I am a residential designer who is researching this very subject on the internet for a presentation to a builders' association meeting. I found the United states E.P.A. website and a news group about indoor air quality (I.A.Q.). I learned a lot of interesting things:
I suggest Holmes brand, model HAP-240. You can buy it at Wal-Mrt for about $50. It is a HEPA filter purifier and is large enough to filter a bedroom but small enough to move easily. The HEPA replacement filters are about $15. I try to replace mine about every six months. My kids have allergies so we bought one for each room - three total. We bought the first one about five years ago and we have had no mechanical problems with it so far.
I have two mentally disabled grown daughters who have been on SSI and SSD for more than 20 years. There are many discounted or FREE programs available to physically and mentally challenged/disabled citizens. Here are some suggestions:
We live in New Mexico, and have very dear friends in Texas, 12 hours away. None of us have much money since we have plenty of kids, so in order to see each other at least twice a year, and to ensure that we all get away at least once, we split the gas for trips between families. That way either family needs only half the gas money saved at one time. No one ever pays to stay with the other, or eat there either.
If you like folk festivals and other festivals, try working for your admission. We just did that at the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs. My husband worked sound on one of the stages and I was the MC. We got free admission and a prime parking spot for about six hours of work, and we even enjoyed the work. Some of the work is not as much fun, like tidy bowl duty, but it is just a few hours and then you can enjoy the rest of the festival. Most festivals need help, and are happy to get it. We could have had a free camping spot if we had wanted it, but we stayed at a friend's house, which was much quieter (there are jam circles in the camp ground all night). We will do the same sort of thing for the Will Mclean Folk Festival in March; at that one we run the poetry stage part of the time, and let the story tellers take their turn too. Most festivals require at least four hours of work and many people do more if they enjoy the job.
Last night our local news had a consumer alert regarding smoke detectors. Everyone knows you should replace the batteries twice a year and check the detector monthly. Everyone doesn't know, however, that smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years. The reason for this is inside the machine there is a sensor that contains radioactive material that has a life expectancy - sometimes shorter than 10 years. If you have old smoke detectors, you may find the warning in your owner's manual in very fine print or inside the machine underneath the battery - also in very fine print. Today when you purchase a new one, this warning is on the front of the box in big black letters. Thought your readers might be interested in this. After all, you purchase smoke detectors to protect yourself and your family.
As a Thrift Shopper of 40 years, my sources of choice are now garage sales. Thrift stores have quantity, but not, for the most part, quality. The good stuff goes to jobbers and consignment store owners. Must share my latest coup ..... last weekend I purchased 17 Liz Claiborne sportswear items for $100, most of them still with tags on!