Zero Energy Home Powers Up in North Texas

It shouldn’t be a surprise that energy would be a hit in Texas—but 8,000 people on the first weekend to tour a home that uses less than half that of a standard new home, and makes the rest itself? There is no magic in the technology and engineering, but clearly builder Jim and his systems […]

Passive Solar Design, Options, and Cost

A passive solar home is an exceptional home, differing from standard construction in the thermal integrity of its shell and its well-considered design. The design options, employing the principles and methods described here, are endless. However, workmanship is always extremely important when installing insulation, air sealing the building envelope, and installing the windows. Most successful […]

Five Elements of Passive Solar Design

Here are the five elements that constitute a complete passive solar design, using a direct gain design as an example. Each performs a separate function, but all five must work together for the system to be successful. Aperture (Collector): the large glass (window) area through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture(s) should face […]

The Physics of Heat Movement

Part 1 of Passive Solar Design for the Home. Your home’s windows, walls, and floors can be designed to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design or climatic design because, unlike active solar heating systems, […]

Renewable Heating and Lighting RESOURCES

Part 14 of Buying and Using Renewable Energy at Home. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ACEEE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection. ACEEE provides publications and guides on making your home more energy efficient. Alliance to Save Energy […]

Solar Energy in a New Home, or When Extensively Renovating an Old One

An architect can examine the energy performance of your house in terms of how each of the components—the insulation, windows, heating and cooling system, ventilation, and lighting— all work together. This approach, called “whole-house” design, allows the architect to optimize each of these components for your location to achieve the best energy performance at an […]

Use More Solar Energy in Your Existing Home

In an existing home, any renovation or window replacement project is an opportunity to improve your home’s energy performance. Most existing homes have poorly insulated, leaky windows that would be cost effective to replace. When replacing windows, consider increasing the windows on the south side of your home and decreasing the windows on the north, […]

Solar Energy (PV) Systems Self-Generation: Make your own power

Part 7 of Buying and Using Renewable Energy at Home. Photovoltaic cells produce direct current (DC) electricity. About 40 cells are joined together in enclosed, protective casings called modules. About ten of these modules are mounted in one PV panel. These flatplate PV panels can be mounted facing south, or they can be mounted on […]

Clean Energy Choices for Today

Part 4 of Buying and Using Renewable Energy at Home. The following briefly describes renewable energy technologies that might be offered in green pricing programs or competitive markets in your area. If you do not currently have the option to choose your electricity supplier, contact your utility to find out what their plans are regarding […]

A Note About Electricity Terms

Part 3 of Buying and Using Renewable Energy at Home. When describing electricity production, the terms electric power (or capacity) and electric energy (or electricity) are often used. “Power” is the ability to do work and “energy” is the actual performance of the work, or the use of that ability over a period of time. […]

Sort Out Your Choices: Buying Green Power

Just a few years ago, we did not have the ability to choose our electric service. Currently, the electricity industry is undergoing changes that will bring choice to many consumers across the country. Already, utility customers can choose to obtain electricity from clean generation sources—also known as green power. Green power is electricity that is […]

What Renewable Energy Technologies Make Sense for Consumers Now?

Part 2 of Buying and Using Renewable Energy at Home. Many renewable energy technologies make sense for consumers today. Prices have dropped during the past 20 years and the technologies have improved. Using renewable energy is easier than ever. Alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol are becoming more widely available, and new vehicles that […]

The What and Why of Renewable Energy

Part 1 of Buying and Using Renewable Energy at Home. What is Renewable Energy? Certain forms of energy are called “renewable” because these fuel sources are constantly replenished and will not run out. Renewable energy—like the sun and wind—is readily available through-out the United States. Renewable energy technologies take this energy and con-vert it into […]

Department of Energy Leading the Nation’s Wind Energy R&D

Part 1 of Wind Power for the 21st Century. Wind energy technology has come a long way over the past decade. In 1996, the average utility-scale wind turbine was almost as tall as a 12-story building and it produced enough electricity to power about 125 average American homes. At the time, these turbines were considered […]

Is My Site Adequate/How Does Weather Affect Photovoltaics?

This diagram illustrates the annual average daily peak sun hours for the United States. Is My Site Adequate for PV? APV system designer can conduct a detailed site assessment for you. To save the dealer time (and possibly save yourself some money), you can conduct a preliminary assessment to determine whether your site has potential […]