Click on [ Example in Survey ] to see a house that has used one, or more, of these sustainable techniques. Please note, this example may be only one of the houses that have used a specific T&P—browse the All Houses in Survey page to find more.
Photovoltaic (solar) cells:

Solar photovoltaic cells (PV) convert sunlight into electricity. They are a series of connected silicon wafer cells attached typically to a metal support. There are various types: amorphous, monocrystalline, and polycrystalline silicon; thin-film, and others—each has advantages and deficits in terms of cost and efficiency. The PV cells generate DC (direct current) electricity, which is usually converted to AC, (alternating current used in most homes in this country) by an inverter. The system may be a stand alone/off-grid system combined with rechargeable batteries (some systems also add a gas/diesel generator to recharge the batteries when there has been a series of cloudy days); or grid-tied, which eliminates the need for batteries by drawing electricity from the grid when the cells aren't producing current. PV modules can continue producing electricity for decades, and need minimal maintenance. Though initially expensive, there are significant government incentives to help you pay for your PV system. If you have a grid-tied system and generate more electricity than you use, our local utility is required to purchase your extra electricity (see: Tax Incentives & Rebates). An important consideration when planning a PV system, is to use appliances (EnergyStar) and lights (CFL's, LED's etc.) that use less electricity; this allows you to build a smaller, and therefore less expensive system. Small scale wind turbines, and even micro-hydro systems can also be used to generate electricity.
Note: CFL's contain a minute amount of mercury, and should be disposed of properly; Methow Recycling is planning to set up a recycling program for CFL's. IKEA and Home Depot accept CFL's for recycling. see

For solar electric, solar water heating, and energy efficiency planning, see Energy Solutions, Ellen Lamiman (509) 996-2763, For solar electric, solar water heating, wind energy and more, see Solar Shop, Mikkel Gredvig (509) 486-4508,,, or Solar Wind, Energy Systems, LLC, Jim Martin, (509) 422-5309,, For basic information on going with solar power,

NOTE: Renewable energy (RE) ideas are evolving rapidly. Some examples:

  • There is a company working on a way to concentrate sunlight onto water filled tubes, creating steam that drives a Stirling engine which is linked to an generator/alternator producing electricity without the use of silicon cells. See (Kennewick,Washington)
  • There are advances in the production, and efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Batteries for storing solar energy generated from RE systems are constantly improving.

And while there isn't a magic alternative energy bullet (yet), if you're remodeling or building a house, choosing to install an alternative energy system (PV, Wind, microhydro) is a wise consideration. The payback period is getting less all the time, and the ROI (return on investment) is getting nicer. Top consideration: If you do it now, you will be taking a significant step to bring your house out of the environmentally destructive path we all travel.

[ Example in Survey ]