Building a Cabin on Stilts

Stilts are what keeps your house standing — they are one of the most crucial parts of the entire structure. Our cabin stands on wooden stilts, but thinking back, we realize that a steel construction might have been a better choice in terms of stability and endurance. Learn from us about the benefits and potential problems of building a house on stilts.

Choosing Natural Building Materials for Improved Indoor Air Quality

You might think building a green home automatically means you’re building one with good indoor air quality. That’s not necessarily the case. There’s no guarantee eco-friendly materials are also low in pollutants. And what you put in your home after construction can have an enormous impact on air quality. Here are three ways to ensure the air you’re breathing inside your home is as good as — or better than — the air you’re breathing outside.

Two Stories About Building Resilient Communities and Bio-Regions

These are two recent stories I have been a part of. One, the North American Permaculture Convergence. The second is creating a Neighborhood Watch group on my street that can lead to a more ambitious set of actions on the street. Learn how to start these initiatives of your own.

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.

Building with Physical Limitations

Living with injury is a constant struggle for everyone, especially someone aiming to homestead. Even a simple thing such as getting a sack of chicken feed out of the car can be a problem, and we often ask a neighbor for help with that. Here is what to do when health issues interfere with building the home of your dreams.

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 to Choose the Greenest Outdoor Grill

Summertime is prime grilling time. But there are ways to make your barbecue greener and cleaner. This article compares the eco-friendly attributes of various grill options: gas, electric, charcoal, and pellet.

How to Create Green Garage Storage

Creating garage storage often requires going out to buy new plastic storage containers. Here are a few ways to make your garage storage green.

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.

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!

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.

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.

How to Choose Eco-Friendly Decking

Building an eco-friendly deck involves many considerations. Choosing the right material is certainly one of them, but other factors are also involved, including climate, location, and budget. This post reviews the important factors.

The Growing Economy of Salvaged Urban Wood

Megan Offner of New York Heartwoods is salvaging downed and damaged city trees to redirect material from our waste stream, decrease greenhouse emissions, and fuel the demand for local wood products.

Cordwood Chicken Coops

Cordwood chicken coops are the ideal method of protecting your birds and providing warmth and security. Enjoy these pictures of unique cordwood chicken coops throughout North America.

6 Things More Difficult than Building Yourself a Green Home

People think building is difficult. It’s not. And in the hope of encouraging a few more wannabe natural builders, I’ve compiled the following list. Because in my experience, there are far harder things in life than building a house.

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.

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.

Reader Roundup: DIY Composting Toilets

Before you set up your own DI composting toilet, read the experiences of several folks who have successfully — and happily — lived with simple bucket toilets.

How to Set Up a Bathroom Recycling Station

Recycling in the home shouldn't be confined to the kitchen. The bathroom can be a haven for recyclable items too. This post shares some ideas on setting up a recycling system for the household bathroom.

Book Review: My House of Earth

This new book by veteran natural builder Conrad Rogue of House Alive natural builders is a treasure of technique and philosophy.

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.

6 Easy Ways to Live a More Zero-Waste Life

You're recycling as much as you can, but have you ever wished to lower what goes into your recycling bin while reducing that landfill-bound trash, too? Here are 6 simple ways to live a more zero-waste life.

How to Green Clean Your Shower Head

Many people assume that a shower head doesn’t need to be cleaned. However, it's not uncommon for lime scale and mineral deposits from the water to clog your shower head and reduce the flow of water. Cleaning the shower head is important but it must be done correctly and in an eco-friendly way.

Building a Cabin with a Portable Sawmill

By sawing his own lumber from fallen trees, Billy Reeder not only built his cabin debt-free on family land, he also built a new life — a deliberate life. A good life.

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas

Looking for alternatives to store-bought gifts? Check our these eco-friendly holiday gift ideas. Green your holiday season by making your own gifts, gifting experiences, or giving plants- the gifts that keep on giving.

Steps to Guard Against Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air is polluted by volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These gases are emitted into the air from products like pesticides, air fresheners, cleaning products, paint and paint remover, personal care products, appliances, furniture and building products, including carpet and pressed-wood floors, and more. Learn several steps to take to guard against indoor air pollution and how indoor air quality monitors can help.

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.

3 Gifts Made from Recycled Materials

Gifting is more enjoyable when you know that the gifts you are giving are environmentally conscious and a lot of fun, plus the recipients will be totally in love. released its annual eco-friendly gifts list this year with everyone in mind: men, women, children and pets.

10 Reasons to Build an Earthbag House

My earthbag home has liberated me from a mortgage. The technique has numerous benefits. Here’s my list of why anyone might want to think about an earthbag home.

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.

5 Tips for a Greener Christmas

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

Things Get Easier One Step at a Time

Dream big, build a small house or make home improvements, and enjoy the benefit of every task when you tap into your Zen of Building.

5 Affordable Interior-Design Ideas that Incorporate Salvaged Materials

Using new design ideas in your home will help you create an aesthetic that is all your own, but you don’t have to go out and dump your bank account into new items. You can make some great updates to your home using recycled or salvaged pieces for very cheap. This article explores five design ideas anyone can do for a dime by incorporating recycled materials that will make your home look amazing.

Step-By-Step Construction for Owner-Built Small Homes

Estimating the work load and minimizing re-work is the key to happy owner-builders of small homes. The basic steps are similar wither you build a straw-bale, stick-frame, or masonry structure, all must be completed within the relatively short building season.

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.

Could Using an Air Compressor Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Air compressors can be used for just about anything on your homestead but they don’t have the best reputation for going green. Here’s what you need to know. These valuable machines are used in many factories, small businesses and even in homes, and making sure yours is efficient can cut down on emissions and your energy bills at the same time.

How to Find the Right-Sized Town for You

The first question on the path to creating a sustainable homestead is: Where should I live? Find out how population and topography characterize a town and use a simple method to map your region and locate and research the right-sized town for your home.

Why Tiny Homes Are Inherently Green (With Lilypad Tiny Home Tour)

Tiny homes are becoming more and more popular throughout the United States. This article explains why tiny homes are inherently green and offers an example of Anita’s 248-square-foot Lilypad Tiny Home, decked out with green appliances and sustainable materials.

Livable Space Design for Tiny Homes

Designing a tiny home can seem like a Rubik’s cube challenge—finding ways to shift things around when needed and out-of-the-way when done. Find out how to integrate inside/outside rooms, single/multiple rooms, and built-ins and fold-outs into your tiny house design; plus learn about the “14 Basic Requirements of a Livable Home.”

How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rug

Eco-friendly rugs can be found both indoors and outside but it's important to know the differences and the attributes that make outdoor rugs "green". Here are some of the best options for eco-friendly outdoor rugs.

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.

4 Eco-Friendly Countertop Options for Every Budget

Choosing a countertop for a kitchen remodel involves many considerations. One of the most important considerations is eco-friendliness. Here are some of the best eco-friendly countertop options available on the market today.

How To Turn a Tablecloth into a Rug

An eco-friendly and also budget-friendly way to search for a new rug can actually be very simple: the search can start right at home. Here is a way to re-purpose an old tablecloth into a new rug.

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.

Try a New, Improved Swamp Cooler

Using loads of energy to stay cool? Consider an efficient cooling unit called an indirect evaporative cooler, an advanced version of a “swamp cooler.”

Off-Grid and Underground

A homesteader introduces readers to his quest for a simpler life, which led to the construction of a unique underground home.

5 Tips for a Greener Kitchen Remodel

In order to be environmentally friendly, a kitchen remodel should reduce energy use, reuse or recycle materials, and minimize the carbon footprint of the remodeling project. Here are five tips to keep in mind in order to achieve a greener, cleaner kitchen.

How to Build a Green Construction Site

A single bulldozer engine can emit as much particulate matter as more than 500 cars. Learn how the construction industry can get green with these tips.

Neighbors Work Together on the Suburban Frontier

Greening our homes, neighborhoods and communities depends on friends and neighbors working together. This blog will show and tell several examples of friends and neighbors greening the neighborhood.

How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Rug

Indoor air pollution can be even worse than outdoor. For this reason, choosing eco-friendly floor coverings is essential to a healthy home.

How to Clean Outdoor Rugs the Naturally Effective Way

The outdoor rugs that line my garage and mud room get filthy and need a good cleaning every now and again, a cleaning that usually goes beyond just vacuuming. But this cleaning can be done in an eco-friendly way, without the use of harsh chemicals.

A Roundup of 24 Eco-Friendly Patio-Decor Ideas

It's never too early to think spring. And it's a good time now to plan for an eco-friendly patio by thinking about how household items can be smartly repurposed and upcycled into useful patio décor.

Icicles: How We Stopped Them and the Heat Loss that Caused Them, Part 2

Most ice build up on roofs in the winter time are caused by specific circumstances. This project that we just completed had ice build up from the day it was built. Although the builder did a good job of insulating, he missed one key element, which you will read about here.

Sustainable Flooring Options

How to choose a sustainable flooring product. Review of sustainable flooring used over time and links to more material choices.

Water Catchment on the Suburban Frontier

Catching and storing rainwater is one of the most important tasks on the suburban frontier for "green preparedness." It's a great way to build "home economics" and connect more closely with taking care of basic needs.

Just How Green is Green Building Anyway?

Some businesses toss around the word "green" to be hip and fit, but the question is just how green are their products and buildings anyways? Let's take a closer look.

The Earth Shelter

The "Earth Shelter" at The Farm Community in Tennessee combines the geothermal properties of the earth with solar design to produce a very energy efficient home.

Is the Future of the Fridge a Connected One?

New Energy Star standards not only raise the bar for energy efficiency in refrigeration, but they also introduce, for the first time, the idea that putting Wi-Fi into a fridge can help with energy savings.

Weighing the Switch to LED Lighting

When choosing light bulbs for the home, a close look shows that the most eco-friendly choice - LED light bulbs - can also result in the greatest long-term cost savings.

Buying, Selling and Marketing Green Homes: The New MLS for a New Generation of Sustainable Building

Marketing green homes has been limited to few websites with outdated listings that cost the seller or agent an arm and a leg to list. As a homeowner who had invested a lot of money in a green remodel of my own, I was perplexed as to how I was going to show off all the features of my home in a normal MLS listing. With years of research and development, I created a very innovative way to buy, sell, and market sustainable homes.

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.

A DIY Natural Cleaner for Stainless Steel Appliances

I wanted a DIY natural cleaner for stainless steel appliances, because I don't use all those terrible chemical-filled products that I was tricked into buying 10 years ago. How do I clean without the name brand products that promise to make life easy and clean your stainless steel products? Let me tell you my secret.

Transforming a Suburban Property: Removing a Driveway

Taking out a driveway and reclaiming automobile space can be one of the most rewarding projects on the suburban frontier. Replacing it with a walnut tree, blackberries and a storage shed with edible landscaping over the roof is even better.

Transforming A Suburban Property: Early Projects

Transforming this suburban property has been one of the most satisfying and creative adventures in my life. No need to go anywhere. Making big changes was the plan from the beginning, 15 years ago, when I bought this quarter-acre property with a modest 1,100-square-foot mid-fifties suburban house. If I reincarnated as a house and suburban property, this would be it.

How to Build a Low-Cost DIY Yurt from Sticks, String and Mud

This variation on the (endlessly adaptable) traditional Mongolian yurt design was inspired by the work of master yurt builder, educator, and homesteader Bill Coperthwaite (who was also a neighbor and friend of the Nearings). This low-cost yurt design combines basketry, wattle and daub, and basic lashing (similar to skin-on-frame boats). Not much more than a glorified tent, this DIY yurt made from sticks, string and mud makes a very comfortable, durable and beautiful tiny house, studio, or meditation space.

Suburban Permaculture Transforms Neighborhoods

“You don't have to move to live in a better neighborhood.” Half of all Americans live in suburbia. It’s true that suburbia is on the receiving end of a lot of social, economic and environmental criticism with much of that criticism well deserved. While some of these criticisms may be justified, at the same time, suburbia offers enormous potential to become a critical new frontier for deep changes in our culture and economy through principles of suburban permaculture.

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.

Building Biology: Creating a Healthy Indoor Climate

There is an ideal relative humidity range for our health and that is somewhere between 35% and 55%. In modern life we have introduced many new sources of moisture into our homes. Daily showers, laundry, cooking and dishwashing tend to create concentrated bursts of humidity. Because conventional construction can tolerate very little increase in humidity without condensation/mold problems moisture from these sources must be mechanically sucked out of the home.

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.

The Recycled Log Cabin

I love my two-story log cabin, which combines recycled and an array of green building materials.

Buildings that Pass the Test of Time

Building Biology advises us to look for a successful history of use when choosing building materials but in our ever changing product-based building environment we seldom have the luxury of evaluating track record. This becomes quickly apparent when vetting new products for client’s homes. I recently called a major manufacturer to find out what was in a new product developed to prevent mold growth on framing lumber.

Compost Tea

A basic recipe for making compost tea.

Why U.S. Homes Should Be Greener

Homes in the United States a responsible for one fifth of all carbon dioxide emissions. Simply taking steps to reduce these on a domestic level will help positively impact carbon outputs, decreasing environmental damage.

Recycle Old Prescription Bottles

Don’t let old prescription bottles go to waste! Follow this tip for recycling and reusing the prevalent plastic containers.

Heat Loss in Your Home: Long-Term Solutions Reduce Carbon Emissions

With carbon emissions in the US higher than most other countries in the world, more should be done to minimize unnecessary carbon waste. Around one third of the overall carbon consumed by the average US citizen comes from the home, if every home took a few simple steps to reduce waste, the world could a greener place.

How to Sell a Cordwood Home

The best time for selling your cordwood home. Tips, websites, suggestions, and what to do BEFORE you build.

Debt-Free Home Reports

Find guidance and inspiration by reading these reports on the ins and outs of building or buying a home debt-free.

Retrofitting a Home With Straw Bale Construction, Part 2

Cadmon Whitty decided to substantially retrofit his older home with straw bales, beginning with rewiring a home, making it more energy-efficient, more valuable, and more aesthetically attractive in the process — all on a shoestring budget.

Retrofitting a Home With Straw Bale Construction, Part 1

Though he didn’t know exactly how, Cadmon Whitty decided to substantially retrofit his older home with straw bales, making it more energy-efficient, more valuable, and more aesthetically attractive in the process — all on a shoestring budget.

How Big is Your Water Footprint?

Explore ways to reduce both your direct and indirect water footprint. Reducing your water footprint could make a huge different to both the environment and finances.

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.

Build Structures Cheaply Using This Ancient Method

Houses take a lifetime to pay off these days, and even a prosaic shed, barn or coop requires a heavy investment of money, time, skilled labour and imported materials. For thousands of years, though, people around the world used an ancient technique to build homes and other structures quickly, using nothing but local material and simple, easily learned skills.

All-Natural Household Cleaners (Video)

Create and stock up on all-natural household cleaners like vinegar, baking soda and castile soap to avoid volatile organic compounds in your home.

Cordwood Construction Basics

The fundamental building blocks, descriptions, diagrams and pictures of best practices cordwood buildings.

Mobile Saunas

A compendium of modern nomadic sweats.

Cordwood Home Construction Best Practices

Glimpse a view into the world of cordwood construction. This old-fashioned, natural building technique can inspire you to build an energy-efficient, mortgage-free house of your own.

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.

Looking for Reader Reports on Debt-Free Homes

Did you buy or build a home without going into debt? We're looking for stories on homes built with a small mortgage, or no mortgage at all. Here's what we want to know.

All-Electric Snow Removal That’s a Breeze

Clearing away snow has just gotten a charge from Snow Joe, the leading US supplier of over 140 products for snow removal and other seasonal needs. I got my hands on their latest innovation, a cordless snow blower powered by a 40-volt lithium ion battery, and compared it to their top-selling cord-based electric snow thrower.

House Mouse Control

Safely eliminate mice in your home with these house mouse control tips.

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.

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.

Green Technology

New, efficient technology is replacing the old, and it is transforming the way in which we live, and more importantly, our impact on the environment.

Tips for Finding a Healthy Building Site

If you are planning to build a healthy home your first step is to find a site that will support health and here are some helpful tips about siting

Kit Homes Survey: Which Features Would You Choose?

If you are hoping to build a new home or weekend cottage, we would appreciate your participation in this short survey, which will gauge your interest in a variety of possible kit home features.

Does a Green Home Make a Difference?

Many people perceive going green as an inconvenience and an unnecessary burden on their daily lives. What they don't realize is that they can take simple steps to help protect the environment without the disruption to their lifestyle, but save money as well.

Aladdin Kerosene Lamps

Cherished Aladdin lamps were on display at a recent collectors show in Topeka, Kan.

A Healthy Bed: Your Most Important Furniture Choice

When it comes to your health and well-being your bed is the most important furniture choice you will make. This article describes why and how to choose the healthiest bed options for you and your family.

How to Tell Which Businesses Are Eco-Friendly

When you do business with someone, you are indirectly condoning their methods. with access to the internet, anyone can do a little research to see which businesses are living up to our high expectations.

First Experiments In Natural Building

Eric, Michael and Loren decided to build a winter shelter from natural and re-used materials two winters ago, their first ever natural building experiment. This is an account of that experience that changed their lives in mysterious and unforeseen ways (for the better!).

6 Steps to Making Your Home Greener

We all have the responsibility to do are best to preserve the Earth and the environment in any way we can. Some people take it to the extreme, but that isn't always necessary. There are many ways we can make simple changes in our lifestyles to contribute to saving what's most precious for our children and future generations.

Seven Lesser Known Devices That Can Help You Conserve Resources in the Home

In our modern society, we are starting to realize how important the environment is and how fragile it really is. Our resources are limited, and if we aren't kept in check, we will ruin any hope we have of preserving it. Using the technology we have available to help us is something everybody can do.

Five Smart Technologies for Greener Communities

Instituting community-wide, Eco-friendly programs can be a great way to beautify cities, save money, and do your duty to help preserve the planet. It might be difficult, but all it takes is one person to make a difference.

Find Natural Cleaning and Beauty Products

From shampoo and lotion to wood polish and drain cleaner, you’ll be surprised at how many common household products contain potentially hazardous ingredients. Here’s how to identify problem products and find the best alternatives to buy — or save a little money by making your own.

Spray Day: DIY Natural Fabric Spritz

There are some things that you just aren’t going to wash very often, like your curtains, couch cushions, and probably even your favorite jeans. To spare the air, concoct a simple essential oil-infused linen spray, and spritz away until your definition of what “clean” smells like shifts permanently.

What's the Greenest Can of Paint?

We are inundated with green messages that can sometimes be confusing or misleading. This phenomenon is especially true when it comes to the paint industry. There is much talk about No-VOC and Low-VOC paints, but what is the truth behind it?

What’s That Smell in My House?

You smell an odor in your home and suspect that it isn’t healthy. This article explains how to do some safe investigation in preparation for calling in an expert.

Off-Grid vs. Grid-Tied

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

How to Dispose of Treated Wood

Your deck or other outdoor structures may be made of wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Learn more about CCA-treated wood and how to dispose of it.

Safer Exterior Wood Finishes

Many wood finishes contain toxic solvents or heavy-metal drying agents. Learn which nontoxic wood finishes are best to use on decks, fences and unfinished, wood-sided homes.

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.

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.

My Journey Home From Chemical Sensitivities

An introduction to Paula Baker-Laporte's future readers : about Paula, multiple chemical sensitivities, Building Biology and the role of green building in health.

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.

Spontaneous Bender Build

The full team from attended Over the Moon Festival last autumn in the UK and built a beautiful bender as a temporary shelter area and stall.

The Green Fork in the Road

Green living is similar to taking yoga. It is a ‘practice’ – the more you get into, the more there is to learn. It really comes down to three simple things. Are you ready, willing and able to start living green?

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.

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.

Campsite Cob Oven Construction

Here is yet another possible building project presented to you which requires no formal training, very little money, and techniques/methods that anyone can use. This blog intends to inspire you to take on a natural building project like this one. Don´t have fear if this is your first time working with these techniques and materials — it often for us also! Swattlesfield Campground is frequented by many kinds of people for various reasons. The owner, Jonathan, wanted to introduce some activity which would draw people together. We had the perfect idea: pizza!  Food, especially food that requires waiting, has a tendency to attract people. And once humans have a good reason to be in the same place, the rest (socialization) has a tendency to just work.

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.

Efficient Home Heating Options

Learn about some efficient home heating options, such as warm-air heating, radiant heat, hot water heating systems, and more.

Green Goods: Useful Products and Gifts

An index of previous posts that have referenced green products. These posts have covered building- and home-related products, as well as chocolates, books, and other types of goods. Many of the products mentioned in these posts would make good gifts.

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.

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.

Essential Oils on the Homestead

Therapeutic grade essential oils have a tonne of uses on the homestead - here's how we've used them effectively, and how they bring us peace of mind.

Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home and Garden

More than 15 tips for saving water inside your home and outside in your yard and garden. Reducing your water use will not only lower your water bills and help prevent water shortages during drought periods in your area. It also...

Update on Eco-Friendly Nursery Renovations

In this update on eco-friendly nursery renovations, Natural Home and Garden editor Jessica Kellner shares her progress on re-wiring, installing windows, insulation and new drywall.

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.

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.

Learning About Mold in Your House

Broadening your understanding of mold and mildew in the house will help you to eliminate this hazard to health and home value.

My Tiny House Saga

It was a cold, windy New Years evening. Logan and I were wrapped up in the covers; he was surfing the internet and I was reading a book. It was a perfect and cozy night to be at home.

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.

The Start of Eco-Friendly Nursery Renovations

As a nursery renovation begins, Jessica, editor of Natural Home and Garden, is just beginning an investigation into remodeling options for an eco-friendly nursery.

Chilipad Mattress Cooler

Wireless temperature control mattresses and pads offer a dream come true for restless sleepers.

Restoring a magical woodworking machine

The challenge of refurbishing an ingeniously designed 30-year-old combination woodworking machine was just to intriguing to resist. I found my Zinken MIA 6 on Craigslist, then proceeded to make all 5 functions work like new again.

A Lookout Tower-Home

A lookout tower home, which features reclaimed materials, connects its homeowner with her past, present and future.

Green Homes and Green Building Information: An Index

This index links to some recent and popular posts related to green building, design, remodeling, and home improvement. The posts cover a broad range of topics, from green products to projects to practices, as well as sustainable communities.


Future factors set a high standard for sustainable products and activities

To Compost or not to Compost, That is the Question!

It has become a Christmas ritual for me to clean out my mother's fridge. I find whiskery gnarled morsels, shoved to the back of the fridge many months previously, unseen, and untouched by my mother’s arthritic hands. Do I compost all this detritus?

Transformation Tuesday: An Inexpensive Bedroom Upgrade

To give your bedroom a boost, consider new paint suited to your personality. AFM Safecoat's Ayurveda Essence line allows you to choose colors based on your dosha, or personality type, within Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicinal system.

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.

Home Energy Audits: Measure Your Energy Costs and Add Up the Savings!

Home energy audits are a great idea for anybody looking to save on energy costs. These audits can contribute to your household’s sustainability, even if you only make minor changes. Read this article to learn more about how energy audits can contribute to a greener — and cheaper! — future for you and your home.

How to Choose Less-Toxic, Low-VOC Paints and Coatings

Most conventional paints and coatings emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can contribute to poor indoor air quality as well as to smog. This overview includes a link to a product listing of healthier low-VOC, zero-VOC, and natural paints.

Homemade Cleaners

Save money and have a healthier home with these ideas for assembling your own green cleaning tool kit. Plus, get our recipe for Lemon-Mint Window Wash.

A Year in the Round: A Few Things I've Learned

I've been living in my tipi for almost a month now. Last night, under a chorus of screech owl trills and whinnies, I spent a little time reflecting on some things I've learned about this curious way of living. Enjoy.

A Year in the Round: Tipi Erectus

Putting up a big cone made of sticks and canvas isn't really all that challenging. Just maybe start before 7pm on a weekday your first time.

Let's Clear the Air About Home Energy Audits

Let's face it: Tax audits have given the word "audit" a bad name. But a home energy audit is a good thing, and every home can benefit from the information and recommendations a home energy audit provides.

Paint With a Cause

Offering paint that saves the rain forest and a full list of ingredients, this natural finishes start-up aims to change the industry. Unearthed is making a bold move by providing full ingredient disclosure for all of its products.

Safer More Attractive Roofs

InSpire Cedar Shake is an innovative, authentic and durable mineral-filled polyolefin roof tile that delivers the genuine beauty and texture of cedar roofing without any costly regular maintenance or issues inherent with wood.

Photo of the Week: Inside a Dome Home

Live in a dome home in this week’s Photo of the Week. Remember to submit your own pictures, and you could be the next Photo of the Week!

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?

Spring Energy Audit

An energy audit can help the homeowner determine the best strategies for improving the home's energy efficiency.

Clean Sweep of Earth Day

Here's a chance to transform your home into the greenest one on the block and then pay it forward to your neighbors to help paint your whole town "green."

In Praise of Deep Energy Retrofits

The work invovlve in tranforming a house that wastes energy into a house that's 50%-95% more energy efficient is called a "deep energy retrofit." We need to find ways to do more of these to save energy, money and the environment.

Home Energy Performance: Acting for the Future

We know that heating, cooling and operating our buildings is responsible for 40 percent of total energy expenditures in this country. That’s a huge percentage. But we also know how to test, evaluate and improve buildings so that energy use can be cut dramatically.

Thermal Mass Anyone?

Any net zero-energy home needs two things. The first is the sun, providing passive solar energy. The second necessity is retaining maximum heat.  

Rooting for Working Americans

Most of us would love to live in energy-efficient homes that are good for the environment and have low, low energy bills. But what are the best real options available? How do you create an extremely energy-efficient home that’s still affordable for most people?

Green Homes: Online Case Studies and Project Profiles

One of the best ways to learn about green homes is to explore real-world examples--by touring homes or reading about them online. This article links to free online collections of case studies and in-depth profiles of green homes.

Log Home Chinking

Weatherproof your log home by chinking or caulking to seal up gaps between the wood.

Solar Cabin

Solar electricity, supplemented with a generator, could be the ideal power solution for an Idaho homesteader already planning to build a passive solar cabin. Originally published as "Solar Log Cabin" in the May/June 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Fagor Unveils Washer-Dryer Combination

These space-saving, smart front loading units perfectly accommodate apartments and small spaces and eliminate the need to wash your clothes, remove them from the washer and place them into a separate machine for drying.

Super Insulated House

A super insulated house will significantly lower your energy costs in cold and temperate climates. Originally published as "Superinsulated Home" in the September/October 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Earth Sheltered Building Methods: Earth Bermed or Underground?

A reader investigating earth sheltered construction seeks advice on earth bermed versus underground structures, roof coverings, and soil types. Originally published as "Earth-Sheltered Homes" in the May/June 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Water Softener for Well Water

Depending on the source's mineral concentration, you might be better off not using a water softener for well water.

Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Home Improvements that Pay Off

Green home improvement and retrofit projects that only require a minimal investment and that have a sure (and often speedy) payback. These relatively low-cost improvements can reap real savings. Plus, a link to info on tax credits and rebates.

Durability of Cordwood Homes

An expert on cordwood homes provides advice on their durability and maintenance to a couple thinking about building one. Originally published as "Cordwood Homes" in the January/February 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Rubble Bag Houses

Concrete rubble from collapsed buildings is a huge problem in Haiti. It is blocking roads and hindering reconstruction. Instead of spending millions of dollars trucking the rubble away and disposing of it, why not use it to build affordable housing?

Disaster Resistant Earthbag Housing

One of the greatest needs in the world is disaster resistant housing – houses that can hold up against hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Properly designed structures can save millions of lives and millions of structures every year.

Recycled Plastic Block Houses

Turn low value plastic trash into valuable building blocks with a $300 homemade press. Free plans for a hand operated press are available. A mechanized version could be made by converting a log splitter.

Passive Solar and Earth Sheltered Home Building Glossary

Definitions of terms used in low-cost building technique articles. Originally published in "MOTHER'S $10-PER-SQUARE-FOOT (OR LESS!) EARTH-SHELTERED HOUSE: PART II" in the January/February 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.    

Parallel Chord Pallet Trusses

If you have access to small diameter trees and wood pallets, and live in an area not restricted by building codes, then this truss design is one good low cost roof option. If you do all the work yourself, these trusses are virtually free.

The New Loo Part 2

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

Key Considerations for Building Affordable Housing

Building housing projects in developing regions is extremely rewarding, but also quite challenging. It’s prudent to draw ideas from as many resources as possible to improve the process. The following guidelines have proven effective.

The New Loo

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

Home Energy Audits: Have You Had One?

Have you had a home energy audit done before? A home energy audit can show you the best ways to make your home more energy efficient.

Sweet Sleep

Simran Sethi writes about the importance of eco-friendly mattresses, bed frames, and bedding.

Consumer Lighting

GE Unveils Unique Hybrid Halogen-CFL Light Bulb Coming in 2011

Double Pole Roofs

This article describes an alternative roof design for those building in areas without building codes. A little extra effort working with poles will reward you with a stunningly beautiful wood ceiling and superinsulated roof at very reasonable cost.

Nontoxic Pest Control

Keep spiders and other crawling bugs out of your house by using a nontoxic pest control: diatomaceous earth.

Clearing the Clutter

Simran Sethi works with Amy Thomas, professional organizer, to eliminate clutter and develop clutter-free habits.

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.

Our Water Footprint

Simran Sethi interviews Tom Kostigen about water waste and conservation.

Small Homes: More Bang For Less Buck

Living luxuriously doesn’t necessarily mean living large — at least not in these homes — and reducing a little waste doesn’t hurt, either.

What's Lurking in Your Cabinet?

Simran Sethi discusses the "wood" that makes up our kitchen cabinets, as well as more eco-friendly (and people-friendly) alternatives.

Good Wood

Simran Sethi looks into the furniture and logging industries.

Earthbag Building: The Next Big Thing?

Earthbag building has just received engineering approval. This is probably the greatest news ever for earthbag building. With engineer-approved plans, we see unlimited potential for earthbag building for homes, shops, schools, you name it.

Woodstove Air Supply

Woodstoves can have indoor or outdoor air supplies depending on factors and requirements for the building.

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.

Energy Hogs

I am especially concerned with the electricity hogs that keep us burning coal.

Insulated Earthbag/Geotextile Basement Walls

The earthbag/geotextile basement wall system described here has excellent potential to save on initial construction costs and long-term energy costs. No concrete is used. The same principles have been used to build retaining walls for decades.

What Are Composting Toilets?

Here's the scoop on composting toilets, including the environmental benefits, how much they cost and how well they work.

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.

The Case for Using Sustainable Building Materials

Recently, I had an epiphany in a building supply center. Even though I’ve been in the building trades for over 35 years and made countless trips to purchase building supplies, this trip was different.

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. 

Energy-Efficient Products for Your Home

Information about energy-efficient washing machines and cellular window shades. These energy-efficient appliances and window shades will please environmentally conscious consumers. 

Energy Saving Guide for Winter Quiz

Is your home winter ready? Go through these 11 questions to see where your money might be falling through the cracks. Plus, find solutions and winterize your home to save money and conserve energy this winter.

A Clean and Green Home

Simran Sethi discusses what it takes for a home to be truly clean by avoiding harsh chemicals and using natural cleaning products.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great place to find inexpensive building supplies and appliances, and you can even donate your leftover supplies when your project is complete. Proceeds from your purchases support Habitat for Humanity and future housing projects.

Barn Cats Transform Barns into Houses

Saving the Barn’s Barn Cats is proud to announce it’s branching out with a new line of structures constructed of historic recycled materials.

Best Home Energy Efficiency Improvements

PV panels and wind turbines might have a lot of sex appeal, but they can also be pricy. If you're on a limited budget, here are some recommendations for affordable home energy efficiency upgrades that will pay for themselves in short order. Originally published as "Best Home Energy Improvements" in the August/September 2010 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Is PVC Safe? The Vinyl Debate

Vinyl (PVC) has been called many names: toxic, dangerous and carcinogenic to name a few. But is latex really as bad as the hype suggests? Read both sides of the story, and then tell us what you think about the PVC debate.

How Do You Conserve Water at Home?

Water conservation can help you save big on money and energy. Here are a few ways to help you conserve water at home by simply using water-efficient appliances. 

Be Here Now

Environmental journalist Simran Sethi spends her first night in her new home and reflects on the struggles and triumphs of the journey thus far.

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!

Photo of the Day: 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!

Moving On Up

Environmental journalist Simran Sethi investigates the greenest way to move to a new house.

Cozy Abode

On the brink of settling into her new home, environmental journalist Simran Sethi shares some tidbits of eco-information, such as how to box and save for the move, and how a few simple changes can make your home cozier and more energy-efficient.

Attitude of Gratitude

Environmental journalist Simran Sethi stays thankful for what’s important in the midst of a big move.

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.

Color Me Healthy

So many paint colors to choose from for Simran Sethi’s home, but one standard must be met: no VOCs or harmful chemicals.

Zero-VOC Me

Environmental journalist Simran Sethi goes through the process of rejuvenating her hardwood floors, and describes how to avoid harmful ingredients in cleaning products, such as volatile organic compounds, in the process.

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.

Greening the Green Girl

Environmental journalist Simran Sethi talks about buying her first home and discusses what eco-friendly goals she has for her new abode.

Building SIPsmart: Concrete Forms

 Michael Morley's SIPs home project is underway. On Tuesday, March 2, the excavator dug trench footings in at the site.

Where Do You Find Used Building Materials?

Recycling building materials from other sources is a great way to cut the cost and reduce the environmental impact of your DIY projects. We want to know where readers go to find reclaimed or used building materials, and how they use these materials in home projects.

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.

Building Smart with SIPS

Learn more about this building project, which utilizes SIP technology combined with an unusual geometry.

Improving Energy-efficiency at the Office

Profitability, efficiency and growth are eternal goals. As we improve, we set higher goals, always asking how to raise the bar so that we continue getting better and better.

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.

Earthships: The Power of Unconventional Ideas

More than 30 years ago, Michael Reynolds followed his vision of sustainable, energy-efficient homes that would work with nature. Today, his Earthships inspire green designers and architects.

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.

Have You Used Low VOC Paint?

Believe it: With patience and pecking around, you can find low-voc paint for little more (maybe even less!) than you'd pay for conventional paint. What's your experience?

Do You Use CFLs at Home?

Tell us what you think! We'd like to know whether you're using compact-fluorescent light bulbs at home and why or why not. 

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.

Affordable, Eco-Friendly Green Modular Homes

Clayton Homes has an attractive line of LEED-certified green modular homes that buyers can purchase online for less than $75,000. Originally published as "Green Buildings: Affordable, Eco-friendly Modular Homes" in the October/November 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Country Lore: A Cordwood and Bottle House

A family of readers describe the aesthetic and practical advantages of the cordwood construction and bottle house they built. Originally published as "Add Color and Light to Cordwood Construction Walls" in the October/November 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Energy-Efficient On-Demand Water Heaters

Why pay to keep water hot when you’re not using it? Installing an on-demand water heater will lower your energy bill while providing exactly as much hot water as you need when you need it.

The Beauty of Cordwood Building

A cordwood building consists of short, round pieces of wood (think firewood) held together with mortar, and there are many advantages to choosing this type of construction.

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?

Greensburg, KS Tornado Recovery: Rebuilding Green

After the 2007 Greensburg, KS tornado, residents treated tornado recovery as an opportunity to transform into a green community. Originally published as "Rebuilding Green: Greensburg, Kansas" in the August/September 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

You Can Build This Energy-Efficient Prairie Solar Home

This new prairie-style solar home is so energy efficient it can cost up to 75 percent less to heat than a conventional home of the same size. Originally published as "You Can Build This Energy-efficient Solar Home" in the August/September 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Simple Home Cooling Methods to Save Money

Home cooling doesn't necessarily require air conditioning. Energy-efficient ceiling, attic fans, and whole-house fans can get the job done and save money.

Whole-House Fans Provide Easy, Low-Cost Cooling

Early and late in the summer, or in areas with mild summers, whole-house fans are a more efficient alternative to air conditioning. Originally published as "Whole-house Fans: Easy, Low-cost Cooling" in the August/September 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Use a Ceiling Fan for Simple, Efficient Cooling

A ceiling fan provides energy-efficient cooling, and can supplement or even replace conventional air conditioning depending on a home's location. Originally published as "Ceiling Fans: A Simple Cooling Method" in the August/September 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Cooling Your Home With a Solar Attic Fan

Although the concept is somewhat controversial, a properly installed solar attic fan could help cool your home by cooling your attic. Originally published as "Solar Attic Fans: Cool Your Attic and Your Home" in the August/September 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Advantages of Fiber-Cement Siding

Choose fiber-cement siding for your house and you may not have to paint it again for 25 years. Originally published as "Install Fiber-cement Siding: Don’t Paint Your House for 25 Years!" in the June/July 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Adobe Mud: Building With Earth

Simone Swan and her students at the Adobe Alliance are building with earth in the southwestern United States using adobe mud and traditional North African construction techniques. Originally published as "Natural Building with Earth" in the June/July 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Prefab Homes: Modular and Panel Homes

Prefab is so much more than mobile homes! Explore your options for manufactured homes, modular homes and panelized homes made of wood, steel or insulated concrete.

Solar Homes Everyone Can Afford

Want to build solar homes that cost less than $100,000 and have a monthly energy bill of less than $25? Find out how the Building America program is making solar houses more affordable.

The Charm of Cordwood Construction

Rob Roy discusses fashioning a home using cordwood construction, includes advantages to building with cordwood, environmental benefits of cordwood and cordwood building styles.

What is (a) Passive House?

Could you heat your house with a hair dryer? Super-efficient Passive Houses use very little energy.

An Affordable Green Roof

Using low-cost — but durable — earthbag construction, you can create a beautiful green roof.

New System Ranks Plastic Lumber Companies

A new classification system established by the Healthy Building Network (HBN) will help you find the most environmentally friendly plastic lumber to use for your next construction project.

Inspiring Handmade Homes

Explore the joy, wit, and harmony of these exceptional handmade homes, each one a standing testament to the talent and creativity you'll find along the Pacific Coast of North America.

Environmentally-Friendly Recycled Tile

Durable, non-toxic, and easy-to-clean — try environmentally-friendly recycled tile for your next flooring or countertop project. Originally published as "Eco-Friendly Recycled Tile" in the February/March 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build a Home for $10,000 in 10 Days!

In the western New York back country, there's a man who has found a way to quickly and inexpensively build a home from "junk" timber that commercial mills would reject.

Tips to Green Your Home

MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributing editor Dan Chiras provides you with the tools you need to green your home. In his new book, Green Home Improvement, you’ll read about tricks to save water and energy, basic DIY projects and more. Originally published as "Tips for Greening Any Home" December 2008/January 2009 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Save Money With an Energy-Efficient Furnace

Investing in a new, energy-efficient furnace may save money in the long run, especially with increasing fuel costs. Includes examples of savings in different climates, features that make gas and oil furnaces efficient and the importance of getting the right size furnace to optimize performance.

The Ariel Home Initiative: Affordable, Low-Cost Housing

Arial homes — affordable, low-cost housing — are small, durable, efficient and inexpensive. These homes can be constructed in one day and can provide those of limited means with a comfortable place to hang their hats. Originally published as "Better, Easy-to-Build, Energy-Efficient Homes" October/November 2008 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Save Money Living in a Smaller Home

Save money living in a smaller home. Buying or building a small home is a great way to significantly reduce your energy use, and you don’t have to sacrifice comfort or style to do so. Learn how you can make the most of minimal space to create an efficient and enjoyable home of your own. Originally published as "Home Petite Home" October/November 2008 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building an Energy Efficient Home: How to Lower Utility Bills

Tips from experts on how to lower utility bills by making your home more energy efficient. With the rising cost of energy, making your home more energy efficient is no longer simply an admirable goal, it’s a necessity. Originally published as "How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient" October/November 2008 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Is Natural Stone Safe?

Are your granite countertops safe? Have you noticed a strange glow about them? Could they power a nuclear energy plant? Some granite has been found to be radioactive.

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.

ReGreen when You Remodel

Green remodeling guidelines presents 10 case studies plus dozens of strategies for making your home eco-friendly.

Great Green Building Products

New and improved green building products are popping up left and right these days. Here are BuildingGreen’s annual Top 10 Green Building Products, according to the editors of Environmental Building News and GreenSpec.

Wild Rose Timber Frames

Through handcrafting timber frames, three business partners integrate their working lives with their values. By putting a modern spin on traditional timber framing, these craftsmen create beautiful and sustainable timber frame homes.


January is Radon Action Month.

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.

Build or Remodel With Salvaged Materials

When remodeling a house, build or remodel with salvaged materials. Consider using recycled building materials such as doors, light fixtures, flooring, mantles and cabinets.

Live in a Yurt?

An affordable, earth-friendly housing option.

LEED Platinum

First building to receive LEED platinum status.

When to Turn Off the Lights

Is turning off the lights every time you leave a room for a few minutes a good idea? It depends on whether your goal is to save energy or money.

Natural Paints

Test results of first-hand experience with natural paints.

Home Energy Savings Help

For a good summary of how to save energy at home, check out the new edition of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings.

The Beauty of Solar Design

Designing a home with the sun in mind is a simple way to slash your energy bills and make your home more comfortable.

Indoor Air Pollution

Some of the most polluted air in the U.S. may be inside your home.

Big Green Kitchens

Small houses are certainly green, but can we make an exception with the kitchens?

Solar Homes Nationwide Tour

The solar homes nationwide tour features green buildings, learn about how others use renewable energy with the National Solar Tour, courtesy of the American Solar Energy Society. Originally published as "See Solar Homes Nationwide" October/November 2007 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Build a Passive Solar Water Heater

Learn how to build a passive solar water heater. A solar heater can be simple to construct and reduce your utility bills. We’ll explore the various types of solar water heaters, and learn to build an easy and affordable model.

Energy Star Homes

The number of Energy Star qualified homes is growing!

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can be an energy-efficient option when replacing your current heating and air conditioning system.

The Cost of Green Building

New survey shows that building an energy efficient house is much more affordable than most contractors think.

Solar Decathlon

Teams compete to build the most energy-efficient house.

The Great Ceiling Fan Switch

Are you getting the most out of your ceiling fan? To make it run more efficiently, first check the direction it's spinning.

LEED for Homes

Whether you're considering buying a new home or simply want to make your home 'greener,' you'll want to see this information.

Green Builder Magazine

Your contractor should be reading this magazine if you're planning a green remodel.

How to Build a Debt-Free Home

Tips on how to build a debt-free home. This family’s mortgage-free house includes many energy-efficient materials and strategies. Originally published as "Country Lore Debt-Free Dream Home" August/September 2007 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Forget AC: Cool Your Home Naturally

Cool your home naturally. There are numerous ways to reduce home cooling costs, such as ceiling fans, natural ventilation, minimizing heat gain, weather sealing, insulating, window shading and glazing, roof lightening and landscaping.

Solar Cooling

Can't take the heat? Simple things you can do to keep the sunlight from warming the inside of your home this summer: Install awnings or reflective shades.

A Handmade, Debt-Free Home

Blend vision, patience and perseverance and you can build a handmade, debt-free dream home.

Essential Advice for the Owner-Builder

Here’s what you, the owner-builder, needs to know about the planning and approval process before you build a house. Originally published as "Essential Advice for Owner-Builders" in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Short History of Building Codes

They have evolved over time, but the objective of building codes has always been to assure the quality and safety of commercial and residential structures.

Malcolm Wells: The Father of Earth-Sheltered Architecture

Building underground wasn't a new idea when Malcolm Wells happened upon it, but he codified the principles of earth-sheltered architecture that others now follow. Originally published as "The Father of Earth-Sheltered Design" in the October/November 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Earth-sheltered Homes

Besides energy efficient, well-designed earth-sheltered homes are bright, airy, dry and quiet.

See Solar Homes Near You

From small beginnings, the National Solar Tour has become a popular way for people to learn about existing solar homes and green buildings in the areas where they live. Originally published as "See Solar Homes Near You - Green Gazette" in the October/November 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Go Solar! Passive Solar Design Saves Big

Every homeowner needs to know that passive solar design doesn't have to be exotic or expensive, and will give you a lifetime of lower energy bills. Originally published as "Go Solar and Save Big!" in the August/September 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Low-Flow Toilets: Half the Water, Twice the Flush!

Here’s the low-down on low-flow toilets and how you can choose the best models. Originally published as "Half the Water Twice the Flush" in the August/September 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Best Room Air Conditioners

Energy efficient room air conditioners will cool a confined space without running up your electricity bill. Originally published as "Best Air Conditioners" in the August/September 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Get Cash Back for Home Energy Improvements

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides tax credits to make home energy improvements more affordable. Originally published as "Get Cash Back for Energy Improvements" in the August/September 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Expert Advice on Straw Bale Construction

Read surprising answers to common questions about straw bale construction, an increasingly popular alternative building method. Originally published as “Expert Advice on Straw Bale Building” in the February/March 2006 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

High-Performance Windows

Modern choices and high-performance windows can save you money on heating and cooling your home.

Earthbag Construction

Make durable buildings from the dirt in your yard using earthbag construction.

Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter

Lloyd Kahn’s book, Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter, proves there’s no perspiration without inspiration when it comes to building a unique home.

What is Green Building?

Choose better building materials for your home by considering the lifelong environmental effects.

Straw Bale Solar Home

This solar-powered green dream home presents a shining example of what every new house can be.

Green Roofing Options

There are green roofing products that are gentle to the environment and many of them are more attractive than standard roofing materials.

Choosing a Log Home

Log homes can be an attractive — and more sustainable — alternative to conventional housing. If you have always dreamed of living in a log home, now is the time to turn that fantasy into reality. Learn how to choose the best log home for your needs.

Our Straw Bale Dream Home

A central Washington couple explores sustainable straw bale construction and build a beautiful dream home.

Solar Self-Reliance

In the sunny Southwest, many Hopi and Navajo people have discovered that solar self-reliance strike the right balance between tradition and technology.

Irrigate With Household Graywater

Enjoy lower water bills, lusher landscapes and longer-lived septic systems when you irrigate with your household graywater.

The Green Tree House

Architect David Sellers designed a green tree house inspired by nature and built in Vermont from local trees and stone.

Great Green Appliances

Discover these energy-efficient green appliances, upgrading to these eco-friendly products will provide you with long-term savings and help save the planet.

The SunHawk: Green Building and Sustainable Design

John and Nancy Schaeffer built their solar home The SunHawk using green building and sustainable design. John Schaeffer has experimented with and taught about state-of-the-art green building and renewable energy systems throughout his career. Originally published as "Our Solar SunHawk" December 2003/January 2004 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Avoiding Toxic Chemicals in Paint

Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk suggests you avoid toxic chemicals in paint by using low-VOC paints to lower your health risks and keep the environment clean when painting your home.

Save Money With Recycled Paint Products

Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk explains how to save money with recycled paint products, these repackaged paints are cost effective and help the environment.

Stay Green With a High-Efficiency Fireplace for Your Homestead

Learn why a EPA-certified, high-efficiency fireplace burns more efficiently with less air pollution than conventional masonry fireplaces, steel heat forms, radiant fireplaces or "zero-clearance" factory-built fireplaces. Originally published as "Choose a Fireplace for Beauty and Warmth" October November 2003 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build a Kit Home

If you've always wanted to build a house, but aren't ready to start completely from scratch, build a kit home instead. This article explains all the options for kit homes, including log homes, timber-frame homes and domes.

Kit Home Building Tips

These kit home building tips will help you construct your new home, includes information about kit home warranties, kit building permits and kit home contracts.

How to Make Your Kit Home Green

Tips on how to make your kit home green, includes information about passive-solar heat gain, adding insulation, energy-saving ideas, and natural roofing alternatives.

How to Build a House of Straw

A single mom and her teenage sons learn how to build a house of straw, making an energy-efficient home for about $50 a square foot.

Habitat for Humanity Builds Green Homes

The new Habitat for Humanity builds green homes. The Green Team program allows volunteers to build energy-efficient, low-cost green homes. Originally published as "Habitat for Humanity Goes Green" April/May 2003 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Earth Sheltered Homes With Living Roofs

Dan Chiras shares information on earth sheltered homes with living roofs, includes advice on creating a living roof using the correct type of support, waterproofing and proper drainage.

Choosing Safe Lumber

Choosing Safe Lumber February/March 2003 By Lynn Keiley For years, the wood industry told us that wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was perfectly safe, even as studies indicated that treated timbers expose us to arsenic, a known carcinogen linked to sk

Fight Arsenic in Your Backyard

Lynn Keiley shares a list of suggestions to help you fight arsenic in your backyard, including information on testing wood, protecting your family against arsenic-tainted wood and disposing properly of CCA-treated wood.

Building an Affordable Home From Earthen Materials

A guide to building an affordable home from earthen materials, including the pros and cons of adobe, cob, rammed-earth and soil-filled tire techniques. Originally published as "Building With Earth" April/May 2002 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Fair Exchange

A Fair Exchange February/March 2001 If you have a newer, more airtight house, the indoor air may only be exchanged with outdoor air every few hours. Older homes, on the other hand, have more frequent air exchanges because they do not have vapor barriers or as much insul

Green Building With Recycled Materials

Green building with recycled materials. The author finds new ways to use recycled cans and other materials to create eco-friendly structures. Originally published as "The Right Stuff" June/July 2000 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Using Papercrete to Build Recycled Houses

How to use Papercrete to build recycled houses. Papercrete is an industrial-strength recycled paper made of paper pulp, cement and sand you can build with to create eco-friendly structures. Originally published as "Paper Houses" April/May 2000 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Guide to Nontoxic Paint

Here are some suggestions for using and buying non-toxic paints. Originally published as "The Right Paint" in the June/July 1999 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build a Geodesic Dome Home

Cheap to build, heat, cool, and maintain, the geodesic dome, originally designed by Buckminster Fuller, just may be the log cabin of the 21st century. Originally published as "The Dome" in the June/July 1999 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Insulating a Log Cabin

Rechinking with salvaged fiberglass insulation and fire hose solved the insulation problems of a vertical log cabin. Originally published as "Rethinking Rechinking" in the February/March 1999 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building With Cob From the Ground Up

Everything old becomes new again. Building with cob will leave you with a functional structure that is also as asthetically pleasing as your imagination allows. Originally published as "From the Ground Up" in the October/November 1998 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Energy Efficiency in the Home

Five simple steps towards better energy efficiency in the home. Originally published as "Conserve Without Really Trying" in the April/May 1998 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Benefits of Using Recycled Building Materials

Learn about the benefits of using recycled building materials including the positive environmental impact, the money saved, and the joy of salvaging rare buildling supplies. Originally published as "How to Recycle a House" in the February/March 1998 issue of  MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Build a Tree House on a Budget

Learn how to build a tree house on a budget, includes dimensions of the tree house, types of lumber when building, securing the tree house to trees and low-cost tree house building tips. Originally published as "Out on a Limb" December 1997/January 1998 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Environmentally-Friendly Paints and Stains

Learn about environmentally-friendly paints and stains and avoid environmental hazards of home improvement materials, includes information on mixing shellac, paint making, polymers, paint strippers and industry improvement. Originally published as "Secrets of Paint and Stain Chemistry" April/May 1997 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Building Rammed Earth Homes

Building rammed earth homes out of adobe clay walls, includes planning the design of your home, creating the foundation, the art of formbuilding, building walls, and the essentials of soil. Originally published as "Rammed Earth Homebuilding" April/May 1996 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Insulate Your Home

How to insulate your home the easy way to make your house warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and much quieter year round. Originally published as "Are You Insulated?" December 1995/January 1996 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Building a Home Using Straw Bale Construction

Solid, rugged, inexpensive, and twice as fire-proof as conventional lumber, straw bale construction is an idea who's time has come. Originally published as "Building a Staw Bale House" December 1995/January 1996 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

A Guide to Pellet Wood Stoves

Pellet stoves use sawdust, wood chips, logging slash and field corn to provide safe, affordable heat. Originally published as "Pellet Stoves: Wood Energy for All" in the October/November 1995 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Microhouse: A Small Home You Can Build

Living large just isn’t the answer for everyone. Here’s how to build a small house that’s practical and livable. Originally published as "The World of the Microhouse" in the April/May 1995 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building a Cordwood House

How to build an energy efficient house from cordwood masonry, including fuel savings from earth sheltering, insulation and the floating slab. Originally published as "Rob Roy's Earthwood Home" in the April/May 1995 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


Knowing where the water goes and determining waste and efficiency.

Tips for Designing an Energy-Efficient Solar Home

How to build and insulate an energy-efficient solar house. Covers collection, storage, distribution, and retention of solar energy. Originally published as "The Passive Solar Home" in the February/March 1995 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building a Straw Bale House

Stuffing walls with straw bales can save cash and promote energy efficiency. Originally published as "Straw Homes" in the October/November 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Guide to Home Insulation

A look at re-insulating a house and making it more energy efficient. Types of insulation, techniques for installing it, and likely leaky areas are discussed. Originally published as "Home Insulation for the 1990s" in the October/November 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Seal Energy-Wasting Leaks with Caulk

Tips for making around-the-house adventures with your caulking gun more effective. Originally published as "Do You Know Where Your Caulk Gun Is?" in the August/September 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Tips for Saving Energy in the Kitchen

A comparison of the energy costs of various methods of home cooking. Originally published as "Energy Efficient Cooking" in the April/May 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building an Earthship Home

After being inspired by a MOTHER EARTH NEWS article, a construction company built their first passive solar-power, tire house earthship. Originally published as "Tirehouse II" in the February/March 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Guide to Different Types of Light Bulbs

A guide to types of light bulbs, including incandescent, compact fluorescent, HID and  halogen lights. Originally published as "Modern Illumination" in the Dec/Jan 1993 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Reduce Your Washing Machine Energy Use

Save energy and money by changing the cycles of your washing machine to more efficient options. Originally published as "Taking Yourself to the Cleaner's" in the October/November 1992 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Reducing Refrigerator Energy Consumption

Save energy and money with these tips for increasing the efficiency of the largest electricity consumer in your home—your refrigerator. Originally published as "Reining In Your Refrigerator" in the August/September 1992 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Fantasy Solar Cabin

Here's how a sprawling 19th century hunting lodge became a modern 20th century solar cabin with the addition of several PV arrays.

Green Household Cleaners: Clean Your Home Naturally

Stop using harsh chemical cleaning products in your house and replace them with these natural cleaning recipes that use common household ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, borax and ammonia. Originally published as "Natural Housecleaning" in the July/August 1990 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Paths and Walks: A Lesson in Natural Landscape Design

By working with the contours of the land, restoring native plants, and using natural materials that blend in with their surroundings, a couple turns an overly-artificial country home into a wooded masterpiece.

How to Build a Horseshoe Court

MOTHER's guide on how to build a horseshoe court. If you play horseshoes regularly, sooner or later you'll want to build a court of your own. Originally published as "MOTHER's Old-Fashioned Horseshoe Court" July/August 1988 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Paints and Finishes, Part II: Painting Interior Rooms

MOTHER's Handbook part II of the paints and finishes series, painting interior rooms. Includes tips and information on painting the interior of your home. Originally published as "MOTHER's Handbook" May/June 1988 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Paints and Finishes, Part I: Painting Exteriors

MOTHER's Handbook part I of the paints and finishes series, painting exteriors. Includes tips and information on painting the exterior of your home. Originally published as "Paints and Finishes, Part I: Exteriors" March/April 1988 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

In-Ground Passive Solar Home and Formaldehyde Pollution

MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff experts answer questions on building an in-ground, passive solar home and the pollution dangers of formaldehyde. Originally published as "Ask Our Experts: Underground Oaks and Inside Air" November/December 1987 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Compact Design for an Energy Efficient Home

What can happen when quality is consciously substituted for quantity in an energy efficient home, including quality vs quantity in a compact home design, location and a diagram of the home floor plan. Originally published as "Choice Not Chance" July/August 1987 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building In The Bahamas

Jonathan B. Gans shares his experiences building in the Bahamas, creating his own one-of-a-kind home from the ground up. Originally published as "Out-Island and Builder" March/April 1987 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Attic Renovation

Guide to an attic renovation: how to figure out if your attic is ready for upward mobility, including conducting an inspection, structure, access and space. Originally published as "A Decision Maker's Guide to Attic Remodeling" January/February 1987 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Choosing Skylights for Homes

This article helps MOTHER readers when choosing skylights for homes, including types of skylights, self-curbing fixed skylight, and a list of skylight manufacturers. Originally published as "Welcome a Slice of Sky" January/February 1987 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Green Building Techniques: Superinsulation

Designers are blending the best green building techniques to make better buildings, including using superinsulation such as double wall construction, Larsen truss, and thick conventional walls. Originally published as "Superinsulation For the Masses" September/October 1986 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Solar Heating and Cooling With the Sun

Jim Harmon achieved an almost self-sufficient homestead constructed of inexpensive materials and a solar heating and cooling system adapted from a natural ventilation system from Middle Eastern home design.  Originally published as "Heating and Cooling With The Sun" July/August 1986 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Hazardous Household Products

Information is the key to consumer self-defense when it comes to hazardous household products, including definitions, food additives, kitchenware, household products, pesticides, cosmetics and building materials. Originally published as "Hazardous Household Substances" July/August 1986 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Create Solar Heat for Metal Buildings Using TAP

The low-cost way to add solar heat to metal buildings, including how to build using the TAP system, cost of materials, and diagrams for ducts, dampers and framing. Originally published as "Tap The Sun" July/August 1986 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

La Casa del Sol: A Passive-Solar House

Sister Paula Gonzalez gathered volunteers to create a superinsulated, passive-solar house called La Casa del Sol, made entirely with donated or recycled parts, or purchased with the sale of recycled materials. Originally published as "La Casa del Sol" May/June 1986 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Installing a Solar Water Heater

How to install a store-bought or homemade solar water heater that uses solar energy. Originally published as "Closing the Circuit: Installing The Solar Water Heater" in the January/February 1986 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Energy Independence, Thanks to Thermal Mass and Solar Panels

Gaining energy independence is just one of the advantages of solar energy. One California couple demonstrates how they got off the energy grid, once and for all. Originally published as "Energy Independence, Today" in the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1986 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Solar Carriage House

A solar carriage house is a blend of superinsulation and earth sheltering, a promising option for owner-builders. Includes information on Wallis carriage house, Merkel carriage house, the future of carriage houses and photographs. Originally published as "The Solar Carriage House" July/August 1985 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Energy Efficient Homes: SOLARC 98

An Oklahoma architect combines earth sheltering and passive/active solar design features to create standardized plans for energy efficient homes. Originally published as "SOLARC 98" in the May/June 1985 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Passive Solar Design in 1985

Architect Joseph Kawecki and the Pipics demonstrate an emerging concept in passive solar design in 1985. Originally published as "Understated Solar for Gray Winters" in the March/April 1985 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Energy Tax Credits in the 1980s

The time is running out on this powerful financial incentive.The National Energy Act of 1978 allowed people who invested in renewable energy equipment to earn energy tax credits in the 1980s. Originally published as "Energy Tax Credits" in the January/February 1985 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Living With a 12V DC Home Power System

Using 12V DC for home power requires some adjustments, but generating your own energy will protect you from rising utility rates. Originally published as "Low Voltage Living" in the November/December 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Tour of the Rocky Mountain Institute

An energy efficient home and office. Originally published as "Exporting Energy in the Rockies" in the July/August 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building a Passive Solar Home: Part VI

  Finish, insulation and backfill. Follow an architect as he leads us through the planning, pouring and pounding involved in the Sun Cottage. Originally published as “Building the Sun Cottage Part VI” in the March/April 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.    

Metal Roofing Pros and Cons

Metal roofing pros and cons. Although metal roofs can be noisy, ugly and hot, they have some good points, too. Here are some tips for evaluating and repairing metal roofs. Originally published as "A Few Words in Defense of Tin Roofs" in the March/April 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Solar Trailer Home for Owner-Builders

A passive solar trailer home provides a temporary living space while your main home is under construction. Originally published as "A 'Thermal Envelope' Trailer" in the January/Febrauary 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Earth-Sheltered Home Kits for Owner-Builders

Build an economical, ferro-cement dome home from a kit. Originally published as "The Earth Systems Kit House" in the January/February 1984 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.    

Build a Water-Wall Home

Construct your very own water-wall home and learn about calculating water storage requirements, wall construction and solar basics.

Homemade Thermal Window Shades

Simple, money-saving thermal window shades made from insulated fabric with Velcro edging keeps temperatures moderate and eliminates window heat waste.

Efficient Living in a Geodesic Dome Home

The basics of geodesic building principles, and photos and floor plans of a lived-in geodesic dome house, are presented here. Originally published as "Dome…estic Bliss" in the September/October 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Lay a Foundation for a Passive Solar Home

In this installment of a series on building a passive solar home, the forming, pouring, and laying of the footings, foundation, and floor slab are discussed. Originally published as "Building the Sun Cottage Part III: Footings, Foundation, and Slab" in the September/October 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Reducing Energy Consumption at Home: One Couple's Success Story

To save money on utilities, this couple dramatically reduced their home energy use by going back to some old-fashioned homesteading practices. Originally published as "We Fought the Energy Bandits…And Won!" in the September/October 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Warm Your House with Wall Coverings

Wall coverings are a functional and decorative way to warm a home's interior. Originally published as "WARM YOUR HOUSE WITH WALL COVERINGS" in the September/October 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Buying an Existing Earth-Sheltered Home

Learn what to consider when buying an earth-sheltered house, including tips for checking structural soundness and waterproofing, heating and cooling systems, and building code compliance, questions for the current owner, and conditions for purchase.

A Flexible Passive Solar House Design

This passive solar home design is modular, allowing homebuilders to build out from the central core structure according to their needs. Originally published as "Passive Solar Plus" in the July/August 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Thermal Envelope Home Redesigned

The controversial thermal-envelope house is reconsidered and redesigned to make use of the features that work and eliminate those which don't. Originally published as "Progress Makes Perfect" in the July/August 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Year of Living Off the Grid: An Experiment in Home Energy Independence

While they wait for their house to be completed, a couple sets up a trailer for off-the-grid living, relying exclusively on solar electricity and propane heating.  Originally published as "Stand Alone: Striving for Energy Independence" in the July/August 1983 of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS' Passive Solar Eco-Village

In the 1980s, MOTHER EARTH NEWS built a passive solar house on a budget. Originally published as "Homestead on a Shoestring" in the July/August 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Budget the Cost of Building a Home

Planning ahead for construction-cost control of an energy-efficient house is well worth the effort. Originally published as "Building the Sun Cottage Part II: Cost Control" in the July/August 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Judging Wood Shrinkage

An expert on cordwood construction advises that wood shrinkage is a problem best solved preventively.

Sugar Shack, A Modern Yurt

For economical, efficient, and comfortable living, this Arizona couple decided to build a modern yurt. Originally published as "Sugar Shack, a 20th Century Yurt" in the May/June 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Critical Look at MOTHER's Underground House

Now that exterior work is finished on the underground house MOTHER EARTH NEWS started planning in the late 1970s, we're making a comprehensive assessment of its cost and performance. Originally published as "A CRITICAL LOOK AT MY MOTHER'S HOUSE" in the March/April 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Flush Toilet Alternatives That Conserve Water

Though it's not a glamorous topic, the coming era of water scarcity suggests we all need to starting thinking about flush toilet alternatives. Originally published as "ALTERNATIVES TO THE FIVE-GALLON FLUSH" in the March/April 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Thermal Efficiency of Cordwood Walls

An energy consultant looks at how cordwood walls stack up against conventional structures in terms of thermal efficiency. Originally published as "THE THERMAL EFFICIENCY OF CORDWOOD WALLS" in the January/February 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Shelter in the Rammed Earth

Beat high building costs with rammed earth, the "dirt-cheap" alternative. Originally published as "TAMP THE EARTH FOR SHELTER" in the January/February 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Heating a Pool to Heat a House

An indoor pool was a medical necessity for this Oregon family, so when heating a pool with electricity became prohibitively expensive the author found better way. Originally published as "HEAT YOUR POOL TO HEAT YOUR HOME" in the January/February 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Energy Efficient Homes of Michael Reynolds

Mike Reynolds uses both natural materials and recycled litter - plus imaginative design - to build energy-efficient homes on the mesas of New Mexico. Originally published as "Michael Reynolds' Energy Efficient Buildings" in the January/February 1983 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Reduce the Cost of Heating With Home Insulation

Your family can stay warmer while you reduce the cost of heating with home insulation, including manufacturer's recommendations by weather zone, R-value per inch, insulation density and moisture permeability. Originally published as "Know Your Insulations" November/December 1982 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Designs for a Canadian Solar-Powered and Heated Home

A design for a Canadian solar-powered and heated home by architect Peter Fluker used sun energy in his home design. Includes photographs of the solar design and diagrams of the cross sections of the home. Originally published as "A Canadian Sunshine Showcase" November/December 1982 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building a Low-Budget Rustic Passive Solar House

David Schonberg shares what it is like building a low-budget rustic passive solar house, includes information on earth sheltering, solar heating and cost of materials for a solar home. Originally published as "The Floor-Storage Thermal-Loop Home" September/October 1982 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

My MOTHER's House Part VII: A Masonry Russian Fireplace

In the scramble to build a more efficient woodburner, the fuel-stingy masonry Russian fireplace — a centuries-old backyard technology whose time has come — is rapidly moving up through the pack. Originally published as "My MOTHER's House Part VII" September/October 1982 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

My MOTHER's House Part VI: Build a Solar Water Heater

Part IV of My MOTHER's House shares how to build a passive solar water heater, includes framing the batch heater, the sun as exhaust fan and detailed building diagrams. Originally published as "My Mother's House Part VI" July/August 1982 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Super-Insulated House Plans

Learn more about the super-insulated building technique that's popular in Saskatoon. Originally titled "Saskatoon's Superinsulated House" in the May/June 1982 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Build a Tipi With Multiple Levels

Learn how one family built their own tipi with three floors, including building costs and specifics of the tipi construction. Originally titled "Kon Tipi... Our Home in the Forest" in the May/June 1982 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


THE $15,000 SOLAR ARCADE March/April 1982 An earth-sheltered house for about the price of a mobile home? It's possible with . . .THE $15,000 SOLAR ARCADE STAFF PHOTOS In the past year or so, while most archi tects have been struggli

The Double-Envelope House

Probably no solar design has created so much discussion and so many happy occupants as this, including cross-section, a review of the theory, alternative builders, controversy.

The Energy-Efficient Silo Home

Cheaper than a conventional house and beautifully unique, an old silo can be an excellent choice for an energy-efficient home. Originally titled "The Energy-Efficient Silo House" in the January/February 1982 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Trash To Treasure: An Upcycled House

One man spent six years building a home entirely from materials he salvaged from a landfill. Originally titled "For-Free (Nearly) House" in the January/February 1982 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

An Effective Solar Home in a Shady Area

Residents of typically overcast areas can still benefit from solar panels. Learn how one Oregon man made solar power work. Originally titled "A Solar Home in the Fogbelt" in the January/February 1982 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Our Mountain Home: Fingerprints on a Mountaintop

The authors tried to exert a light touch when they built their mountain home. Originally published as "Fingerprints on a Mountaintop" in the November/December1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Sun Blest Passive Solar House

This ingenious passive solar house is "Home, Warm Home" even in -15° weather! Originally published as "THE SUN BLEST HOUSE" in the November/December1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Budget Building: Randall's Owner Built-Home

A budget building doesn't have to be Spartan, as demonstrated by Randall Lankford's owner-built home. Originally published as "The House That Randall Built" in the September/October1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Florida House With Natural Cooling

Although it cost no more than a comparable "surface" structure, this Florida home uses natural cooling and heating methods to satisfy most of its thermal management needs. Originally published as "A NATURALLY COOLED FLORIDA HOUSE" in the July/August 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build a Log Cabin for $100

Here's how an Oregon couple combined love of the land, native materials, traditional hand tools, and hard work to build a log cabin for $100.

Insulate With an Earth Berm

You can be more comfortable in a cement-wall dwelling during both the summer and winter months if you insulate with an earth berm. Originally published as "INSULATE YOUR EARTH BERMS" in the May/June 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Affordable Passive Solar Homes

New-from-the-ground-up passive solar homes could be available to you for as little as $29,000. Originally published as "AN AFFORDABLE PASSIVE SOLAR HOME" in the May/June 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Hobbitat: An Earth Sheltered House in North Carolina

In the late 1970s a North Carolina professor concluded an earth sheltered house would meet his desire for an unconventional yet affordable, secure, and structurally south dwelling. Originally published as """Hiberna""t in a Hobbitat!" in the March/April 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Making Adobe Bricks

Making adobe bricks is demanding in many ways, but when you've finished building a wall or a house, all the more satisfying in the end. Originally published as "TThe Owner-built Adobe House" in the March/April 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Glass Vestibule

A little work and ingenuity, and you can have spring in January with a glass vestibule. Originally published as "A Solar Entranceway" in the January/February 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Angus Wyman Macdonald: Professional Earth Sheltered Architecture

One of Angus Wyman Macdonald's fondest dreams is to share enough knowledge about earth-sheltered architecture with his neighbors to enable them to design and build their own energy-efficient homes. Originally published as "A Down-To-Earth Architect" in the January/February 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Log-End Cave: An Earth-Sheltered Cordwood House

In their second attempt at cordwood construction, the authors decided to build an earth-sheltered cordwood house underground. Originally published as "A Log-End Cave" in the January/February 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

An Eco-Friendly Home

This couple drew on existing materials, technologies, and principles to build an eco-friendly home in southern Illinois. Originally published as "COOPERATE WITH NATURE" in the November/December 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Recycle Light Bulbs

The author found a way to recycle light bulbs removed from traffic signals, saving him money and a little energy in the bargain. Originally published as "Recycled Light Bulbs" in the November/December 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

An Earth Sheltered Home For Independence

A Kansas family built an earth sheltered home with passive solar features to help realize their dream of a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. Originally published as "An Earth Shelter For Independence" in the September/October 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Building of Mother's Wooden Dome

The following is an account of how MOTHER EARTH NEWS erected a wooden dome, the front half using a standard geodesic form and the back half using an experimental stackwood building technique. Originally published as "THE BUILDING OF MOTHER'S STACKWOOD DOME" in the July/August 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A 20th Century Cliff House

In the 1970s, retired construction contractor Charles Nystrom became fascinated with the idea of building a Native American-style cliff house, though with modern amenities, and finally did so in 1977. Originally published as "A 20TH CENTURY CLIFF HOUSE" in the July/August 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Foam Dome Home

The foam dome from Tecton Corp was a novel home design that held its heat. Originally published as "A FOAM DOME HOME" in the May/June 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Green Roofing: A Rooftop Vineyard

Dr. Geoffrey Stanford developed a green roofing system back in the 1970s that use vines for cover. Originally published as "A COOL ROOFTOP ARBOR" in the May/June 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Solar Heating and Cooling

Jim Harmon designed his San Diego-area home to fully function via solar heating and cooling. Originally published as "HEATING AND COOLING WITH THE SUN!" in the May/June 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Colosol's Energy Saving Earth-Sheltered House

In 1978, construction contractor Michael Wiggins built an earth-sheltered house in Dillon, Colorado that also incorporated passive-solar features to boost its energy efficiency. Originally published as "COLOSOL'S EARTH-SHELTERED" in the March/April 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Retrofitted Passive Solar Home

In 1979, Roger Sherman and Laurence Doxsey retrofitted a conventional home into a passive solar home while retaining the character of the original structure. Here's how they did it. Originally published as "A REGAL SOLAR RETROFIT" in the March/April 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Living in Rammed Earth Houses

A profile of David and Lydia Miller, who built rammed earth houses in 1945 and 1949 and continuted to live in the second of the two thirty years later. Originally published as "LIVING IN THE EARTH" in the January/February 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Integral Urban House

Since 1969 the Farallones Institute has been managing their integral urban house, an experimental home in Berkeley, CA that combines food production, waste management, and resource conservation in such a way that waste output of one system becomes an input for the next. Originally published as "THE INTEGRAL URBAN HOUSE" in the January/February 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Two Years Underground: Living in an Earth Sheltered Home

Two years after building an earth-sheltered home for his daughter in Northern Michigan, Daniel Rinker reports the design continues to provide exceptional insulation that keeps it comfortable in summer and winter. Originally published as "TWO YEARS UNDERGROUND" in the January/February 1980 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Dr. Harry Thomason: Pioneer in Solar Home Design

Residential solar heating systems are thought to have high up-front costs and a long payoff period, but decades ago Dr. Harry Thomason came up with a solar home design in cost parity with conventional dwellings. Originally published as "Harry Thomason - Solar Energy" in the November/December 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

California Sun House

The authors prove that a couple of "just plain folks" can design and build their own passive solar sun house. Originally published as "CALIFORNIA ''SUN HOUSE''" in the November/December 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Unit One: A Solar Adobe Home

Making use of solar energy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Balcomb published information on his family home in a Department of Energy pamphlet entitled Passive Solar Buildings: A Compilation of Data and Results. The adobe building is in a planned environmental community called First Village.

The Energy Efficient House That Jack Built

The 1973 oil embargo motivated Jack and Billie Strickler to design and build an energy efficient—and energy-producing—house for their retirement. Originally published as "THE EVAC HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT" in the July/August 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Modern Log Homes

Attractive, energy-efficient, sturdy, and cost-effective: those are the qualities of modern log homes. Originally published as "CONTEMPORARY LOG HOMES" in the May/June 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Earth Sheltered, Prefabricated Fiberglass House

Ralph Bullock's prefabricated fiberglass house panels make it easier than ever to "go underground!" Originally published as "THE SOLARTRON PREFABRICATED EARTH-SHELTERED HOME" in the May/June 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Thermal Envelope House

The thermal envelope house proves there is more than one way to implement a passive solar design. Originally published as "The Thermal Envelope Home" in the March/April 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Houses Made of Recycled Materials

Frustrated with the existing home construction system, New Mexico architect Mike Reynolds decided to specialize in houses made of recycled materials. Originally published as "'Recycled' Solar Homes" in the March/April 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build Your House From Recycled Materials

Alternative architect Martin Pawley teaches students to recycle disposable containers and packages into important building materials. Originally published as "Build a 'Litter Perfect' House" in the January/February 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

The Sunburst Passive Solar House

This truly attractive passive solar house—designed around an honest-to-goodness Trombe wall—represents the "state of the art" in (ultra) low-technology solar heating. Originally published as "THE ""SUNBURST"" SOLAR HOME" in the January/February 1979 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

This Ferro-Concrete Dome Home Cost Only $400!

For a first try, the concrete dome home this upstate New York couple built themselves turned out pretty well. Originally published as "THIS FERROCONCRETE DOME COST ONLY $400!" in the November/December 1978 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

An Earth Sheltered House in Michigan

The author built an earth-sheltered house for his daughter because it met her objectives: easy to maintain, inexpensive to heat and cool, and compatible with the landscape. Originally published as "GO UNDERGROUND IN MICHIGAN" in the November/December 1978 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Come In From the Cold: Build an Earth Lodge

One group of modern nomads found that when teepees provided too little shelter from Pacific Northwest winters, an earth lodge was equal to the task and could be built for almost nothing. Originally published as "Come In Out of the Cold"... For Next To Nothing!" in the September/October 1978 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Hand-Built Underground House

In an attempt to escape the suffocating lifesytle of middle class suburbia, the Beadles family of Michigan hand-built their own underground house that runs on wind energy and is heated by wood. Originally published as "The Earth Has Won Our Hearts" in the 1978 July/August issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Water and Energy Saving Showerhead

A water and energy saving showerhead makes a difference in energy expenditure, saves money for the homeowners and is good for the planet.

The Beauty of Passively Heated Underground Houses

This example of passively heated underground houses shows the benefits of a subterranean, passively solar-heated design that is not only functional but beautifully designed as well. Originally published as "See Passively Heated Underground Houses can be Beautiful Too!" May June 1978 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Energy-Efficient Home Cooling

These energy-efficient home cooling methods will help you save money when using air conditioning and also provide alternatives to the expense of air conditioning.

Using the Odum Energy Analysis on the Dan Taylor Family Farm

Dan Taylor's Family Farm goes through an energy analysis to determine its self-suffiency, and the results shown here are quite interesting. Originally published as "An Energy Analysis of the Dan Taylor Family's Ozark Farm" in the March/April 1978 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Underground Homes Meet Geodesic Domes

Paul Isaacson builds underground homes as a contractor, and he started out by building his family's very own underground house in Provo, Utah. Originally published as "The Paul Isaacson Family Lives in the House of the Future" in the March/April 1978 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Grass Roof Designs

Hundertwasser, a world traveling artist and inventor, describes different ideas and advantages for having a grass roof on your home. Originally published as "Hundertwasser's Grass Roofs" in the March/April 1978 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Using Solar Energy for Homesteads

Learn how solar energy for homesteads helps families raise food, partially heat houses, condition the building's air and improve families standard of living. Originally published as "I've Got Solar Energy Working for Me Now!" January/February 1978 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building a Sawdust Concrete Home

Building a sawdust concrete home. An article reprinted from Popular Mechanics, and an update on how that house has held up, thirty years later. Originally published as "He Built a Home of Sawdust/Concrete" January/February 1978 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Semi-Subterranean Home

This semi-subterranean home features the benefits of above and below ground housing, creating an energy-efficient "dream home" that benefits both the homeowners and the planet. Originally published as "Landis and Pamela Gores' Semi-Subterranean Home" January/February 1978 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building Passively Heated and Cooled Houses

Jesse Savell builds passively heated and cooled houses with concrete walls and insulating panels on the outside of the walls to radically control temperature inside the house.

Create a Home Business Making Greeting Cards

Learn how to create a home business making greeting cards, Naoto and Berri Inoue share their story of creating their own business for self-sufficiency. Originally published as "Mellow Crafts Greeting Cards" November/December 1977 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Solar Heated Home Designs

Learn how others have designed and built their own homes using solar heated natural energy. Originally published as "Design For Limited Planet Living With Natural Energy" in the July/August 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Unique Solar Heated Home

Learn how to convert any house for solar energy use. Originally published as "George Milton's Solar Home by the Sea" in the July/August 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Solar-Heating a Subterranean House

Learn how William T. Beale built an earth bermed house in Athens, Ohio. Originally published as "The Beale Solar-Heated Subterranean Guest House" in the May/June 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Solar Energy Comes to Suburbia

Learn how the Blue Skies development near Hemet, California is using solar heated houses and leading the way in the "solar revolution."

Swimming Pool Solar Water Heating Systems

Learn how to solar heat your home with a swimming pool. Originally published as "How To Solar Heat Your Home With A Swimming Pool" in the March/April 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Use Well Water as a Home Air Conditioner and Heater

Learn how Willard McFayden heats and cools his home with 60 degree Fahrenheit well water. Originally published as "Willard Mc Fayden Heats (And Cools) His Home With 60° Well Water" in the March/April 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.  

Sustainable Home Designs: Corrugated Houses

Steve Elias provides new sustainable home ideas with his design of corrugated domes. Originally published as "Steve Elias's Corrugated Domes" in the January/February 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Passive Solar House Design Using a Two-Story Trombe Wall

Architect Douglas Kelbaugh built his family's solar heated and cooled home with a passive design using a Trombe wall. Originally published as "At Last! A Beautiful Solar Home!" in the January/February 1977 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Heating Your Home with a Wood Stove

A family in main planned their home so efficiently, it takes only one wood-burning stove to warm the entire house. Originally published as "How We Heat a Large House (In Maine!) with a Single Wood Stove" in the November/December 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building a Solar Home for Less

An inexpensive, efficient solar-heated and cooled home. Originally published as "The Helio Thermics Solar-Heated and Cooled House" in the November/December 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Build a Livable Paper House

Believe it or not, a house built of paper can be comfortable, weather proof and durable. Originally published as "I Live in a Paper House!" in the September/October 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Recycled Tires for Roofing a House

Old tires can be converted into roofing material. Originally published as "Retired Tires Tile this Roof" in the September/October 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build a Cardboard House

Dan Clancy and his family build a comfortable cabin using recycles boxes and other paper products. Originally published as "The Clancy Cardboard House" in the September/October 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How to Build a Live-In Solar Greenhouse

The author shares how he converted a greenhouse to a home, and utilized its solar potential. Originally published as "David Kruschke's Live-In Solar Greenhouse" in the May/June 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build a House With Green Wood

How to build low-cost, non-energy-intensive, do-it-yourself housing from green wood including gathering raw materials, shrinkage, nails and nailing. Originally published as "The Green Wood House" in the May/June 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


In January 1976, the MOTHER EARTH NEWS office in North Carolina earned some success from their experiment with solar heat.

Staying Warm in Japan

Learn the Oriental tradition of heat retention and its Western applications, including floor heaters, haoris and kotatsu.

The Ultimate in Wood-Burning Appliances: A Green Refrigerator

The debate continues as to whether or not a green refrigerator designed by Stephen A. Sieradzki truly is the ultimate in wood-burning appliances or whether it will simply crash and burn. Originally published as "Feedback On...The Incredible Wood-Burning Refrigerator" in the Jan/Feb 1976 issue of  MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Solar Heated Homes and Eco-Technology

In 1946, S.R. House took the idea of solar heated homes made of earth and predated several modern ideas of eco-technology. Originally published as "how to build your own solar-heated house for pennies" in the January/February 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Passive Solar Energy Technology Guidelines

Solar energy innovators Jon Hammond, David Bainbridge, Harold Hay, and Steve Baer provide MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers guidelines to using their passive solar energy creations. Originally published as "Solar Heating and Cooling Guidelines for Windows" November/December 1975 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

How to Create Economical Solar Energy Devices

George Donald Graham's book provides design and construction instructions in order to create economical, sun tracking parabolic mirrors able to perform any task requiring heat. Originally published as "New Look at Solar Energy" July/August 1975 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

The Prescott Solar Heated House

The Prescott Solar heated house wasn't originally planned to be a solar-heated structure, but after a feasibility study was determined to be ideally suited for solar heating. Originally published as "There's a Solar Heated House Alive and Well in Prescott Arizona" July/August 1975 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Thoughts on Solar Energy Design and Construction

Mike Frerking shares his thoughts on solar energy design and construction for homes. Originally published as "Random Thoughts on Solar Energy" July/August 1975 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Solaria Solar-Heated Homes

Solaria solar-heated homes are environmentally sound: created as a low-energy consumption, sod-roofed, solar-heated residence. Originally published as "Solaria ... on the Threshold of Environmental Renaissance" July/August 1975 MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Spring Cleaning: How to Clean Without Aerosols

Recipes for homemade, household cleaners that don't use aerosol, including wax based furniture polish, silver polish, pewter cleaner, window cleaner, oven cleaner, rug and carpet cleaner, and deodorant. Originally published as "HOW TO CLEAN WITHOUT AEROSOLS" March/April 1975 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Building Our Home With Mill Ends

One family uses mill end lumber to construct their own home at a minimum of cost. Originally published as "Our Mill End House" in the July/August 1974 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Rammed Earth Construction

Although it never gained a significant foothold in the U.S., rammed earth construction has been well known in Europe since the days of the Roman Empire. Originally published as "RAMMED EARTH" in the September/October 1973 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

A Round House of Straw Bales

It might not be a mansion, but a house of straw is certainly cost-effective provided you're willing to put in the time and effort building it yourself.

Making a Converted Barn into a Home on the Farm

Clarissa Ehrman and Jeffrey Hinich joined a 130-acre working communal living farm in Milwaukee, converting the farm's milkhouse into their own eco-friendly home. Originally published as "We Live In a Farm Milkhouse" September/October 1971 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Creating an Eco-Friendly, Passive Solar, Earth-Sheltered Home

Professor Wendell Thomas designs and builds eco-friendly, self-heating and self-cooling homes within Celo Community in North Carolina. Originally published as "SELF-HEATING, SELF-COOLING HOUSE" July/August 1971 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Homestead Heating With Solar Power

An overview on homestead heating with solar power: heating a home by harvesting the energy which flows freely down from above is a relatively new concept for the homestead. Originally published as "Sunshine Power" May/June 1971 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Build Your Own Dome Home

The Lama Foundation of 1970 encouraged MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers to live freely and build their own dome homes using recycled materials. Originally titled "Build Your Own Energy Materials Imagination" in the May/June 1970 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

Convertable Country House Blueprints

Making a few fundamental changes to a suburban house floorplan can make for really satisfactory country home blueprints. Originally titled "Houses Especially Designed For Country Living" in the March/April 1970 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.