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1.

THE SOLAR HOUSE: PASSIVE HEATING AND COOLING

Dan Chiras
Paperback

Price: $29.95

Before you build your home, read this definitive guide to designing with the sun in mind by Mother Earth News contributing editor Dan Chiras. Learn how you can cut your energy bills in half by choosin…

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Before you build your home, read this definitive guide to designing with the sun in mind by Mother Earth News contributing editor Dan Chiras. Learn how you can cut your energy bills in half by choosing the best passive solar heating and cooling techniques.

Passive solar heating and passive cooling — approaches known as natural conditioning — provide comfort throughout the year by reducing, or eliminating, the need for fossil fuel. Yet while heat from sunlight and ventilation from breezes is free for the taking, few modern architects or builders really understand the principles involved.

Now Chiras, author of the popular book The Natural House, brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts.

The techniques required to heat and cool a building passively have been used for thousands of years. Early societies such as the Native American Anasazis and the ancient Greeks perfected designs that effectively exploited these natural processes. The Greeks considered anyone who didn't use passive solar to heat a home to be a barbarian!

In the United States, passive solar architecture experienced a major resurgence of interest in the 1970s in response to crippling oil embargoes. With grand enthusiasm but with scant knowledge (and sometimes little common sense), architects and builders created a wide variety of solar homes. Some worked pretty well, but looked more like laboratories than houses. Others performed poorly, overheating in the summer because of excessive or misplaced windows and skylights, and growing chilly in the colder months because of insufficient thermal mass and insulation and poor siting.

In The Solar House, Chiras sets the record straight on the vast potential for passive heating and cooling. Acknowledging the good intentions of misguided solar designers in the past, he highlights certain egregious — and entirely avoidable — errors. More importantly, Chiras explains in methodical detail how today's home builders can succeed with solar designs.

Now that energy efficiency measures including higher levels of insulation and multilayered glazing have become standard, it is easier than ever before to create a comfortable and affordable passive solar house that will provide year-round comfort in any climate.

Moreover, because modern building materials and airtight construction methods sometimes result in air-quality and even toxicity problems, Chiras explains state-of-the-art ventilation and filtering techniques that complement the ancient solar strategies of thermal mass and daylighting. Chiras also explains the new diagnostic aids available in printed worksheet or software formats, allowing readers to generate their own design schemes.

About the author
Daniel D. Chiras is the author of The Natural House. He holds a doctorate in physiology and teaches courses on sustainability and environmental health at the Universities of Colorado and the University of Denver. He is the author of five college and high school textbooks as well as other books on global environmental issues. Chiras is also an avid musician, organic gardener, river runner and bicyclist. He lives with his family in a passive solar/solar electric, straw bale and rammed tire house in Evergreen, Colo.

2.

THE HOME ENERGY DIET

Paul Scheckel
Paperback

Price: $6.00

CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $18.95 AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Learn how to get the most bang for your energy buck. The Home Energy Diet, a Mother Earth NewsBook for Wiser Living,…

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CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $18.95 AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Learn how to get the most bang for your energy buck. The Home Energy Diet, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living, was designed to help readers take control of their personal energy usage and costs so they can save money, live more comfortably and help reduce environmental impacts. With rising energy costs, homeowners are beginning to examine the energy efficiency of their own homes, asking questions about where energy comes from and how much it costs, how to choose new appliances and what options exist for renewable energy.

The Home Energy Diet answers all these questions and more while helping readers take control of their personal energy use and costs. Energy auditor Paul Scheckel first explores energy literacy, and then describes how your home uses and looses energy you pay for through electricity, hot water, heating and air conditioning, windows, walls and insulation.

The Home Energy Diet involves readers in learning about their own homes by: measuring, metering, investigating and considering habits related to household energy use; learning how to quantify energy consumption and cost and making informed decisions about cost-effective improvements and upgrades. The book explores the misunderstood concept of efficiency versus cost by comparing fuel costs and equipment choices, including the possibility of using renewable energy for meeting home energy needs. This authoritative guide makes efficiency fun through personal anecdotes and humorous tales-from-the-basement energy misadventures.

About the author:

Paul Scheckel is an energy auditor who has visited thousands of homes, educating people about energy efficiency, cost-effective improvements and indoor air quality. With a passion for efficiency and renewables, he walks the talk by living in a solar-powered house and driving a car powered by vegetable oil in his home state of Vermont.

3.

THE HOMEOWNERS GUIDE TO RENEWABLE ENERGY

Dan Chiras
Paperback

Price: $28.95

This Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living helps you understand the sometimes confusing array of renewable energy technologies and techniques, plus shows how you can slash energy bills.

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This Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living helps you understand the sometimes confusing array of renewable energy technologies and techniques, plus shows how you can slash energy bills.

The coming energy crisis caused by a peak in global oil and natural gas production will profoundly affect the lives of all North Americans. As the price of these vital fuels rises, homeowners will scramble to cut their fuel bills. Two options for meeting the upcoming challenge are dramatic improvements in home energy efficiency and efforts to tap into clean, affordable, renewable energy resources to heat and cool homes, to provide hot water and electricity and even to cook. These measures can result in huge savings and a level of energy independence.

This 290-page book opens with basic facts about energy and an outline of likely impacts of fossil fuel shortages. It discusses how to conserve energy and cut heating bills, and how to prepare for renewable energy options. Focusing on strategies for replacing specific fuels, the book then examines each practical energy option available to homeowners.

The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy gives readers sufficient knowledge to hire and communicate effectively with contractors and, for those wanting do installations themselves, it recommends more detailed manuals. With a complete resource listing, this well-illustrated and accessible guide is a perfect companion for illuminating the coming dark age.

About the author:

Dan Chiras is the father of two boys, and the author of more than 20 books on environmental issues and sustainability. He teaches courses on renewable energy, green building and sustainability at Colorado College. His free time is spent mountain biking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, playing music and gardening with his boys.

4.

SOLAR WATER HEATING

Bob Ramlow and Benjamin Nusz
Paperback

Price: $14.95

This Mother Earth NewsBook for Wiser Living reviews the history of solar water and space heating systems, then presents the basics of solar water heating, including an introduction to modern solar ene…

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This Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living reviews the history of solar water and space heating systems, then presents the basics of solar water heating, including an introduction to modern solar energy systems, energy conservation and energy economics.

Heating water with the sun is almost as old as humankind itself, and it is done all over the world. Yet there are strangely few resources on the topic in North America. Solar Water Heating fills this gap.

Drawing on the author's experience as an installer of these systems, the book goes on to cover: types of solar collectors, solar water and space heating systems and solar pool heating systems, including their advantages and disadvantages, system components, their installation, operation and maintenance, system sizing and siting and choosing the appropriate system.

Since people often get turned off by the up-front cost, the book focuses especially on the financial aspects of solar water or space heating systems, clearly showing that such systems can save significant costs in the long run. Well-illustrated, the book is designed for a wide readership from the curious to the student or professional.

About the Contributor:

Bob Ramlow is the solar thermal consultant for the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program. The owner of a renewable energy company, he has over 30 years experience with solar energy systems and is a founder and director of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).

Benjamin Nusz currently works as a solar water heating consultant and site assessor in Wisconsin.

5.

THE HUMAN-POWERED HOME

Tamara Dean
Paperback

Price: $29.95

What if I could harness this energy? An unusual question for anyone putting in a long stint on a treadmill perhaps, and yet human power is a very old, practical and empowering alternative to fossil fu…

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What if I could harness this energy? An unusual question for anyone putting in a long stint on a treadmill perhaps, and yet human power is a very old, practical and empowering alternative to fossil fuels. Replacing motors with muscles can be considered a political act -- an act of self-sufficiency that gains you independence.

The Human-Powered Home is a one-of-a-kind compendium of human-powered devices gathered from a unique collection of experts. Enthusiasts point to the advantages of human power:

  • Portable and available on-demand
  • Close connection to the process or product offers more control
  • Improved health and fitness
  • The satisfaction of being able to make do with what is available
This book discusses the science and history of human power and examines the common elements of human-powered devices. It offers plans for making specific devices, grouped by area of use, and features dozens of individuals who share technical details and photos of their inventions. For those who want to apply their own ingenuity, or for those who have never heard of human-powered machines, this book is a fine reference. For those who are beginning to understand the importance of a life of reduced dependency on fossil fuels, this book could be a catalyst for change.

6.

TOWARD A ZERO ENERGY HOME

David Johnston/Scott Gibson
Paperback

Price: $24.95

A "zero energy" home — a home that produces as much energy as it consumes — is an idea whose time has come. By reducing or eliminating utility bills, zero energy homes offer a new direction for housin…

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A "zero energy" home — a home that produces as much energy as it consumes — is an idea whose time has come. By reducing or eliminating utility bills, zero energy homes offer a new direction for housing in America. It is a win-win for the homeowner, for the planet and for a new generation of builders who are building houses that better meet the energy challenges ahead of us all.

With unequaled knowledge and a passion for the subject, authors David Johnston and Scott Gibson explore the design and construction of energy self-sufficient houses from start to finish and feature 12 houses that were built for zero energy living.

About the authors:

A leader in the green building movement, David Johnston is the author of Green From the Ground Up and founder of Green Building and What's Working. His approach to green building has been embraced by building professionals, municipalities, homeowners and sustainability advocates nationwide. Co-author Scott Gibson is a freelance writer and longtime contributing editor to Fine Homebuilding magazine.

Recommended Product for Wiser Living: Today, more than ever before, our society is seeking ways to live more conscientiously. To help bring you the very best inspiration and information about greener, more sustainable lifestyles, MOTHER EARTH NEWS is recommending books to readers. For 40 years, MOTHER EARTH NEWS has been North America’s “Original Guide to Living Wisely,” creating books and magazines for people with a passion for self-reliance and a desire to live in harmony with nature.

7.

ED BEGLEY, JR.'S GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING

Ed Begley, Jr.
Paperback

Price: $22.50

From the environmental activist Newsweek called the "star of climate change" comes the ultimate guide to living green for those ready to take their eco-efforts up a notch.

Ed Begley Jr.'s G…

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From the environmental activist Newsweek called the "star of climate change" comes the ultimate guide to living green for those ready to take their eco-efforts up a notch.

Ed Begley Jr.'s Guide to Sustainable Living lays out a detailed road map culled from Ed's 39 years of green living. For the first time ever, a comprehensive plan is provided, from effective conservation techniques to producing your own energy.

Starting with the energy audit, Ed shows us how to create a game plan for resource conservation in the home. Then, once an adequate baseline of resource use is achieved, he leads us into more in-depth eco-matters, such as the production of alternative energy, and how to use solar and wind energy and a geothermal pump. As Ed's guide continues, the focus then turns to sustainable lifestyle management choices, such as home gardening, and guidelines on creating a green nursery for your children. This book covers it all – small to large – in plain language and in a progression from resource conservation to energy production and lifestyle management that makes both environmental and fiscal sense.

There's something here for everyone – new and experienced environmentalists alike – and Ed walks you through every step of the way with helpful sidebars that outline costs and paybacks, as well as essays detailing his experiences of completing these eco-projects on his own home.

8.

SOLAR ELECTRICITY BASICS

Dan Chiras
Paperback

Price: $12.95

Solar energy is an abundant resource. Once a curiosity, solar electric systems are becoming commonplace. As we transition away from finite and polluting fossil fuels, clean, reliable and affordable r…

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Solar energy is an abundant resource. Once a curiosity, solar electric systems are becoming commonplace. As we transition away from finite and polluting fossil fuels, clean, reliable and affordable renewable technologies such as solar electricity will become the mainstay of our energy supply.

Solar Electricity Basics provides a clear understanding of the sun, solar energy and solar electric systems. It discusses the theoretical, practical and economic aspects of residential solar installations including inverters, batteries and controllers, costs of solar electric systems, financial incentives, system installation and maintenance, permits, covenants, utility interconnection, and buying a system.

Whether your goal is to lower your energy bill through a grid-connected system or to achieve complete energy independence, Solar Electricity Basics is the introduction you need.

9.

SOLAR WATER HEATING (SECOND EDITION)

BOB RAMLOW AND BENJAMIN NUSZ
Paperback

Price: $24.95

Heating water with the sun is a practice almost as old as humankind itself. Solar Water Heating, now completely revised and expanded, is the definitive guide to this clean and cost-effective technolog…

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Heating water with the sun is a practice almost as old as humankind itself. Solar Water Heating, now completely revised and expanded, is the definitive guide to this clean and cost-effective technology.

Beginning with a review of the history of solar water and space heating systems from prehistory to the present, Solar Water Heating presents an introduction to modern solar energy systems, energy conservation and energy economics. Drawing on the authors' experiences as designers and installers of these systems, the book goes on to cover types of solar collectors, solar water and space heating systems, and solar pool heating systems, including their advantages and disadvantages; system components, their installation, operation and maintenance; system sizing and siting, and choosing the appropriate system.

This book focuses on the financial aspects of solar water or space heating systems, clearly showing that such systems generate significant savings in the long run. With many diagrams and illustrations to complement the clearly-written text, this book is designed for a wide readership ranging from the curious homeowner to the serious student or professional.

10.

GREEN SENSE FOR THE HOME: RATING THE REAL PAYOFF

Eric C. Freed and Kevin Daum
Paperback

Price: $12.05

CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $21.95. AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

When does a green home project make financial sense? The authors of this book provide the answer to th…

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CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $21.95. AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

When does a green home project make financial sense? The authors of this book provide the answer to this and other questions relating to the cost (and relative value) of environmentally friendly home improvements. Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum are experts, respectively, in green building and in financing custom homes. In this information-packed book, they walk readers through 50 green home projects and break them down according to the positive impact they have on the environment, as well as the impact they may have (both positive and negative) on the reader's wallet.

They evaluate a wide array of projects, including insulating pipes, weatherizing doors and windows, composting and recycling trash, installing a solar hot water heater, installing green countertops, upgrading appliances, building with reclaimed materials and installing radiant heat. This unique perspective on going green is a reference that green-leaning homeowners simply cannot do without.

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