Your neighbor just installed a row of gleaming solar panels. You hear radio ads for solar energy. Your favorite politicians speak of the promise of renewables. All indications are that solar energy is now affordable for most residential installations. Are you next? I recently took the plunge with my garage to remodel, so from my experience, I thought I’d share some suggestions on how to start down the solar path and select a solar installer.

Before you start, it’s best to get a residential energy audit completed before getting solar bids since you may be able to identify several low-cost…


During the winter season, over 40% of our household energy consumption is dedicated to heating our homes. At the same time, much of the energy we use to heat our homes stems from non-renewable resources such as coal, oil, or natural gas. One of the best steps any homeowner can take to reduce their home’s carbon footprint is to improve their home’s energy efficiency while also searching for renewable energy sources.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that over 2.5 million households use wood as the primary fuel for heating their homes. Wood is certainly a renewable resource and is…


According to the most recent US Census, an estimated 1,380,300 housing units were started in 2020. This volume of new home starts was 7 percent higher than in 2019. Even during a global pandemic and massive economic crisis, it looks like the new home construction market will continue to grow in the coming years. Building new homes, however, can come with a sizeable environmental footprint. Even with the best energy-efficient construction methods, the embodied energy footprint that stems from the raw materials that go into a home can take years to offset. …


About a third of your home’s water use comes from your toilet. Dual flush toilets can save 60 to 70% more water than toilets manufactured before 1994. Unfortunately, many homes still use older toilets that are still wasting an average of over 70 liters of water per person per day. Homes still using old toilets can expect to save 8,000 gallons (30,000 liters) of water if they flush their toilet ten times per day.

How Does a Dual Flush Toilet Work?

Dual flush toilets do precisely what their name implies; they have two options for flushing. High volume flushes are ideal for solid waste, while low volume…


For about seven years, Trey Farmer and his wife Adrienne Lee Farmer lived in a ca. 1914 Craftsman-style bungalow a few miles west of downtown Austin. With a new baby in their lives, they decided they were ready to turn their drafty home with no subfloor or insulation into something that would be more comfortable and sustainable. Trey, a licensed architect with Forge Craft Architecture + Design and a certified Passive House consultant, and Adrienne, a designer, and stylist with Studio Ferme, came up with a plan for a Passive House retrofit.

Texas Passive House Exterior Pre Renovation. Photo Credit: Trey Farmer via House So Green

After an exasperating day at work or school, a long, hot shower is often a preferred method for relaxing and letting go of some of that excess stress. Low-flow showerheads can help cut back on the water and energy used by the occasional steamy shower. However, if your bathroom does not have an exhaust fan or an operable window, those long showers might be leading to long-term problems for your home. In this complete guide, Rise takes an in-depth look at the role and importance of bathroom fans in protecting your indoor air quality and maintaining optimum humidity levels in…


With winter setting in, improving your home’s insulation is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your monthly energy bills. Air leaks around windows, doors, and foundations also drain your home’s thermal performance, with up to 50 percent of heat loss due to faulty and non-tight building envelopes. You can read a complete Rise guide on how to avoid home heat loss here. Suppose you know for sure that certain areas of your home need an upgrade in insulation. In that case, spray foam insulation might be an option worth considering. Below, we…


We’re going to give you the full low-down on mineral wool batt insulation and what you should know before buying, and also whether it gets a pass or fail as a sustainable building material.

Is Mineral Wool a Good Insulator?

Mineral wool batt insulation was designed to be installed in wall cavities, floors, ceilings, and attic spaces.

The first thing people usually look for with insulation is the R-value per inch. The R-value is essentially the ability for something to resist heat flow, so the higher the R-value per inch, the better. …


Photo Credit: Logan and Johnson

Just a couple of generations ago, the homes that our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in were often an extension of their farm. Extensive root cellars in the basement for storing produce and enormous pantries to keep canned vegetables were most likely an integral part of every home built in the recent past. In some cases, homes might have been constructed above a barn or shed, essentially combining the barn and the house into one structure. Fast forward a generation or two, and this unique home style might be making an unexpected comeback.

“Barndominums” are one of the quickest growing trends…


Dozens of different cultures worldwide, from the freezing Arctic North to Australia’s arid and hot deserts, have a history of building homes either partly or entirely buried underground. This example of vernacular architecture has found that the land underneath our feet can offer a comfortable, energy-efficient dwelling place in many cases. Below, we take an in-depth look at the history of building homes underground and explain some of the advantages of this unique form of architecture.

A Short History of Underground Homes

Before the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, the homes we lived in were essentially a part of the landscape that we inhabited…

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Turn any home improvement project into a sustainable one. Get know-how and connections on sustainable and money-saving options for your new home or reno.

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