Guide to Efficient Homes

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by Unsplash/Erik Mclean

Concerned about how high heating costs could climb this winter? No need to shiver in your boots (or indoor footwear of choice): You can take steps right now that will slash the amount of cash you’ll spend to stay warm in your home. MOTHER EARTH NEWS has been reporting on viable strategies and projects for saving money on home-heating costs for more than 40 years, and we’ve assembled our best articles in this online Guide to Home Heating.

This collection provides all of the how-to for repairs, retrofits and quick adjustments that will instantly improve your abode’s energy efficiency, plus do-it-yourself projects ranging from stitching some homemade thermal shades to incorporating elements of passive solar home design. You’ll learn how to save a bundle by bundling up your home with insulation, seizing the sun’s warmth via a solar collector fashioned from storm windows, choosing the best woodstove, upping the efficiency of your fireplace, and much, much more. It’s your one-stop shop for solid info on dozens of cleaner, greener and more affordable home-heating options.

General Energy Efficiency How-To

Guide to Greener Heating: Your Best and Cheapest Home Heating Options

Cleaner, greener home heating options are abundant, but they’re not all equal. Compare the pros and cons before you decide which should heat your home.

Best Home Energy Efficiency Improvements

PV panels and wind turbines might have a lot of appeal, but they can also be pricey. 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.

How to Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

Here’s expert advice to help you slash your utility bills.

Quick Checks for an Efficient, Winterized Heating System

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

Whether you live in a new or old house, a home energy audit can help you discover some surprising ways to save energy — and money.

A Guide to Winterizing Your Home in the Country

Prepare your country homestead for cold weather with these tips, including how to winterize the plumbing, overwinter the garden, and keep livestock healthy and comfortable under shelter.

8 Easy Projects for Instant Home Energy Savings

It’s easier than you might think to reduce energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint. These eight simple home energy projects are easy enough to do yourself, and pay for themselves quickly in instant energy savings.

Repairs, Retrofits and DIY Solutions

Home Insulation

All About Insulation

Make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient with today’s insulation options.

Insulating Your Home Can Save You Money!

For a relatively small up-front cost, you can save a lot of money in the long run by insulating your home. Especially if you do part or all of the job yourself.

How to Insulate Your Attic to Save Money Year-Round

Adding attic insulation is one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy bills. Here’s how to know whether you need more.

Caulking and Weatherstripping

Seal Air Leaks to Cut Home Energy Costs

These easy, inexpensive methods for sealing air leaks could save you a bundle on your home energy costs.


Find the Best Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

Before you buy window covers for your home, take a little time to understand the complexities of energy-efficient window treatments — including the pros and cons of insulated curtains, thermal panels, cellular shades and more. And check out our DIY window treatments that’ll keep you comfortable while saving you money.

The Homemade Thermal Shade

Are valuable Btu seeping through your windows? Well, you can keep them in with money-saving thermal shades, at one-tenth the cost of buying ready-mades!

Reduce Heat Loss With Thermal Panel Window Insulation

Two simple, inexpensive ways to cover large windows.

Living Off Grid: How to Make Insulated Shades

Insulated Roman shades

Water Heaters

Insulating a Water Heater

Insulating your water heater is a snap, and this small investment of time and money can save you more than $100 on your annual energy costs.

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.

Conserve Energy by Upgrading Your Hot Water Heater

Conserve energy, and dollars, by upgrading your current home’s hot water heater or purchasing a new high-efficiency water heater recommended by Energy Star.


How to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient

You can make your fireplace more energy-efficient with a few do-it-yourself projects.

A Handy Fireplace Draft Stopper

If you have a decorative fireplace that is more of a conduit for cold air than a source of heat, this easy-to-make fireplace draft stopper should help keep your home warmer in the winter.

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.

Renewable Solutions


Use Storm Windows to Make Solar Collectors

To keep the cold out and bring the warm in, assemble low cost solar panels with storm window frames.

DIY Solar Heating With the Heat Grabber

You can build this super-simple and super-effective solar collector in just one hour!

Build a Simple Solar Heater

This low-cost plan lets you turn any south wall into a source of free heat.

A Double-Duty Solar Solution: How to Build a Solar Water Heater

You can build your own space and solar water heater for just a fraction of what you would pay for a commercial solar water heating system.


Wood-Fired Central Heat

The benefits of selecting a wood-burning furnace or boiler to heat a home over a woodstove, including forced-hot-air systems, hyrdonic systems, combination systems, dual units, installation.

How to Get the Best Firewood for Clean and Affordable Energy

Find out where to harvest or buy firewood, plus how to split, dry and stack your logs for the most efficient wood heat.

How to Choose the Right Woodstove

Follow this step-by-step advice to find the woodstove of your dreams.

Woodstove Buyer’s Guide

John Gulland shares a detailed woodstove buyer’s guide, including types of woodstoves, cast iron or steel, woodstove emissions, heat output and the top ten reasons to heat with wood.

Expert Advice for Wood Heating

Save time, energy and money with these practical tips for getting the most out of a woodstove.

When to Choose Wood Heat

For some households, heating with wood is a smart, sustainable option. Learn about the benefits and costs of using a woodstove to heat your home.

Big-Picture Home Design

Passive Solar Design

Passive Solar Design Basics

Plan a comfortable, energy-efficient home that saves you money on heating and cooling with these passive solar design basics.

Passive Solar Design: Creating Sun-Inspired Homes

Architect Debra Rucker Coleman discusses the many benefits of working with the sun, and what to consider when building a home using passive solar design.

Passive House Design

Serious Energy Savings With Passive House Design

If you’re dreaming of a home that’s the ultimate in energy efficiency, take a look at the Passive House standard.

Earth-Sheltered Homes

Earth-Sheltered Homes: Comfortable, Affordable and Energy-Efficient

Dan Chiras discusses the advantages of earth-sheltered homes, including information on earth-sheltered homes that are comfortable, affordable and energy-efficient.

Structural Insulated Panels

Build With SIPs

Is this the building technology of the future? Here’s why structural insulated panels are a great option for building sturdy, energy-efficient houses.

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