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Book Reviews

Renewable energy and building efficiency are rapidly evolving fields with a wealth of new information being released regularly. Below are reviews of some relevant books you might consider.

Energy Free
by M.Arch., Ann V. Edminster, Peter Yost (Foreword

Energy Free is designed to equip building professionals and homeowners alike with a toolkit for creating homes that use no more energy than they produce—this means homes that are free from the vagaries of energy-price fluctuations and that help to free society of the high political and environmental costs of fossil fuels.Individuals and institutions have been working toward "zero-energy" homes for decades. This volume is the first record of those collective efforts, distilling their experience i…

Reinventing Fire
by Amory Lovins, Marvin Odum (Foreword), John W. Rowe (Foreword

Imagine fuel without fear. No climate change. No oil spills, no dead coalminers, no dirty air, no devastated lands, no lost wildlife. No energy poverty. No oil-fed wars, tyrannies, or terrorists. No leaking nuclear wastes or spreading nuclear weapons. Nothing to run out. Nothing to cut off. Nothing to worry about. Just energy abundance, benign and affordable, for all, forever.That richer, fairer, cooler, safer world is possible, practical, even profitable-because saving and replacing fossil fuel…

Toward a Zero Energy Home
by David Johnston, Scott Gibson

A Zero Energy Home (ZEH) – a home that produces as much energy as it consumes – is an idea whose time has come! Authors David Johnston and Scott Gibson (Green from the Ground Up) explore the design and construction of self-sufficient houses from start to finish. They make the case for a ZEH; cite climate and geographic challenges; describe exactly how to go about building an energy-efficient home; and feature ten houses that were built for zero energy living. With unequaled knowledge and a passi…

The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy
by Dan Chiras

Energy bills have skyrocketed in the United States, 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, renewa…

The Renewable Energy Handbook
by William H. Kem

The Renewable Energy Handbook focuses on the unique requirements of off-grid living as well as using "green" energy for homeowners who remain connected to the electrical utility.

Got Sun? Go Solar
by Rex A. Ewing and Doug Prat

Examines renewable energy options for grid-tied homeowners, including solar- and wind-generated electricity, solar water heating, passive solar, and geothermal heating / cooling. System configurations and equipment, average costs, financial incentives, and installation considerations are also covered--Provided by publisher.

A Solar Design Manual for Alaska
by Richard D. Seifert

Presents a broad overview of solar potential in general and specifically in Alaska. This book can also be read or downloaded online at www.alaskasun.org.

Passive Solar House
by James Kachadorian

For the past ten years The Passive Solar House has offered proven techniques for building homes that heat and cool themselves, using readily available materials and methods familiar to all building contractors and many do-it-yourself homeowners. True to this innovative, straightforward approach, the new edition of this best-selling guide includes CSOL passive solar design software, making it easier than ever to heat your home with the power of the sun. Since The Passive Solar House was first pub…

The Passive Solar Design and Construction Handbook
by Steven Winter Associates; edited by Michael J. Crosbi

The Passive Solar Design and Construction Handbook is an unbeatable guide for architects and building contractors who want to satisfy the growing demand for passive solar residential design. A complete revision of the bible of passive solar design originally published by the U.S. Department of Energy, this is the only comprehensive guide to adapting standard building practices to current passive solar applications. It supplies detailed, step-by-step information on all practical aspects of passiv…

The Passive Solar Energy Book
by Edward Maria

This older book (1979) is currently out of print and may be hard to find, but it contains a complete and comprehensive overview of the fundamentals passive solar presented in an easily understood fashion.

Solar Electricity Basics
by Dan Chiras

The future will be powered by renewables. 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 electricity and energy. It discusses the types of solar electric system you can choose from, their components, solar site assessment, the installation of photovoltaic systems, and much more. Whether your goal …

Solar Electricity Handbook - 2011 Edition
by Michael Boxwell

The Solar Electricity Handbook is a simple, practical guide to using electric solar panels and designing and installing photovoltaic PV systems. Significantly updated for 2011, the latest edition assumes no previous knowledge of solar electric systems. The book explains how solar panels work and how they can be used. It explains the advantages of solar energy and the drawbacks that you need to take into account when designing a solar power system. As well as explaining the underlying principles,…

by Solar Energy International

"Photovoltaics: Design and Installation Manual is a solar energy training and education provider - Solar Energy International (SEI) has made available the critical information to successfully design, install and maintain PV systems. The book contains an overview of photovoltaic electricity, and a detailed description of PV system components, including PV modules, batteries, controllers and inverters. It also includes chapters on sizing photovoltaic systems, analyzing sites and installing PV syst…

Solar Water Heating (Revised and Expanded Edition): A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems
by Bob Ramlow, Benjamin Nusz

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 o…

Solar Domestic Water Heating: The Earthscan Expert Handbook for Planning, Design and Installation
by Chris Laughton

Solar Domestic Water Heating is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of solar domestic water heating systems. As fossil fuel prices continue to rise and awareness of climate change grows, interest in domestic solar water heating is expanding. Solar water heating technology is the most environmentally-friendly way to heat water. This fully-illustrated and easy-to-follow guide shows how domestic solar water heating systems work, the different types of systems, types of collectors, both flat…

Planning and Installing Solar Thermal Systems
by German Solar Energy Society (DGS)

Solar thermal systems available today offer efficiency and reliability. They can be applied in different conditions to meet various requirements in the residential, commercial and industrial building sectors. The potential for this technology and the associated environmental benefits are significant.This fully updated edition of 2004’s bestselling guide offers clear guidance on planning and installing a solar thermal system, crucial to the successful uptake of this technology. All major topics f…

Solar Heating Systems for Houses
by editor, Werner Weis

The development of systems to provide both domestic hot water and space heating (solar combisystems) resulted in a diverse range of different designs that were not carefully optimized to reflect local climate and practice. Application of energy-efficient building strategies such as improved thermal insulation and use of low temperature heat supply systems is becoming increasingly common. This trend, combined with growing environmental awareness and the subsidies available in certain countries, f…

Wind Power Basics
by Dan Chiras

Wind energy is the fastest growing source of energy in the world, and by the year 2020 it is projected to supply at least 12 percent of global electrical demand. Wind Power Basics provides a clear understanding of wind and wind energy systems, including turbines, towers, inverters and batteries, site assessment, installation, and maintenance requirements. Whether you’re considering your own small-scale wind energy system or just want a straightforward, detailed introduction to the benefits and c…

Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition
by Paul Gipe

The availability of clean, renewable power is without question going to be the defining challenge and goal of the 21st century, and wind will lead the way.Internationally acclaimed wind energy expert Paul Gipe is as soberly critical of past energy mistakes as he is convincingly optimistic about the future. The overwhelming challenge of transforming our world from one of fossil carbon to one of clean power seems daunting at best—and paralyzingly impractical at worst. Wind Energy Basics offers a s…

Cradle to Cradle
by William McDonough & Michael Braungar

The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature. They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm--they're actually doing some good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process.

Green from the Ground Up
by David Johnston, Scott Gibson

A thorough, informative, and up-to-date reference on green, sustainable and energy-efficient home construction that clarifies definitions of green and sustainable and guides builders and architects through the process of new or remodel green construction, including issues of site, landscaping, durability, and energy-efficiency. It starts with clear explanations of the concepts and fundamentals of green, healthy and energy-efficient construction and walks the reader through the entire constructio…

The Solar House
by Daniel D., Ph.D. Chira

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 Dan Chiras, author of the popular book "The Natural House," brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts. In "The Solar House," Chi…

Passive Solar Architecture
by David Bainbridge, Ken Haggard

No matter what climate you're designing for, new buildings can be solar oriented, naturally heated and cooled, naturally lit, naturally ventilated and made with renewable, sustainable materials. In a comprehensive overview of passive solar design-the resurrected solar strategy that is sweeping through Germany and rapidly regaining popularity in the United States-two of the nation's solar pioneers give homeowners, architects, and builders the keys to successfully using the sun and climate resourc…