Use solar panel buying guides to ensure that you're getting the best offer and value for your solar power system.
When we arrived on our off-grid property, one of our first plans of action was to build our own cedar wood-fired hot tub. Here's how we did it.
Installing solar panels for your home is becoming more and more affordable. In addition to the generous federal investment tax credit of 30%, there are over 900 financial and regulatory incentive programs across the United States. Combined with falling solar costs and rising electricity prices, these programs are helping to make solar panels an investment that can save you money in the long run.
When homeowners think of installing a solar energy system on their home, rooftop solar is probably the first thing to come to mind. What many homeowners don’t realize is that installing ground-mounted solar panels is both easy and cost-effective.
Creating garage storage often requires going out to buy new plastic storage containers. Here are a few ways to make your garage storage green.
What's it like to be a woman off the grid? Dirty? Chore-filled? Sacrificial? Modern day off-grid homesteading is a wonderful, empowering lifestyle for those women who choose to take this path. Yet, finding practical, reality-based feedback is getting harder! Media and networks are often misleading in their depiction of off-grid life, because they need to feed a audience who is thirsting for excitement. Here is on woman's reality check.
This past year has been a hallmark year for the advancement of Light Straw-Clay building. The publication of our new book The EcoNest Home and the latest edition of Franz Volhard’s book Light Earth Building translated into English, and the inclusion of Light Straw-Clay Building in the International Residential Code has made this beautiful form of construction accessible to more people than ever before in modern times.
As the energy industry evolves, so does big data. Big data is probably best known for tracking people’s behaviors, purchases and viewpoints, but it can have many other applications. Now the energy sector is tapping into the resources big data has to offer. From renewable energy to oil, gas and coal, this data science can help many companies maximize profits, reduce costs and even lower risk.
Milling your own flour is a delicious way to add nutrition and flavor to your recipes. Want maximum taste? Mill your own buckwheat for these Blueberry Corn Muffins.
Living off the grid doesn't mean that you need to sacrifice the womanly comforts you may be accustomed to — you just need to provide for them slightly differently.
Installing a Lock Top Chimney Damper is a common project among do-it-yourself homeowners. Many times the fireplace throat damper rusts apart and is non-functional, allowing heat and air from your home to escape through the chimney and vice versa. In today's chimney industry, we have top-locking chimney dampers that are easy to install, made of stainless steel, and completely seal a chimney flue when not in use.
Seniors like myself are coping today on many levels of homesteading and life is good for us even if a little more difficult. Learn how homesteading and self-sufficiency have become more difficult as we grow older but is far from being over.
You've heard of a one-horse town? Well, we are a one-goat micro-dairy! That doesn't mean we only have one goat to milk, but that our milking parlor is set up to take only one goat in at a time for feeding and milking. Here is a story about a little goat kid who wouldn't give up so, how could we?
Being outside on the patio brings us closer to nature. But there are ways of bringing natural elements to the patio as well. This post will describe some eco-friendly ways to "green" an outdoor patio.
A seemingly simple, light-trapping prism could revolutionize the future of solar power. The glass prism, which maximizes the amount of energy it can derive from sunlight, contains a 28-square centimeter, four-junction miniature module that works by utilizing a hybrid receiver designed to convert electricity from each sunbeam more than other devices.
Gas range or induction cooking? The speed and efficiency revealed. Because I’m off-grid, induction will be my go-to cooking method when sunshine is ample, offering an option for fossil-free cooking!
Every solar company has a variation of the same sales pitch, but whether solar is a smart long-term investment for you depends on a few major factors. Before you buy into the hype, use this simple guide to cut through the sales jargon.
Earthbag, cob and straw bale are three very popular natural building techniques, but which should you choose, and why? Here’s a checklist for every new natural builder.
Making the switch to solar energy for your home is a big decision. It pays to spend a little time and effort researching your solar options, whether it be how to finance your system, deciding which installer to hire or which size system to install. Avoiding the most common mistakes will help you through the process so that you can make the most of your investment.
How do you currently fill your spare time? Is it with things that are time wasters or things that are productive? How do you entertain yourself when Living Off Grid, Really?!?!
After seeing beautiful trees in Oregon going to waste, Seth Filippo realized the Pacific Northwest had a huge underutilized resource in urban wood.
An automatic gate opener is a great example of how simple and convenient it can be to use solar panels to power all of its tools and equipment. You can also get a 30% federal residential tax credit toward the cost of a new solar powered gate opener, accessories and installation, as long as you do it before December of this year.
“Golden” will be the first word to enter your mind when you see the roots, rhizomes and dormant buds of Hydrastis canadensis. You’ll understand immediately why the common name is “Goldenseal.” This very useful native woodland plant will not only charm and entertain you spring, summer, and autumn — it can even heal you.
If you’re looking for an investment that will help to save you money as well as conserve fossil fuels, solar power is great option for many homeowners and businesses. With the continual drop in equipment prices, the advantages of solar energy just keep growing. Before undertaking such a project, you may be wondering how much can solar panels save exactly? Here are the basics.
Why pay for someone to come and install an outdoor patio when you could do it yourself? Outdoor patios are perfect for people who love to entertain. They don’t require a lot of maintenance and they can be completed within a single weekend. This post covers sizing, siting, and building materials.
If you’re a homeowner weighing your renewable energy options, you already know that thorough research is the best way to find the right system for your home. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of residential wind vs. solar power so that you can make your decision with confidence.
There quite a few home improvement projects to help increase your energy efficiency including updating your home's floors, bathroom, as well as your water system.
When we built our current home in 1992, there were very few rules and codes that could damage or destroy our dream of doing most of the work in building our cabin ourselves. Times like that are rapidly disappearing and those who build now must endure permits, inspections, delays and forced compliance. The dream of building your own home could be more complicated than just knowing construction techniques nowadays. Read our story.
Hops have not been recognized for their full potential! I often ask people, "do you know what hops are?" I always get the same response: "It's what people use to make beer, isn't it?" Well, yes, but they are much more than that. Read about how to grow hops in your backyard and the many uses beyond brewing for this specialty crop.
Homesteading is built upon a foundation of self sufficiency, but community is just as important. There is so much more to homesteading than the individual pleasure associated with it. There is true joy and friendship in the shared labor of land.
Technically a berry, soap nuts are considered to be an environmentally conscious alternative to chemical detergents and soaps. The berries come from a prolific tree that grows well in degraded environments where little else can grow. They are safe for allergies, free from any additives, and can be used to clean just about anything.
Eager to make some yummy, detoxifying scrubs for my arms and legs, I mixed some simple ingredients to my trusty epsom salts to achieve clarity, exfoliation, and moisture using coffee grounds, lemon zest, and coconut oil. Brilliant? Yes! Simple? You bet. Here are DIY instructions on how to make a homemade coffee-lemon body scrub!
If you’re starting to think about going solar, knowing that your home and solar are a good match makes the shopping process even easier. Here are the top five questions and answers that will help you determine whether solar is right for your home (they might surprise you).
If you were to rank sustainable homes primarily based on their energy efficiency, Zero Net Energy homes would rank extremely high. They’re pretty cool — and complicated. Top U.S. home builder PulteGroup moves into the eco-friendly homes market by providing Zero Net Energy homes to the masses.
It's tax season! Dyan of Bittersweet Heritage Farm is crunching the numbers, prompting a discussion about what farming means to her.
Documenting your homestead’s growth produces a wonderful record for the future and helps illuminate natural and human effects on the landscape.
Building an eco-friendly deck involves many considerations. Choosing the right material is certainly one of them, but other factors are also involved, including climate, location, and budget. This post reviews the important factors.
We thought we were doing the right thing when we moved to a remote area to live 19 years ago. The community is a landowners association with some who desire to change a beautiful remote-living area on acreage to resemble what they left. We thought living in an area with covenants and rules would protect our investment, but one should recognize that living remotely in a covenant community offers both positive and negative aspects.
There is much controversy over the health benefits of bone broth, you can find articles all over the web that fall into one of two camps: bone broth is another unscientifically supported health fad or bone broth is a health booster. I fall into the second camp. This type of broth is a fairly new phenomenon in the west, but it certainly isn’t a new thing.
It's easy to say "thank you" with these free Herbalist Day cards! Download and print your favorite card or grab one to share a little appreciation online with a favorite herbalist.
Megan Offner of New York Heartwoods is salvaging downed and damaged city trees to redirect material from our waste stream, decrease greenhouse emissions, and fuel the demand for local wood products.
Choosing the right size solar photovoltaic system for your home depends on where you live, how much electricity you use, the specifications of your roof, as well as the policies in place at the state, municipal and utility level. By optimizing your system, you can make the most of your solar investment.
We live in a society that is constantly telling women they can’t do hard work. But the reality is, some of us do this homesteading journey all on our own without the help of any man. Here’s why I take pride in being a strong, independent, woman homesteader.
Whenever I fancy an item for which I lack funds, I remind myself of what the item would cost in terms of that freedom. Fortunately, and perhaps because I live a joy-filled life, these material desires rarely beckon.
Most great ideas start small. That’s how Katie and Ben Reneker, founders of the Carmel Berry Company, started out handcrafting small batches of syrups and cordials with elderberries or elderflowers wild-harvested or grown on their small farm.
Find out the unique needs of ducklings and goslings and how best to care for waterfowl.
There’s a lot to think about when choosing the right cow for a small herd or micro-dairy, but it is worth taking the time needed to select an animal that will best fit you and your farm.
Kristen of Sugar River Farm explains the overreaching economic benefits of keeping your business local.
Making and selling processed foods legally involves more than filling containers with your favorite recipes and selling them at the local farmers market. It requires compliance with a variety of state and perhaps federal regulations and processing guidelines designed to ensure that food products are packaged safely and properly.
People think building is difficult. It’s not. And in the hope of encouraging a few more wannabe natural builders, I’ve compiled the following list. Because in my experience, there are far harder things in life than building a house.
Installing a chimney chase cover is a common project among do-it-yourself homeowners. Many homes were built with galvanized chase covers which rust after a few years – causing leaks and rust stains. Homes that were built with a masonry chimney eventually end up with a cracked and weathered mortar crown, also causing leaks and damage to the home.
You may have heard that installing a solar energy system on your roof can increase the value of your home – but by how much? Get past the sales pitch and understand exactly what solar companies mean when they say that your home value increases when you install solar.
Annual garden preparation, wild food foraging and food preservation in the month of April.
Our kitchen cabinets hold an array of mismatched cups and utensils and plates purchased at thrift shops or bartered with neighbors and friends. The effect is not quaint like that of a country house in a glossy magazine. Rather, it speaks the truth of its owners: people who refuse employment that chafes against ethics and spirit. People who value a frugal life.
If you are growing your corn to sell, you can sell it fresh (to eat) without any additional license or permit. When you change the corn in any way such as drying, grinding, etc., this is considered value-added. If you are selling your corn product at market or other outlet, make sure you have looked at all the legal aspects. Read on to learn about all aspects of packaging and selling homegrown corn, including recipes.
Wildfire is our greatest threat living in the mountains with all the dead vegetation and dead trees providing fuel. Here in Southern Colorado, where population density is less and forest growth is thick, sensible people plan ahead to mitigate wildfire risk. Plan ahead with these tips for wildfire mitigation.
Do not let not owning or using a microwave prevent you from making up a batch of mozzarella cheese. Using this easy technique, you can have your mozzarella and ricotta without a microwave. We learned from a trip to the Belton, Texas, MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR and had a blast.
Accidents happen that divert us from our plans. Learning ahead to be flexible can make things easier. Here is Cindy Conner's take on having a broken wrist.
This blog post introduces you to the new educational website www.FarmingwithCarnivoresNetwork.com. It is a collaborative effort of leading farmers, experts on guardian animals and fencing, and biologists whose work focuses on carnivores. Its purpose is to help create a farming of the future by sharing knowledge and experience with each other.
According to the Department of Energy, many Americans are leaching up to 30% of their heated or cooled air through leaks, cracks or poor insulation. While you can hire a professional to perform a complete home energy audit, homeowners can conquer this important task themselves by following some simple guidelines, especially when it comes to checking and/or adding additional attic insulation if necessary.
This post covers the importance of having a comprehensive water plan for your property. Most homesteaders are simply dependent on their wells, which are predicated on cheap and reliable energy. Don’t misunderstand me: I love being able to flip a switch and get light and turn on a faucet and get water — it’s wonderful! However, we need to develop a resilient water plan that accounts for potential disruption in that system but also to develop other systems to increase the fertility of the land.
Sometimes living off the land can be pretty counter-cultural. My decision to start raising meat rabbits on my homestead was met with a lot of criticism from others. Learn how homesteaders can deal with unwanted (and sometimes unwarranted) remarks.
Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs, have been used by shepherds and farmers for centuries. Bred and trained to instinctively protect their herd from predators, LGDs are an alternative to attempting to hunt or scare off threats to your farmyard. Read on to learn the basics for how LGDs work and tips for choosing the right livestock guardian for your homestead.
Solar energy is growing in popularity! But installing rooftop panels is a big investment, so homeowners naturally have a number of questions. By answering some of the most common questions, I hope to set your mind at ease and help you discover the many benefits of solar energy. Before long, you could be producing your own clean, green electricity.
The conventional wisdom from HGTV and home improvement magazines is that updating your kitchen, renovating your bathroom, and building an addition are among the smartest ways to increase the resale value of your home. But there’s another home improvement that you may not realize can add serious value to your property: installing a solar energy system.
Weeks after graduating high school, I was accidentally shot in the neck by a 14-year-old boy playing with a rifle in his home. This injury left me a quadriplegic. After months of hospitals and rehab, my desire for growing things began to reignite and I started with houseplants and a terrarium. That grew to lettuce and tomatoes on the patio. It doesn't matter if you plant something but have to have help somewhere along the way before your produce reaches the table. What is important is that you be involved in what you eat.
ne of the principles of Permaculture is “Stacking Functions” or making every structure/addition to your plan serve at least two, if not more, functions in the landscape. When we added solar panels to the homestead, we wanted to honor this principle—and constructing a small greenhouse allowed us to install the panels, as the light was not great on the roof of the house. The number of functions we have stacked on this small structure became very clear to me as I prepared for an upcoming solar homes tour.
Learn how to make your own decorative tray using repurposed materials!
Wondering how to test your soil? Get the scoop on proper garden soil testing, evaluating soil pH, and home soil testing kits before you plant this season.
Can you have mental well being while living off-grid? Yes, because the benefits of off-grid living are numerous: fewer bills, living simply, and better health.
The first year fair in Belton, Texas was a huge event and by all accounts, a success. I was super busy at the DIY Showcase the entire fair and had over 300 people attend my presentation on the GRIT Stage.
Solar PV installations surpassed natural gas installations for the first time in 2015.
Having a plan allows all our energy to go toward accomplishing the necessary tasks rather than having to prioritize and build objectives on a daily basis.
When we started our off grid homesteading adventure, we had all sorts of elaborate plans as to what we would accomplish our first year. Six months into our journey, it seems that we underestimated our workload, by a long shot!
Many homeowners don’t realize that energy efficiency measures and solar panels are each effective ways to save on electricity costs, and when you combine them, they can save you even more.
How a simple casting email turned into a crazy, two-week casting experience for a West Virginia homestead to be (almost) featured on the Discovery Channel.
Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate, all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.
With favorable legislation in the form of a generous tax credit, along with low interest rates and stabilizing costs, switching to solar energy has never made more sense for homeowners frustrated by rising electricity rates and/or wanting to help the environment.
If you have ever considered the change of lifestyle to be more self-sufficient, here are some of our thoughts and experiences from this journey.
Here, you will find Part 2 of a year-long series that will follow what we do as beekeepers and what happens in our apiary through the course of the year.
Though sap flow occurs in a wide variety of trees, there is one variety that produces a sap sweeter than them all: The Sugar Maple. For a six-week window of time before the break of spring, the sugar maple flows. The sap can be tapped, and then boiled down on a wood burning stove at home to make golden, luscious homemade maple syrup.
Cam describes how much he has learned after running a CSA for 5 years and offers a workshop for those interested in learning from his experience.
Learn to choose the right-sized wood stove, manage your firewood and light, and maintain quality fires to heat your home with wood.
This is the first post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It will start with simple preparation ideas (Asceticism, Borrowing, Creativity) and move into more hard-hitting how-to advice (Ducks, Edible landscaping, Fodder, Goats, Horticulture, etc.).
Aur Beck, who has lived off-grid with solar electricity as his main power source for 18 years, shares some of his personal experiences with renewable resources throughout his life.
Solar panels and electric cars are a match made in heaven – when you install a solar energy system on your home, you can use it to both power your home and charge your electric car for emissions-free transportation.
Sometimes life’s events get in the way of our goals and aspirations in homesteading. This story is about how events in 2015 derailed our homestead activities and how in 2016 we’re trying to “get back on the horse”. We welcome your comments and advice.
A short video of the highlights of our first winter on our off-grid homestead in the Pacific Northwest. In short, we are hunkering down and trying to survive!
It takes special diligence and caution to keep domestic pets safe when living with wild predators around.
Following the Wheel of the Year gives us monthly moments to celebrate. Imbolc is a reminder that half of winter is now behind us.
This blog is part of a homestead goal-setting series. Goal-setting for the homestead is so crucial it can’t be overstated. There is always a gap between a dream and reality. Goals are the glue that makes those two much closer together. This iteration is how to take your major goals and get them accomplished. You must support your major goals with mid-term and short-term goals. After that, you have to make a plan to get stuff done! It is geared toward homesteading but can and should be applied to all areas of life.
There is a right and a wrong way to squat when in labor and giving birth. Unfortunately, most women are taught the wrong way. Learn the true birth-squat position and why it will lead to a more comfortable birth.
Goal setting for the homestead is so crucial it can’t be overstated. There is always a gap between a dream and reality. Goals are the glue that makes those two much closer together. This blog is about the nuts and bolts of goal setting. It starts with a dream, moves toward purpose and ends with goals. It is geared toward homesteading but can and should be applied to all areas of life.
Winters can be brutal, especially on our homes when it comes to our energy costs. Winter tends to drive up energy costs but there is a way to prevent that from happening this winter including eliminating drafts, smart thermostats, and more.
There are many ways to save energy in the home and one of the most efficient is the right use of home automation. Here are the top five ways you can use home automation to turn your house into a smart, energy-saving abode.
Tricky access lowers land prices but provides for lots of amusing episodes.
Seasoning a cast iron skillet might seem daunting, but it's a simple task that will reward you with a great kitchen tool.
At Wild Abundance, reconnecting with the land means living and working in sync with the cycles and seasons as they unfold. Here is a guide to the very beginnings of the East, when the earth is waking up, and moving from the slowness of winter into the flurry of action of spring: Harnessing the Maple Moon of February and the New Growth Moon of March on your homestead.
Democracy is essential for the expanding cottage food laws in the US. There are many steps you can take to be able to sell homemade food products in your state. First, get the cottage food law passed that allows you the freedom to earn.
In the military, we were taught combat first aid with these four life-saving steps: Stop the bleeding, start the breathing, protect the wound and treat for shock. I want to relate these life-saving steps to handling finances in preparing to homestead.
To save money, it’s no surprise that many homeowners are considering DIY solar panel kits when they decide to go solar. Here are the top things you need to know about DIY solar before making a decision.
A major new study found that lack of physical activity is twice as deadly for us as obesity. But as little as 30 minutes of walking a day cuts the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in half, lowers the likelihood of diabetes by 60 percent, limits colon cancer by 31 percent for women and reduces risk of dementia, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis, glaucoma and catching a cold. This prompted U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to issue a call for Americans to walk more.
Before we started homesteading I would sit and imagine how idyllic and peaceful it would be. Reality is not prettier than what I imagined, but it’s better.
Determining the best places to go solar is not just about finding the sunniest places, but also about the economics of going solar. That means taking a look at electricity prices and available financial incentives as well.
Not many people in our sphere of influence drink goat’s milk, so we have a great opportunity to educate those we come in contact with about the benefits. These are our four main reasons why we drink goat's milk.
Tiny homes range anywhere from 80 to 400 square feet and are sometimes built on a trailer chassis and sometimes built to go on a more permanent foundation. It is a relatively new concept and if we believe what is being said about the tiny home, its popularity is growing like wildfire.
Congressional extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) will make residential renewable energy more affordable in the coming decade.
The MOTHER EARTH NEWS team is seeking nominations for our 2016 Homesteaders of the Year contest.