25th Annual Leaf Lookers GEMBOREE :: Friday, October 17 - Sunday, October 19 at the Macon County Community Building

- published 8/21 (Larry) old link: http://www1.cfnc.org/applications/NC_Community_College/apply.html?application_id=1527

Click for Franklin, North Carolina Forecast

Outdoors

Dear EarthTalk: Will I really be able to save money and energy in the long run by shelling out hundreds of dollars now for a so-called “smart” thermostat? — Bill Cone, Aptos, Calif.

Spending $200 or more to replace that older, still functioning thermostat with a new whizbang “smart” variety might seem like a waste of money, but it can be one of the best small investments a homeowner can make, given the potential for energy and cost savings.

The coolest of the bunch of new smart thermostats, the Nest, was created by former Apple employees who had been instrumental in designing the original iPod and iPhone years earlier. This simple looking round thermostat is reminiscent of old-school thermostats that one would manually adjust by turning the temperature dial. But the auto-awake feature that turns on the bright blue digital display when someone walks nearby gives the Nest away as an ultra-modern piece of high tech gadgetry.

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Starting January 1, visitors to Grandfather Mountain will notice an increase in admission costs. Admission for adults (ages 13-59) will be $20, seniors (ages 60+) $18 and children (ages 4-12) $9 each. Children under the age of four are always free.

This increase in admission cost comes after a decision from the North Carolina State Legislature to expand the state sales tax to include ticket sales at nonprofit attractions throughout the state. Based on visitation during 2013, Grandfather Mountain’s sales tax bill in 2014 is likely to increase by $200,000 or more.

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At last week's League of Women Voters forum, Katie Hicks from Clean Water for North Carolina spoke to those in attendance about the process of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” its implementation here in North Carolina and some possible effects it could have on the environment.

The issue has been garnering a lot of attention since last summer when Senate Bill 820 legalized hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

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Dear EarthTalk: I like the feel of carpeting, but I’m concerned about all the chemicals. What are some good nonchemical (but still soft!) options? — Jennifer Jones, Madison, Wisc.

Modern day carpets, in all their plush and stain-resistant glory, are wonders of technology and help make our homes and workplaces more comfortable. But the typical carpet, made from petroleum-based synthetic fibers, contains dozens of chemicals and gases, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other potential toxins—and they can compromise indoor air quality for years on end and cause dangerous reactions in the sensitive among us, including little ones and the elderly.

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