The Most Important Warranties for Your Solar Installation

Solar energy systems come with multiple warranties that apply to different parts of the installation, and trying to keep track of them all can get confusing. Here’s a simple guide to the different warranties for your solar energy system, and which ones you should really pay attention to.

Are Solar Panels a Sustainable Product?

Your solar panels’ lifespan is long enough to produce decades of renewable energy for your home. Additionally, solar panel recycling options mean that once your system does finally reach the end of its life, you can be confident that your panels won’t end up in a landfill.

Grow Warm-Weather Plants Year-Round with a Chinese Greenhouse: New Book Shows You How

For those gardeners who wish to grow year-round longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS Contributing Editor and home-energy expert Dan Chiras has a solution for you: the Chinese greenhouse. Typically earth-banked into a hillside or girded by mounded earth, Chinese greenhouses bring many principles of passive-solar design into the greenhouse in order to grow using 100-percent solar radiation.

How Much Does an Average Solar-Panel System Cost?

If you’re shopping for a solar-energy system, one of your first questions is probably, “How much will it cost?” Reviewing prices for a 5-kilowatt (kW) system is a great place to start — that’s the average system size in the United States.

Energy Pros Weigh In on Future of Solar Power

A friend of mine participated in the Second-Annual State of the Electric Utility survey. He also shared with me the results of the 2014 survey, which tabulates the opinions of more than 500 electric-utility professionals on the subjects of demand growth, distributed generation, power supply, regulatory models, and a number of other electricity-generation, transmission, and distribution-related issues.

Potential Health Impacts from Photovoltaics

We all know that renewable energy is an important part of a greener, more sustainable future, but are there health risks associated with home-scale photovoltaic installations? The jury is still out in the world of industry-sponsored and independent research, but there is a fast-growing segment of the population who feels ill from our ever-increasing use of electricity and wireless frequencies.

How To Choose The Best Solar-Energy Equipment

Installing a home solar energy system is a smart financial investment for many homeowners. As you evaluate offers from solar companies, there are many different factors to consider – the equipment that you choose for your system, your financing options, and the installer that you select all have an impact on your solar savings.

Remembering Renewable Energy Pioneer Dan Alway

Dan Alway, longtime renewable energy advocate and pioneer, was honored by more than 600 of his friends and colleagues at an award presentation at The Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.

Solar-Energy Incentive Programs are Your Friends

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.

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels: Top 3 Things You Need to Know

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.

New Device Could Make Solar Cheaper, More Efficient

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.

Is Solar Really Worth It?

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.

The Dramatic Drop in Solar-Energy Prices

The price of solar energy is at an all-time low, according to a recent report. The average installed price of photovoltaic (PV) devices has fallen by more than 50 percent since 2009, making the initial investment cost of system installations feasible for a much wider range of homeowners and businesses.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Switching to Solar Energy

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.

Install a Solar Gate Opener to Save Energy and Money

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.

How Much Can I Save with Solar Panels?

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.

Solar vs Wind Energy: Which is Right for Your Home?

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.

Is Your Home Good for Solar? Find Out Now

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).

Net-Zero Energy Homes for the Masses

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.

Choosing the Right-Sized Solar-Energy System for Your Home

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.

Solar Can Increase Your Home's Value: Here's How

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.

Answers to Your Most Common Solar Energy Questions

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.

Solar Panels as a Home Improvement Strategy

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.

Stacking Functions in the Greenhouse

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.

A Successful, Sustainable Forest

By managing his family's forestland with natural and environmentally friendly practices, Jim Birkemeier has created a sustainable forest model that is being taught and implemented all over the world.

The First MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Texas

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.

Preserving the Bounty: Dehydrating Cubed Potatoes

It's often much cheaper to buy a large bag of potatoes than to just pick up a few or buy a smaller bag. So when I see that large bag go on sale I grab them! But how to get good use of all those potatoes in that mammoth bag? I dehydrate them!

Top 5 Reasons to Go Solar Right Now

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.

Should You DIY Solar with a Solar Panel Kit?

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.

Top 10 Places to Go Solar in the United States

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.

Solar Power as a Retirement Investment Strategy

Establishing a secure financial future for your retirement requires that you explore a variety of options, but most homeowners don’t realize that installing a solar panel system can be one of the smartest retirement investment options available.

Does Snow Affect My Solar Panels?

Plenty of homeowners have both solar panels and snow, and some of the most popular regions in the U.S. for solar have snowy winters. Don’t let winter weather discourage you from going solar!

Solar Empowerment: Lights Illuminating Guatemalan Hills and Hearts

"Solar Empowerment" is a key component behind an educational development model that does more than trade third-world problems for first-world problems. The Integral Heart Foundation combines education for the poor with environmentalism in a way that bypasses the problems facing our developed world.

My Utility Bill Keeps Increasing: What Are My Solar Options?

With rising utility rates, more and more homeowners are considering solar energy for their home. In a number of states, the cost of electricity from rooftop solar panels is the same or cheaper than electricity from the utility. A brief look at historical trends in utility rates across the U.S., is followed by an explanation of the available solar options.

Home Solar Value: Analyzing 15 U.S. Cities

Discussions about solar value are often limited to avoiding electricity costs, and oftentimes neglect the additional market value that these “mini power plants” can add to your home. EnergySage and Sandia National Laboratories conducted an analysis to estimate solar market values in 15 cities across the United States.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 1: Resources

This is the first of a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable old-school techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small home.

Can I Go Off the Grid with Solar Batteries?

Energy storage technology is moving closer to mass-market adoption. As solar batteries become cheaper and more accessible for homeowners, more people are wondering, “Can I use solar batteries to go off the grid with my solar panel system?”

Solar Energy Prices at All-Time Low

The cost of solar power has dropped to its lowest yet, making it a competitive option for residents outside of the solar-happy Southwest.

What is PACE Financing for Home Solar Power?

If you want to install a solar energy system on your property, one of the first questions you’ve probably asked is, “how will I pay for it?” In many areas, an increasingly popular option for home energy improvements like solar is property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.

Top 5 Cities That Incentivize Solar

The benefits of your solar energy system significantly increase when you take advantage of available rebates, tax credits and incentives. Incentives will reduce upfront installation costs, and as a result accelerate your payback period – paying less up front means breaking even more quickly. These programs can reduce the upfront costs of your system by 30 to 50 percent, but vary state-by-state as well as city-by-city. See if your city makes the top 5!

5 Unique Ways to Use Solar Power

Solar power is taking the world by storm. People are not only using solar power to produce energy by placing solar panels on their roofs, but they are starting to use the technology in new ways. This post highlights ways solar power can provide homeowner benefits but are less often discussed.

The Wise Grid Series, Part 2: The Hudson Valley ‘Energy Highway’ Transmission Project — An Idea Whose Time Has Passed?

A 150-mile transmission line project proposed in 2012 costing up to $1.3 billon is a “dinosaur” that is still haunting the Hudson Valley. But rooftop solar energy, battery storage, and community microgrids can replace the ancient, costly, and vulnerable centralized generation and transmission electricity system that has dominated New York and the entire nation — and advanced little technologically — for over a century.

Understanding the Costs of a Solar-Panel System

While the most expensive part of going solar is paying for the equipment, it still only represents 25 percent of the overall expense. We break down of all the costs of going solar, and tips on how you can save money!

Why Off-Gridders Love Home Wind Turbines

The advantages of combining wind and solar go beyond system performance and floating batteries – it’s an enhancement to the off-grid lifestyle as a whole.

How to Count Your Home Solar Savings in 6 Steps

You can save a lot of money when you use solar energy. But where do those savings come from, and how do you keep track of them? We’ll show you just how much you can save with solar energy.

Hang Your Laundry to Dry

Using the sun to dry our clothes naturally is part of a permaculture lifestyle. Learn tips for drying your clothes both outside and inside your house, allowing you to get rid of your clothes dryer and opening up space for other things, such as crocks for fermenting.

Which Windows Are Best for a Passive Solar Home?

Whether your windows are fixed or operable, crank or double-hung, or come with a low-emissivity glazing all make a difference in how well the windows perform in an efficient, passive solar home.

Financing Renewable Energy: Home Wind and Solar Power

Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.

Why Utility Companies Want You to Pay More for Solar Power

The cost of solar panels, installation and system maintenance have fallen, making the prospect of solar affordable and appealing to both homeowners and businesses. But as residential and commercial solar installation surges, utility companies who have grown accustomed to large market share are pushing back.

Guide to Green-Roof Options for Your Home

Are you ready to make your home or living space greener? Now is the time to get started; look up and think about how you could give back to nature, starting with your roof.

A Greenhouse, Chicken Coop Combo

These two structures for creating a sustainable homestead are not often associated, but with the right planning they can be integrated into a single multi-use structure that enhances both environments. A greenhouse/chicken coop becomes a year-round food-producing machine, giving you a bounty of fruits, vegetables and protein all in one.

How to Design a Year-Round Solar Greenhouse

How can you create a lush naturally abundant indoor garden year-round? With these 7 simple principles, you can create a greenhouse that is completely self-sufficient, relying only on the sun to provide all of its heating needs. Moreover, solar greenhouses can grow much more than traditional greenhouses - citrus, avocados, guava - using less energy, water and resources.

How Do We Choose a Passive Solar House Design?

One homesteading couple reads up on passive solar house design and then modifies online options to create their own custom passive solar plans. Here are their recommended resources.

DIY Solar Power Is a Wise Choice

With photovoltaic (PV) panel technology you can tap into the amazing world of free totally renewable energy from the sun. You generally cannot find a better more reliable source of power on the planet that solar. In our book you will find that a DIY on grid/off grid system is very affordable and a wise choice for almost everyone.

The Cost of Solar Panels for Your Home

Whether you choose renewable energy for ecological or financial reasons, this article will help you see how solar panels and a solar hot water heating system can be financed and get you closer to being a sustainable household.

Natural Conditions Beyond Our Control

Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.

A Tale of Two Green Homes

There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.

DIY Photovoltaic Power

Doug and Jennie Ostgaard designed and built a photovoltaic system for their home, a project they was completed in six months. DIY photovoltaic solar has many benefits, and they outline a few of them here.

Solar Energy Solutions

Solar energy solutions can reshape the future. It can help sculpt the world we live in and can help solve some of the greatest environmental problems facing the world today including climate change and our reliance on fossil fuels.

Going, Going, Gone...Off-Grid

How to go from buying everything at Wally World to growing organic vegetables, raising livestock, building an efficient home, and a Do-It-Yourself, self-sufficient lifestyle.

Why We Need the Clean Power Plan

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.

Passive House vs. Passive Solar: A Continuing Discussion

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!

Practical Passive Solar Examples

Some examples of passive solar design applied to homes in the southeast, where cooling, as well as heating, is a concern.

From Selenium to Silicon and Beyond

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!

Let It Shine: Modeling Global Warming in 1767

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

Aspirations of the Energy Poor are the Key for Solar to Thrive

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.

Let It Shine: Solar Heat for Gardening

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.

A Sunroom for My Chickens

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!

Let It Shine: Making Fire from the Sun

Chinese archaeologists have recently found the oldest solar device – a bronze concave mirror – capable of almost instantaneously making fire from sunlight.

Avoiding Disaster: Why We Need Green Development

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.

Let It Shine: Solar Energy in Ancient Rome

When writing his great work On Architecture, Rome’s greatest solar architect Vitruvius emphasized proper solar orientation for buildings and bath houses.

Solar Power: The Idea, the Reality and the Future

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.

The Gift of Solar Energy

Here are three of the season’s brightest and cleanest gifts for a greener holiday celebration.

Let It Shine: Solar Design in Ancient Greece

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.

Let It Shine: Solar Architecture in Ancient China

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.

Off the Grid With Solar Power

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 Solar Decathlon 2013

Team Austria wins the Solar Decathlon 2013 for building the most energy-efficient, cost-effective and most attractive solar-powered house.

Build a Solar Cart Instead of Removing Trees

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.

Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy

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.

Our Solar-Powered Tractor

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.

Solar Double Cropping

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.

The Elegant Solar Wall Heater

One of the easiest ways to bask and rejoice in the gifts of nature is to make and use a solar wall heater.

Towards Perpetual Motion Machines-Part 3

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.

Taking the Leap to Off-Grid

A few thoughts on why so many people are hesitant to make the transition to produce their own power.

How NOT to Build Your Own House

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.

Towards Perpetual Motion Machines - Part 2 of 3

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.

Toward Perpetual Motion Machines

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.

Small Business Solar Power Gets $10 Million Boost from DOE

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.

Solar Generators: Clean, Portable Power

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.

Growing Calcium

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.

6 Common Mistakes Solar PV Installers Make

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.

Growing Renewable Energy Sources in the United States

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.  

Changing the footprint for Passive Solar Gain

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.

Solar Tour Sparks Nationwide Movement

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.

Solar Food Drying 2012

Solar drying experiences in 2012, including tomato varieties Principe Borghese and Long Tom.

A Rind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

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.

Solar Dehydrating Tomatoes, Step-by-Step

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.

Super-Simple Solar Food Drying

Solar food drying is incredibly easy with a solar food dehydrator, which requires very little effort to make perfectly preserved produce.

My First DIY Solar Car

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.

Building My Net Zero Energy Home: Design Priorities

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.

Building My Net Zero Energy Home: Key Early Decisions

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.

Building My Net Zero Energy Home: The Back Story

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.

Solar Panel Back Up Power for Under 1000 Dollars?

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.

Drying Herbs in a Solar Dehydrator

  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.  

Solar Electric Incentive Status: What's Changing and What's Not

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...

The New Recharge Mower ULTRALITE

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.

Weed & Water Wednesday: A Favorite Desert Garden

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!

How About 16 Horsepower?

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. 

My Friend Mark Seiden Went Solar on His Business and He's Saving $57,000

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 Cost of Climate Change

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.

SunWorks Solar Food Dryer Now Available

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.

The Homestead's Solar Tech

In this blog we talk about our three differnet types of solar technology that we have on the Homestead.

A. O. Smith Donates to Extreme Makeover

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.

Look Ma, No Trombe Wall

Forty years ago a trombe wall worked to store and release heat in a passive solar house. Is it obsolete in the 21st century?

Going Solar in Seattle

Getting solar panels in Seattle is becoming more affordable with state incentives and net metering but still doesn't quite compare to other states.

March Madness

Brief description of our journey back onto the National Mall, our Flex Space design, and our Solar Thermal Skylight.

Leasing Solar Panels

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.

Sustainability, One Step At a Time

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.

Sun Powers More Than Rice Fields

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.

Moving Into the Construction Phase

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

Inspiration for Solar Projects

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.  

Climate Change and the Sun

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.

The Solar Homestead Project

The Appalachian State University team will be blogging about their progress on the solar home they are building for the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Enriching Activities Offered in the New Year

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.  

Why is There an Energy Crisis?

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.

Solar Activity, Greenhouse Gas Levels and Climate Change on Our Earth

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.

White House Plans to Install Rooftop 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.

Pro Sports Leagues Embrace Solar Power

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.

Organic Gardening and Rainwater Harvesting: Sustainable Living by Example

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. 

Photo of the Week: Simple Solar Cabin

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!

Train Now for Tomorrow's Jobs

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

Photo of the Week: Dome Home

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!

Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panels

Yes, you can make your own solar panels, but it won’t necessarily save you much money compared with buying commercial solar panels.

Photo of the Day: Solar Bathhouse

This bathhouse from CU user "Solar Lady from Norwood" proudly uses the sun to power it through the day. Making good use of alternative energy, the bathhouse surrounded by lush grass looks like a great little escape. Adorned with a sign and additional artwork, this

Should You Wait for the Latest, Greatest PV Modules?

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.

Emancipate Yourself from the Utility

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.

Renewable Energy Education

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.

Can Solar Power the World?

Dan Chiras and other energy experts envision a future powered by a combination of renewable energy resources, including wind and solar.

Building SIPsmart: Considering Concrete and Solar Hot Water

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.

LEED Continuing Education Credits through the Evergreen Institute

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.

Green Gingerbread Houses: Building with SIPs

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.

Photovoltaics: The Future of Solar Power

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.

Active Passive

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.

Landing a Job in Renewable Energy

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.

It’s Almost Time for the 2009 Solar Decathlon

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.

What Are AC Solar Panels?

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.

Would You Rather Be On the Grid, or Off the Grid?

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?

Checking in on the Climate Bill Debate

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.

What Do you Think About Small Solar Gadgets?

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!

Thinking About the Grid

There's lots of good information on renewable energy in this new NPR series on electricity in America.

Easy-to make Cardboard Solar Cooker

The Financial Times Climate Change Challenge winner is the Kyoto Box solar cooker, which uses no fuel other than the sun to cook food.

Can Solar Panels Be Damaged By Hail?

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.

Renewable Energy on the Farm

There are many ways farmers can benefit from renewable energy, including wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency and biofuels.

Getting to Know Your LEDs

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.

Another Greenhouse Gas to Watch

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.

Solar Fire Starter

Use this parabolic mirror as a handy pocket-sized firestarter.

Our Shining Star

National Solar Tour couldn't have more perfect timing.

Toyota Taps Sun Power Too

Toyota installs a large solar panel system on a California facility, proving its green thumb extends farther than the road.