Cover image for The new independent home : people and houses that harvest the sun
The new independent home : people and houses that harvest the sun
Potts, Michael, 1944-
Personal Author:
Revised and expanded edition.
Publication Information:
White River Junction, Vt. : Chelsea Green Pub. Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xxii, 392 pages, 14 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: The independent home. c1993.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TJ163.5.D86 P68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Tells the stories of various people who have built their houses in an attempt to get off the grid and make the living spaces as efficient as possible. The author combines the stories of the people and their houses with the principles that make their houses efficient using methods of solar, water,

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xiii
Introductionp. xv
Chapter 1 Declaring Independencep. 1
The Dependent Homep. 2
The Present State of Energyp. 6
Rediscovering the Land: O'Malley Stoumen's Storyp. 9
Looked Like Movement to Mep. 15
Reinventing the Cavep. 16
Sticker Shock and Whole Costp. 17
Whole-Life Cost Analysisp. 18
Thrifty Technology: Fred Rassman's Storyp. 19
The Hidden Costs of Electricityp. 23
Chapter 2 Homework: Outgrowing Dependencep. 27
Cost-Effective Home Energy Systemsp. 28
Regional Energy Economies in the U.S.p. 28
Electrical System Componentsp. 30
Retrofitting: Steven Strong's Storyp. 32
Heating and Cooling Spacep. 37
People Cookersp. 41
The Case of the Overheated Atticp. 44
An American Fetish: Hoarding Hot Waterp. 46
The Outrageous Cost of Refrigerationp. 50
Refrigerator Cowboysp. 51
The Great American Refrigerator Challengep. 52
But Where's the Stick? Refrigerator Breakevenp. 54
Proudly Standing Alone: Catherine, Eva, and Lilia's Storyp. 56
What Part of Off Don't You Understand?p. 59
The Road to Town: Noel Perrin's Storyp. 60
A Cleaner Obsessionp. 63
Describing Electricityp. 64
Chapter 3 Harvesting Powerp. 67
Harvesting Sunshine: Photovoltaic Cellsp. 69
The Photovoltaic Effectp. 70
Are PVs Toxic?p. 71
Evolving Modulesp. 71
As Simple as Possible: David Katz's Storyp. 73
Generators: Turning Spin into Flowp. 75
We Need Implementation, Not a Breakthroughp. 76
Wind Energy: Paul Gipe's Storyp. 78
Falling Water: The Best Sourcep. 84
Hybrid Systems: Multiple Energy Sourcesp. 86
Power's Dark Underbellyp. 87
Chapter 4 Maintaining Home Utilitiesp. 91
Home Energy System Overviewp. 94
Planning Domestic Power: Felicia and Charlie Cowden's Storyp. 95
The Heart of a Power Thiefp. 98
Storing Energyp. 103
Balancing the Battery Bankp. 106
Mush, You Batteries! Regular Battery Maintenancep. 108
Taking Good Care of the Teamp. 111
Things that Spin, Wearp. 112
Built to Be Servicedp. 113
Inverters: Different Powersp. 114
Safety and Balance-of-System Equipmentp. 114
No Load is a Good Loadp. 116
Mission Critical Powerp. 118
Light for Life: Robert Sardinsky's Storyp. 119
More Power to Usp. 123
Preheating with Compostp. 124
Chapter 5 Comprehending Energyp. 125
Voluntary Simplicity: Lennie Kaumzha's Storyp. 126
Interdependencep. 127
Homestead Energy: Stephen and Christiane's Storyp. 128
Mapping Home Energyp. 136
Urban Energy Treasures: Berta Nelson's Storyp. 140
Reckoning Home Energyp. 146
Getting Specificp. 148
Chapter 6 Choosing A Site for Energyp. 149
Declaring Freedomp. 150
Building in Our Mindsp. 152
Defining the Programp. 153
The Right Sitep. 154
Real Estate Trapsp. 155
Evaluating Comparablesp. 156
The Site Rosep. 158
Regional Designp. 159
Improving the Land: David Palumbo's Storyp. 161
Meeting Our New Neighborsp. 164
What the Woodrat Recommendsp. 166
The Laws of Physics: Laws We Can Live Withp. 169
Chapter 7 Design for Independencep. 171
Recovering from an Edifice Complexp. 172
Right Ingredientsp. 174
Comings and Goingsp. 174
An Engineer's Way to Put a Hole in a Housep. 175
Putting the Car before the Housep. 176
Window Framingsp. 176
Before You Build: Wes and Linda's Advicep. 178
Chapter 8 Building the Home Energy Machinep. 182
Paying for Too Much Climate Controlp. 183
Mass and Glassp. 185
Pounding Tires: Ken Anderson's Storyp. 187
Simple, Passive, and Massivep. 195
High Ceilings, High Heating Billsp. 195
Doors Indoors?p. 195
Insulation Is Everythingp. 196
Radiant Floors: A Case in Pointp. 198
Building in Harmony with Sourcesp. 202
Renewable Energy Gotcha!sp. 207
Planning for Maintenance and Changep. 208
Mobile Homesp. 209
The Light of Experiencep. 210
Chapter 9 Pioneering and Settling the New Energy Frontierp. 211
Stepwise Refinementp. 213
Evolving Standardsp. 214
Fuel Cells: Why I Am Unimpressedp. 215
Beyond Experiment: Low-maintenance Systemsp. 216
The Second Generation: Lafayette Young's Storyp. 218
Integrated Responsep. 226
Laf Young on Gas Refrigeratorsp. 226
Chapter 10 Home Entropy--Improvements and Repairsp. 229
Spreading the News: Richard Gottlieb and Carol Levin's Storyp. 230
Thinking Like and Islandp. 235
Islandingp. 236
Understanding Failure: Darkness or Dimming?p. 239
Optimizing Performancep. 241
Hedging with Windows and Wirep. 243
Never Finished: Enlarging on the Themep. 243
Homogenize or Customizep. 245
Building into the Futurep. 247
The Brazil Effectp. 247
Chapter 11 Growing With the Landp. 249
Selecting a Home Sitep. 251
Twenty Thousand Trees: Frank Dolan's Storyp. 252
Fitting the Landscapep. 256
Ark Maui: Wittt Billlman's Storyp. 258
Slash and Burn Gardeningp. 260
Beneath the Treesp. 261
Getting above Mudp. 262
The Kitchen Gardenp. 263
Growing Energy: Renewable Fuelp. 265
The Garden Withinp. 266
Chapter 12 Generalists and Specialistsp. 269
For Land and Family: Wes and Linda Edwards's Storyp. 271
The Information Gridp. 274
Work-at-Homersp. 275
Phone It Inp. 277
Wild West: Wayne and Debbie Robertson's Storyp. 280
Garbagep. 284
The Unburn Pilep. 285
The Pendulum Returnsp. 286
Chapter 13 Solar Neighborhoodsp. 287
Cultural Landscape: Arnie and Maria Valdez's Storyp. 288
Bonding with the Landp. 295
Land for the Cost of a Car: Nancy Hensley's Storyp. 296
Independent Childrenp. 300
Make Friends with What You Need: Michael Reynolds's Storyp. 303
Caveat Emptor: J.P. Townsend's Storyp. 310
Natural Communitiesp. 313
Chapter 14 Living With Constant Changep. 314
Solar Cyclesp. 316
Gradualismp. 317
Generationsp. 317
Public Consciousness and Cyclical Changep. 319
Mac Rood on Energy Politicsp. 320
The Political Weatherp. 321
Making Cycles Serve Us: Leigh Seddon's Storyp. 322
Shift Happensp. 325
Jon Stoumen on Secondary Performancep. 326
Chapter 15 The Will to Survivep. 329
Bunkers Will Not Save Us: Leandre Poisson's Storyp. 330
Shelter without Pollution or Compromise: Alan Crabtrees' Storyp. 332
Mass-producing Mistakesp. 336
Mechanical Crucifixionp. 337
Who Will Continue the Work: Scott Suddreth's Storyp. 339
The Tough Keep Goingp. 342
Chapter 16 Forward!p. 344
What We Knowp. 346
What We Must Dop. 347
The Soft Path: Hunter and Amory Lovins's Storyp. 348
Rocky Mountain Institutep. 351
The Future's Giftsp. 356
Home Energy Auditp. 359
Site Mapp. 360
Glossaryp. 361
Bibliographyp. 376
Indexp. 385