Cooperative Neighborhood Composting

Besides benefiting the environment by reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills and providing your garden with black gold, composting can build and strengthen relationships with your community.

Cover Crops: Better Soil in a Month

Cover crops or green manures have improved soil for thousands of years. We look at what one month of growth provides in an average raised bed.

Cook for a Night and Eat for a Week with a Wood-Fired Oven

We built our own clay oven for backyard pizza and bread-baking. One of our favorite things to do is fire up the oven for a weekend afternoon/evening and prepare a variety of meals that will last all week. A bit of work on the weekend provides meals for a week with the unique wood-fired flavor of the outdoor oven.

Heat-Tolerant Eggplant Varieties

For several years, we have been trialing eggplant varieties to find one better in hot weather than our favorite 'Nadia', which is great in temperate summer weather. We love the classic pear shape and glossy purple-black skin of 'Nadia', and we want something looking similar, but better at setting fruit in hot weather.

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.

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.

Dark Molasses-Oatmeal Bread

This yummy loaf is a little darker than regular oatmeal bread, due to the molasses, which also gives it some sweetness. Once again, I’m using home ground hard red wheat flour, which gives an indescribable flavor. No flour mill? No problem, just substitute regular whole wheat flour and all purpose white, respectively. The blend of whole wheat and white flour makes a lighter loaf than if made from 100% whole wheat.

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.

Baking Sandwich Breads (and Pizza Crust) Using a Pre-Fermented Starter

European breads are frequently made with an overnight starter, called “Poolish” or “Biga”. A super-easy way of developing dough I learned from Peter Reinhart (author of The Bread Bakers Apprentice) has helped me to quickly put together some delicious, full-flavored sandwich breads. Here’s how.

How to Install a Chimney Chase Cover (with Video)

Installing a chimney chase cover is a common project among do-it-yourself homeowners. Many homes were built with galvanized chase covers which rust after a few years – causing leaks and rust stains. Homes that were built with a masonry chimney eventually end up with a cracked and weathered mortar crown, also causing leaks and damage to the home.

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.

Simple Whole-Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe

This is my go-to recipe for making our weekly bread. It provides consistent, crusty results, uses only three (ish) ingredients, and takes about 40 minutes of active time. It’s also 100 percent whole-wheat/whole grain, which is the rule for bread in our house. Don’t be put off by the 7 hours of time required — most of that is passive time while you wait for your bread to rise.

Make the Best Oatmeal Cookies

My favorite, best cookie recipe just happens to actually be pretty healthy and a good choice for after-school snacks. I used to keep a tin in my office, available to anyone who hadn’t had time for lunch. They have enough protein, iron and whole grain to make them guilt-free. This recipe makes about 60 two-inch cookies that freeze well.

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.

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.

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.

Is Your Water Heater an Energy Hog?

One of the largest energy expenses in a typical home is its water heater. Here are some ways to assess the efficiency of your water heater and decide whether a replacement is needed and if so, what type it should be.

Help Your Trees By Burning Firewood

Those who garden know that weeding is often essential to growing good vegetables or fruits. In a forest, sunlight too is a limiting factor. By knowing which tree to cut and which to leave, forest health can be improved. Cutting for firewood can serve as an incentive to "weed" on the ultra-perennial scale.

Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower

Here at Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, we use a compost pile built with local, natural materials and a 100-foot water pipe to create a steaming hot shower.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion In the Garden

In order to maintain an internal body temperature of 98.6 F, the body perspires or sweats. As the sweat evaporates off the skin it cools the body. The trouble starts when the humidity is so high that the air is saturated with moisture and sweat drips off of you rather than evaporating. My method for avoiding Heat Stroke is called Getting Grounded in the Garden.

Italian Fried Doughnuts

For the last week we had no propane and as a result I have had to cook all of my food on an electric skillet. Holy week usually involves a lot of baking in preparation for Easter Sunday.

DIY Wheat Thresher

Reader Jenna Winkeller of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to us about a homemade device that can make small-scale wheat cultivation far more efficient: a DIY wheat thresher crafted from just a bucket, drill and chain. Check out a video of it in action, and get instructions for assembling your own version of this wallet-friendly, timesaving tool.

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

The Emergence of Perennial Wheat

Interest in breeding a perennial version of wheat is once again on the rise. That would help reduce soil erosion, maintain soil cover, and cut back on fossil-fuel and chemical inputs.

Greek Yogurt

This blog teaches readers how to make homemade Greek-style yogurt.

A Winter Bath

Taking a bath in the winter takes a little more planning at our off-grid, no-plumbing home.

Air-Source Heat Pumps

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

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 Report on Warmth

With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.

Masonry Heat: A Formula for Health, Comfort and Ecology

Although forced air is the most common form of home heat in North America it is far from ideal. This article explains why Building Biology regards the masonry heater as the ultimate heating system for health, comfort and ecology.

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.

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.

FCX Oil-Fired Condensing Boilers Entering North American Market

FCX Oil-Fired Condensing Boilers, designed and manufactured by Geminox, provide a reliable and efficient alternative to non-condensing boilers. FCX Boilers feature a steel, non-condensing primary heat exchanger coupled with a stainless steel, condensing secondary heat exchanger.

Groundhog Crocus Signs

Talking about carrying in the red roofing tin the old fashioned way due to a broken golf cart and some very muddy conditions. The refrigerator root cellar continues to prove itself as an experiment that seems to be working so far.

WiseWay Pellet Stove is Non-Electric, EPA-Certified

WiseWay Pellet Stove is the first and only EPA-certified and UL-listed non-electric pellet stove on the market today. This pellet stove eliminates the need for electricity by using a gravity-feed natural draft to accomplish a high efficiency rating of 75 percent. It’s capable of heating up to 2,000 square feet and able to hold a fire up to 31 hours on a 40-pound bag of pellets. The stove is also mobile home approved.  

Saving Stressed Tomatoes

Describes a method of protecting tomatoes from excessive heat using a sunscreen, vermicompost tea, pulling blighted leaves.

Take a Tour of The Ozarks Mountain and Mill Country

Take a tour of the mills and mountains of the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas, home to some of the finest remaining historic gristmills that still exist in the U.S.A. Based on the popular Historic Ozarks Mills book created by award-winning photographer Mike McArthy. Hydropower's energy-producing capacity is getting well-deserved attention these days, and these old mills provide inspiration.

Panting Like Lizards

We're lucky to be able to live the way we do, even when we feel like we're melting

Seeking Electric In-Floor Heat

Jessica Kellner, editor of Natural Home & Garden, is beginning research on electric in-floor radiant floor heating products as an efficient method of heating the new nursery.

Goats: Just Kidding! Part 5

After the kidding is over, we take good care of our girls! And, the babies need to be bottle fed, so here are the instructions on how we feed our kids.

Living Off Grid - Home and Energy Options Part 3

This is the last of a series in home and energy options available to us. It is a short summary of all of the choices we have when designing a new home on or off grid that will benefit your energy use.

Wood Heat

Wood is our source of heat for the winter, as are sweaters and hats!

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

When one of her goats starts looking for love for the first time, and hollering her little head off, Angela has to do some quick thinking to keep her precious pets from becoming that night's dinner!

I AM the King of Kindling

Cam hates to see good scrap wood go to waste and so he cuts it into kindling and has even started selling it!

Back to the Old Grind(er)

One of our family treasures is an old iron mill. We had an opportunity to get the old mill out this fall and grind some beautiful wheat that we had been gifted with.

Stung by Heat and Drought in Texas

During the exceptional heat & drought in Texas this summer BeeWeaver worked hard to just keep hives alive... no honey, no divides.

Reheating Red Meats

The Gourmet Butcher explains the best ways to re-heat red meats.

Help! I'm Allergic to Bread

The development of gluten intolerance persuaded me to investigate the possibility of an heirloom wheat flour that might not cause the gluten reaction of wheat-based products.

Global Heat Distribution and Climate Change

We discuss the role of ocean currents in preventing a runaway thermal imbalance on our planet. We also discuss the impact on the climate when the ocean currents are shut down or reverse course.

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.  

Firewood Splitting Tips

Steve Maxwell, Canada’s Handiest Man, provides tips on splitting firewood for home heating via woodstoves or fireplaces.

Soapstone Masonry Heating Alternative

Tulikivi provides a “green” cost-effective heating solution because it uses less wood to heat the same space than with a traditional wood burner.

The New Loo Part 2

Simran Sethi writes about choosing eco-friendly paints, tiles, and other aspects of her renovated bathroom.

The New Loo

Simran Sethi explains her bathroom-remodel goals to conserve water.

Climate Change: The Role of Water

This posting discusses how the oceans stores heat and transports the heat to warm colder parts of the planet. The posting uses El Nino as an example on how warm ocean water can have a diverse effect on the climate in different regions of the planet.

Re-Greening My Thumb

Simran Sethi starts dreaming of spring gardening, with the goal of renewing her efforts to grow real food.

2400 EcoAire Pellet Stove

The EcoAire is designed to be installed in much the same fashion as a window air conditioner and just as easily.

Is Radiant-Floor Heating a Good Choice?

Radiant floor heating may save energy in the average home, but for especially well insulated new houses, here's why it's probably not your best option.

Summer of Turkeys

Recap of 2010 growing season in Northwest Pennsylvania

Share the Yard

Simran Sethi teams up with two neighbors to "grow food, not lawns."

Building SIPsmart: HVAC and Serious Windows

Michael Morley is posting regular updates about his progress building a unique green home with structural insulated panels (SIPs). Here he talks  about HVAC work and installing windows.

Share Your Thoughts on Woodstoves

Do you have a woodstove or pellet stove at home? We’d like to hear more about your experiences with woodstoves and any tips you may have for heating with wood.

Great Info on Insulation

Have you thought about adding more insulation to your home to reduce your energy bills? Here are some good places to go for more information.

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.

All Kinds of Solar: Understanding the Options

There are many different ways to bring solar power into your home. Here's a quick overview of the different ways people use solar energy, with links to related articles and plans.

Thermostat Negotiations

Here are a few talking points that can help peacefully resolve home heating arguments.

Tips for Heating with Wood

When it's cold outside, who doesn't love a cozy fireplace or woodstove? Wood heat is a comfortable way to warm your home, and there are many reasons it's a practical choice, too.