New York’s Hudson Valley Revs Up for Electric Vehicles with New Campaign

The first electric vehicle (EV) consumer education program in the Hudson Valley goes live this fall. For the growing population of consumers who are curious about EVs and want to learn more, Drive Electric Hudson Valley will provide consumer workshops, informational materials, and test drive opportunities throughout the fall

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.

Hybrid Home Energy Systems Offer Both Off-Grid and Grid-Tied Benefits

For residential electricity users who want to control and master their electrical consumption, as well as business owners and agricultural users, a hybrid approach offers the best of both worlds: reduced or even eliminated utility charges and backup during critical times, without the need to stay totally off the grid with a system that can draw from the grid when necessary to make up the difference.

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.

5 Ways Hiring an HVAC Professional Can Save You Money

Have you wandered the aisles of your local home improvement store trying to determine what you need for your home’s air conditioning or furnace? If you are unsure about what is wrong with your equipment, get a professional’s opinion or you could be spending money unnecessarily.

Considerations For 'Going Green' at Home

Making the commitment to going fully green at home is huge, however there are certain things you should know first, such as what it truly means to go green, your home's energy expenditure, and your carbon footprint.

Better Wood Heat: Rocket Mass Heater FAQs Answered

Wood is one of the oldest forms of heat, and throughout the millennia, has been used to keep mankind toasty and defrosted. However, now that we’re an older and (presumably) wiser race, we’re seeing how inefficient and unsustainable this form of heat can be. Rocket mass heaters and rocket stove technology offers the solution, and puts affordable, efficient heat within reach of us all.

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.

Cookies from the Toaster Oven

My little toaster oven does a great job baking eight or 10 cookies, uses very little electricity itself, doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and saves the air conditioning. The variety is endless — see some flavor ideas below. Start with the basic dough and add to it, such as for these Toasted Almond Cookies. They’re buttery, tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

What to Do with Sludge

Sewage and industrial sludge is being managed as a liability. Current outdated regulations and technologies focus on the least-expensive means of the sludge disposal. Sludge management needs to be redirected toward the recovery of energy and chemicals embedded in the sludge and guided by the principals based on the current scientific findings and technology. Environmental and demographic considerations need to play an important role in this new approach geared toward sustainable and energy-efficient waste management practices.

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.

Light Straw-Clay Building Coming of Age in North America

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.

How Big Data is Becoming More Important to the Energy Industry

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.

How to Install a Top-Locking Chimney Damper (with Video)

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.

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.

Fossil-Fuel-Free Cooking

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!

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.

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.

Home-Insulation Considerations for Spring

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.

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.


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.

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.

10 Tips for Heating With Wood

Learn to choose the right-sized wood stove, manage your firewood and light, and maintain quality fires to heat your home with wood.

4 Ways to Remain Eco-Friendly During Winter

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.

5 Steps to Turn Your House into a Smart, Energy-Saving Home

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.

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.

Energy Breakthrough: Reactionless Generator and 'Out of the Void' Film Review

Energy conversion efficiencies have been stuck in the 19th century. As a result the enormous drain on natural resources has polluted the entire planet and threatens to cause a return to a preindustrial lifestyle. An Energy breakthrough is needed. A breakthrough has occurred as prophesied by Nikola Tesla.

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.

Why Home Insulation Is Important Year-Round

Home insulation can no longer be regarded as something homeowners simply put off as a vague way to be environmentally conscious. Insulating one’s home properly is the best way to cut down on those surging energy costs plaguing every homeowner.

Preparing for Power Outages on the Homestead, Part 2

Losing power is a reality that homesteaders must prepare for. It is not a matter of if, but when, and for how long. As a homesteader/farmsteader we have a responsibility to keep the home running regardless of “power.” This series of blog posts discusses homestead preparedness for power outages, part 2 covers generator usage, communications, water strategies and dry-composting toilets.

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.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 5: Heat

This is the final article in a series on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable 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 house.

Preparing for Power Outages on the Homestead, Part 1

Losing power is a reality that homesteaders must prepare for. It is not a matter of if, but when, and for how long. As a homesteader/farmsteader we have a responsibility to keep the home running regardless of “power.” This series of blog posts discusses homestead preparedness for power outages, beginning with fuel storage, gas cooking and wood heat.

7 Ways to Increase Your Patience and Attention this Holiday Season

If you fall asleep or can't think straight at holiday gatherings, don't blame it on the turkey (or your relatives)! Research indicates that carbon dioxide is not only a greenhouse gas, but elevated levels of it are detrimental to human health and cognition. Learn how improving your indoor air quality will increase your health and stamina during holidays.

Essential Steps to Keep Your Wind Turbine Turning

So you finally took the leap and installed a home wind turbine. Congratulations! You’ve just taken a big step to make your home energy generation more sustainable and secure, but what comes next? Wind turbines require maintenance and this post will outline some wind turbine maintenance essentials to consider.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 3: Water

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

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.

The Top 5 Things You Can Do to Your Home to Save the Planet

There are five main areas of the home responsible for wasting the most energy. At the top of that list is windows, and one of the most effective ways to decrease your home’s carbon footprint is by replacing old, drafty windows with new, air-tight Energy Star-qualified windows.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 2: Electricity

This is Part 2 in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. The author is currently entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at his mountain homestead after completing the construction of a small house.

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.

5 Tips for a Greener Christmas

Take notice of your environmental footprint over the festive period and follow our guide for a greener Christmas.

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.

How and Why to Choose Energy-Efficient Windows

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the amount of energy lost annually through windows costs consumers $35 billion. Heat loss and heat gain through and around windows accounts for between 10 and 25 percent of our heating and air conditioning usage, the largest consumer of energy in a modern home. Here are some ways to make sure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible.

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!

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.

Get Power from ‘Dead’ Batteries by Building a ‘Watt Wringer’

When your electronics say “low battery,” it means just that: The batteries are low but not dead. The energy that remains in seemingly dead batteries can be used in this simple night light project that you can build at home in about one hour. Your new night light will shine for months and is reusable for years, powered by “dead” batteries.

The Wise Grid Series, Part 1: Smart Meters Are Not Smart

Transformation of the electricity sector may be able to be delayed by wasting billions of federal tax dollars on unnecessary meters, and large long-distance transmission lines, but it cannot be stopped. It may be a politically rocky transition for the foreseeable future, but I am confident America will certainly achieve energy independence and clean energy abundance.

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 4

The fourth in a series of 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.

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.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 2

The second post 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.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 1

The first 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 for a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.

5 Things a New Fridge Can Do for the Good of the Planet

The decision to replace an old refrigerator should not always be made based only on how well it is functioning. New Energy Star models have many energy-saving and cost-saving advantages that can make that decision much easier.

Is Natural Gas Green?

Natural gas sounds green. After all, it has "natural" in the title. But how green is natural gas, really?

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 Top 3 Green Energy Trends for 2015

Learn about three consumer-driven green energy trends for 2015 that will have a direct impact on our pocketbooks in the coming year, including net-zero energy homes, electric vehicles, and green energy production.

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.

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.

Induction Cooking On the Cheap

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.

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.

Homemade Wind Generator

Build your own wind generator for use with 12-Volt systems. Charge up batteries for lighting, fans, tools and more.

Air Conditioning Check-Up

Spring is the perfect time to give your home cooling equipment a check-up before hot weather arrives.

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.

Induction Cooking

How does induction cooking work? What are the pros and cons? Efficient electric cooking or hidden health risk?

Air-Source Heat Pumps

High efficiency air source heat pumps are proving their worth for cold climate heating and cooling.

Earn Green By Going Green

Tips for solar advocates to invest money smartly and be part of the growing solar market

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.

Why Bother 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.

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.

Why Life Exists on Earth: A New Perspective on Carbon Emissions

Mankind’s use of fossil fuels during the last 200 years has dumped millions of years of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere in the form of Carbon Dioxide. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, 315 gigatons of carbon have been added to the atmosphere, leaving the carbon cycle 315 gigatons out of balance.

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.

Modernizing Your Home

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.

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.

Lighten Up (and Save)

Fall is a great time to replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. Save up to $50 per year.

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.

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.

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.

Off-Grid vs. Grid-Tied

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

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.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 12: Check Your Windows for Drafts

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.

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.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 9: Wash In Cold Water

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.

Framing Double 2-by-4 Walls

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.

Simple and Green Building

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.

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.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 2: Switch to CFL or LED Lighting

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.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 1: Call Your Utility Company

Tonight when you get home from work or school, call your utility company and ask what incentives they have for you to get an energy audit for your home. Many utilities have been offering free energy audits for years, but very few people have actually taken advantage.

Energy Saving Window Film Could Save Tons of Oil

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.

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.

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.

6 Tech-Savvy Ways to Home Energy Efficiency

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.

Bank The Farm: Let it Snow!

How packing snow against your house can add R-value to your insulation - and subtract energy costs.

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.

Chevrolet Announces Carbon Reduction Initiative with Video

In 2010, Chevrolet announced that they were embarking on their Carbon Reduction Initiative, an effort to invest $40 million in carbon offset projects across the country with the goal of reducing up to 8 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. The program includes wind, landfill-gas-to-energy, solar, efficiency, and conservation projects.

Pedal Powered Soil Testing

An update on generating electricity with pedal power and which exercise bike we decided on and testing soil for nutrient ratios along with fixing a pair of leaky boots with adhesive and inner tube scrap patch.

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.

What is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?

A Federal Housing Association (FHA) EEM provides mortgage insurance to the borrower who is looking to purchase or refinance their home, and incorporate the costs of energy efficient improvements into their mortgage.

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.

Do the Math Tour 2012

Bill McKibben is doing a national tour to raise awareness about climate change and to build a movement around changing the way we use energy.

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.

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.

Wood Gas Speeding Ticket

Wayne you'd better slow down! The master of vehicle gasification is hard pressed to stay within the speed limit.

Making Hay With Wood Gas

Hay season on the Keith farm means lots of work for the wood-powered truck! Check out these videos of Wayne's farming operation.

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.

Farming With Wood Gas

Gasification guru Wayne Keith shows us some of his daily farm operations.

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.

Fight Back Against Fossil Fuels

Read about new legislation that would stop the government from funding the fossil fuel industry. Then, sign your name to the petition and make a difference.

Turning off the Power

Monitoring energy use has led to increased motivation for conservation


Future factors set a high standard for sustainable products and activities

Dedicated Roofers Cross Dangerous Creek

Talking about the recent past week where we got several items crossed off the Spring to-do list and managed to have some fun while doing it complete with pictures to illustrate the good times.

Fixing an old barn roof

Finally getting the barn roof repair project started was a big deal for us as well as a few other things that are worth checking out if you are interested in modern homesteading.

Tendril Announces Partnership with BMW

Companies launch demonstration site to illustrate the consumer and utility benefits of a BMW electric vehicle in a Smart Energy Home powered by Tendril Connect(TM) cloud platform.

Fun with PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

Can party technology teach you about energy savings and even the theory behind electric cars? It sure can if you follow this simple video tutorial on pulse width modulation.

Insulation Upgrades: How to Handle the Walls

Upgrading wall insulation is tricky. You can't see the insulation that is (or isn't) in your walls, and it's not easy to install new insulation in a hidden wall cavity. One solution that shows promise is filling wall cavities with injections foam.

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. 

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.