Basics of an Alternative Energy Home

By Carroll Yorgey

The alternative energy home uses every possible method of conservation, relying on clean, safe energy.

The characteristics of the alternative energy home are based on features and devices that provide the most reliable energy at the lowest cost. And cost means the cost of economics and also the cost to the environment.

Solar energy for both heating and cooling

The use of active or passive solar energy depends on the structure of the building; passive solar energy is the most cost-effective of the two.

Water conservation

Water conservation is very important in the alternative energy home, and a variety of water conservation techniques and devices are used.

  • waterless indoor toilets
  • water recycling
  • water conserving faucets and shower heads
  • low-flush toilet and flow-control faucets and shower heads – these types of water conservation devices can cut water usage by one-third
  • conserving water by using good plumbing techniques and practices such as immediately fixing leaks – a leaky faucet can add up to seven gallons of wasted water per day – a leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day
  • waste-water recycling
  • composting toilets
  • oxidizing toilets
  • portable flush toilets – for use in vacation homes or RVs
  • urinals if the population is all male – uses only about a pint of water per day


Alternative energy homes use the required amount and type of insulation for both heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Good insulation helps to improve the quality of passive solar energy.

Glazed and energy-efficient windows

Windows and glass should be glazed and facing south for optimum passive solar heating. Also, triple-pane energy efficient windows are used in the alternative energy home.

Solar cooking

Utilizing a solar oven or solar cooker can greatly improve the energy efficiency of your home – this is totally free cooking – no more cooking with gas or electric.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are great for heating and cooling homes. They do use electric but can be assisted by groundwater and solar energy.

High-efficiency fire places and multifuel furnaces

Depending on the construction of the house, different types of heat sources may be necessary; or backup heat sources may be needed. In this case highly efficient fireplaces are used. In areas where there are many changing climates throughout the year the multifuel furnace is utilized using the type of fuel that corresponds to weather and sunlight conditions.

Electricity generation by the homeowner

The homeowner can save considerably by generating his own electricity if electricity is the source of energy utilized. The best way to produce electricity will be based on the the entire alternative home and the landscape of the area. These are the alternative ways of producing energy efficient electricity:

  • wind energy
  • wind mills
  • independent water power

Appliances all rated energy efficient

If using electricity all appliances are rated energy efficient meaning they will use the least amount of energy as possible.

These are the characteristics of the alternative energy home. All parts of the home are built to enhance energy conservation. Even the types of material used to build the house such as roofing tiles and construction materials are rated the most highly energy efficient. Trained builders and architects of energy efficient alternative homes have at their disposal the most highly energy efficient materials to produce a truly alternative energy home.


Coffee, Frank. 1981. The Self-Sufficient House. NY: Holt, Rinehart,and Winston.

Copyright © 2020 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey