The ins and outs of green construction and natural building, with specifics on solar design, home insulation and more.
A reader wonders how often to change furnace filters to keep the air clean in her home. Learn the frequency with which homeowners should replace a furnace filter.
Save money and keep your home warm during the winter by heating with wood.
Looking for the best woodstoves on the market? Look to the Wood Stove Decathlon winners: the Ideal Steel Hybrid by the Woodstock Soapstone company, along with stoves by Travis, Wittus, and New England Hearth & Soapstone.
Learn where to find free cardboard boxes for moving or storage.
We're using earthbags and straw bales to construct an efficient, cost-effective, and roomy earthbag root cellar.
There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.
These California schools are utilizing natural building materials, such as milled lumber and bamboo, to give students a green schoolyard.
From choosing affordable floods for the bedroom remodel to switching out the oven-hood incandescent, Jennifer details how much it cost to light her house sustainably, as well as forecast her long term savings.
There is an ideal relative humidity range for our health and that is somewhere between 35% and 55%. In modern life we have introduced many new sources of moisture into our homes. Daily showers, laundry, cooking and dishwashing tend to create concentrated bursts of humidity. Because conventional construction can tolerate very little increase in humidity without condensation/mold problems moisture from these sources must be mechanically sucked out of the home.
Recycled toilet paper is expensive. Here’s an alternative, reusable option called the “family cloth.”
A shower caddy works to hold sponges, soap and other cleaning materials in the kitchen as well as the bathroom.
You can store garden tools in an organized manner by using discarded wood pallets.
You can place insulation pillows in foundation vents to ensure proper ventilation and lower heating costs during winter.
As demand for air conditioning continues to increase, discover how to reduce the impact it has on the environment.
Shelter Publications’ new book has all manner of roaming, tiny dwellings to spark your inner wanderlust.
Learn how to build a straw bale home by downloading this free guide.
Considering induction cooking as an eco-friendly alternative to cooking with electricity? Can’t begin to contemplate spending $3,000 on a stove? This article will run down how you can integrate the hottest new tech in cooking into your kitchen without winning the lottery.
I love my two-story log cabin, which combines recycled and an array of green building materials.
This article explores the nature of the staycation, if it is indeed a greener option and ways to vacation in a more eco-friendly manner.
Building Biology advises us to look for a successful history of use when choosing building materials but in our ever changing product-based building environment we seldom have the luxury of evaluating track record. This becomes quickly apparent when vetting new products for client’s homes. I recently called a major manufacturer to find out what was in a new product developed to prevent mold growth on framing lumber.
A basic recipe for making compost tea.
Homes in the United States a responsible for one fifth of all carbon dioxide emissions. Simply taking steps to reduce these on a domestic level will help positively impact carbon outputs, decreasing environmental damage.
Learn how to store linens and organize gift bags in an efficient, no-fuss manner.
Incorporate leftover bathwater into your greywater recycling system.
Don’t let old prescription bottles go to waste! Follow this tip for recycling and reusing the prevalent plastic containers.
Keep your kitchen sink drain clean and reuse leftover lemons and limes with this tip for using natural cleaning products.
Prevent grease from clogging your drains and simultaneously feed the birds.
A video documenting the "One Day Cob House" build in Reno, Nevada.
Watch this video to learn how to build tiny home for just $2,000.
With carbon emissions in the US higher than most other countries in the world, more should be done to minimize unnecessary carbon waste. Around one third of the overall carbon consumed by the average US citizen comes from the home, if every home took a few simple steps to reduce waste, the world could a greener place.
When it comes to that most essential of all modern appliances, the best way to be eco-friendly is to stick with the tried and true three R's: reduce, reuse or recycle.
Those of retirement age can reduce their carbon footprints by moving into a smaller, cozier mobile home.
The best time for selling your cordwood home. Tips, websites, suggestions, and what to do BEFORE you build.
"Earthen Floors" by Sukita Reay Crimmel and James Thomson provides essential information for creating beautiful floors using natural techniques.
60 people raised a cob house in one day in Reno, Nevada, with the Be the Change Project and House Alive.
Building a nutrient rich, low water, drought resistant vegetable growing system.
Guru Drain keeps hair and debris from clogging drains, saving you time and money.
Make your home more energy efficient with Indow Windows Shade Grade.
Moving is stressful, but it's not an excuse to forget your carbon footprint. Here are some ways to make your move as eco-friendly as possible.
Find guidance and inspiration by reading these reports on the ins and outs of building or buying a home debt-free.
The Breitenbach family achieved their dream of self-sufficiency by converting a machine shed into a mortgage-free dwelling.
The Burggraf family relied on their community to help them raise their home, in the style of an old-fashioned barn raising.
The Smiths’ cabin, which they built in rural Alaska, started as a shell that the Smiths moved into as they worked. They took their time building so they could save money, and their journey has led them to a debt-free existence.
Betsy and Larry Mehaffey built an off-grid home on a mountain in Idaho. Their beautiful cabin is comfortable and economic.
A historic property that boasts a creek and grist mill is where the Mechlings decide to build a debt-free weekend home.
The Rigoni-Escobar family put their million-dollar home behind them to move into smaller quarters. They paid for a dome kit home with cash and have constructed it together as a family.
A burned out kit home became the Pfister’s bungalow after they took on its cleanup and construction. After just a year, they turned the scorched insides into a mortgage-free dwelling.
The Wagners worked for several summers to complete their log house, which they now live in. They spend a lot of time on the property with family pressing apples for cider, hunting mushrooms, and tapping maple trees for syrup.
Not only has Roy Trembath built a debt-free home that’s larger than most — he also teaches others how they can do the same. Here is some of his advice.
Paul Scheckel took his time building his house, and thus avoided taking out a mortgage. His off-grid home is powered by sun and wind.
With only one good leg, Bill Poupore built two debt-free homes, a log cabin and a straw bale abode.
At only $300, the Meads’ mortgage-free shelter is formed out of reclaimed materials.
The Lacefields purchased an older-model manufactured home to save money and lessen their environmental impact.
Eric Guldenstein incorporated energy-saving and passive solar features when building his home, so it’s efficient as well as debt-free.
The Kemsleys’ stunning debt-free house is located in a tropical rainforest environment in Costa Rica. They’re completing the project piecemeal, paying for it as it’s built over the course of four years.
After finding himself without a home, LaMar Alexander moved onto inherited land and built a 400-square-foot cabin in two weeks for $2,000.
Cheryl and Don Ficker’s two-story, passive solar house rose slowly, as the Fickers had time and money to work on it. This allowed them to dodge building debt.
Anne Denton’s daughter and her daughter’s family located a low-cost, vacant residence that required some renovation, so they rolled up their sleeves and worked side by side to turn the house into a home. The home has a walk-out basement, a sunroom, and a detached shop and garage.
The Kalmers’ earth-sheltered, passive solar house is made out of many free and inexpensive materials, and cost less than $10 per square foot.
From a spacious log cabin to a geodesic kit home, readers recount how — with innovation, patience and resolve — they built their own ideal abodes.
Cure stubborn drain problems with washing soda and white vinegar.
A reader from Australia shares a bug-repellent recipe that uses Listerine.
Straw bale and timber frames are highly compatible, beautiful, and the efficiency and longevity of using these natural building techniques is superior in a cold climate setting.
The cordwood chapel at Kinstone Academy was built over three years and has many natural motifs in the walls.
Cadmon Whitty decided to substantially retrofit his older home with straw bales, beginning with rewiring a home, making it more energy-efficient, more valuable, and more aesthetically attractive in the process — all on a shoestring budget.
Make homemade household products like paint stripper, insect repellent, tar remover and whitewash using ingredients that can be found under the kitchen sink.
Baking soda and vinegar are great for cleaning appliances and, chances are, you already have both products under your kitchen sink.
The Hudson Passive Project is a green home by New York-based architect Dennis Wedlick that incorporates principles of passive solar design to drastically reduce heating and cooling costs.
Though he didn’t know exactly how, Cadmon Whitty decided to substantially retrofit his older home with straw bales, making it more energy-efficient, more valuable, and more aesthetically attractive in the process — all on a shoestring budget.
Explore ways to reduce both your direct and indirect water footprint. Reducing your water footprint could make a huge different to both the environment and finances.
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!
Increase home heating and cooling performance and boost savings quickly by adding attached sunspaces to existing structures.
Some examples of passive solar design applied to homes in the southeast, where cooling, as well as heating, is a concern.
Learn how to eliminate mold growth in your home and improve indoor air quality by using Concrobium.
Unforgettable Fire's Kimberly and Katydid wood stoves are heating solutions for any and all spaces.
Houses take a lifetime to pay off these days, and even a prosaic shed, barn or coop requires a heavy investment of money, time, skilled labour and imported materials. For thousands of years, though, people around the world used an ancient technique to build homes and other structures quickly, using nothing but local material and simple, easily learned skills.
Learn how to build using the cordwood construction technique. Author Richard Flatau recommends taking a workshop or building a practice building.
For some, underground home designs allow them live in harmony with their surroundings and to more easily acknowledge the beauty in nature.
Earth-sheltered homes are becoming more common as the costs of dependable, sustainable energy rises.
Take advantage of low-budget housing options, such as campers and teepees, for off-grid lifestyles.
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.
Either when preparing for disaster or the week’s dinner menu, safe food storage can cut down on frustration and waste.
Create and stock up on all-natural household cleaners like vinegar, baking soda and castile soap to avoid volatile organic compounds in your home.
A new building insulation guide is available from NAIMA Canada to assist homeowners in choosing the right insulation for new building and DIY home renovation projects.
What is the best way to learn cordwood construction? Are there workshops or classes offered?
Kefir is a yogurt-like dairy substance that you can easily culture at home using grains and milk.
Website links to earthbag building projects.
An introduction to the North House Folk School.
The fundamental building blocks, descriptions, diagrams and pictures of best practices cordwood buildings.
A compendium of modern nomadic sweats.
Avoid chemical-laden household cleaners by trying this homemade laundry soap recipe.
This reader tip will prevent you from feeling guilty if you forget your reusable shopping bags.
Keep your drawers organized and clutter-free with this handy tip using leftover toilet paper rolls.
There are so many uses for nutshells, it’s explosive!
Energy Star for Homes is a worthwhile green building certification with demonstrated market value.
Here is a great article on straw bale gardening.
Introducing our new chickens.
Glimpse a view into the world of cordwood construction. This old-fashioned, natural building technique can inspire you to build an energy-efficient, mortgage-free house of your own.
Our community offers their best composting tips for all levels of expertise.
Review of a great axe made by Vipukirves.
The best rat trap I have ever owned.
Update on the homestead.
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.
Did you buy or build a home without going into debt? We're looking for stories on homes built with a small mortgage, or no mortgage at all. Here's what we want to know.
A week of no rain, kayaks and firewood in review.
Winter gardening, and the practice of utilizing solar heat, was a common practice in botanical gardens hundreds of years ago.
Clearing away snow has just gotten a charge from Snow Joe, the leading US supplier of over 140 products for snow removal and other seasonal needs. I got my hands on their latest innovation, a cordless snow blower powered by a 40-volt lithium ion battery, and compared it to their top-selling cord-based electric snow thrower.
A review of the Husqvarna hatchet.
A review of hammers of friend Jack Fulton.
A progress update on our book Tiny Homes On the Move
Handy Camel multi-purpose bag clip earns several awards during release year.
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.
Chainsaw safety equipment.
Green building expert Lloyd Kahn reviews Kevin Kelly’s new book Cool Tools, an amazing book for the homesteader, builder or anyone who likes cool tools.
Safely eliminate mice in your home with these house mouse control tips.
Old homes are often thought of as second-hand or sub-par quality. There are a lot of things you can do to modernize your home, and even make it more energy efficient that many new homes.
Although forced air is the most common form of home heat in North America it is far from ideal. This article explains why Building Biology regards the masonry heater as the ultimate heating system for health, comfort and ecology.
Ed Begley, Jr. reveals his passion for sustainable living, the passive solar design for his house and the motivation behind his two books, "Living With Ed" and "Ed Begley, Jr.'s Guide to Sustainable Living."
Sustainably harvested cork creates a beautiful flooring material that’s competitively priced with other kinds of sustainable flooring.
A methane digester — also known as an anaerobic digester — can be a great source of biofuel and fertilizer.
New, efficient technology is replacing the old, and it is transforming the way in which we live, and more importantly, our impact on the environment.
You can recycle common household goods to be used as kitty litter mats.
Hang an indoor clothesline in a greenhouse or sunroom for sun-fresh laundry all winter.
If you are planning to build a healthy home your first step is to find a site that will support health and here are some helpful tips about siting
10 easy steps to get your home prepared for winter.
Make bathroom maintenance a snap and protect from toilet leaks.
If you are hoping to build a new home or weekend cottage, we would appreciate your participation in this short survey, which will gauge your interest in a variety of possible kit home features.
Collegiate teams showcase affordable, energy-efficient houses in global competition.
Sansin Corporation offers advice on green, historic home renovations.
Many people perceive going green as an inconvenience and an unnecessary burden on their daily lives. What they don't realize is that they can take simple steps to help protect the environment without the disruption to their lifestyle, but save money as well.
Learn how to build a solar water heater for your home.
Cherished Aladdin lamps were on display at a recent collectors show in Topeka, Kan.
This blog covers the four major reasons for hiring a healthy home consultant and five keys to creating a successful healthy home project.
With a few key supplies, you can revive worn wood flooring without heavy-duty sanding.
The GateMate, by Cartell, has the lowest current draw in standby than any other free exit system on the market.
When it comes to your health and well-being your bed is the most important furniture choice you will make. This article describes why and how to choose the healthiest bed options for you and your family.
Passive design includes positioning your house for greatest passive solar gains: having excellent insulation, selecting the most energy efficient tools for heating and cooling and choosing energy efficient appliances.
When you do business with someone, you are indirectly condoning their methods. with access to the internet, anyone can do a little research to see which businesses are living up to our high expectations.
Discover how to hand-sculpt a custom, mortgage-free home from dirt-cheap, local materials.
Take a tip from the philosophy of Feng Shui and use a mirror to reflect the outdoors, which will make a small room seem larger.
Eric, Michael and Loren decided to build a winter shelter from natural and re-used materials two winters ago, their first ever natural building experiment. This is an account of that experience that changed their lives in mysterious and unforeseen ways (for the better!).
Window film can reduce peak electricity demand.
We all have the responsibility to do are best to preserve the Earth and the environment in any way we can. Some people take it to the extreme, but that isn't always necessary. There are many ways we can make simple changes in our lifestyles to contribute to saving what's most precious for our children and future generations.
Our bedroom should be a sanctuary where our body repairs as we sleep soundly but is your bedroom as healthy as it could be?
Considering natural building? Learn how to navigate building codes, building permits and acquire homeowners’ insurance.
Deltec Homes has built wind-resistant houses with beautiful, open floor plans for over 30 years.
Learn how to create a yoga studio that enhances your practice and your health.
In our modern society, we are starting to realize how important the environment is and how fragile it really is. Our resources are limited, and if we aren't kept in check, we will ruin any hope we have of preserving it. Using the technology we have available to help us is something everybody can do.
Instituting community-wide, Eco-friendly programs can be a great way to beautify cities, save money, and do your duty to help preserve the planet. It might be difficult, but all it takes is one person to make a difference.
The "Jøtul Changeout Program" offers a voucher for a new EPA-certified wood stove in exchange for an outdated and non-EPA-certified model.
There are many ways we can conserve energy, and be more eco-friendly, especially with the advancements that technology is making every day.
Sometimes your dream home is far from where your heart is. Moving an existing home to a new location is possible, and it can potentially save you money.
From shampoo and lotion to wood polish and drain cleaner, you’ll be surprised at how many common household products contain potentially hazardous ingredients. Here’s how to identify problem products and find the best alternatives to buy — or save a little money by making your own.
Here’s how to find good background information on residential solar energy systems, including locating solar installers and finding advice on particular products.
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.
Save money and energy at home by choosing energy-efficient products whenever you purchase home appliances or computers and other electronics.
A home’s air-tightness is just as important as how much R-value it has.
Passive solar design comes to Navajo families, as architecture students build homes on Utah reservations.
There are some things that you just aren’t going to wash very often, like your curtains, couch cushions, and probably even your favorite jeans. To spare the air, concoct a simple essential oil-infused linen spray, and spritz away until your definition of what “clean” smells like shifts permanently.
Here are a few smart home automation gadgets that have become relatively common place, and a few things that we can expect in the future.
In 45 years, Deltec Homes have never lost a house to high winds.
Having a properly maintained water heater is like going to the dentist: No one wants to do it, but it’s gotta be done. Ideally, you should have an inspection and necessary maintenance performed on your water heater once a year.
When tiny homes enthusiast Tammy Strobel decided she needed a life makeover, she wasn’t immediately drawn to small home living. But through the journey of simplifying her life to a mortgage-free existence, she discovered the big happiness that tiny house living can bring.
My experiences with a reel lawn mower in a small urban neighborhood.
When highway developments overtook her parents' property and rendered the family home "uninhabitable," MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Joyce Hetrick had the house lifted and moved to another location 30 miles away.
Green building guru Lloyd Kahn recounts his favorite new discoveries from the Puyallup, Wash., MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.
Save money and energy by going green and being smart about your home utilities.
It might seem like a small thing, but your refrigerator can be a HUGE drain on your energy bill. We’ve already shown you how to check for leaks in your refrigerator seal—now let’s take the next step in keeping your fridge in top working order.
After every load in your clothes dryer, cleaning the lint screen improves the air circulation, which means that the system will work more efficiently — and run on less energy.
Architect Debra Rucker Coleman shares tips for converting your home to passive solar energy.
We are inundated with green messages that can sometimes be confusing or misleading. This phenomenon is especially true when it comes to the paint industry. There is much talk about No-VOC and Low-VOC paints, but what is the truth behind it?
A newly “refurbished home” smells bad. It has been 3 months and the smells are still overwhelming. Some helpful suggestions.
A carefully selected home library can make the difference between successful self reliance or years of struggle. Learn how to choose the best books to read on self reliance and homesteading skills.
Here are seven devices that will help you conserve energy in your home, and maybe even help make our world livable again.
You smell an odor in your home and suspect that it isn’t healthy. This article explains how to do some safe investigation in preparation for calling in an expert.
Attics can be a huge energy drain if they are not insulated sufficiently. We’ll leave the
heavy lifting for next weekend, but for now look for uneven insulation, base sports, water damage, and anything else that looks out of place.
Missoula, MT company awards home owners sustainable products.
It’s springtime and the weather is getting warm, but that is no excuse for letting money and energy fly out the window every single day. Hopefully you were able to find all the drafts and leaks in your windows last fall (if not, now is just as good a time as any).
A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.
You can retrofit your current home for cheaper energy bills and a more beautiful, livable space.
Grain bins are a sturdy, inexpensive alternative-living option, and now Iowa company Sukup Manufacturing is making these unconventional houses more widely available.
Your deck or other outdoor structures may be made of wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Learn more about CCA-treated wood and how to dispose of it.
Many wood finishes contain toxic solvents or heavy-metal drying agents. Learn which nontoxic wood finishes are best to use on decks, fences and unfinished, wood-sided homes.
From geodesics domes and yurts to underground homes to cob houses, Stephen Hren takes us along as he searches the realm of natural building to find his perfect alternative architecture.
Get an introduction to Building Biology, the science and philosophy of healthy and ecological building that originated in Germany 60 years ago.
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.
Did you know that heat transfer through windows can account for up to 25 percent of your energy bill by allowing heat out during the winter, and makes your air conditioner work overtime to combat the sun’s warming? Drafts and leaks can be the biggest culprit of energy waste but can also be fixed with relatively little effort.
When you get home today, do this simple test: Close your fridge door on a dollar bill or piece of paper; if you can pull the bill out easily or worse, if it falls, then it is time to replace the seal.
Did you know that a dirty filter in your HVAC equipment can reduce its efficiency by up to 20 percent? Didyou also know that it is recommended to check your filter every month? Don’t despair!
More than the electricity needed to run these machines, the “rinse hold” hot water setting that many households use is the biggest energy drain associated with dishwashers – as much as 80 percent of the energy your dishwasher uses goes to heat water.
I decided to build double 2-by-4 walls to achieve 14-inch thick super-insulated walls. This is just one way of achieving the high R-values for net zero energy homes.
When you get home, go to your hot water heater, remove the cover and turn it down to 120 degrees (sometimes labeled “hot” as opposed to “very hot”).
Replacing a task that uses electricity with one that does not is a no-brainer when trying to save on your energy bill — and air drying is one of the easiest ways to go.
To me, the most important features of a sustainable building are not its technological wonders but its simple design features: common-sense strategies that should be incorporated whether the building becomes LEED certified, Energy Star certified, or is just trying to be environmentally friendly.
Heating water is the highest drain that laundry machines and dishwashers have on your bill. Onaverage, water heating accounts for 18 percent of your energy bill.
By focusing on environmental change this Earth Day, we can reach our green potential. Green initiatives need to be implemented, both individually and collectively, for us to reduce our environmental impact.
Many people don’t know that most HVAC systems don’t produce more or less heating or cooling based on the room temperature – they simply blow air for longer.
An introduction to Paula Baker-Laporte's future readers : about Paula, multiple chemical sensitivities, Building Biology and the role of green building in health.
There are two situations which do not require you to be heating your home: when it is warm and when you are not at home. Since it is still a bit chilly outside, you may want to consider setting up a routine of turning down the set temperature on your thermostat when you head out in the morning and when you go to bed.
Some large electronics can use as much energy as a light bulb while in "stanby" mode, meaning you should unplug them when you leave the house or know you won’t use them for awhile. Having a large electronic setup plugged into a power strip makes it much easier to completely power it down, especially if it has a lot of plugs like a home theater system or computer.
CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. I know that when I purchased new lamps for my house, they had a whole shelf of incandescent bulbs right next to it, and I had to go search the store for CFLs, so I understand if you are currently using incandescent bulbs. But it’s worth the switch — not only are CFLs equal in light quality, they last way longer and will save you hundreds of dollars over their lifetime.
Dan Chiras’ superefficient net zero energy home, floor joists, efficient floor design, band beam and rim joist
The full team from thePOOSH.org attended Over the Moon Festival last autumn in the UK and built a beautiful bender as a temporary shelter area and stall.
Green living is similar to taking yoga. It is a ‘practice’ – the more you get into, the more there is to learn. It really comes down to three simple things. Are you ready, willing and able to start living green?
The International Window Film Association says older dwellings can reduce energy use with energy saving window film, which was recently voted into the new California building energy codes.
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.
Here is yet another possible building project presented to you which requires no formal training, very little money, and techniques/methods that anyone can use. This blog intends to inspire you to take on a natural building project like this one. Don´t have fear if this is your first time working with these techniques and materials — it often for us also! Swattlesfield Campground is frequented by many kinds of people for various reasons. The owner, Jonathan, wanted to introduce some activity which would draw people together. We had the perfect idea: pizza! Food, especially food that requires waiting, has a tendency to attract people. And once humans have a good reason to be in the same place, the rest (socialization) has a tendency to just work.
The basement of Dan Chiras' net zero energy home is outfitted with PVC pipes, insulation and concrete.
It's how solar energy is more affordable than we may realize.
If someone told you that you were losing money just by sitting in your home, you would probably want to do whatever you could to change that. Well the reality is that your home is using up energy regularly, and there is a huge chunk of that energy that you do not even need. Luckily, we live in a time when technology is constantly coming up with ways to fix problems such as these. Here are some of the ways that technology can help to save the environment, as well as your wallet.