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.

How a Small Wind Turbine Works, Part 3: Turbine Terminology

The previous installment focused on the benefits of small wind turbines for homeowners who are grid-tied, off-grid, or have battery backup systems. In this short episode, we’ll go over the main terminology associated with small wind turbines.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 3

The third in a series of weekly postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont where I developed a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.

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.

Off-Grid vs. Grid-Tied

A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 4: Turn Down Your Thermostat

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.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 3: Plug Your Electronics Into Power Strips

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.

States Achieve 25 Percent Renewable Energy With Wind Power

Defying conventional wisdom about the limits of wind power, in 2012 both Iowa and South Dakota generated close to one quarter of their electricity from wind farms. Wind power accounted for at least 10 percent of electricity generation in seven other states. Across the United States, wind power continues to strengthen its case as a serious energy source.

An Appalachian Alternative to Mountaintop Removal Coal Mines

Many criticize eliminating coal mining in West Virginia because of the amount of jobs the sector provides. A wind farm, however, would employ over 200 local residents during the two-year construction phase, and create 40-50 permanent maintenance jobs afterward. A wind farm would also allow the mountain to be used for other purposes, like sustainable forestry, mountain harvesting, and gathering of wild forest plants, creating additional jobs and the opportunity for stable income for locals.

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.

U.S. Government Approves 450 MW Offshore Wind Energy Lease

As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Nov. 7, 2012, a lease for commercial wind energy development 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.

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.  

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.

DIY Solar Installation

Solar expert Joe Utasi hopes to have his home solar panel installation complete and running, and will have lots of pictures to show and discuss by the time the Seven Springs Fair arrives.

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a new Wind Turbine project at the port of Milwaukee will produce more than enough electricity for the city building there. Blogger Ben Nelson checks it out for you with a report, photos, and video.

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.

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.

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.

Is a Wind Turbine Right for Me?

Figure out whether a home wind turbine is right for you by evaluating land for the best wind turbine location. Our expert explains placement, turbulence, wind speed and wind site assessment. These steps and factors will determine if a wind turbine is right for you.

Amanda Little at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Environmental journalist and author Amanda Little gives a keynote speech about America's dependence on fossil fuels at the 2010 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Seven Springs, Pa.

Mortgage Mess Was Avoidable

The thousands of families who have built affordable homes, cash up front, made of earthbags, straw bales, cordwood, cob and rammed tires are not in danger of losing their homes in the current mortgage crisis.

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.

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

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.

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.

Cape Wind Approved

Recent approval by the Obama administration of the Massachusetts based Cape Wind project creates the potential for 130 offshore wind turbines, which are predicted to produce up to 468 megawatts of wind power.  

Why We Should Reconsider Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is cleaner than fossil fuels and is endlessly renewable. Find out more about why we should seriously reconsider geothermal energy as a way to meet the world's energy needs.

Career Opportunities in Renewable Energy: Becoming an Educator

Renewable energy expert Dan Chiras shares details about The Evergreen Institute's new Renewable Energy Educator Certificate program, designed to prepare teachers to train a new generation of renewable energy professionals to meet the needs of a growing industry.

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.

Are We Putting the Renewable Energy Cart before the Horse?

Dan Chiras points out the efforts already being made to increase availability of renewable energy professionals and educators and talks about The Evergreen Institute's new goals to raise interest among potential students.

A Visit to Greensburg

Earlier this month I visited Greensburg, Kan., and toured a few of its many green buildings. Here's what I found.

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.

Does Your Electric Utility Offer a Green Power Option?

We’d like to hear more about your experiences with green power. Is it available where you live? How does the price compare to what you would otherwise pay for electricity? Why have you — or haven’t you — chosen this option?

FITs Picking Up Across the Country

The Sacramento Municipal Utility Destrict (SMUD) recently approved a FIT policy, which will allow owners of small renewable energy systems in the company's area to sell excess energy back to it. Several areas in the United States have passed similar policies in recent years.

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?

Senate Committee passes energy bill

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed a bipartisan bill that does not go far enough for some environmental groups.

Small Wind Turbine Market Sees Big Growth

According to a recent American Wind Energy Association report, the U.S. market for small wind turbines grew 78 percent in 2008. Manufacturers predict that this trend will continue in the next few years.

Thinking About the Grid

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

Green Building Workshops With Dan Chiras

Learn how to build your own wind turbine, install your own solar panels and convert your car to electricity with hands-on teaching by Dan Chiras.

Renewable Energy on the Farm

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

Follow the Money: Renewable Energy in the Stimulus Package

Want to know more about where that $787 billion dollars in the stimulus package is going? Here are links to a couple of timely articles with all the details about how the stimulus package will encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency.

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.

Blog Action Day: Living Sustainably and Fighting Poverty

October 15 is Blog Action Day and this year the topic is poverty. Here are several related blog posts on this subject, especially as it relates to the sustainable living topics that we write about every day.

Can I Afford to Make my House Energy Efficient?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) provides state-by-state information on incentives, rebates and grant programs for renewable energy systems and energy efficient home improvement programs.

More Wind, More Wires

If we want more electricity from renewable sources, we need to think about upgrades to our electric grid.

Speaking of Clean Energy

Bill Clinton has 10 recommendations for what the U.S. government should be doing to promote cleaner energy.

What Does Living “Off the Grid” Mean?

The term "living off the grid" can be used in different ways, but it means something very specific when you start looking at producing electricity from renewable sources.

Aloha, Solar Power

Heating water with the sun is no longer an option on the Hawaiian islands. A bill was passed in Hawaii that requires all new homes to install a solar water heater in order to receive a building permit.

What are the Candidates Saying About Energy?

Here's one helpful link that can help you find out where your favorite candidate stands on nuclear power, biofuels, renewable energy, fuel economy and other hot environmental issues.

25 Wind-powered Places

These 25 very different places all get some or all of their energy from wind power.

Planning a Wind Powered Future

Many states are working quickly to develop their wind power resources knowing it will pay off big in the future.