The Carbon-Free Home
Stephen and Rebekah Hren
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit* by Stephen and Rebekah Hren online

The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit
Stephen and Rebekah Hren
Chelsea Green Publishing
320 pages
July 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

buy this book now or browse millions of other great products at
previous reviewnext review

This book is subtitled "36 remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit." The authors, who reside in Durham, North Carolina, are energy activists who are involved with restoration carpentry, edible urban gardens, and, of course, renewable energy.

The book is practical and delivers on the subtitle's promise. It describes in detail some easy and some rather more complex ways to get your living environment off the grid. Even if you don't want a "humanure" chamber in your backyard, you can still buy CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) to double or even dectouple (I just made up that word) the efficiency of your home lighting. These bulbs, which can be adapted to almost any purpose including floodlighting and grow lighting, will save money as well as electricity. Be advised: the bulbs contain mercury and must be handled with care.

Other immediate and simple interventions that almost anyone can make include the use of solar energy to dry clothes. This seems so obvious that it's a shame it has to be mentioned, but we have grown so accustomed to our electro-servomechanisms that we don't consider how much energy they waste. Clothes dried outdoors smell better, and toting a basket of laundry, hanging up the family wash, is not only enjoyable but beneficial in terms of exercise. Clothes dryers are a major source of electrical overuse, as are abandoned battery chargers and "phantoms" like appliances that have a standby function and are constantly sipping away at your electrical supply. These include almost every entertainment device, anything with a black converter box on the cord. Eliminating one's entertainment quotient is not required, though reducing it is not a bad idea. However, you can control the loss of energy by using power strips and turning them on only when needed.

For the more adventurous who want to indulge in a short weekend project that could prove a long-term reduction in fossil-fuel energy use, there are relatively easy projects like building a "Cookit" – this requires some scissors, cardboard, foil and glue. It's basically a big shiny surface that, when oriented properly to the sun, will slowly sauté a platter of supper, all by itself over the course of a long summer afternoon. More elaborate cookers include an outdoor solar wall oven with a pass-through to the kitchen.

Standard solar collection devices are explained in detail, as well as natural ways of storing heat or cool with clay-slip insulation, or cob, a material similar to adobe. Everything described in the book includes step-by-step instructions for creating or installing. You will know what tools you'll need, how long the project will take, how much it will cost to make, and what the savings of energy will be. The possibilities range from the simplest, most passive like insulating the water heater, up to building a composting toilet or creating a small but highly productive urban garden space.

I predict that this book, a large paperback with copious how-to drawings and photographs of the resulting products, will sweep the nation as a best-selling "keeper" classic. It will attract the middle-class homeowner concerned with the rising price of gas at the pump as well as the alternative lifestylers who want to do even more to save the planet. Drawing together some old ideas – hay-box cooking, edible plants – with the latest technologies, it will be the newest "whole earth" reference. Totally go for it.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Barbara Bamberger Scott, 2008

buy *The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.