The Atlantic contemplates the far-reaching impact of a home appliance getting quite the workout in many homes across the country right about now: the air conditioner. Writes Rebecca J. Rosen: "We often think of air conditioners as just that, a machine that conditions (i.e. cools) the air around us. But the effects of air conditioners reach far beyond atmospherics to the ways we build our houses, where in the country we live, and how we spend our time. Air conditioners are the enablers of modern American life."

NPR pays a visit to Trout Gulch, a self-sufficient, Hobbit village-esque rural homestead in Aptos, Calif., where filmmakers of Isaiah Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch and Daren Rabinovitch of Encyclopedia Pictura "build their own houses, grow organic vegetables, milk goats and produce state-of-the-art digital animation." 

The Hairpin talks fruit flies, pantry moths and the "horrible, awful, skittery animals" otherwise known as cockroaches in a cringe-inducing-but-helpful pest-remediation-themed installment of "Ask a Clean Person." 

Freshome offers up "10 Energy Saving Tips for this Hot Summer." Pointers include replacing outdated AC units, automating your thermostat, using your microwave in lieu of the oven, and spending more time in the great outdoors. 

The Daily Green advises on "How To Test for Lead Dust Following a Home Renovation Project." 

The New York Times chats with a few greenthumbed semi-finalists who have made it to the home stretch of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's 17th annual Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest. Explains the NYT: "Blocks are judged on a number of criteria, including how well plants are cared for, plant variety, visual effect, tree care and citizen participation. This year for the first time, judges kept a lookout for native plants like echinacea in containers and front yards."

The BBC likes the idea of Eurtan ("nature" backwards), a Dutch government-funded project where researchers are creating a completely recyclable wool carpet that swaps out latex for an organic adhesive. 

TreeHugger weighs the pros and cons and considers the prices of "5 Space-Saving Cabinet Solutions for a Tiny Apartment." 

The Los Angeles Times falls for Portland, Ore.-based artist Joey Wirtheim's World War II-inspired "Victory Gardens of Tomorrow" prints that promote "artful advocacy for the modern home front."  

Curbed has the latest scoop on the "Curious case of Wilbur Sardo the pig and the Crotchety HOA."

Fast Company admires the handiwork of Tobias Juretzek, a German designer who "throws together disused clothes to create stylish little chairs that could almost pass for something you’d find around the dining-room table, if not for the occasional exposed zipper (ouch!)." Each $950 Rememberme Chair is made from 13 pounds of salvaged clothing that's been soaked in resin and compressed in a mold. 

The San Francisco Chronicle solicits HGTV personality and renovation expert Mike Holmes for advice on how to protect yourself (read: not get duped and feel like an idiot aftwards) while seeking out a self-proclaimed green building contractor. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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