solar thermal Cam Mather
Cam has had to learn lots of new skills living in his off-grid home!
An introduction to Cam Mather's off-grid home and lifestyle.
TERA-Light is a perpetually renewable fire starter that requires no batteries, no chemicals — only air and organic plant material!
Cam has always enjoyed playing with water. Now he lets his solar-powered pump do some of the work!
Cam describes how our solar electric system has evolved over time.
When you only drink one cup of coffee a day, the mug you use is pretty important.
A typical winter morning chore - cleaning off the solar panels.
Cam is back riding his solar-powered electric bike and he loves it!
Cam is handling this heatwave much better thanks to his solar-powered air conditioner!
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!
Cam loves his four-wheel drive truck ... despite being an environmentalist!
At this time of year, Cam feels a little overwhelmed by the gardening chores ahead of him.
Cam has an exciting evening when his neighbor drops off another expectant cow.
Michelle discovers a new threat to her basil plants!
After 35 years together, Cam can still make Michelle laugh. He just has to try a little harder...
Our 4 eggs a day suddenly became just one egg a day and so we had a mystery to solve!
We've added a rooster to our small flock and he's fitting in just fine!
Cam has found a new use for old rice bags - turn them into man purses!
A chicken describes a typical day of treats at Sunflower Farm.
It seems only common sense that you don’t depend on a single source alone for life-giving home heat in the winter.
Cam shares his love affair with garlic and explains the work involved with growing and processing organically-grown garlic.
Cam grows a patch of wheat to see how much work is involved. He will never take a loaf of bread for granted again!
Cam considers the effect of Peak Oil on our wandering ways....
Cam considers how peak oil will impact our love of travel.
It's been quite a fall for mushrooms around here...
Cam learns to appreciate country music.
Cam considers the care and upkeep of an outdoor skating rink as an art form.
Sometimes the wildlife can get kind of wild around here....
Cam appreciates his local volunteer fire department.
Cam describes how an act of kindness many years ago has inspired him to help others.
Cam has a feeling that this concept of "cloud computing" is all going to end in tears....
Cam welcomed a group of high school students to his home/office recently.
Cam enjoys a sense of accomplishment many times a day as he uses his sidewalk!
Cam promotes the return to our independent roots.
Cam describes a mosquito infestation INSIDE his house.
Cam gives an update on his new chickens!
Cam and Michelle enjoy having their first "HelpX" volunteers to help out in the gardens!
Cam babysits a baby goat for the weekend.
Cam thinks his chickens resemble Captain Jack Sparrow. Has he been spending too much time in the sun?
Cam describes his weight loss program which involves lots and lots of gardening....
Michelle knows how much work it is to grow strawberries.... and she's happy to be able to buy them at any price!
Cam enjoyed another week with some volunteer helpers!
Cam is getting worn out trying to keep up with watering during a drought.
Cam has a great deal of respect for farmers.
Cam shares six important lessons that he has learned from his chickens.
Cam is appalled by how much stuff he has accumulated and how much stuff other people have too.
Every fall Cam is tired of gardening and vows to make his vegetable garden smaller. Every spring he is excited about getting back in the garden and ends up making it bigger!
Cam describes the zen-like state he achieves while splitting firewood.
Cam ponders the wisdom of starting a CSA at the ripe old age of 52.
Cam describes a recent encounter with some aggressive dogs.
Cam is mourning the loss of his beloved dog Morgan.
Cam found a way to expand his chicken coop without spending a lot!
Cam is exhausted but exhilarated by the early success of his CSA.
Cam is enjoying a bumper crop of onions this year!
It's Week #11 of our CSA and we can't find boxes big enough to fit all of the great produce!!
Cam discovers he isn't as young as he once was while enjoying a sense of community at the local arena.
Forty years ago a trombe wall worked to store and release heat in a passive solar house. Is it obsolete in the 21st century?
The Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, proposed on June 2, 2014, by the Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan not only limits our carbon pollution but also injects life back into our domestic workforce.
Garlic is a very labour-intensive crop to grow but the rewards are worth it!
Cam shares what he has learned about corn smut in his organic garden.
The second post (of three) describing an organic gardener's attempt to grow his own wheat.
The right dog can be a very useful member of the family when you are growing corn!
Cam shares the results of his experiment growing wheat in his vegetable garden.
Cam compares the population density of his home to some of the most densely populated countries in the world....
What's the most efficient way to boil water?
It's always wonderful to meet someone who is passionate about what they do!
Cam shares some of the things he is grateful for....
Cam describes some family heirlooms - especially his favorite one - a shovel!
Technology allows us to live where we live, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with!
Being in control of your own home heating.
Providing the firewood to heat his home has become a pleasurable hobby for Cam Mather.
Cam hates shopping but occasionally he is forced to venture out....
Cam has been playing with and skating on thick ice lately.
Cam blames horror movies for his overactive imagination.
Cam is glad to find out that he has been successful at encouraging people to embrace renewable energy.
Cam finds getting around in the country, especially in the winter, so much easier with his 4X4 truck.
Cam considers the environmental implications of using paper diapers vs. cloth diapers.
Cam can't help but get involved and speak up when he disagrees with things. Sometimes it works!
Cam speaks to a group of university students about "sustainable" development...
Cam learns a lot by spending time with people who "get it."
Just so you don't think it's all fun and games living out here in the country....
Cam appreciates all four of our seasons!
Cam and Michelle enjoy a visit to their neighbour's "sugar shack" during maple syrup season!
Cam is hoping that the Queen attends his gardening workshop this weekend at the Royal Botanical Gardens....
Cam describes the challenges of winter driving and cutting down trees.
Cam makes himself laugh sometimes....
Cam describes a natural disaster on a small scale near his home.
Cam is getting burned out on technology and considers growing food to earn a living.
Cam considers the environmental implications of different forms of transportation and urges people to stop flying!
Cam loves growing his own heat!
In our ever-growing quest to produce our own food we've acquired two egg-laying chickens!
Cam describes the building of his chicken coop.
Cam considers one of the causes of high gas prices....
Cam describes "double digging" as a way of creating a new garden without losing precious topsoil.
Cam has a "reality check" moment and realizes how lucky he is!
Our HelpXers Mike and Melissa share their experiences as volunteers here at Sunflower Farm.
A cow is born at Sunflower Farm!
Cam has found another way to save money - his wife cuts his hair now! He also describes how even though he isn't artistic he creates and enjoys the masterpieces from his garden.
Cam enjoys a visit with Ken & Madeline who farmed this property many years ago and Cam realizes how hard farming was back then....
Cam battles with scarabs in his raspberry patch.
Cam discovers that his chickens have unique personalities....
Cam has been doing some radio and podcast interviews lately with some interesting hosts.
Cam loves growing and selling food!
Cam describes a recent adventure involving round bales, train tracks and a stressful drive home.
Cam considers how Peak Oil will affect our lives....
Cam celebrates his daughter's engagement but considers the impact of flying across the world for the wedding.
Cam has been busy harvesting and sorting potatoes.
Cam appreciates the simple things like rotten hay and beautiful vegetables from his garden.
As we approach the celebration of Thanksgiving here in Canada, Cam reflects on what he is thankful for.
Cam has been an Apple Mac fan since the beginning.
This summer Cam became a market gardener and actually got paid for something he loves to do - grow vegetables!
Cam was generously offered the loan of a small backhoe and had a whale of a time getting jobs done!
One of the realities of country life is having to get your septic tank pumped every few years.
Cam notices how many chicken-related expressions we use in our every day language!
Cam enjoyed a recent workshop he held at Sunflower Farm, and the participants seemed to enjoy it too!
Cam hates to see good scrap wood go to waste and so he cuts it into kindling and has even started selling it!
Cam discusses the decision to go off-grid or on-grid and shares his experience with batteries and the dangers of high winds to solar panels.
Cam loves living in a place where he can enjoy the night skies.... even if he doesn't completely understand what he's looking at some of the time!
Cam dressed up as a bunch of blueberries for our local parade, and spoke to a group of university students about peak oil. Never a dull moment....
Cam describes how the seasons progress through one messy task after another at Sunflower Farm.
Cam battles with the flying squirrels who want to inhabit his guesthouse using some unique weapons.
Cam rationalizes his hoarding behaviour....
Michelle and Cam continue to debate whether a real tree or a fake tree is the better choice from an environmental perspective.....
You might be surprised to read Cam extolling the virtues of television!
Cam enjoys a magical walk through a winter wonderland while cutting and hauling firewood.
Cam sees the bright side of having to deal with a flat tire.
Cam shares his enthusiasm for the sun and the wind at his off-grid home.
Cam believes in the Boy Scout's "Be Prepared" motto when it comes to all aspects of his life....
Cam shares the "joys" of a living in a house with a metal roof.
Cam thinks people worry about the small things (bugs), when they should be more concerned about the big things (climate change).
Cam has a (temporary) job outside of the house and he has gained a new appreciation for being self-employed.
Cam loves sharing his homesteading skills in Hands-On Workshops at his off-grid home.
Looking after your chickens in the winter and cutting with a solar-powered electric chainsaw.
Cam is reminded to be grateful for what he has.
Cam & Michelle recently enjoyed a visit from an ethnographer who is studying off-gridders.
Sometimes being off grid doesn't necessarily mean that you're green.
Cam often finds himself relating to song lyrics.
The second of the 3Rs is re use. Cam has been a re-user for a long time!
We call our homestead Sunflower Farm and now we have the sign to show for it!
Cam always wanted to be the kind of guy who could swap out a motor and now he is!
Cam is frustrated by new technology that just doesn't work - and prefers old-fashioned DVDs to watching movies online.
Cam finds an new old-fashioned way to keep the wildlife out of his garden.
Cam has a recurring nightmare in which the land across the road is being developed and his peace and quiet and isolation is threatened.
The drought conditions at Sunflower Farm are making Cam rather cranky.
Ranting about the drought worked! We got rain here at Sunflower Farm!
Cam contemplates the meaning of life while picking strawberries.
It's an aromatic time of year at Sunflower Farm - time to clean the garlic!
Cam undertakes an experiment to see how much food he can produce on his one acre of garden space.
Wind turbines kills birds, but not as many as are killed by tall buildings and other hazards.
There's more reason than ever to be prepared for natural disasters, no matter where you live!
The challenges of dropping out - going off the grid - and living your authentic life.
Cam can't think of anywhere he'd rather be than on his own private skating rink.
Cam is not a big fan of "ebooks."
Cam's wife Michelle considers the economics of keeping egg laying chickens.
Cam responds to a negative comment about a previous blog.
Cam learns the hard way why it's never a good idea to procrastinate about important jobs!
The weather is heating up, the sun is shining and backyards are ripe for grass-stained jeans and fingernails coated in dirt, yet children today are spending more time than ever inside. The National Wildlife Federation has found a cure for the computer zombies summer vacation creates: the sixth annual Great American Backyard Campout fundraiser.
Ditch the cheap tent and go "glamping" in a luxurious yurt from Pacific Yurts.
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.
Sign up for classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School and relive your childhood-camp experiences.
How to avoid food poisoning from poultry, which is widely contaminated with Campylobacter.
How our friend John Dougherty took a normal covered utility trailer and converted it into a camping unit.
Handy Camel multi-purpose bag clip earns several awards during release year.
Mother Nature has a way of filling in the blank spots....
Quirky behaviors involving shaving, moisturizing, socks and water conservation!
The difference between power and energy and how it relates to toast!
When it's -30 degrees outside you can make your own snow!
Cam shares his experiences getting lost in the woods.
Cam describes why his method of harvesting firewood from his woodlot is the most sustainable way.
When you live in an off-grid house in the country, it's important to be handy!
Cam leaves his lights on during Earth Hour since he generates his own electricity with solar and wind!
Some of Cam's best inspirations come to him in his sleep!
Cam describes some recent speaking engagements including the thrill of being "piped in."
Cam talks about getting mistaken for a garden centre employee and also the time that his house appeared to get sold out from under him!
Cam admits to admiring Oprah and watching her show from time to time.
Cam describes the benefits of writing this blog and his recent book.
Cam describes why he was anxious to leave the city for a life in the country.
Cam prefers the view from his office in his country home.
Cam wonders why more people don't prepare for blackouts.
Cam is getting burned out on technology and seeks solace in his "low tech" garden.
Cam describes his ongoing inner dialogue concerning his carbon footprint.
Cam thinks its important that we all have a Plan B, no matter where we live.
Cam recently spoke to a Transition group about the challenges ahead and how to prepare for them.
Cam has been collecting old windows for years and has finally put them together to make a greenhouse!
Cam is trying to extend his growing season with DIY greenhouse structures.
Four new hens joined the flock at Sunflower Farm and it has taken some time to re-establish the pecking order.
Cam describes the method he used when planting his sweet potatoes this year with hopes that he'll end up with a prettier finished product!
Cam contemplates his place in the universe while weeding his corn patch....
Cam describes a typical summer day at Sunflower Farm using tweets.
Even after 15 years, Cam still loves heating his home with wood that he cuts himself.
Cam enjoyed a very successful sweet potato harvest!
Cam readily admits to being obsessed about his use of energy.
Canadian homesteader Cam Mather sinks into the village life and discovers the joys of small-town living.
The basics of using a woodstove to heat your home.
Cam looks back at the challenges of moving to his off-grid home.
The best way to start a fire in your woodstove.
Solar industry analysts and executives say PV installations will surge in the next two years as prices continue to drop.
Open to the public, the Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout is ideal for those interested in sharing seed-saving and gardening experience or learning from the more seasoned and those involved in current plant breeding and propagating research.
Promote AIDS awareness, not just on World AIDS Day, but every day!
Former Boulder, Colorado, mayor Shaun McGrath, the new head of the American Solar Energy Society, has his work cut out for him.
Clearing overgrown land can be a daunting task. Choose the right tool for the job and it can be a breeze! Here are 5 of my favorites that make clearing overgrown land satisfying and fun!
Cam is amazed at the level of awareness concerning Peak Oil amongst today's youth.
Cam contemplates the amount of energy that goes into our food production and shows how he prepared corn for freezing the zero carbon way!
We are currently facing a job crisis. Most jobs available today require specific skills and not college diplomas. Congress recently passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which should help train workers but fails to take note of the booming green job market.
You can make a simple bench for the garden or patio by recycling an old headboard.
Your soil can be your best friend or your worst enemy as you prep your garden. Find out what you're up against with one of these three easy methods!
Heat Holder thermal socks are the perfect gift for dads on the go.
Heat Holders keep in the heat in your feet.
In my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, kids are leaving town and dumping a lot of really good, useable stuff. If you have a college in your town, it's a great weekend to go Dumpster diving near campus.
Karen and Tony Tipsword's rehabbed 720-square-foot cabin allows them the freedom and independence to live their dream of running a campground. "Being happy does not mean a large home filled with things," Karen says.
According to FDA data, the quantity of antibiotics sold for livestock use in this country continues to rise, topping 29 million pounds in 2011. This has a direct effect on the efficacy these same drugs will have on us. Sam Spitz has personal experience with a resistant illness and FamilyFarmed.org asked him to tell his story. It’s a cautionary tale that should have us all making better food choices. Read how we can all influence the campaign to end the misuse of antibiotics in livestock and keep antibiotics working for us when we need them!
At a time when greenhouse gas emissions from cars and electricity generation around the world are at an all-time high, Heifer International in Cameroon is leading initiatives and programming to help reduce such emissions from livestock production there.
Congress passed a piece of legislation which could have a serious impact on the nation's job crisis. This post explains the act, analyzes its impact, and notes that the whole renewable job sector has been pretty much ignored.
Electronic waste, aka e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream of our time. E-waste is considered hazardous waste and more often than not, is recycled improperly. But there are ways to avoid contributing to the growth of this toxic waste.
Kitchen Gardeners International's 20ate campaign urges Americans to say no to junk food.
The urge to eliminate clutter and create space for ourselves is a healthy sign of self-respect. Why, then, is it so darn hard?
The Camping Accessory People expand their already extensive product line.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about growing up on the frontier for both her and her husband. Her book about Almanzo's childhood recalls some of his favorite foods, including "fried apples 'n' onions".
Robert Maxwell discusses the benefits of a rural lifestyle.
As everyone gathers around this campfire this fall, unite this variety of flavors into one savory skillet that will be enjoyed by all.
While the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Mountain Resort may have been John D. Ivanko's family’s primary destination (as speakers about renewable energy, sustainable living and farmstead cooking), it definitely wasn’t their only reason for eco-touring the region known as the Laurel Highlands.
If you’re considering buying a new log splitter, you may have begun to debate whether you want an electric log splitter or a gas-powered model. What’s the difference? DR Power Equipment has some useful insight for you.
Washboard road is often considered a fact of country life. It's uncomfortable, wreaks havoc with your vehicle, and can cause expensive damage. Here's the one simple trick to preventing it almost completely!
The tale of Carlotta's last day. A trip to the processor. Real happenings on a goat farm, it's not always lollipops and rainbows.
Blogger Crystal Stevens discusses her time working at a nature-based summer camp for kids.
A story of one of our camping trips to Torreya State Park, Florida.
We discuss the role of ocean currents in preventing a runaway thermal imbalance on our planet. We also discuss the impact on the climate when the ocean currents are shut down or reverse course.
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.
Nokero International has been awarded the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s ‘Patents for Humanity’ award.
Admirals Alternatives make it easier to obtain renewable energy systems for your home.
Passive Houses use only 5 percent of heating energy compared to traditional houses.
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.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a way to double electricity from solar cells by using dyed glass.
Admirals Bank opens Renewable Energy Lending Business Development Center in San Francisco.
The GateMate, by Cartell, has the lowest current draw in standby than any other free exit system on the market.
A new company has redesigned the typical shape of solar panels to be more three-dimensional.
Here are the pros and cons of using south facing windows for home heating, rather than solar collectors.
Lemony sorrel is the base for a classic Eastern European soup that's equally good served hot or cold. It's fast, easy and tastes of spring and early summer.
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.
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
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.
After a five month struggle, the San Francisco board of supervisors approved a program called GoSolarSF, making solar installations more affordable for its citizens.
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.
Here’s how to find good background information on residential solar energy systems, including locating solar installers and finding advice on particular products.
QSolar Limited today announced that it has introduced its' new Kristal and Kristal Rainbow range of semi-transparent and colour semi-transparent solar panels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are three of the season’s brightest and cleanest gifts for a greener holiday celebration.
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.
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.
Find the right type of insulation for a Solar Heat Grabber from MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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 handy online tool helps calculate your solar energy potential based on your location.
This simple, low-tech method of disinfecting water with solar energy can be a lifesaver when safe drinking water isn't available.
Check out this dramatic short movie.
New York makes a plan to increase solar power as part of an aggressive energy policy.
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.
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.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could produce all the energy we needed from local, renewable resources, such as solar and wind power?
Try these DIY methods to help warm up a cold basement.
Dan Chiras and other energy experts envision a future powered by a combination of renewable energy resources, including wind and solar.
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.
Watermelon rind is this frugal pie's summery secret ingredient. Think of it as summer mincemeat.
Readers responded eagerly to our call for recipes to use up green tomatoes. An Ohio woman wowed the judges with her entry.
With its recent FDA approval, the first LiLi pasteurizer was purchased for use at a New York micro dairy.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
A simple explanation of our solar power generating system and cost.
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.
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.
One of the nation's largest home developers announces it will offer solar arrays as standard features on new homes in California.
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!
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.
Despite utility opposition, key policy drives rapid expansion of rooftop solar.
One of the easiest ways to bask and rejoice in the gifts of nature is to make and use a solar wall heater.
Students from the University of Kansas spent spring break installing solar panels in a low-income neighborhood in Oakland, California.
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.
National Solar Tour couldn't have more perfect timing.
Share your opinion: Are you contemplating installing a solar-electric panel for your home?
Dan Chiras talks about the benefits of passive solar design.
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.
Here’s advice from a renewable energy expert about what you can expect to pay for a solar-electric system to power your home.
Yes, you can make your own solar panels, but it won’t necessarily save you much money compared with buying commercial solar panels.
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.
The Solar Impulse has made history as the first solar-powered airplane to fly across the North American continent.
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.
When you're ready to price or purchase a new solar system, findsolar.com has everything you need.
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.
Colorado's once-thriving solar industry has ground to a halt following Xcel Energy's move to slash incentive rebates for homeowners.
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.
A new technology developed at MIT, solar concentrators, could dramatically reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) power.
Toyota installs a large solar panel system on a California facility, proving its green thumb extends farther than the road.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Brief description of our journey back onto the National Mall, our Flex Space design, and our Solar Thermal Skylight.
Adding solar panels can increase a home's resale value by as much as $17,000, a new Lawrence Berkeley Lab report finds.
Enacting a law requiring builders to orient new homes toward the sun would drastically reduce home energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
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.
Use care when cooking red kidney beans in the crockpot. The beans contain a toxin that can be activated if the beans are raw or undercooked.
Easy-sew step-by-step instructions (with photos) to repurpose feed bags into handy totes.
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.
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.
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.
Solar protection window treatments that never go out of season.
Make your own rotisserie spit that is solar powered.
Michael Strizki proves that living off the grid doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.
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.
Getting solar panels in Seattle is becoming more affordable with state incentives and net metering but still doesn't quite compare to other states.
The Financial Times Climate Change Challenge winner is the Kyoto Box solar cooker, which uses no fuel other than the sun to cook food.
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.
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.
Check out the PV Watts calculator and find out how much solar-electric power you can generate in your part of the world.
This bathhouse from CU user SolarLadyfromNorwood 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
Tools and techniques for sustainable living.
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.
Cleaning up an old water heater just requires two simple tools.
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.
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.
If we want more electricity from renewable sources, we need to think about upgrades to our electric grid.
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.
This one policy makes it much easier to pay for a solar or wind-electric system, but not every state offers it.
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?
Learn how to evaluate your own home for solar potential with four easy steps!
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.
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.
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.
In this blog we talk about our three differnet types of solar technology that we have on the Homestead.
In a move that could devastate Colorado's thriving solar industry, Xcel Energy slashes incentive program.
These seasoned off-the-grid veterans have found that hefty batteries make for a happy home.
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.
Solar food drying is incredibly easy with a solar food dehydrator, which requires very little effort to make perfectly preserved produce.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center in Taylor, Arizona celebrates national homesteading month with a display of solar ingenuity.
Short description of our solar system and the everyday things we do to operate them.
This is the hands on portion of how a solar power system operates.
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.
Will a degree increase your employment prospects? Absolutely. Here are some programs to look into.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michigan invasive species order takes aim at heritage and Old World hogs.
During World War I, the federal government ordered people to keep a backyard flock of chickens. What happened? Why is it so hard today?
Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds and the toxic herbicides used to drench them, is calling itself a supporter of sustainability. You’re kidding, right?
MOTHER EARTH NEWS is proud to announce the release of the How to Can app, a free app to help you safely put up summer's bounty in a jar.
If you've been considering an electric pressure cooker, consider the Instant Pot. It’s well-made, durable and has many functions.
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.
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.
Solar energy is the ultimate source of all life, and there's lots of 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.
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.
Receives SRCC OG300 certification on 41 system configurations for residential solar water heating systems.
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!
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.
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.
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.
We now have something to walk on other than dirt!
Has the "magic" energy solution been discovered?
We finally see walls and a loft floor.
We settle in for a long winter's work.
Nuclear Armageddon due to solar flares or EMP, avoidable for teh cost of a single Stealth bomber
Instead of learning new tricks, we devise new ways to do the same old tricks.
Finally, we start to take shape.
A roof is a wonderful thing to have!
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.
Our power system begins to take shape.
We bring power from the array inside the building and put it to work.
A brief description of our experiences with solar tubes in our off grid home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many ways farmers can benefit from renewable energy, including wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency and biofuels.
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.
There's lots of good information on renewable energy in this new NPR series on electricity in America.
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...
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!
Use this parabolic mirror as a handy pocket-sized firestarter.
At last, we construct the foundation.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Keep your greenhouse above freezing during short cold periods without paying for a heater.
Make your home more energy efficient with Indow Windows Shade Grade.
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!
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.
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
Conergy Projects Group has broken ground on a 725 kw photovoltaic system for T&P Farms out of Arbuckle, Calif.
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.
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.
Describing how we are trying to provide a low budget solar panel back up system for under 1000 dollars that will run our laptops and router along with a few other things if the local power grid has any issues.
Michael Funk's 6,000-square-foot off-the-grid home and retreat center on 1,200 acres in the Sierra Nevadas is an heirloom, handbuilt with reverence for the spectacle that surrounds it. He hopes it will inspire every visitor to preserve the paradise.
The nation's largest community-owned solar array in Rifle, Colorado, will provide clean energy for up to 350 residents, who don't even need a roof to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy.
Sun-Lite HP for greenhouse glazing provides excellent diffused light.
As spring approaches the lawn surrounding your home will certainly begin to grow. With the New Lithium Powered Cordless Recharge Mower ULTRALITE, from Driven By Solar Inc., achieve beautiful manicured results without nasty fumes.
Engineer Venkappa Gani leads by example when it comes to sustainable living. His entire backyard is an organic garden, an edible landscape that borders his rainwater harvesting tank collectors overlooked by solar panels that power his home (and more!). Gani is dedicated to sustainability, a word he lives by everyday at his suburban home in Austin, Texas.
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.
Is the electric car all it's cracked up to be? Let's find out!
Solar drying experiences in 2012, including tomato varieties Principe Borghese and Long Tom.
Grow calcium in your garden with collards, kale, and parsley. Suggestions are given for including these crops in your meals. Learn about companions to plant among your collards and kale to deter harmful insects.
A few thoughts on why so many people are hesitant to make the transition to produce their own power.
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.
Dan and Karen Cripes made a few big upfront investments--including solar panels and a geothermal system--when they built their home in Round Rock, Texas. Now they're reaping the rewards with nearly nonexistent utility bills and a home they love.
Willis Tower in Chicago, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, gets new windows that could generate up to 2 megawatts of solar power.
Liza Fleischer was a suburbanite through and through when she met her husband, Ted, who she says was "born 100 years too late." Now they live in a solar- and hydro-powered hand-built home on 160 acres in Vermont--and she loves it.
Although winter is setting in, that doesn't mean an end to the garden season in desert climates! Get inspired by this beautiful rainwater-harvesting, food-producing desert landscape!
Solar Energy International (SEI), the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service all offer events to educate participants in varying pursuits. This blog provides links to activity calendars and workshop schedules.
So far this year extreme weather events has cost the US over 35 billion dollars. This posting discusses the potential for non-carbon-based renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.
ASES released a report that says 37 million green jobs are possible by 2030. Check out the study here!
Hold onto your hats, Congress is debating climate change. Right now the U.S. House is considering the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Here's where you can find more information about what is, and isn't, in the bill.
Get a glimpse of some of the unique exhibitors at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.
A homemade solar food dryer allows you to dry tomatoes and apples for delicious and nutritious winter snacks and addition to your meals.
If you begin tomorrow, you can be soaking in fresh, 103-degree water by the evening.
Architect Debra Rucker Coleman shares tips for converting your home to passive solar energy.
Tell us what you think. If you installed a wind turbine or solar-electric panels, would you want to be tied to the electric grid, or would you rather have a grid-independent system?
Solar lights replacing kerosene lamps in developing countries do more than solve energy poverty, they are also helping curb climate change by reducing black carbon emissions.
Going solar at home will save you both money and energy. See why it's the future for renewable energy in residential areas.
Some examples of passive solar design applied to homes in the southeast, where cooling, as well as heating, is a concern.
Wind power grew by 30 percent and solar power grew by 40 percent in 2010, according to a new report.
Cyndee and Tony love being in control of their own power and never having to worry about rate increases and outages in south-central Colorado. Solar panels, a wind turbine and a wood-fired boiler keep them plenty warm and happy.
Describes two effective alternatives to composting. Many factors can limit the ability to produce compost. These two products offer different but practical ways to organically recycle food scraps.
A BIG issue in everyone’s lives today is increasing fuel costs. The seriousness and scope of our energy problems calls for an all-out effort for sustainable solutions, starting as soon as possible.
Western civilization is totally dependent upon cheap and abundant energy. Three quarters of the petroleum we burn in our engines is imported. Could it be cut off suddenly? Without cheap and abundant energy, our way of life would collapse. If we value our freedom and independence, we should not be relying on foreign petroleum. We should be making our own energy.
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.
We will discuss how the Earth overcomes the increasing solar radiation from the Sun to maintain a stable temperature for life (Gaia Hypothesis). The role anthropogenic forces will also be discussed.
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.
New investment in clean energy reached $243 billion last year, driven by soaring activity in China, offshore wind and European rooftop photovoltaics
When a fire destroyed their home and office near San Luis Obispo, Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper seized the opportunity to build the off-the-grid straw bale home of their dreams. Their comfortable compound now houses two other families as well.
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.
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.
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, 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.