passive solar homes
Dan Chiras talks about the benefits of passive solar design.
The ongoing debate between the merits and faults of Passive House design and passive solar design is important for those looking to build an energy-efficient home and for all enthusiasts of energy-efficient building. We've opened up the discussion to our online audience in this blog post. Please share your thoughts!
Forty years ago a trombe wall worked to store and release heat in a passive solar house. Is it obsolete in the 21st century?
Enacting a law requiring builders to orient new homes toward the sun would drastically reduce home energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Passive Houses use only 5 percent of heating energy compared to traditional houses.
This home in the Florida Keys captures prevailing breezes and takes advantage of passive cooling techniques such as open walls and a reflective roof to keep its occupants cool and comfortable without air conditioning.
To build a net zero energy home, you'll need to design for passive gain. That requires a shallower footprint to ensure that the low-angled winter sun can enter and heat each room.
Insulation under the slab -- and lots of it -- is vital for the performance of a net zero energy home. So is the footprint. You can make the most of passive solar by creating a longer, narrower house in which each room is heated by the sun.
Be sure to install under-the-footing conduit to run electrical and water pipes, including sewer. I like to run pipes and wire under the foot to prevent penetrating the band joist or the foundation to create a more airtight, water tight home.
Don't forget to budget in the cost of deeper excavation and add $1000 to $2000 as a budget contingecy in case you run into bedrock.
Insulating concrete forms are an excellent choice for foundations for passive solar, net zero energy homes. They create a highly insulated, air-tight foundation, so essential for extremely high energy performance.
ICFs are not the most environmentally friendly green building product, but result in super energy efficient home, and offer many other benefits, that offset their origin from petrochemicals.
ICF walls must be carefully braced to prevent blowout.
Creating a net zero energy home requires that we eliminate all thermal bridging loss -- heat movement into and out of a building. All this starts in the basement.
In this blog, my architect James Plagmann and I begin to tell the story of the construction of Dan's new net zero energy homes. Dan begins by laying the ground, defining a few terms and describing his experience in this field.
This blog contains a detailed list of most of my initial design priorities for my net zero energy home so others may benefit from my thinking and experience on creating a passive solar, net zero energy, green home.
Three-day workshop announcement on net zero energy homes by leading authority on energy efficiency and renewable energy, Dan Chiras. Learn how to reduce your utility bill through conservation, effriciency, & clean, affordable, renewable energy.
A 3-part series on sustainable comfort systems for heating and cooling homes using passive solar design, solar electric power, system controllers and newly popular heat pump technology.
Today most new homes are sited without any reference to solar energy at all. A few builders are catching on, however, and making the simple adjustments necessary to turn new houses into solar collectors by adhering to the tenets of passive solar building. Learn more about how passive solar works and its benefits.
As the importance of solar architecture grew, the southern aspect took on great stature in Chinese life. Ancient wisdom associated the south with fire and warmth, while the north came to be synonymous with winter and somberness. The Emperor facing south therefore shuns darkness and embraces enlightenment to govern. The Chinese to this day prefer a southern orientation for housing.
In this blog, I describe two of the first and most important design considerations -- the length and depth of the home and the layout of rooms for optimum passive solar gain.
Scaffolding is required to access the walls to pour the concrete. Scaffolding also helps support the walls.
Additional reinforcement is required around the garage door opening.
This is a summary of our attendance at the IBS show in Jan. Also a re-cap of Jan events and our transistion into the construction phase of the project. We also talk about the decision for the competiton to be moved off the Nationa Mall in DC
The Homestead Act of 1862 celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The Homestead National Monument is hosting several activities to recognize this historical event that resulted in millions of self-sufficient homesteaders receiving free land. Learn more and participate!
In this blog, I highlight the earliest decisions I had to make to create a net zero energy home: how I was going to build the foundation and walls. Thermal bridging, air tightness, insulation, cost, and greeness are all key deciders.
Passive House standards incorporate passive solar design principles, but the two labels don’t mean the same thing. Learn about the difference between passive solar design and Passive House certification.
Do you find yourself spelling out words to others, such as when you are spelling out your last name? Try out our Homesteading Alphabet to keep your listeners on their toes and your homesteader lifestyle a part of your daily routine in a whole new way.
One of the easiest ways to bask and rejoice in the gifts of nature is to make and use a solar wall heater.
How can you create a lush naturally abundant indoor garden year-round? With these 7 simple principles, you can create a greenhouse that is completely self-sufficient, relying only on the sun to provide all of its heating needs. Moreover, solar greenhouses can grow much more than traditional greenhouses - citrus, avocados, guava - using less energy, water and resources.
The Solar Decathletes begin assembly on the National Mall at midnight, Oct. 1. But just getting the houses into D.C. is no simple task.
Brief description of our journey back onto the National Mall, our Flex Space design, and our Solar Thermal Skylight.
Dan Chiras and other energy experts envision a future powered by a combination of renewable energy resources, including wind and solar.
Everything you need to know about avoiding problems when you build or remodel your own house - learn from the mistakes of others and make fewer of your own.
Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!
It seems only common sense that you don’t depend on a single source alone for life-giving home heat in the winter.
Keep your greenhouse above freezing during short cold periods without paying for a heater.
Never in the history of the world has there been such a high-ranking member of society to advocate passive solar design than Socrates. He felt so strongly for building with the sun in mind that he even set up a class to teach his acolytes how the finer points of putting up a passive solar house.
When writing his great work On Architecture, Rome’s greatest solar architect Vitruvius emphasized proper solar orientation for buildings and bath houses.
One homesteading couple reads up on passive solar house design and then modifies online options to create their own custom passive solar plans. Here are their recommended resources.
In this blog we talk about our three differnet types of solar technology that we have on the Homestead.
Are you a modern homesteader with pioneering women in your lineage? My great grandmothers were all pioneers, but our lives could not be more different.
Getting solar panels in Seattle is becoming more affordable with state incentives and net metering but still doesn't quite compare to other states.
One of the nation's largest home developers announces it will offer solar arrays as standard features on new homes in California.
A 3-part series on sustainable comfort systems for heating and cooling homes using passive solar design, solar electric power, system controllers and newly popular heat pump technology.
A three-part series on sustainable comfort systems for heating and cooling homes using passive solar design, solar electric power, system controllers and newly popular heat pump technology.
It's time for our fourth-annual call for nominations for outstanding modern homesteaders! Organic gardeners, do-it-yourselfers and general self-sufficient gurus are being sought for the opportunity to be named as one of our 2015 Homesteaders of the Year.
Do you know any modern homesteaders living a self-sufficient lifestyle? We want to know about them! Nominate a family, someone you know or even yourself to become one of our Homesteaders of the Year in 2012.
An introduction to me, a home-schooled 11 year old.
Solar industry analysts and executives say PV installations will surge in the next two years as prices continue to drop.
This part of the series deals with window size and location, ceiling heights, eave length, and other design and passive design choices you can make for your new home. These choices apply whether you are on or off the grid.
Adding solar panels can increase a home's resale value by as much as $17,000, a new Lawrence Berkeley Lab report finds.
Everything you need to know about avoiding problems when you build or remodel your own house. Learn from the mistakes of others and make fewer of your own.
Architect Debra Rucker Coleman shares tips for converting your home to passive solar energy.
Some examples of passive solar design applied to homes in the southeast, where cooling, as well as heating, is a concern.
Chris Larson's Asheville, North Carolina, home--already a superb example of smart, passive solar design--gets even better with the addition of solar hot water collectors.
There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.
The Evergreen Institute's application to provide continuing education for LEED accredited professionals has been approved by the U.S. Green Building Council. A variety of workshops meeting required standards are now available for those interested in anything from solar electricity to straw bale construction.
As Passive House Institute standards up the ante, USA Today’s “Best Green Homes of 2010” list reflects Americans’ desire for affordability, efficiency and style.
One of the best ways to learn about green homes is to explore real-world examples--by touring homes or reading about them online. This article links to free online collections of case studies and in-depth profiles of green homes.
Why do we believe that math must be done one workbook page at a time, at the kitchen table? Anyone who’s ever kept chickens can tell you all the math that can be found in the hen house.
Making cheese was nothing like I expected, but in the end, I was successful.
Pick something new to learn this year from Granny Miller’s list of 101 basic homesteading skills.
As the youngest member of a new local food producers and artisans cooperative, 11-year-old Grace is learning business skills while perfecting her artistic talents with homemade jewelry, pot holders and more.
Former Boulder, Colorado, mayor Shaun McGrath, the new head of the American Solar Energy Society, has his work cut out for him.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS is seeking nominations of self-sufficient modern homesteaders for our 2013 Homesteaders of the Year awards.
We learned a long time ago that we couldn’t attract an audience for our magazines unless we gave our readers tools they could use to improve the world personally. A backyard organic garden is the perfect symbol of positive vision and commitment.
If you want to build a passive solar house, you’ll need to spend time upfront carefully considering your house plans. Here’s how one couple worked with a contractor and a designer to draw up and then finalize their small home plans with energy efficiency and lifestyle in mind.
The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up 270 million acres of public domain land for settlement. The Homestead National Monument of America tells the stories of many of the people who claimed land and tried to "prove up" their claim.
Could you heat your house with a hair dryer? Super-efficient Passive Houses use very little energy.
Has the "magic" energy solution been discovered?
This is the story of my family’s transition from a nomadic military lifestyle to one of rural homesteading. I talk about our preparation leading up to leaving the service and some of our current goals and projects for the property and our lives. I also talk about using permaculture as the design science methodology for our businesses and the development of the property.
We are collecting stories from our readers -- their older neighbors or relatives, too -- about self-sufficient homesteading and farming in the early 20th century. Read what we've found, and share your own story from yesteryear for modern homesteaders.
Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center in Taylor, Arizona celebrates national homesteading month with a display of solar ingenuity.
Scott Davis’ “Solar Projects, Big and Small” video offers inspiration for both solar energy enthusiasts and folks who are just curious. Tips and advice pertaining to solar energy can be found at the Yahoo! group Simply Solar, and you can make your dream project a reality with Gary Reysa’s instructions.
Build this portable poultry pen in an afternoon using only simple hand tools. It’s just the right size for a small yard, but you’ll find lots of uses for it around the homestead, too.
Solar drying experiences in 2012, including tomato varieties Principe Borghese and Long Tom.
Since her first house move, MOTHER EARTH NEWS blogger Cathie Ackroyd, has become so very conscious of the impact we humans have had and are having on our planet’s environment and hoped to find a place to settle that would allow us to gain an element of self-sufficiency in a relatively car-free community.
While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.
Prefab is so much more than mobile homes! Explore your options for manufactured homes, modular homes and panelized homes made of wood, steel or insulated concrete.
Homesteading with dogs in remote mountain living. Considerations in providing a good safe homestead environment for your cherished pets.
This morning in my inbox: Orlando Bloom announced at Wednesday night’s Global Green pre-Oscars party that he’s building a green, solar-powered home in London. And an RISMedia report stating that despite the downturn in the general housing market, demand for green homes continues to be a hot trend.
In 45 years, Deltec Homes have never lost a house to high winds.
Did you buy or build a home without going into debt? We're looking for stories on homes built with a small mortgage, or no mortgage at all. Here's what we want to know.
Since they built their solar- and wind-powered cordwood home in Desboro, Ontario, Lisa and Ray Racicot have never looked back. The only thing they'll do differently next time is install the renewable energy systems first, to power the construction.
Eating only homegrown foods on the Fridays in Lent.
Victoria Gazely considers her revitalized 650-square-foot homesteader’s cabin on 7 acres of fertile earth--purchased for $150--a blessing. “I absolutely love living here,” she says.
Many years ago, years before I moved to the country, I was what would be considered "a prepper." I saw disaster every time I turned on the TV, or read the news on the internet, or visited forums that talked about stockpiling beans and bullets. I panicked, thinking I could never have enough control for the sake of my family, never be "prepped" enough.
The place I call home these days is The FarmSchool, a fertile 180-acre strip of ridge top in Athol, where 15 student-farmers are spending a year learning the ins and outs of growing food, managing forests, and raising animals for meat. I arrived at the farm in October, just as the leaves were reaching their peak brilliance. The Farm School — which offers three-day programs for schoolchildren, a summer camp, a full-time middle school, and the apprenticeship program I’m in — takes us through all seasons of farming, weaving together class work and on-farm training.
Here are some resources where you can learn more about how a scythe can be useful on your homestead.
The new metal roof was nailed down just hours before the storm hit.
Our Rural Property for Sale site helps you search for a sweet spot to put your future homestead, with handy filters to help you find just what you're looking for more easily.
This grandparents’ homestead housed a number of generations and everyone participated in daily chores such as pumping water for baths, melting lard for bread, and using cloth flour bags to make curtains, blankets and dresses.
Small towns across the country in need of a population boost are literally giving away free land to attract new residents and boost their populations. Seekers of the quiet (and low-cost) small town lifestyle can now grab some free land to build their homes.
The NH Permaculture Gathering is just a couple weeks away!
In the final chapter of this five-part series, Lyn Fenwick finds the country cemetery that Isaac was burried in and pays her respects to the author of a treasured family heirloom, a 19th century homesteaders journal.
Forced to extremes by illness, these homeowners built sacred, beautiful homes completely free of toxic chemicals, petrochemical fumes and other poisons. For all three, better housing has meant better health.
A listing of companies that offer green dwellings in the form of modular, prefab, manufactured, compact, or mobile structures. These days, many such options are available that are not only green, but also beautiful, well-made, and often low-cost.
Kathy Bennett and Scott Bergford will present workshops on raising sheep and keeping your green home safe at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
James Zitting of Bee Landing and Terry Phelan of Living Shelter Design Architects will present workshops on beekeeping and straw bale building at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Where we find a wealth of information for projects and enjoyable reading.
Learn the basic skills useful for mountain homesteading.
Jim and Julie are starting their homestead in Texas while still living in Australia. Managing the project by remote control is the challenge, and they are learning as they go. This is an adventure of faith and confidence.
Solar panels are strong enough to resist damage from most hail. But if you live in an area where large hail is common, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.
Student teams prepare to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy hosted, fourth biyearly Solar Decathlon, where they will be judged on the overall quality of their solar-powered homes.
The Appalachian State University team will be blogging about their progress on the solar home they are building for the 2011 Solar Decathlon.
Any net zero-energy home needs two things. The first is the sun, providing passive solar energy. The second necessity is retaining maximum heat.
Living luxuriously doesn’t necessarily mean living large — at least not in these homes — and reducing a little waste doesn’t hurt, either.
Most of us would love to live in energy-efficient homes that are good for the environment and have low, low energy bills. But what are the best real options available? How do you create an extremely energy-efficient home that’s still affordable for most people?
Homestead skills of yogurt-making and bread-baking increase your independence from grocery store aisles and international food conglomerates.
Clipping the wing of a troublesome hen and tasting the first Chicago hardy figs was really great, but what was even more fantastic was seeing Anna's new book arrive and how beautiful it looks.
Docking of dairy cows serves no purpose and causes pain and discomfort for the
Our striving to live frugally, monetary so, affects our everyday life choices. We choose to live without a lot of things that cost money. We make most of the cash we do need by running the Hostel in the summer months.
FamilyFarmed.org Good Food Festival & Conference partner Vicki Nowicki shares her experience living, learning, and teaching on her suburban permaculture homestead.
There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.
Watch Steve tell you his homestead story and how his two trucks have helped make good things happen.
Chainsaw safety equipment.
Stay warm, find a hobby and cull the livestock; here are some of the things we do to prepare for winter!
Using rabbit hypnosis and a pair of wire cutters we successfully perform dental surgery on one of our does.
Providing your own sewer, water and power can be more expensive and is certainly less convenient but that's not all there is to consider. This article takes a look at some of the other differences between public and private services.
A rundown of activities you can do in the winter to improve your homestead.
After many months of preparation and planning, we are very excited to be starting to build our homestead - a barndominium. The first stage is to get a good solid foundation so our new homestead will be solid for today and future generations.
On what will probably be the last trip to Chateau Christie as Australians, we are trying to get the property to a livable stage - completing the electrical and plumbing and getting things ready for an inspection so we can sheetrock and finish.
The building of the barndominium is in high gear. After all of the ground work, the slab is poured, cured and the steel framework of the barndominium is erected in one day. With the progress, there were a few problems but quickly solved.
Expense checklist for anyone wanting to plan a new homestead.
Outlining our process for locating a suitable location for finding a new homestead.
As we look into the future we prepare for a flatter terrain for a new homestead.
Homesteads and farms often have fun or touching
names that etch themselves into our memories. Is there one that has stuck in
How we approached buying our property, clearing and selecting a home site.
We call our homestead Sunflower Farm and now we have the sign to show for it!
Fun is where you find it, in this case it is a hay ride for the family along our trail.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a way to double electricity from solar cells by using dyed glass.
On a wintry Sunday morning, I can’t think of much I’d rather do than settle in at the kitchen table with a cup of fresh coffee and read the big, fat Sunday New York Times.
Admirals Alternatives make it easier to obtain renewable energy systems for your home.
Nokero International has been awarded the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s ‘Patents for Humanity’ award.
The GateMate, by Cartell, has the lowest current draw in standby than any other free exit system on the market.
Admirals Bank opens Renewable Energy Lending Business Development Center in San Francisco.
Dan Chiras discusses the long-term benefits of building a green home.
Learn more about the life and work of Malcolm Wells, the "Father of Earth Sheltered Design."
Learn about the different types of earth-sheltered homes and why you should consider digging in the ground to find your next residence.
Here are the pros and cons of using south facing windows for home heating, rather than solar collectors.
A new company has redesigned the typical shape of solar panels to be more three-dimensional.
A progress update on our book Tiny Homes On the Move
If you are hoping to build a new home or weekend cottage, we would appreciate your participation in this short survey, which will gauge your interest in a variety of possible kit home features.
Lloyd meditates on the essentials of shelter and our memories of home.
A new Environmental Protection Agency website helps homeowners and renters decrease their energy consumption and cut carbon emissions.
Information about energy-efficient washing machines and cellular window shades. These energy-efficient appliances and window shades will please environmentally conscious consumers.
Offering paint that saves the rain forest and a full list of ingredients, this natural finishes start-up aims to change the industry. Unearthed is making a bold move by providing full ingredient disclosure for all of its products.
More than 30 years ago, Michael Reynolds followed his vision of sustainable, energy-efficient homes that would work with nature. Today, his Earthships inspire green designers and architects.
Using natural products, such as grass clippings and homemade organic fertilizer, can turn the worst clay soil into an acceptable growing medium.
Creating new no-dig garden beds is easier and quicker with raised-bed stakes and two-by-six lumber.
This historical neighborhood, with a strong sense of community, offers the feeling of small-town living.
For inspiration and education, take some time to peruse the hundreds of Modern Homesteading articles.
Bounty is in the eye of the beholder — whether it be a bowl of perfect berries or millions of maple seeds.
Moving to an urban homestead is a challenge, but the boxes are getting unpacked and the birds are at the feeders.
Farming isn’t a skill that can be easily learned from a book. Here’s some advice and a collection of resources to help you decide whether you’re ready to try your hand at it.
One woman's journey from life in urban America to a small town in Austria, then back to a suburban homestead in Dallas on which she tries her hand at keeping dairy goats.
All of the work of readying the garden and waiting for it to produce is worth the wait once the harvest begins.
Keeping a garden journal helps you know which varieties you grew were successful, which were not and how much you harvested from each.
The garden is growing better than I could have expected in the raised beds at my "new" urban homestead.
Making the move to a historical neighborhood will offer an opportunity to develop community ties and try some new gardening techniques.
Here are a few helpful books on homesteading skills and old-time crafts.
All the hard work of planting, weeding and watering comes to fruition in a bowl of berries and a plate of golden potatoes.
Existing homes that are certified as “green” sold for 30 percent more than homes without such a designation, according to an analysis of the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan region released today by Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building resource. Newly constructed homes with a sustainability certification sold for 8 percent more than non-certified homes.
This result continues a four-year trend in which new homes with third-party certification for sustainable construction and energy performance have consistently sold for more than newly constructed homes that had not been certified. The term "certified home" includes homes that received an Earth Advantage New Homes, ENERGY STAR, or a LEED for Homes designation, or a combined Earth Advantage/ENERGY STAR certification.
Our process of buying the land for our homestead had little to do with logic and a lot to do with emotion. For me, it was a chance to return to the plains where I grew up and be close to family.
Here’s how to find good background information on residential solar energy systems, including locating solar installers and finding advice on particular products.
Take this quiz from How Stuff Works and learn more about how solar panels produce electricity.
Without federal subsidies, the future of solar power looks grim. Fortunately, the Obama administration is giving solar a boost with four new large-scale solar projects.
After a five month struggle, the San Francisco board of supervisors approved a program called GoSolarSF, making solar installations more affordable for its citizens.
As tough economic times hit the renewable energy industry, unsold solar panels are collecting dust in warehouses in many parts of the country. But in Gainesville, Florida, homes, buildings and schools are glittering with brand new panels, installed after the city passed a feed-in tariff law, requiring the power company to buy renewable energy from local producers.
Kingtec K25Z-4 will not only cut the spiralling out of control energy demand from the power-hungry air-conditioning unit of the world but it can also cut a struggling families electric bill significantly.
Here's how you can find out what financial incentives are available for purchasing solar panels, or another renewable energy system for your home. Search these resources to find state and local incentives.
Let It Shine by John Perlin highlights the context in which solar energy developments have occurred and the people who have made the solar revolution possible, revealing a whole new group of unknown technological pioneers, as well as people famous for other accomplishments never before known for their work as the solar advocates and technologists they were.
The following post summarizes Chapter 7 of the book "Let It Shine The 6000 Year Story of Solar Energy."
Going solar in developing countries, especially in communities that lack access to electricity, is a completely different experience. Here the 3 main reasons why solar is taking off abroad.
QSolar Limited today announced that it has introduced its' new Kristal and Kristal Rainbow range of semi-transparent and colour semi-transparent solar panels.
Find out how to enter our Solar Giveaway.
Team Germany takes first place in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in second and Team California in third.
Senator Bernie Sanders’ new bill would promote installation of 10 million new rooftop solar energy systems and 200,000 solar hot water heating systems in the United States in the next decade.
Here are three of the season’s brightest and cleanest gifts for a greener holiday celebration.
Passive solar design comes to Navajo families, as architecture students build homes on Utah reservations.
Safely eliminate mice in your home with these house mouse control tips.
TEETER PONG! live mouse traps provide a humane solution for removing mice from your home.
A compendium of modern nomadic sweats.
Those of retirement age can reduce their carbon footprints by moving into a smaller, cozier mobile home.
Clean with vodka for a spic-and-span house and less of a headache in the morning! You can use the alcohol to freshen your laundry, remove mold and mildew, and even repel bugs. Vodka kills bacteria and dries clear and odor-free, making it an ideal addition to your cleaning cupboard.
I think testing your home for radon is a good idea, and these dogs agree with me!
Learn to build your own Hand-Crafted Log Home
Shelter Publications’ new book has all manner of roaming, tiny dwellings to spark your inner wanderlust.
Learn how to build a straw bale home by downloading this free guide.
Living in a 500-square-foot house (or smaller) affects our consumption and relationships.
It has become a Christmas ritual for me to clean out my mother's fridge. I find whiskery gnarled morsels, shoved to the back of the fridge many months previously, unseen, and untouched by my mother’s arthritic hands. Do I compost all this detritus?
There are many more ways than ever to earn income without ever leaving the homestead. As energy prices rise, earning the money you need without traveling is key to success. It just might not come from the place you expect.
How we focused on attaining our dream homestead.
Comparing a covenant community against living rural without covenants.
We have few opportunities during our stay in Australia to fly home and do work ourselves on the property. This blog features a set of planned activities that we wanted to be personally and directly involved with. When we left, we were very happy.
Now that the Barndominium has been fully enclosed, it's time to work on the interior. Also the basic utilities, pump house and access roads have been beefed up. It's beginning to look like a real house now. Chateau Christie is becoming a reality.
Emma Jane James of Appalachia, Virginia, inquires about her Kansan family tree and reminisces about better days in her coal-mining town, before mountaintop removal and pollution took their toll.
We've been planning for months and years but now we're in fast build mode. The slab is poured, materials on site and in nine days, we will have the shell of the barndominium completely done and ready for the framing inside.
Spoon carving is good practice for hatchet and knife skills, and a spoon is a beautiful sculpture that feeds more than one hunger!
Real life experiences with chickens spanning a 50 year period.
This blog is about all of the choices we have for the type of home we want for off grid living and some of the construction materials involved. It turns out there are a multitude of options we have to choose from.
This blog is an introduction to how we went from a condominium lifestyle to off grid modern homesteading in the mountains. It also includes an explanation of the meaning of "off grid".
MIT researchers announced a breakthrough that could ultimately make it much cheaper and easier to store solar energy.
Here's another reason to love solar panels and wind turbines: They're great tools for providing power to people who wouldn't otherwise have electricity at home.
Try these DIY methods to help warm up a cold basement.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could produce all the energy we needed from local, renewable resources, such as solar and wind power?
In the United States, renewable energy is growing, but we still don't get very much of our electricity from renewable sources. How can we speed things up?
While photovoltaic panels are great for meeting small-scale energy needs (like those of individual homes or businesses), perhaps a more viable large-scale option is concentrated solar power (CSP) technology.
Check out this dramatic short movie.
New York makes a plan to increase solar power as part of an aggressive energy policy.
AC solar panels are an intriguing new idea on the PV market. The panels themselves still produce DC, but each panel would come with its own attached micro-inverter, which converts the DC to AC.
This simple, low-tech method of disinfecting water with solar energy can be a lifesaver when safe drinking water isn't available.
There are many different ways to bring solar power into your home. Here's a quick overview of the different ways people use solar energy, with links to related articles and plans.
This handy online tool helps calculate your solar energy potential based on your location.
Find the right type of insulation for a Solar Heat Grabber from MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
Comly Wilson, Associate with CleanEdison, a solar installation training provider, offers her tips to remedy 6 common mistakes solar PV installers make when setting up new photovoltaic systems.
Builders and designers believe that low-e windows, engineered wood products and eat-in kitchens will be key characteristics of new homes in the future.
When defining the term homesteading, consider the various options available.
Growing up in rural north Florida, Elizabeth Hollingsworth shares her family’s self-sufficiency experiences, from storing redskin potatoes to making jam; drives in the country to extended-family potlucks.
Growing up on a New England homestead, a woman imparts heartfelt lessons about making do with what you have and cherishing those memories.
It may not be Spring, but spring fever is in the air along with the need to dig in the dirt, plant seeds and eat fresh vegetables.
Wherever you live, you can practice sustainability and share your successes with your neighbors.
We frequently use the term "homesteading" in Mother Earth News, but what is it's exact meaning?
The Self Sufficient-ish Bible and accompanying Web site offer some universal tips for urban self-sufficiency.
Jim Oseychuk built this intricate garden shed for his wife and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
A woman shares her experiences during the Dust Bowl days in Oklahoma of how she ate poke greens, learned to live without electricity and other homesteading memories.
Camille Wright passes on wisdom from her “Mamaw,” conjuring up images of fresh clothes on the clothesline, a root cellar lined with jams and jellies, and quiet walks.
Looking at the differences between the current homesteading movement in the USA compared to Smallholders in the UK.
You can get more for your gardening money with a group seed starting effort.
For a natural looking wood finish, use a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine.
Carolyn’s story of living on a farm in rural Illinois shows that one can truly live off the land by having a huge garden, collecting wild morel mushrooms, and making homemade cottage cheese from the milk of the family cow.
Using wood you’ve harvested to start creative wood projects is not impossible. Many sawyers have created beautiful wood structures made from lumber they’ve cut themselves.
Luke Dinan, a young man from Toronto, Ontario, is forging his way towards sustainable living and a self-reliant lifestyle; a path we can appreciate, strive for and maybe contribute to.
Donn Saindon built this beautiful 1,200 square foot home from reclaimed wood and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
After hitching a ride out of the city on the Slow Food movement, some newcomers to the country look back on their transition decision.
Joe Bonn built this impressive home in Colorado and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
It's fall, time for fall garden clean up and planting garlic for next summer's harvest.
Robert Craig built this 960 square foot barn in Oregon and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
Making New Year's resolutions for a remote homestead.
We are grateful for the peace and balance inherent to our lifestyle, offering ease of being and grounded perspective as we continue to negotiate the boundaries between our world and the real world.
The Obama administration announced additional funding for rural broadband Internet programs that will increase the speed of rural Internet access. The funding is part of 2009's Recovery Act.
Tell us about your ideal homestead. What would it be like?
Help keep cages and water sources clean with Solway Feeder's horizontal watering nipples.
Whether you are a novice or experienced, we've all heard those "crazy things" that people say when it comes to living a self-sufficient life. Here are 10 things you should never say to a homesteader.
Solar-powered jar lights are pretty but too pricey. You can easily make your own using easy-to-find items from the hardware store.
In support of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Nov. 19, 2012, 10 small business-led projects to speed solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace.
Take a lesson from Southerners, who know a thing or two about keeping cool naturally. These homes take advantage of old-fashioned and cutting-edge passive cooling techniques to stay temperate even during hot Southern summers.
Let's take a trip back into the Mother Earth News archive to learn more about thin-film solar.
The sun provides us with enough clean energy that if ever effectively harnessed, we might never need any other form again. Sadly, we are only able to harness a fraction of it's potential. Fortunately, we are making great progress to get where we want to be.
Heating water with the sun is no longer an option on the Hawaiian islands. A bill was passed in Hawaii that requires all new homes to install a solar water heater in order to receive a building permit.
The North American Solar Stores (NASS) network announces their nationally recognized solar store brand to meet the solar energy demands of today's alternative energy-aware consumers.
Henry Red Cloud moved back to the Pine Ridge Reservation 12 years ago and started looking into renewable energy. Since then he has started a solar heating system company and a renewable energy training center to serve the Native American community.
National Solar Tour couldn't have more perfect timing.
Students from the University of Kansas spent spring break installing solar panels in a low-income neighborhood in Oakland, California.
Solar Energy International is excited to announce the 2013 Online Solar Training schedule! On Jan. 14, we will kick off this year's online training schedule with some of the most rigorous solar training in the industry. Join thousands of people from all over the world in SEI's Online Campus!
There are a growing number of small, solar-powered gadgets for sale including solar flashlights, radios, cell phone chargers, outdoor motion lights and more. Are you using any of these small solar products? Do you find them useful? Tell us what you think!
Rice University's ZEROW HOUSE takes first place for hot water and second for architecture and market viability at the Solar Decathlon 2009 in D.C.
Leasing solar panels may be a way for you to have a solar electric system on your home. See what our expert has to say on leasing solar panels, from an operating lease to a capital lease. Plus, learn about the federal tax incentives that come with solar electric systems.
The Obama administration announced yesterday that it will place solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the White House roof by spring 2011.
Despite utility opposition, key policy drives rapid expansion of rooftop solar.
Doug and Jennie Ostgaard designed and built a photovoltaic system for their home, a project they was completed in six months. DIY photovoltaic solar has many benefits, and they outline a few of them here.
Whether you choose renewable energy for ecological or financial reasons, this article will help you see how solar panels and a solar hot water heating system can be financed and get you closer to being a sustainable household.
If you've been wondering how to dehrydrate tomatoes, look no further! We've compiled step-by-step instructions on solar dehydrating tomatoes, complete with photos from our own experience drying veggies in the solar dryer at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS office.
A simple explanation of our solar power generating system and cost.
Share your opinion: Are you contemplating installing a solar-electric panel for your home?
More than the electricity needed to run these machines, the “rinse hold” hot water setting that many households use is the biggest energy drain associated with dishwashers – as much as 80 percent of the energy your dishwasher uses goes to heat water.
A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.
A home’s air-tightness is just as important as how much R-value it has.
There are many ways we can conserve energy, and be more eco-friendly, especially with the advancements that technology is making every day.
You smell an odor in your home and suspect that it isn’t healthy. This article explains how to do some safe investigation in preparation for calling in an expert.
We'd like to hear about projects you have planned that will help you save energy, save water or otherwise make your home greener.
A look at the completed project and some of the features.
For one week, BuildingGreen is offering a free download of an insulation guide, available with a 30-day trial of BuildingGreen Suite.
Ranging in size from 528 square feet to 960 square feet, miniHomes are a combination of park model trailer, manufactured home and code-compliant residences that combine modern design with state-of-the-art building technology.
A lookout tower home, which features reclaimed materials, connects its homeowner with her past, present and future.
GO Home, built by architecture and construction firm G•O Logic LLC, received the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) 2011 LEED for Homes Project of the Year Award.
Geothermal heating and cooling systems rely on the earth’s constant underground temperature of 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to provide comfortable indoor climates. The technology works in any size or style home, in nearly any setting on earth.
With resources from Mother Nature, you can make natural and beautiful homegrown holiday gifts.
JavaCycle has saved more than 40 tons of burlap coffee bag from landfills.
Living in a tiny house is good for the environment and for the wallet, but requires a lifestyle shift for the inhabitants.
Sigi Koko of Down to Earth Design and some assistants demonstrate her method of constructing strawbale walls with clay at the 2011 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pa.
Green living is similar to taking yoga. It is a ‘practice’ – the more you get into, the more there is to learn. It really comes down to three simple things. Are you ready, willing and able to start living green?
Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning will present two workshops on green energy and building at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25 in Seven Springs, Pa.
Doug Kennedy of TM4 Group will present a workshop on home owner operation and maintenance at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Molly McCabe, green remodeler, will present a workshop about sustainable remodeling for kitchens and baths at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Reginald Beck, gluten-free baker and Bruce Glenn, straw bale builder will present workshops on gluten-free baking and straw bale building at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Aaron Gould, green builder, will present a workshop on the economics of ecobuilding at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Sukita Reay Crimmel of Claylin and From These Hands, and publisher of Mother Earth News Bryan Welch will present workshops on building earthen floors and how to build a sustainable future at the Mother Earth News Fair, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, WA.
Stony Knolls Farm has a new dog and getting him here was a wonderful, and amazing journey that is well worth sharing! Rescue dogs are so grateful for their new homes.
The bleeding edge of technology is where the true pioneers of their respective industry reside. Adam D. Bearup has had his own impact in the green building field on several fronts, above and below ground.
Yes, you can make your own solar panels, but it won’t necessarily save you much money compared with buying commercial solar panels.
The Solar Impulse has made history as the first solar-powered airplane to fly across the North American continent.
You can use a solar hot-air collector to heat your home with renewable energy. Here’s more about how they work.
A do-it-yourself portable solar cart allows us to have solar power without removing trees from the yard. We can also take it away from the home site and move it indoors before storms.
60 years ago scientists at Bell Laboratories developed the first solar cell capable of converting enough sunlight into electricity for practical uses. Their discovery is the greatest breakthrough in the 6000-year history of solar energy, and the sire to today's solar revolution. Let's celebrate!
With 67 percent growth in one year, the solar energy industry eclipses even the telecommunications industry, according to a new Solar Energy Industries Association report.
A new technology developed at MIT, solar concentrators, could dramatically reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) power.
The term "living off the grid" can be used in different ways, but it means something very specific when you start looking at producing electricity from renewable sources.
You can use the power of the sun to heat water for your home using manufactured solar hot water systems or one you build yourself.
Next spring, President Obama will install a solar panels on the roof of the White House. The photovoltaic system will provide hot water and some electricity for the White House living quarters.
Toyota installs a large solar panel system on a California facility, proving its green thumb extends farther than the road.
When you're ready to price or purchase a new solar system, findsolar.com has everything you need.
Here’s advice from a renewable energy expert about what you can expect to pay for a solar-electric system to power your home.
Blog post number 17: Jeff solves the problem of how to use higher-efficiency D/C power for long run-time loads, while using some A/C appliances as well.
Colorado's once-thriving solar industry has ground to a halt following Xcel Energy's move to slash incentive rebates for homeowners.
Summer's here, but the solar panels that President Obama promised to install on the White House this spring aren't. Today the administration announced that it's still working out the details. We'll just have to wait.
Solar energy solutions can reshape the future. It can help sculpt the world we live in and can help solve some of the greatest environmental problems facing the world today including climate change and our reliance on fossil fuels.
The fastest-growing energy technology in the world is solar, and photovoltaic solar collectors capture solar energy in a supremely adaptable and portable form. Find out more about photovoltaics, how they work, and how they can change the way we make energy.
To me, the most important features of a sustainable building are not its technological wonders but its simple design features: common-sense strategies that should be incorporated whether the building becomes LEED certified, Energy Star certified, or is just trying to be environmentally friendly.
Christy Oates's brilliant fold-out furniture takes up virtually no floor space when it's not in use. It's the perfect solution for small homes--and a hopeful sign for the future of design.
We received another great review of a successful Homesteading Education Month event. Read about a well-received sustainability fair in South Dakota.
Growing sorghum is the first step to making sweet sorghum syrup, but are there other reasons for growing a crop of sorghum?
I love rural life and modern homesteading, but there are days when the comfort of a city condo would be welcome indeed. And honestly? A relief.
Looking back the past three years and identifying what we have learned from our experiences.
A review of hammers of friend Jack Fulton.
Planting flowers and vegetables that are attractive to honeybees will help to bring these garden pollinators into your yard.
You don't have to be a homeowner to homestead. No matter where you live, you can start practicing the skills you need for a more self-reliant, sustainable life.
Young homesteader Robert Maxwell explores his discoveries as he moves toward self-sufficiency and homesteading.
Dealing with potties out in the country.
There are good sides and bad sides to every storey, this is no exception. No one said homesteading would be easy!
You can't just hit the ground running when you make the transistion from rat race to homestead. There are lots of lessons to be learned. What wisdom can you share with the homestead hopefuls?
We're getting very close now to our relocation to Texas. After years of planning and developing, it's time to go home to our sustainable lifestyle. We leave with some sadness but a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement for our new life.
Coffee bean chaff — the light, airy husks blown off the beans during roasting, can be used as chicken coop litter, mulch and compost. Chaff can usually be found for free at local roasteries.
While many of us are homesteaders, some of us have another special job that comes first: parenting. Here are some ways to get through Spring prep and Summer projects on your homestead by involving even your smallest children in daily chores and activities.
Did attending the Fair make you want to go out back and start building a chicken coop? If you've gotten far enough in your chicken-keeping research to look at specific breeds, look no further than the Mother Earth News Pickin' Chicken app.
Sometimes even HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm needs a reminder why she puts up with the goat feed, the chicken poop, the cat puke, and the never-ending mud. Here's a hint: It involves good food.
This is a short video that shows some of the major highlights on the homestead during the month of February.
Examining an community for your homestead.
Harvesting abundance in the early spring.
Taking care of compost is essential to healthy soil and good food.
Humanure management for maximum nutrient secuestration and minimum resource loss.
Homesteads are attempting to provide longer grazing times by dividing pasture into paddocks. The difficulty of getting water to each paddock can be solved by a windmill with underground pipes. No electric is needed--just wind!
These are the first steps we took to make the change from city living to off grid living. It describes the questions you should ask before you buy property and the research required to make sure you can do want you want with your property.
After the snow leaves to do list for us.
How potentially dangerous chemicals are tested and are they really that safe for humans or not.
History and those who may have crossed or used your homestead before you discovered it. Treasure is where you find it.
Part II of a tutorial on how to make cold-process soap. The directions are intended for the absolute beginner and use easy-to-locate materials.
A quality product made in the USA
How can someone who claims to be a 'modern homesteader' not have planted her garden by the end of June, you ask? Well, let me tell you...
Solar energy organization Show Me Solar comes highly recommended by renewable energy expert Dan Chiras for its 2010 list of workshops, webinars and other educational opportunities.
Conventional generators require gasoline or diesel fuel, which can be expensive -- especially during emergencies. Also, the emissions from gas-powered generators contribute to air pollution. Solar generators are a smart alternative to consider.
The solar-powered tractor was painted Terry’s favorite color—green—before the motor was strapped in. After the motor was installed a battery stand was welded over the top of the DC drive motor which is large enough to accommodate twelve 250-amp deep-cycle batteries. Once the performance controller was installed battery cables were run, linking the batteries together.
Tools and techniques for sustainable living.
The energy a PV system will produce during its lifetime far exceeds the amount of energy it takes to produce the PV system
Save thousands on a solar electric system by learning this simple secret.
Find out what types of federal tax incentives are available for homeowners who install renewable energy.
Check out RenewableEnergyWorld.com for background information and breaking news on renewable technologies.
Check out this green gingerbread house built by MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff: It includes cookie and candy versions of SIPs construction, a living roof, and a solar electric system.
LEDs are all around us. Here are some of the ways these great green lightbulbs are being used, and a little more information about how they work.
If you’re thinking about getting a solar electric system to help the environment and save money, think about efficiency first.
How are US college students helping to brighten the future of Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, without leaving campus?
It's how solar energy is more affordable than we may realize.
For many people, going green seems like a daunting task, but in reality, a few simple lifestyle changes is all you need.
The invention of clear window glass allowed the ancient Romans to trap solar energy to enhance their gardening techniques to grow vegetables out of season and exotic non-native plants in Rome. A thousand years later, empire builders in Europe rediscovered the trapping of solar heat with clear window glass so they as well could enjoy the foreign plants in their own back yard and grow native vegetables throughout the year.
Alternative energy has become a hot topic in recent years as we try and work towards more sustainable resources. Whether we'll get there or not remains to be seen.
To see how much solar heat could be trapped by glass, Horace de Saussure, in 1767 built a solar hot box that consisted of several glass sheets covering an insulated box. Solar heat accumulated in the solar hot box, reaching temperatures far above the boiling point of water
Utility companies and solar power companies are vying for customers' business. See how that affects you.
The word is that nitrogen trifluoride is more of a problem than previously thought, and it's used to manufacture all kinds of high-tech equipment, including thin-film solar panels.
Cam describes how our solar electric system has evolved over time.
Make your own rotisserie spit that is solar powered.
Michael Strizki proves that living off the grid doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.
An introduction to Richard Hilderbrand’s new blog discussing climate change, plus the first installment. Learn how Earth utilizes greenhouse gases to ensure stable temperatures, or thermal equilibrium, as well as how fluctuations in solar activity relate to changes in global temperatures.
Cleaning up an old water heater just requires two simple tools.
The Financial Times Climate Change Challenge winner is the Kyoto Box solar cooker, which uses no fuel other than the sun to cook food.
Cam has always enjoyed playing with water. Now he lets his solar-powered pump do some of the work!
Check out the PV Watts calculator and find out how much solar-electric power you can generate in your part of the world.
Solar protection window treatments that never go out of season.
Start cutting your electricity use today, and it will save you a bundle of cash on a renewable energy system when you're ready to buy one.
Sustainable Solar LLC has recently rolled out a line of Light-Weight, Portable, Noiseless Solar Generators providing a convenient power supply in remote or off-the-grid areas.
Lundberg Family Farms announces the opening of a new warehouse that is powered by 100% solar energy. Lundberg Family Farms produces wholesome, healthful rice products while protecting and improving the environment for future generations.
Learn how to evaluate your own home for solar potential with four easy steps!
Join the green collar economy by going through a green job training program. Learn the ins and outs of solar photovoltaics, wind power or biomass and save the planet while furthering your career.
If we want more electricity from renewable sources, we need to think about upgrades to our electric grid.
This one policy makes it much easier to pay for a solar or wind-electric system, but not every state offers it.
When you only drink one cup of coffee a day, the mug you use is pretty important.
This bathhouse from CU user "Solar Lady from Norwood" proudly uses the sun to power it through the day. Making good use of alternative energy, the bathhouse surrounded by lush grass looks like a great little escape. Adorned with a sign and additional artwork, this
Building homes using dangerous and impactful industrial chemicals--in the name of energy efficiency--is not sustainable or ecological, a green building veteran says. His Health-Based Building model is an important step forward for green design.
A stack of cast-iron pans and a chainsaw helmet sum up why these homesteaders do what they do.
As winter descends a three-season hoop house is weeded, compost spread, and a straw mulch applied. Next spring will be here soon.
This post is about winterizing a colony of bees naturaly, using ideas and tips that we at BeeLanding have learned from nature.
Read about methods to utilize animal- and human- power for trimming the lawn and keeping back weeds, all free of fossil fuels.
Housekeeping tips mined from the second issue of Mother Earth News--published in 1970--are surprisingly relevant today. Use these to make this task--which we all have to do sooner or later--more efficient and enjoyable.
Fall sheet mulching of perennial plantings assists in fertility and weed suppression.
Wood is our source of heat for the winter, as are sweaters and hats!
Bob-White Systems is bringing the cows back home by providing supplies, equipment and support for Micro Dairies, Home & Farmstead cheesemakers and small-scale producers of local and farm fresh dairy products.
This is the last of a series in home and energy options available to us. It is a short summary of all of the choices we have when designing a new home on or off grid that will benefit your energy use.
Therapeutic grade essential oils have a tonne of uses on the homestead - here's how we've used them effectively, and how they bring us peace of mind.
Using a hot summer day to grow the winter wood pile.
As a beginner homesteader, designer Larissa Reznek has learned some hard lessons fast. Here are the top three pieces of guidance she wishes she had before she started out.
Writer and Canadian farming enthusiast, Joseph Graham sent this review of the event that he and his wife hosted for Homesteading Education Month.
You have read every garden, homestead and back to the land book in your library system. Your dreams of coffee at sunrise set to the chatter of fowl made real. With hoe in hand and 914,760 square feet rolling out from your feet like a magic carpet; where do you start?
When HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania mama Michelle Wire discovered a hidden treasure on her property, she found a new appreciation for her home along with it.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares how she built a cheap greenhouse out of mostly scavenged materials - and how you can, too.
Keeping bees with neighbors in the city or the burbs.
It takes a village to build a backyard chicken coop.
How a hopelessly damaged apple tree has delivered lessons of hope since 2007.
Homemade laundry detergent to save money and the environment.
My vision of the Texas homestead, complete with family and doting grandchildren nearby took a hit this year when my daughter and husband split and my daughter moved to Austin. Could I reinvent the vision? Or would this issue derail our plans?
Look for local foods, such as fresh peaches, from your local farmers' market to make delightful summer desserts such as peaches and cream.
How living more sustainably can save you in an emergency.
Pack Rats, cute, tricky and destructive
Julie Lavigne relates her grandparent’s home in the city, a modern homestead for their time, and proves you can live a self-sufficient lifestyle in an urban setting.
We are collecting Wit and Wisdom From Our Elders: tips and stories of how people took care of their homesteads in the past. Share your stories!
Welcome to by blog “City to Country, One Step at a Time.” Here’s how I ended up as a modern homesteader on a little acreage in the Canadian West Coast bush.
Featherlite Trailers' official website recorded its one millionth visitor in October, according to data from Google Analytics. This is the first time the site has eclipsed the one-million-visitor mark in a calendar year.
Jenna Woginrich reflects on her journey from fresh out of college, city-dwelling designer to determined homesteader, and offers encouragement to those with similar dreams.
The how's and why's we homestead
Finding friends out in the country can be challenging.
Advice from a sustainable farming expert on how to get started with livestock on a small piece of land.
Susan Abernethy shares this story of helping her husband turn a longstanding tradition of family sorghum harvesting into a small business. Since their marriage in 2004, Susan has enjoyed unraveling the stories of her husband’s sorghum legacy and has inherited a powerful adoration for the hard work it takes to yield the sweet crop.
Robert Plamondon's Norton Press has reprinted three homesteading classics: Ten Acres Enough, We Wanted a Farm and Gold in the Grass.
Lyanda Haupt talks about the challenges and rewards of protecting her chickens and garden from local wildlife.
Sometimes you have your plans changed for you, so don't put off tomorrow what can be done today.
If you are growing vegetables, making a few homemade wares here and there ... you are practicing good, old-fashioned homesteading techniques.
What exactly is ‘modern homesteading"? There are as many definitions as there are people doing it. What does the term ‘modern homesteading’ mean to you?
When it's too hot outside, the work moves inside, and is still REALLY HOT.
Where is the strange and wonderful place this homesteader describes? And how do you get there?
Don't over-stay your welcome at the hive. Give your bees space.
The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.
That something is easy doesn't always mean it's simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.
Sometimes even — perhaps especially — those whose lives are full with experience, knowledge and good living can find that as their time begins to dwindle, there isn't quite enough. Not that that's anything other than as it should be.
From the outset, Earthineer was built to support and promote sustainability and homesteading as a lifestyle choice. Every feature we have planned has that goal in mind. What we have now is the foundation that we'll build off of.
International Homesteading Month is off to a running start! Here are two stories of events that are truly promoting education to foster more self-reliant communities.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce shares 5 things to consider before starting a farmstead—not the least of which being winter.
Deciding on urban beekeeping may just mean hosting a hive - some of the honey and none of the work!
Finding wild morel mushrooms growing in our urban backyard means plenty of marvelous meals.
I recently spent the weekend in Tennessee to attend the NSSPPA Conference and yearly meeting to meet other sorghum makers and learn more about the process. I came away with new techniques, different seed varieties and a feeling of camaraderie with the other producers.
Cam has a (temporary) job outside of the house and he has gained a new appreciation for being self-employed.
Growing and harvesting hazelnuts (filberts) in your garden.
Experiences getting started gardening in the 1970's and suggestions for beginning your own projects in 2012.
The importance of a good pickup truck for the modern homesteader.
Cam describes how the seasons progress through one messy task after another at Sunflower Farm.
We look for materials bargains while devising a way to pay for it all.
We finally build somthing!
Steve explains how our pursuit of environmental sustainability can also drive us crazy if it's not put in the correct philosophical context.
Livestock guardian dogs are renowned for their protective instincts. They have been bred for thousands of years to be aware, work independently and to protect their charges at all costs. But do they also break up fights between quarreling livestock?
Welcome back to "Unplugging to Reconnect." In this post, we continue to explore key financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle, all based on the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally executed in my family's ongoing transition. The specific focus of this entry is on the need for flexible income streams, particularly ones that offer money-saving benefits in addition to pay, while in between the old and new lifestyles.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and pregnant Pennsylvania mama Michelle (Congrats, Michelle!) shares her plans for planting a baby food garden, including her entire seed order.
Going from raw undeveloped land to a functional homestead is hard work, but it's rewarding.
Courses in solar energy taken through The Evergreen Institute now apply toward the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s site assessor certificates.
With new breakthroughs in solar electricity coming out every year, should you wait before investing in a solar electric system? Energy expert Dan Chiras discusses cost of PV modules in terms of cost per watt of installed capacity.
Collegiate teams showcase affordable, energy-efficient houses in global competition.
Chinese archaeologists have recently found the oldest solar device – a bronze concave mirror – capable of almost instantaneously making fire from sunlight.
Cam has had to learn lots of new skills living in his off-grid home!
More and more people are looking for jobs in the renewable energy field. If you're interested in this type of career, here's how you can get started.
SANYO North America Corporation (SANYO) announces the availability of its most advanced HIT Power® solar module, the HIT Power 220A, offering improved efficiency and energy output -- and designed to energize integrators and installers with more power per square foot than ever before.
Solar food drying is incredibly easy with a solar food dehydrator, which requires very little effort to make perfectly preserved produce.
MIT students have developed an outdoor rocking lounge chair that doubles as a solar charging station, recasting power generation as an integrated and distributed public activity.
In a move that could devastate Colorado's thriving solar industry, Xcel Energy slashes incentive program.
I have know Mark for years. Since I have known him (give or take a few years or so) Seiden asked me what were the best ways to go green and save energy at the same time. Then two years ago, we started with CFL bulbs. Now I'm trying to get him to go LED and get really green lighting in effect. In time. In time.
These seasoned off-the-grid veterans have found that hefty batteries make for a happy home.
Will a degree increase your employment prospects? Absolutely. Here are some programs to look into.
Deb and Tommy have spent just $7,500 to set up their off-the-grid homestead in Oklahoma's Kiamichi Mountains, which relies on one 80-watt solar panel for power. As they learn more, they will continue to build their systems.
Covering an area about the size of California with solar panels would provide enough power to handle the world's needs.
We’ve succeeded at drying herbs and greens in our SunWorks solar dehydrator, which promises to make future meals all the more flavorful and nutritious.
When you're looking for a job, there's just no substitute for getting out and meeting the professionals in the industry.
The Solar Foundation found a 13 percent increase in U.S. solar industry jobs in 2012, which is promising for the overall job market, and shows stability in the solar energy job market.
This is the hands on portion of how a solar power system operates.
Short description of our solar system and the everyday things we do to operate them.
Want to Save on Earth-Friendly Products? Check out Worm's Way's sale by clicking on the Earth Week banner at WormsWay.com and enjoy up to 20 percent off your purchases.
An introduction to Paula Baker-Laporte's future readers : about Paula, multiple chemical sensitivities, Building Biology and the role of green building in health.
Energy Star for Homes is a worthwhile green building certification with demonstrated market value.
Anecdotal evidence from coast to coast indicates that Americans have had enough of granite countertops and whirlpool tubs. They want smaller homes with green finishes instead.
This two-day, alternative building workshop featuring energy expert Dan Chiras will be held March 13-14, 2010 in St. Louis.
Recently, I had an epiphany in a building supply center. Even though I’ve been in the building trades for over 35 years and made countless trips to purchase building supplies, this trip was different.
Americans continue to believe that green homes make a difference--but they need to be more affordable.
As the economy improves, the trend toward smaller homes is reversing.
Frugality and lack of pretense or compromise are key ingredients in creating a wabi-sabi home.
The Lehigh Valley Green Builders is presenting its third annual Green Home and Building Expo.
Here's a chance to transform your home into the greenest one on the block and then pay it forward to your neighbors to help paint your whole town "green."
Guy and Kay Baker and their three sons spent five years building a small weekend cabin in Alabama from scraps and salvage. When the 1,100-square feet house was complete, they loved it so much they made it their permanent home.
This variation on the (endlessly adaptable) traditional Mongolian yurt design was inspired by the work of master yurt builder, educator, and homesteader Bill Coperthwaite (who was also a neighbor and friend of the Nearings). This low-cost yurt design combines basketry, wattle and daub, and basic lashing (similar to skin-on-frame boats). Not much more than a glorified tent, this DIY yurt made from sticks, string and mud makes a very comfortable, durable and beautiful tiny house, studio, or meditation space.
Our efforts to improve energy efficiency in the United States might be faltering.
Many people don’t know that most HVAC systems don’t produce more or less heating or cooling based on the room temperature – they simply blow air for longer.
This index links to some recent and popular posts related to green building, design, remodeling, and home improvement. The posts cover a broad range of topics, from green products to projects to practices, as well as sustainable communities.
Rewarding volunteer efforts involving German Shepherd Rescue.
Some large electronics can use as much energy as a light bulb while in "stanby" mode, meaning you should unplug them when you leave the house or know you won’t use them for awhile. Having a large electronic setup plugged into a power strip makes it much easier to completely power it down, especially if it has a lot of plugs like a home theater system or computer.
There are two situations which do not require you to be heating your home: when it is warm and when you are not at home. Since it is still a bit chilly outside, you may want to consider setting up a routine of turning down the set temperature on your thermostat when you head out in the morning and when you go to bed.
Replacing a task that uses electricity with one that does not is a no-brainer when trying to save on your energy bill — and air drying is one of the easiest ways to go.
New photos of Lloyd House's Leaf House
The Evergreen Institute lowers prices to encourage more participating in its January workshops in home energy efficiency, electricity and electrical wiring, and basic PVs: An Introduction to Solar Electricity.
Last October, President Obama filled us all with hope when he announced he would install solar panels on the White House by this spring. The panels haven't materialized, and the White House isn't talking. Call Obama and find out what's up.
The Obama Administration releases its plans for new renewable energy sources. Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, explains that the new solar energy zones span six states and keep both domestic energy and environmental preservation in mind. If completed, the power generated from these solar energy zones would provide electricity to roughly seven-million homes.
Andre Armantrout sent us this wonderful update from a Homesteading Education Month event featuring aquaculture at Snowy Pine Ridge, outside Spokane, Wash.
The bad news? Coal-fired power plants are our biggest source of industrial pollution. The good news? Solar grew by 67 percent last year, making it our fastest-growing energy sector.
Solar Energy International is offering a free online course as an introduction to renewable energy. You will not walk away an expert, but will have learned the basics of renewable energy and be able to decide which technologies are right for you.
Homegrown vegetables are a lesson for kids in where food comes from.
D Acres offers alternative economics. We are the 99&: join us.
Leaves are a valuable source of mulch and fertility within the permaculture garden.
The process of curing potatoes for winter storage.
Steve Judge of Bob-White Systems in Vermont offers his Micro Dairy expertise in this blog series on how to start and manage a Micro Dairy, from farm and barn planning to selecting dairy cows, goats and sheep to daily operations and being profitable.
Dan Chiras discusses the differences between power purchase agreements and lease programs, and the benefits of taking advantage of either.
Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.
Team Austria wins the Solar Decathlon 2013 for building the most energy-efficient, cost-effective and most attractive solar-powered house.
Watch this video to learn how to build tiny home for just $2,000.
1.3 billion people live without access to electricity. In the last five years, falling costs of solar technology have made solar economically viable without subsidies for off-grid communities. How can businesses keep up with this potential solar growth? Hint: it’s all about the customer.
But what happens if progress in poverty’s eradication far-outpaces green energy solutions? Two of the most important issues of our century — clean energy and poverty eradication - are potentially mutually exclusive, if development efforts do not factor in increased consumption that will occur.
Make your home more energy efficient with Indow Windows Shade Grade.
The embrace of environmentalism by professional sports provides us all with a new and large opportunity to educate people worldwide about the need to do something, however small it might seem, to protect our biosphere.
Looking for a better way to preserve all that garden produce without a hot kitchen canning project? A new solar food dryer promises to dry food fast and save energy and money using the sunshine in your back yard.
Cam is back riding his solar-powered electric bike and he loves it!
A. O. Smith Water Products Company, the leading manufacturer and marketer of residential and commercial water heaters, has donated a 120-gallon solar storage tank to the Hurston family of Cocoa Beach, Fla., project of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Hodgson Mill Inc., a leading national producer of All-Natural and Organic, Whole-Grain foods, has added two wind turbines to successfully complete the second phase of a significant new green initiative.
A solar-powered cooker made out of cardboard boxes, which aims to reduce carbon emissions, deforestation and the spread of water-borne diseases, took home the first prize at the Climate Change Challenge.
After spending several years drying food in an electric food dehydrator, I built a SunWorks solar food dehydrator to try and create truly sun-dried tomatoes.
A typical winter morning chore - cleaning off the solar panels.
There's lots of good information on renewable energy in this new NPR series on electricity in America.
Whether you're planning to install solar panels, or hoping to put up a backyard wind turbine some day, share your thoughts on the renewable energy projects that intrigue you most.
Having a “green home” means lots of different things. What does it mean to you?
Receives SRCC OG300 certification on 41 system configurations for residential solar water heating systems.
Cam is handling this heatwave much better thanks to his solar-powered air conditioner!
Use this parabolic mirror as a handy pocket-sized firestarter.
There are many ways farmers can benefit from renewable energy, including wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency and biofuels.
For the first time, investors put more money into alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power than fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Weekly user photo of a simple solar homestead. Don't forget to submit your photos to our CU photo-sharing website. Maybe one of your favorite moments will pop up on the homepage for all the world to see!
For the first time ever, alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power received more investment money than fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Are you looking for professional training as a solar installer or retailer? Check out this list of workshops available at the American Solar Energy Society's 2009 Conference.
Michael Morley will post regular updates about his progress building a unique green home with structural insulated panels (SIPs). Here, he discusses options for installing a colored concrete floor, and considering whether to install a solar hot water system.
User of our CU photo-sharing website submits photo documents the building process on their new biomass and solar dome home.
Don't forget to submit your photos to our CU photo-sharing website. Your favorite moments could become famous on our homepage!
An index of posts related to energy, power, and climate, with a strong focus on solutions.
With photovoltaic (PV) panel technology you can tap into the amazing world of free totally renewable energy from the sun. You generally cannot find a better more reliable source of power on the planet that solar. In our book you will find that a DIY on grid/off grid system is very affordable and a wise choice for almost everyone.
Solar energy is the ultimate source of all life, and there's lots of it.
A lot of people have been asking us what incentives are still in place for 2012. The answer: All of them. While there were a few changes in 2011, the majority of programs that will impact the average homeowner remain the same. Here is an overview...
On sunny days it delivers about a half a megawatt of electricity to the biodiesel plant, while providing strategic shade to plants below. Energy is produced above as farmers harvest below in a genuine double cropping scenario.
Learn about one couple's ongoing effort to reduce their carbon footprint.
We bring power from the array inside the building and put it to work.
Our power system begins to take shape.
A brief description of our experiences with solar tubes in our off grid home.
Smooth out the temperature range in your greenhouse by adopting one of these strategies for heating greenhouses.
Instead of learning new tricks, we devise new ways to do the same old tricks.
We finally see walls and a loft floor.
Nuclear Armageddon due to solar flares or EMP, avoidable for teh cost of a single Stealth bomber
We settle in for a long winter's work.
We heard from a variety of experts about the type and number of batteries to use in our DIY solar setup. Meanwhile, we checked in with the garden and bees.
Our humble abode begins to take shape.
Finally, we start to take shape.
A roof is a wonderful thing to have!
We now have something to walk on other than dirt!
At last, we construct the foundation.
The Solar Energy Tour is coming to communities all over the U.S. the first weekend of October — learn how to attend an event, or create one yourself.
What's it take to build your own SOLAR-POWERED Electric Car? How about starting small with some hardware store parts and an old child's ride-on toy? Read how a tinkerer Dad builds a Solar-Powered Power Wheels with just basic tools and skills.
Add an efficient solar cooker to your winter emergency kit for hot meals during power outages. Even when you could have power, it's fun to roast potatoes or bake dessert off-grid on sunny winter days.
These two structures for creating a sustainable homestead are not often associated, but with the right planning they can be integrated into a single multi-use structure that enhances both environments. A greenhouse/chicken coop becomes a year-round food-producing machine, giving you a bounty of fruits, vegetables and protein all in one.
Check out these high-quality workshops on solar electricity, home energy efficiency, and small wind energy systems. Geared to homeowners, aspiring professionals, students and teachers - anyone wishing to learn more about renewable energy systems
Once our bodies and our imaginations are engaged, the incremental change begins. Then it gets easier and easier to envision humanity occupying this planet–this beautiful, abundant planet–far into the future.
Conergy Projects Group has broken ground on a 725 kw photovoltaic system for T&P Farms out of Arbuckle, Calif.
Katie and Martin Clemons are resetting their priorities as they settle happily into a 480-square-foot apartment in Berlin. “Living smaller has taught us to live more simply,” Katie says. They bike more, shower less and enjoy their good life.
Apartment Therapy's annual Small Cool contest, featuring homes of less than 1,000 square feet, is a gold mine for smart ideas that make tiny spaces elegant, graceful and liveable.
This tiny kit home--less than 90 square feet--is energy-independent and so well-designed that you'd never miss the space.
While many indications point to house size shrinking in America, National Public Radio reports that the McMansion is far from dead.
Find out which states and countries have the greatest number of LEED Platinum certified projects, and where the Platinum projects are located. Plus, a list of some LEED Platinum rated homes and residential buildings, with links to case studies.
Here is yet another possible building project presented to you which requires no formal training, very little money, and techniques/methods that anyone can use. This blog intends to inspire you to take on a natural building project like this one. Don´t have fear if this is your first time working with these techniques and materials — it often for us also! Swattlesfield Campground is frequented by many kinds of people for various reasons. The owner, Jonathan, wanted to introduce some activity which would draw people together. We had the perfect idea: pizza! Food, especially food that requires waiting, has a tendency to attract people. And once humans have a good reason to be in the same place, the rest (socialization) has a tendency to just work.
Heating water is the highest drain that laundry machines and dishwashers have on your bill. Onaverage, water heating accounts for 18 percent of your energy bill.
The journey to a self-sufficient life is a bumpy ride. Having a backup plan — or two — can make all the difference in your progress.
Rabbits are an ideal source of high quality meat for urban homesteaders.
Green building guru Lloyd Kahn recounts his favorite new discoveries from the Puyallup, Wash., MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.
On-going series on my family's efforts to raise urban chickens in our Minneapolis backyard.
Tips to help you get started planning your very own homestead. With proper planning you don't have to be experienced to do it right.
Ziggy Liloia examines two poignant books, Paradise Lot and Gaia’s Garden that turn the idea of needing lots of space to grow ample food on its head.
It’s an innovative new product that provides homeowners with an aesthetic and permanent solution to the problem of unsightly above-ground propane tanks.
Jenna Woginrich discusses the more difficult aspects of homesteading, and why it's worth it anyway.
There is a coming resurgence of the appreciation of the hearty homespun sorghum syrup. Something is special about being part of making this “home-made” sugar that speaks to the self-reliant nature inside all of us. You can be part of the Sorghum Revival!
For many homesteaders, taking a job during the winter months to earn extra income is an appealing option. Here are some options to consider if you're looking for off-farm income.
Built tough for storm cleanup, tree felling, and firewood cutting, the MS 271 STIHL WOOD BOSS chain saw is designed with improved ergonomics and equipped with a low-emission, fuel-efficient engine.
Read dozens of reports of reader's homesteading adventures.
How do you find the best chicken coop design for your new flock? We'll help you walk through the evaluation process AND get a free analysis spreadsheet to help you decide.
This rustic, resourcefully sustainable dog fence fits right into the landscape. Before you install a fence, look around your place first to see what's already available.
Anna remembers her grandmother's tasty buttermilk biscuits with fig preserves and her mother's stories of growing up on a small, in-town homestead in the 60s.
A key choice was what type of house to build. We aren't in Texas more than a few weeks a year until we make our final move back. We wanted a structure we could enclose to protect the interior from the elements and yet build in stages as time and money allow.
If you’re the first of your friends to move to the country, get some chickens and plant an organic garden there will be some inevitable social fallout.
If you have a constant, overwhelming urge of wanting to be outside breathing in the fresh air and partaking in various farming activities, you may be suffering from barnheart.
It wasn't many months ago the seed catalog for this year showed up, but at that point I had just, just, managed to finish off the garden season, slightly traumatized from all the work. To receive a catalog then seemed mostly like an ill-conceived joke, a way to rub it in; don't think you can relax too much.
Raising and growing your own is more than a lifestyle — it is life.
When we're trying to achieve our dreams, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by all