Rainbow over Lake Michigan




  • The U.S. Department of Energy's Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is a comprehensive source of information covering numerous aspects of efficient energy use. Topics include designing or remodeling a home that consumes less energy and uses renewable energy; making use of proper insulation and air sealing techniques; reducing electricity use; improving water heating efficiency; choosing energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, and windows; reducing the energy consumed by appliances and electronics; and undertaking an energy audit.

  • Also useful is the DOE's Energy Savers Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home, which offers an array of practical solutions for saving energy throughout the home.

  • ENERGY STAR, a voluntary labeling program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, identifies and promotes energy-efficienct products as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Labeled products include major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and residential heating and cooling equipment. ENERGY STAR also sets standards for new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. The ENERGY STAR website provides detailed information to help consumers choose energy-efficient products and make their homes more energy efficient as well as buy or build an ENERGY STAR-qualified new home.

  • ENERGY Star also provides an extensive set of home tips to save energy both inside and outside the house.

  • The Renewable Resource Data Center (RReDC) provides access to an extensive collection of data, maps, and tools for renewable energy resources, including biomass, geothermal, solar and wind resources. Tools include a PVWATTS calculator, developed to help non-experts obtain performance estimates for grid-connected PV systems.

  • The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust has produced detailed yet exceptionally clear discussions of six major clean energy technologies, including solar PV technology.

  • The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and adoption of renewable energy in all its forms. Among its resources, ASES publishes a bi-monthly magazine, SOLAR TODAY, and sponsors an annual national solar tour--on the first Saturday in October (in most locations)--offering a chance to visit green homes and buildings in communities across the country.

  • FindSolar is an online directory designed to help consumers learn about incentives and the economics of solar energy and find qualified professionals who can install and service systems. The site includes a solar calculator for consumers interested in estimating the costs and output of solar systems in their area.

  • The basics of PV technology are explained in detail by the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

  • The Washington Consumer's Guide: Solar Electric Systems walks through the basic steps and decisions involved in buying and installing a solar electric system. Adapted from a document produced for the U.S. Department of Energy, it is a useful resource for interested consumers in all parts of the country.


  • Home Energy Saver is a web-based do-it-yourself energy audit tool designed to help consumers identify the best ways to save energy in their homes and find the resources to make the savings happen. The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of the national ENERGY STAR program for improving energy efficiency in homes.

  • Detailed information about the technologies and building practices that contribute to improved energy efficiency can be found on the ENERGY STAR website. Topics covered include tight construction, tight ducts, improved insulation, high performance windows, and energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment.

  • The Efficient Windows Collaborative is a useful source of information about the benefits of energy-efficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and recommendations for their selection and use.


  • Green Building Products, published by Environmental Building News, is a comprehensive guide to environmentally preferred building products and materials. The process and criteria used to screen projects for the directory are described in the article What Makes a Product Green.

  • The Forest Certification Resource Center provides an overview of five certification systems relevant to the North American marketplace and describes the strengths and weaknesses of each. Certification programs are designed to help conserve, protect and restore the world's forests by encouraging companies to adopt ecologically sound forestry practices and by helping consumers identify and select timber products that come from well-managed forests.


  • Healthy Heating is an industry service site educating consumers, contractors, architects and designers about radiant-based heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Site features include articles, newsletters, discussion groups, and other resources.


  • An article in the September/October 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine Online--Fireplaces: Studies in Contrasts--critiques the design of conventional fireplaces and discusses the energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly, and safe alternative of newer advanced combustion wood fireplaces.

  • In Clearing the Air about Wood Heating, Tri-Lane Distributing Ltd. of Tottenham, Ontario, Canada, answers basic questions about the advantages of heating with wood.

  • woodheat.org is a Canadian nonprofit, nongovernmental agency dedicated to the responsible use of wood as a home heating fuel.


  • Consumers looking for help in identifying energy-efficient appliances will find information on more than 50 categories of products on the ENERGY STAR website. These products meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The ENERGY STAR label helps consumers easily identify products that use less energy, reduce home utility bills, and help protect the environment.

  • A companion program--the Super-Efficient Home Appliances Initiative of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE)--promotes a subset of "super-efficient" ENERGY STAR appliances. As part of this initiative, CEE has developed performance specifications for super-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and room air conditioners and endorses appliances that are generally in the top 25 percent of efficiency.

  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings is a comprehensive reference to energy-efficient home appliances and techniques for saving energy around the home. A condensed online version is also available.


  • WaterSense is a new EPA-sponsored initiative to promote water efficiency and conservation. The WaterSense label will help consumers identify products and programs that meet water-efficiency and performance criteria. A list of toilets that qualify for the WaterSense label will be available in 2007; a certification program for irrigation professionals will also come online in 2007.

  • The California Urban Water Conservation Council's Water Saver Home (H2OUSE) provides many helpful tips on saving water in all parts of the house.

  • Water--Use It Wisely, a national conservation campaign, offers numerous tips for saving water inside and outside the home.

  • Water: Demand & Supply, a special report in the Winter 2007 issue of Chicago Wilderness Magazine, examines water issues in the Chicago region.

  • The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology's Green Values webpage promotes green solutions to stormwater management and greater investment in open space.

  • Troubled Waters: Meeting Future Water Needs of Illinois, a 2006 report prepared by the Campaign for Sensible Growth, Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands Project, details critical factors affecting water supplies in the state and makes recommendations for the future.

  • An EPA's Green Landscaping: Greenacres website includes links to a variety of resources, including a power point presentation entitled Sustainable Landscaping, which discusses the environmental impacts of traditional landscaping and the benefits of natural landscaping.

Website prepared by Eleanor Revelle.
Last revised: November 2009