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Homework: Holiday decor gets speaker to light up

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
Don Lachie will discuss his collection of vintage Christmas lights. Credit: Lincoln Highway Experience

The Lincoln Highway Experience will be getting in the Christmas spirit next weekend, with a talk by Don Lachie about his collection of the vintage Yuletide lights, decorations and memorabilia.

The Ligonier and Youngwood resident will present “Let There Be Light!” at 2 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Lincoln Highway offices, 3435 Route 30 East, Latrobe.

Lachie has been collecting vintage Christmas tree lights and holiday-related electrical items for 25 years. He will feature photographs of items from the 1800s through the 1950s, and will have several collectibles on display.

Admission is $10. Advance registration is required. Details: 724-879-4241; www.LHHC.org

Gardening expert to discuss landscapes

The Allegheny chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society will host gardening expert Sandy Feather, who will discuss “Sustainable Landscape Practices.”

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be at 2 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Northland Library, Franklin Park.

Feather is an educator for the Penn State Extension Office of Allegheny County, specializing in commercial horticulture.

Cooling off can be efficient

Feeling the breeze from a ceiling fan just might be a step you can take toward greater energy efficiency this fall.

You can save as much as 40 percent on the cost of cooling your home because a fan creates airflow that cools the people in the room, reducing the need for air conditioning, says Leslie Killingsworth, director of purchasing for Progressive Lighting/Lee Lighting stores.

In the winter, she says, ceiling fans recirculate the warm air at the top of the room, which raises the temperature in the living space below (if fans are switched from running counter-clockwise in the summer to running clockwise in the winter). Using ceiling fans can trim heating costs by 10 percent, according to Casablanca Fan Co.

Ceiling fans with new DC motors (instead of the traditional AC motors) enable homeowners to use less electricity, says Phil Sherer, vice president of sales at Masterpiece Lighting.

Some motors are virtually silent, and since the motors are smaller, the fans are lighter, he says.

Book features energy-saving prefabrications

Author Sheri Koones has long argued the merits of prefabricated homes. In her new book, “Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid,” she bolsters her case by focusing on the energy savings that are possible with factory construction.

Helping her cause is a foreword by Robert Redford, who just might be the country's best-known environmentalist.

Koones' book spotlights 32 homes that require little or no energy from utility companies for heating, cooling, lighting and other needs. The homes are varied in size, and use an array of prefabrication methods, including modular components, structural insulated panels and steel frames. They represent a range of styles, from spare modern structures to traditional farmhouses and Craftsman homes.

“Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home” is published by Abrams, and sells for $24.95 in hardcover.

— Staff and wire reports

Send Homework items to Features in care of Sue Jones, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or email sjones@tribweb.com.

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