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The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy: Achieving Energy Independence Through Solar, Wind, Biomass, and Hydropower Paperback – July 5, 2011

21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0865716865 ISBN-10: 0865716862 Edition: Second Edition

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The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy: Achieving Energy Independence Through Solar, Wind, Biomass, and Hydropower + Solar Electricity Handbook - 2015 Edition: A simple, practical guide to solar energy - designing and installing solar PV systems. + Photovoltaic Design and Installation For Dummies
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Energy bills have skyrocketed in North America, and traditional energy sources can be as damaging to the environment as they are to your pocketbook. The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy will show you how to slash your home energy costs while dramatically reducing your carbon footprint.

Completely revised and updated, this new edition describes the most practical and affordable methods for making significant improvements in home energy efficiency and tapping into clean, affordable, renewable energy resources. If implemented, these measures will save the average homeowner tens of thousands of dollars over the coming decades.

Focusing on the latest technological advances in residential renewable energy, this guide examines each alternative energy option availableincluding:

  • Solar hot water and solar hot air systems
  • Space heat: passive and active solar retrofits and heat pumps
  • Wood heat
  • Passive cooling
  • Electricity from solar, wind and microhydro
  • Hydrogen, fuel cells, methane digesters and biodiesel.

This well-illustrated and accessible guide is an essential resource for those wanting to enter the renewable energy field. Packed with practical tipsand guidelines, it gives readers sufficient knowledge to hire and communicate effectively with contractors and is a must-read for anyone interested in saving money and achieving energy independence.

About the Author

Dan Chiras is a respected educator and the author of 29 books on residential renewable energy and green building including Power from the Sun and Power from the Wind. He has studied and worked with renewable energy and energy efficiency for over 30 years. Dan is the director of and lead instructor at The Evergreen Institute's Center for Renewable Energy and Green Building (www.evergreeninstitute.org), where he teaches workshops on energy efficiency, solar electricity, solar hot water, small wind energy, green building, natural plasters, and natural building.
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Product Details

  • Series: Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; Second Edition edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716865
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Chiras paid his last electric bill in June of 1996. It is not that he has disavowed the use
of electricity and modern conveniences, but rather that he has turned to the sun and wind
to meet his family's needs.

In 1995, Dan, a former full-time college professor with years of experience in sustainable
development, built a state-of-the-art rammed earth tire and straw bale home in
Evergreen, Colorado. He installed solar electric panels on the roof; a year or so later he
installed a small wind generator. Since that time, he has met nearly all of his electrical
needs for his home and office from these clean, renewable sources.

Dan also heats his home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains 8000-feet above sea level
with energy from the sun thanks to passive solar design. For backup heat on those cold
winter nights, he burns a cord of wood a year, gathered free from his community. His
annual gas bill, mostly for showers and cooking, runs about $120 a year - about $2 to $3
per month for natural gas and $10 per month to read the meter!

Dan has spent much of the past 30 years studying sustainability and applying what he has
learned in solar energy, natural building, and green building to his residences, and most of
the last ten years sharing the practical knowledge he has gained through writing, lectures,
slide shows, and workshops.

Dan has published 21 books to date including several college and high school textbooks:
Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future, Natural Resource Conservation,
Human Biology, and Biology: The Web of Life. His high school environmental
science text, Environmental Science, was selected as the official book of the U.S.
Academic Decathlon's 1991 competition.

In the early 1990s, Dan published two trade books on environmental issues and
sustainability for a general audience: Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's
Response and Lessons from Nature: Learning to Live Sustainably on the
Earth.

Since 1995, Dan has focused most of his attention on residential green building. He
has written extensively on the subject. His is books include: The Natural House: A
Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy Efficient, Environmental Homes; The Natural Plaster
Book; The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling; Superbia! 31 Ways to Create
Sustainable Suburbs; and The New Ecological Home.

His newest book, EcoKids: Raising Kids Who Care for the Earth will be
published in the Spring of 2005 by New Society Publishers.

Dan also writes extensively for magazines, journals, newsletters, and newspapers. He
has published nearly 250 articles on environmental issues, sustainability, natural building,
natural plaster, green building, and passive solar heating and cooling. His articles appear
regularly in Home Power, Mother Earth News, Natural Home, and The Last
Straw.

Dan also writes frequently for World Book Encyclopedia (Science Year) and
Encyclopedia Americana. He authored a 12-page article on the environment for
Encyclopedia Americana. Dan has written environmental pollution section for
World Book Encyclopedia's annual publication, Science Year, since 1993.
In 1997, he wrote an extensive piece for World Book on population growth and its
many implications. Dan also wrote the ecology and air pollution sections for
Encyclopedia Americana.

In addition to his writing, Dan has served as an adjunct professor at the University of
Colorado in Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver. He has been a visiting
professor at the University of Washington, where he taught a course on environmental
science. He currently is a Melon Visiting Professor at Colorado College where he teaches
courses on renewable energy, ecological design, and sustainable development.

Through his writing and teaching in the 1980s and early 1990s, Dan played a leading
role in promoting critical thinking, an understanding of the root causes of environmental
issues, systemic solutions to environmental problems, sustainable development. He
pioneered a systems approach to sustainable development and has played a lead role in
articulating the principles, policies, and practices of sustainable development which seeks
ways that business and society can prosper within a healthy environment. He is currently
focusing most of his research and writing on sustainable building and sustainable
communities.

Dan's free time is spent mountain biking, canoeing, playing music, and gardening.


For more information visit danchiras.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By John Wills on October 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a great introduction to essentially all the renewable energy resources available. Chiras takes a sensible, realistic look at a number of options for both reducing your dependence on fossil fuels as well as saving money. He talks about which solutions work best in which climates and gives tips on where to begin wading into renewable energy.

I originally bought the book as a resource to help us select which renewable energy options were viable in our new home design. It served that purpose well but I will also keep it handy as we move forward as Chiras goes beyond the typical introduction and gives planning suggestions and some detailed discussions on sizing and maintenance of a few systems.

Note that this book is targeted at home owners wishing to retrofit their EXISTING homes for renewable energy. Repeatedly throughout the book, Chiras recommended his book "The Solar House" for those of us designing new homes. I plan to read that book before building but still found a lot of useful information in this book.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By tony mancill on September 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this book cover-to-cover over the course of a couple of weeks. I'm new to the field of renewable energy, so you'll have to take my criticisms for what they are, a critique of the writing:

1) The author frequently repeats himself, and sometimes goes so far to state that he is repeating himself, and that the reader should refer back to a previous section.

2) Many of the references are "so and so claims such and such" or references to the Home Power magazine. It's great that the author cites his sources, but it often left me wondering if the author placed any stock in the claim being reported.

3) The author frequently refers to his own house, which was designed from the ground up to use renewable energy. While this is neat, it doesn't seem applicable to readers who already own houses (with a 99% chance that they're not nearly as efficient, and that it's not possible to convert them).

4) I would have enjoyed more information on solar power, since it seems to be the most applicable in urban and suburban areas. Instead, it received basically equal treatment alongside micro-hydroelectric and wind power.

Still, it's a good book - 3.5 stars - and contains a number of references to other sources of information on the topic.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By JP189 on November 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book for people who want a better understanding of what can be achieved using renewable energy in a residential application. It only gets 4 stars from me because the author gets a bit preachy at times about his opinions on fossil fuels and future scarcity, high price, etc. He does practice what he preaches and uses personal examples in much of the book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Hall on August 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you only intend to buy one book about renewable energy this is the one for you. It clearly explains all the different RE technologies and gives you all the information to decide which technologies fit your individual situation. For people more familiar with RE, it acts as a great reference book. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. McKown on November 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be more satisfying that the author's more popular book, "The Solar House". Of course, they aren't functional substitutes for each other. This book goes deeper into renewable energy systems available to address the energy needs of residential buildings and related topics. I appreciate his discussion on conservation, the breakdown of the energy consumption of a 'typical' residence, etc. This book goes deeper into energy than "The Solar House" goes into passive design, providing almost enough information to evaluate and size some systems. The amount of information presented varies by system, as solar photovoltaic and wind power get a more detailed treatment than biomass. For someone wanting enough information to select, size and/or design systems -- or more realistically to evaluate the proposals generated by a systems provider -- supplemental information will probably be required.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Roberts on November 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding, readable, comprehensive presentation of the subject of renewable energy for the homeowner. For each topic the author presents the principles, salient facts and a range of projects from the simplest do-it-yourself to that which would require a professional installation. Illustrations are excellent. In solar hot water for example he presents projects which range from a mini batch system consisting of a coiled black hose to a professionally installed all weather solar collector, storage with on-demand gas supplement. Based on this reading I plan to build a freestanding outdoor thermosiphon solar shower using cast off materials and to replace an inefficient hot water tank with a propane on-demand all season hot water heater. Chiras educates the homeowner to think broadly and to plan very manageable projects suited to his/her needs. Superb!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Craftie Auntie on August 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
we are looking at building an underground home and getting off the grid...this book has a wealth of helpful info to help us...we would highly recommend it to all!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Bolczak on July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great intel but the cost of the ideas in here are way to high for the gains.
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