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.
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.
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.
Recently I came across a spate of comments about “humanure,” or the composting of human waste. I thought I would share the experiences of our friend, Gus, in California who has been creating humanure compost for over 5 year
A kitchen remodel or big kitchen renovation means lots of cleaning afterwards. This post provides some pointers for cleaning the green way to ease environmental impact while also saving time and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. VivaGreenHomes.com released its annual eco-friendly gifts list this year with everyone in mind: men, women, children and pets.
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.
Are you thinking about building a cordwood home or cottage, but are not quite sure if it's worth all the effort? Why not first spend some time in a cordwood home? There are several places where you can enjoy vacation time in a Cordwood Bed and Breakfast.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Utilize these simple earthworks systems to survive the drought and design storm water runoff to transform from a problem to an asset for your home! Let the Water work for you! Remember: “Slow it, spread it, sink it.”
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.
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.
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.
Warmer weather brings greater focus to porches, patios, and outdoor spaces in general. Here are some tips to ensure that outdoor space makeovers are done in an eco-friendly and environmentally safe way.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Although cooking is not as big of an energy-drain in the home as other things, there are still ways to do it in an energy-efficient way. This article describes some of the best ways to cook sustainably.
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.
“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.
From choosing affordable floods for the bedroom remodel to switching out the oven-hood incandescent, Jennifer details how much it cost to light her house sustainably, as well as forecast her long term savings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Passive House standards incorporate passive solar design principles, but the two labels don’t mean the same thing. Learn about the difference between passive solar design and Passive House certification.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Having a properly maintained water heater is like going to the dentist: No one wants to do it, but it’s gotta be done. Ideally, you should have an inspection and necessary maintenance performed on your water heater once a year.
It might seem like a small thing, but your refrigerator can be a HUGE drain on your energy bill. We’ve already shown you how to check for leaks in your refrigerator seal—now let’s take the next step in keeping your fridge in top working order.
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?
Attics can be a huge energy drain if they are not insulated sufficiently. We’ll leave the
heavy lifting for next weekend, but for now look for uneven insulation, base sports, water damage, and anything else that looks out of place.
It’s springtime and the weather is getting warm, but that is no excuse for letting money and energy fly out the window every single day. Hopefully you were able to find all the drafts and leaks in your windows last fall (if not, now is just as good a time as any).
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.
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.
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.
By focusing on environmental change this Earth Day, we can reach our green potential. Green initiatives need to be implemented, both individually and collectively, for us to reduce our environmental impact.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
By following certain home design principles, you can save energy and create a comfortable temperature inside your home. Originally published as "The Owner Built Home and Homestead" in the January/February 1971 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
The devil is in the details in a net zero energy home. Every single step in the design and construction of a home requires efforts to ensure airtightness. The top of the foundation is one detail that deserves special attention.
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.
Insulating concrete forms are an excellent choice for foundations for passive solar, net zero energy homes. They create a highly insulated, air-tight foundation, so essential for extremely high energy performance.
Be sure to install under-the-footing conduit to run electrical and water pipes, including sewer. I like to run pipes and wire under the foot to prevent penetrating the band joist or the foundation to create a more airtight, water tight home.
Insulation under the slab -- and lots of it -- is vital for the performance of a net zero energy home. So is the footprint. You can make the most of passive solar by creating a longer, narrower house in which each room is heated by the sun.
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...
If you missed it, be sure to check out this great informative interview with John Burke of MSi Green Lighting LED Company. They are lighting it green in Macy’s and saving them millions!! They use Cree LED diodes in their bulbs and proprietary tech.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Find out which states and countries have the greatest number of LEED Platinum certified projects, and where the Platinum projects are located. Plus, a list of some LEED Platinum rated homes and residential buildings, with links to case studies.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
Today, resourceful homeowners are creating more space without moving walls. One innovative solution uses heavy-duty sliding door hardware to show how a vacation home benefits from more efficient floor space.
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.
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.
Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning will present two workshops on green energy and building at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25 in Seven Springs, Pa.
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.
Yellow jackets can pose a threat to honeybees. If yellow jackets have built a nest in your yard, here's a recipe for a natural, non-toxic solution that will get rid of them. Please share your own recommendations too!
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.
The sustainability of one’s home depends as much (if not more) on its location as on how the house is built. If you’re looking to buy land or to buy (or rent) a house, consider the following sustainability criteria when comparing property locations.
Kathy Bennett and Scott Bergford will present workshops on raising sheep and keeping your green home safe at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Molly McCabe, green remodeler, will present a workshop about sustainable remodeling for kitchens and baths at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
“Bed bugs” are small nocturnal insects that feed on blood. Here are some tips for keeping them out of your home, and for getting rid of them--without using toxic pesticides/insecticides--if they do show up.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The Evergreen Institute lowers prices to encourage more participating in its January workshops in home energy efficiency, electricity and electrical wiring, and basic PVs: An Introduction to Solar Electricity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What does it take to build truly sustainable houses – the kind people really want and can afford? If you build small and use natural building materials, then most likely you’ll be able to build your own home in a reasonable amount of time for cash.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Hundreds of gallons of water can slip down the pipes if you own a leaky toilet. You can save water by checking for toilet leaks using simple tricks or by replacing your old model with a water saving-toilet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you found helpful ways to cut your energy use at home? Whether it's turning down the thermostat or installing new light bulbs, tell us what you've done to conserve energy and how well it's worked.
To help reduce surface runoff, consider using permeable pavers — porous pavement — instead of old-fashioned concrete. Originally published as "Green Patios, Walkways & Driveways of Porous Pavement and Pervious Concrete" in the April/May 2009 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Dan Chiras discusses the advantages of earth sheltered homes, includes information on earth sheltered homes that are comfortable, affordable and energy efficient. Originally published as "Down to Earth Homes" February/March 2003 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
Passive solar design is a simple concept but challenging in reality. The Energy-10 building software makes creating passive solar design easier for the designer. Originally published as "Design Software" April/May 2002 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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 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
The Department of Energy and Champion Enterprises teamed up to construct the first manufactured home built from energy-saving materials. Originally published as "Green Polystyrene Paneling" October/November 2000 MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In most cases, it's best to call in the professionals to keep your home safe from lead and asbestos, including testing and removal of contaminant sources. Originally published as "Coping with Lead and Asbestos" in the May/June 1989 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Waterproofing is the most important challenge facing anyone who builds an earth-sheltered house. Originally published as "My Mother's House Part III" in the November/December1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
Thanks to favorable clay soil, Western North Carolina turned out to be a good place to plan and build an earth sheltered house. Originally published as "My Mother's House Part 1: Planning Our Earth Sheltered House" in the July/August 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An explanation of building codes and permits for anyone constructing their own home.Originally published as the second in a series called "Building Regulations: A Self-Help Guide for the Owner-Builder" in the September/October 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.