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The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling Paperback – October 1, 2002
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"An excellent guide for embracing ecologically-friendly living."--Midwest Book Review
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.
Top Customer Reviews
This book has it all! Very good information on all the design elements, such as direction of home, foundation designs, window ratios, as well as recommendations for particular products. The book had in-depth information on all the available heating systems including solar heating, heat pumps, & radiant floor heating. At the end of the description for each heating system, there was a pro/con list that talked about the energy effiency, cost, & performance of each heating system over others . There was a helpful chart on hot water heaters with payback periods for different fuels (solar, electric, gas, propane) so you could compare the costs associated with the fuel. In all of my research, this was the first such chart that really spelled out the benefits of certain fuels over others. The book was written in 2002, so it is very up-to-date with the most current products & concepts.
My delight with the book began when I first saw its elegant cover. The more I read, the more I realized what a treasure it is. I was especially interested in the latest information on radiant floor heating, ground source heat pumps, and passive cooling. It makes me feel good to know that a book this full of information, yet so accessible, may result in significant reductions in the 44% of total household energy used for heating and cooling.
Chiras combines several decades of personal experience with information from some of the best minds in the field. His stated goal of producing a comprehensive and accurate book is well met. Nice job -- get a copy!
Most books on passive solar tend to ignore or give superficial treatment to several vital subjects, for example, passive cooling, region-specific design, indoor air quality, and back-up heating systems. And many books still propagate some pretty bad designs. Not this one!
The Solar House covers passive solar design and construction in great detail, drawing on modern science and architecture, yet is easy to read and understand. Not only will you find just about everything you need to know about designing an energy-efficient solar home, you will learn about common mistakes still being made by some designers -- and ways to avoid them! It could save you a fortune on construction and heating and cooling costs.
This book is useful to architects and owner-builders. Even if you have read other books on the subject, you owe it to yourself to add this book to your library. It's worth its weight in gold.
This makes an excellent first book to read on the subject. For those who have read others, this is a great source of updated knowledge and a complement to any collection. It is by far the most comprehensive and useful book on solar design that I have seen on the market.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good information here, but not much use if you're looking for a general contractor to build your house. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Charles A Nichols
I learned so much from this book when I was designing my house in VT that I was able to design a super energy efficient passive solar heated house in northern VT that uses less... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Maya Man
Very informative book to read. Great resource. I recommend this book for your library. Good starting point when going solar.Published 9 months ago by Brian S. Jones