Synopses & Reviews
You've read the stories and watched the documentaries. So you're convinced burning fossil fuels leads to global climate change; supplies of fossil fuels are diminishing in quantity and increasing in price. You've fretted and worried, but still go through your day consuming some quantity of non-renewable fossil fuels to accomplish nearly every task (and you may not even realize it). You want to do something besides worry but you are unsure where to begin.
Read this book then grab your handsaw, tape measure, and drill, and get started! A life powered by the sun is waiting for you. Meant as a guide for renovating existing homes, this book gives you the hands-on knowledge necessary to kick the fossil fuel habit, with projects small and large listed by skill, time, cost, and energy saved. For every aspect of your life currently powered by fossil fuels, we offer alternatives you can accomplish yourself to get started using renewable and sustainable sources of power.
Inspired by their own determination to wean themselves completely from fossil fuels, Rebekah and Stephen Hren provide a map for others interested in the path to producing all their own energy and living a fossil fuel-free life. It shows first how to reduce energy consumption as much as possible, then how to retrofit an existing home in order to obtain all heating and cooling, all cooking and refrigeration, and all hot water and electricity from renewable sources. The Hrens also provide advice on renewable methods of transportation and home gardening, as poor choices about food and mobility often negate hard-won gains in the home. Like many today, the Hrens felt they had a moral obligation to mitigate humankind's contribution to the ravages of pollution, including global warming as a result of fossil fuel addiction. In this book, the Hrens offer practical approaches that fit into anyone's budget, and can be done over time as a way to wean oneself from fossil fuel dependency.
Publishers Weekly -
With an endearing mix of down-to-earth practical solutions and funky DIY projects, this book provides readers with much-needed information on how to renovate habits and home to move closer to a zero-carbon existence. The Hrens, respectively a carpenter and a photovoltaic installer living in Durham, N.C., give specific and technical advice, based on their own experience, on how to lower energy use within and outside the house, with 36 projects ranging from simple and inexpensive activities like sealing drafts, resetting the water heater thermostat and planting potatoes in a barrel to more heavy-duty and costly tasks such as installing a green roof or a solar hot-water heater and replacing a lawn with a permaculture garden. Some projects, such as building an outdoor cob oven--which the authors themselves describe as time-consuming with low energy savings--will be of little interest to any but devoted backyard hobbyists. Converting from a flush toilet to humanure, which involves lugging five-gallon buckets of human waste to a compost pile on a weekly basis, is even less likely to be adopted by the urban dwellers the Hrens hope to influence. But just about anyone will find something useful to do in this book, and the detailed, clear and enlightening chapter on understanding home energy use is, alone, almost worth the purchase price.
"This is the perfect book for people who want to roll up their sleeves to save the planet. It is informative, well researched, easy to follow, and inspiring. Our future depends on each of us reducing our carbon footprint. The Carbon-Free Home is a great resource to assist in this adventure of our time."
--David Gershon, author of Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds and Green Living Handbook: A 6 Step Program to Create an Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyle
"It is now evident that we have come to the end of the first half of the Age of Oil, when the production of oil-based energy fueled an expanding economy in which consumers were encouraged to feed their appetites. In energy terms, current oil production is equivalent to 22 billion slaves working night and day, but it is a finite resource formed in the geological past and therefore subject to depletion. As every beer-drinker knows, the glass starts full and ends empty. The quicker he drinks it, the sooner it is gone. It is the same with oil. The second half of the Age of Oil, which now dawns, will be very different. The economy will have to contract in parallel with oil supply, and people will have to turn to new and more sustainable life-styles. This book is essential reading, giving a full spectrum of invaluable advice on how to adapt to the new conditions imposed by Nature. It is far from a doomsday message as it offers hope for a new, more benign age. The transition will be tough but this book explains how to plan and prepare."
--Colin J. Campbell, Chairman of ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil)
"If you want clean fingernails along with a clean conscience, then I can't recommend this book. If you believe that industrial capitalism is systematically silencing the divine voices of the biosphere, and you feel responsible enough to do something, then read it and heed it. We can't pontificate our way out of the awful mess we have, and we can't whine our way out either. We have to design our way out, and The Carbon-Free Home explains in plain language how to start designing-out in our own crawlspaces and attics. The measures we take now for our individual independence will soon enough be required for our collective survival. Stephen and Rebekah Hren have provided a practical education for tomorrow's most essential revolutionary cadres."
--Stan Goff, author of Hideous Dream and Full Spectrum Disorder
"It's hard to imagine a more comprehensive, and comprehensible, guide to making your home work for you and for the planet, inside and out. It's frugal, it's sensible, and it will help!"
--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and Fight Global Warming Now
"The Hren's book provides an meaningful pathway to a carbon-free lifestyle--including everything from the latest in high-tech equipment to homemade solutions that will satisfy the earthiest of back-to-landers."--Michael Welch, Redwood Alliance
"We all know in our hearts, but shun the thought, that one day we must kick the fossil fuel habit. Stephen and Rebekah Hren have grasped the nettle and implemented simple and ingenious do-it-yourself technologies to achieve the goal of zero-carbon living. Their book offers a rich selection of options for all who desire to reduce their carbon footprint."--John Terborgh, Director of the Duke University Center for Tropical Conservation and author of Requiem for Nature
"Stephen and Rebekah's The Carbon-Free Home
is a remarkable book. It's thorough, well researched, and a delight to read. Its many practical solutions offer hope for individual action in the face of daunting environmental crisis. Reading it made me want to go home and get started on projects for our house."Lyle Estill, author of Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy
"This is an excellent resource for people committed to reducing their energy consumption and carbon emissions."--Joe Loper, Vice President for Policy and Research, Alliance to Save Energy
"The Carbon-Free Home is a wonderfully useful guide to reducing household reliance on fossil fuels. Most of us have very little idea how many hydrocarbons we're using--until we do a personal inventory. The harsh reality is that we have all become complicit in an energy system whose future is bleak and unsustainable. It's time to bail out, and this book tells us how."
--Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and author of The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
"While not for the timid or tool-phobic, The Carbon-Free Home is a gold mine of inspiration and information for those hands-on people with more time and energy than money, and a passion to help save the planet."
--Beth Sachs, Executive Director of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
"The Carbon-Free Home
confronts the hard truth about reducing our carbon impact on the world. The Hrens share their broad experience to give us all the head start we need to move towards a sustainable lifestyle. If you're willing to do the work, this book will inspire you to squeeze every molecule out of your carbon budget."--Paul Scheckel, author of The Home Energy Diet
About the Author
Stephen and Rebekah Hren live in Durham, North Carolina, where they are both actively involved with renewable energy, natural building, and edible urban gardening. Rebekah works with Honey Electric Solar, Inc. as a professional designer/installer of photovoltaic systems and domestic solar hot water systems. Stephen is a professional restoration carpenter, focusing on antebellum houses. He teaches natural building classes and workshops at the local community college, and in any spare time works with Bountiful Backyards, an edible landscaping cooperative.