though, I was nice and comfortable for the duration of the season.

White vinegar makes a great budget cleaner

My sister Shannon has a lot of allergies. The fact that she's always dealt with these has also gotten her interested in environmentally-friendly items, since they're typically hypoallergenic as well.

She and I were talking on the phone yesterday, and Shannon mentioned that her electric fan has become very dusty and that she sneezes every time she turns it on now. She said that this was aggravating her allergies, and so she had been avoiding turning the fan on when her apartment was hot.

I suggested that she clean the fan, and she told me that she was worried about the harsh chemicals from cleaning products taking a toll on her health and also possibly aggravating her allergies. I asked her if she looked up some alternative cleaning products, and she told me that they were all too expensive.

While we were on the phone, I got out my laptop and did an internet search to see if I could find a better solution for her. And it turns out that many people use simple white vinegar mixed with water as a cleaning product.

This solution works great on windows, counters and everything else that needs to dry with a streak free shine. I advised Shannon to use this simple trick to clean her electric fan. She said that it was worth a shot, since her fan was really dirty.

First she dusted the fan and its blades, and then she used the vinegar solution to finish it off. Shannon called me right after the project was finished to rave about the beautiful results. She loves how this quick solution is healthy, green and cheap as well as how great it makes her fan look.

Electric fans can distribute the heat from a wood stove

My family friends the Weissmans live in a cabin out in Western Massachusetts. My parents have known these people for a long time, and when I was growing up, I used to love to go visit them out there in the wilderness.

Their house in this backwoods area looks beautiful year-round, but there's something particularly charming about it in the winter. Though it can be difficult to get there, having to drive on heavy snow, their house has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains that make it feel like you're visiting a Christmas card.

I was always surprised, though, at how their house wasn't cold. Rather than being freezing out there in the middle of nowhere, their house is pleasantly warm and toasty no matter how frigid it was outside.

The last time I went to visit I noticed how incredibly warm it was because of the wood burning stove that they used to heat the place. Not only did they have the stove to warm their home, but they were able to distribute that warmth using a simple electric fan.

I asked them about this and they said that before they got the fan, the wood stove would just warm up the section of the house it was in, and that adding this simple appliance made a huge difference.

It makes a lot of sense that a fan would help to distribute heat from a wood stove, and I love how warm the Weissman's house is every time I go to visit. Maybe one day I will have a cabin that I heat with a wood burning stove. If I do, I will definitely use a fan to spread the warmth.