The Greened House Effect
Renovating Your Home with a Deep Energy Retrofit
With greater public awareness of the need for energy independence, the issue of how we can make our existing homes more resource efficient is becoming ever more critical. Residential buildings make up a large fraction of our energy needs, largely due to heating and air-conditioning. So it’s no longer enough to simply do the small stuff, like switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, or turning down the thermostat at night.
In The Greened-House Effect, author Jeff Wilson brings his twenty-five years of construction experience and knowledge of home building to bear on making our current houses cleaner, greener, and healthier. Think of a deep-energy retrofit (DER) as a “home makeover” – one that represents a significant investment, but that saves money from the get-go by capturing the energy you “drop on the ground” every month, every year, through inefficiency, poor design, or simply living in a typical older home.
Using his own family’s DER of their 1942 home as a prime example, Wilson weaves a readable narrative at a practical, hammer-and-nail level. He presents the solutions to our building and energy problems, making them seem possible for average homeowners and small contractors by offering the right set of information, skills, and materials.
More technical information is presented in sidebars and graphs, and numerous color photos illustrate the process, including:
- Testing the energy efficiency of your home and learning where improvements need to be made
- Issues of local building codes and regulations
- Financing and paying for a DER
- Major components of the DER, such as roofs, exterior walls, basements, and home systems
Wilson’s building experience, along with his lifelong passion for energy issues, all come together to form an inspirational, can-do approach to making our neighborhood, our community, our nation, and our world a better place – one home at a time.
Reviews and Praise
“In his hands-on guide to energy-efficient renovations for homeowners, construction expert Jeff Wilson presents highly useful strategies that are not only doable for those with no remodeling experience, but also budget friendly and practical.
In The Greened House Effect, Wilson notes that his interest in the subject kicked off when he decided to renovate his seventy-year-old house. Motivated by the desire to cut his home’s energy costs, he began discovering a greater impact to “a deep energy retrofit,” in which changes to single homes could add up to far-reaching changes for the United States.
Described by Wilson as “weatherization on steroids,” a deep energy retrofit involves everything from redoing insulation to purchasing new appliances. Even focusing on one aspect of eco-renovation, such as patching up a house’s small cracks and drafts can result in less humidity during the summer, saving on air conditioning costs.
Using a writing style that blends passionate activism with step-by-step instruction, Wilson details how homeowners can design a deep energy retrofit, find financing, deal with roofs, manage basement moisture, and handle walls, doors, and windows. He also provides information on ultrahigh-efficiency additions that increase a home’s square footage without affecting its carbon footprint.
Throughout, Wilson acts as a knowledgeable, helpful construction Sherpa who covers a wide range of topics without sounding rushed. Many times, his personable tone feels like neighborly advice instead of the more traditional, personality-free writing often found in how-to books. Also helpful, The Greened House Effect has ample photos for illustrating main points and smaller details. Even some of these show Wilson’s friendly approach, like the photo of his young daughter with crowbar in hand, helping to demolish a basement wall.
For those who prefer extra credit projects, or have some construction experience, Wilson includes projects for integrating wind and micro-hydro power as well as solar panels. He makes a compelling argument for going beyond simple renovations with home projects, and seeing the bigger picture of energy independence.
Although Wilson’s larger aims of economic security and environmental awareness are notable, for many homeowners, this guidebook will be most useful for offering practical, straightforward advice for renovations that create lasting effects. Sometimes, change literally begins at home.”
More Reviews and Praise
"How energy efficient is your home? HGTV and DIY Network host Wilson, who boasts 25 years of construction and remodeling experience, uses the energy retrofit of his own 1940s Midwest home as a case study. Starting with energy audits to identify problem areas, he launches a plan to tackle energy drains, from roof to basement and everything in between, before venturing into alternative energy. This title emphasizes the long-term cost savings of DIY energy efficiency; however, though some of these renovations are do it yourself, many actually require specialty contractors and suppliers. Whereas Paul Scheckel’s The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook includes more individually defined projects, Wilson’s approach is more ambitious. The writing is excellent and enjoyable, and the list of resources at the end is very useful. VERDICT A solid addition for those willing to tackle more. Recommended."
“Jeff Wilson has provided an extraordinary service to all of us who are struggling to make our homes more energy efficient. I know of no other book that takes the reader on such a thoroughly entertaining but equally fact-filled tour of all the options and challenges in making an older home equal to, or better than, new. For anyone who is serious about making their existing home a better custodian of our planet’s resources, The Greened House Effect is a must read. If I could add an addendum to my own book, Not So Big Remodeling, I’d tell my readers, ‘To really understand how to do a Deep Energy Retrofit right, read The Greened House Effect.’”--Sarah Susanka, architect and author of The Not So Big House series
“The Greened House Effect is inspiring, empowering, informative, and entertaining. Jeff Wilson puts a human face on a technical undertaking by relating his family’s Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) story as an adventure drama—with defining moments, ‘learning experiences,’ and palpable joys—interspersed with solid advice about how to carry out one’s own DER.
At the same time, Wilson views a single DER in the context of a growing movement that can positively impact our economy, environmental pollution, and national security. The Greened House Effect means a better life, for one family and for the world.”--Carol Venolia, architect, Come Home to Nature, and coauthor, Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House
“Professionals will debate the techniques, and economists will debate the payback, but no one will debate Jeff Wilson’s pluck in attacking his own Deep Energy Retrofit—all the while living with his family in the house! The Greened House Effect is a good overview of the DER field and a great argument for moving out while you do the work! Jeff must have a very patient wife!”--Steve Thomas, former host of PBS’s This Old House and Planet Green’s Renovation Nation
“I live on an island. There are 17,000 existing buildings here. Each will be brought into the 21st century, at some point, or be summarily discarded—demolished, dumped, and replaced. The Deep Energy Retrofit method is the key to restoring our existing housing stock. At South Mountain Company we practice this approach. Jeff Wilson does, too, and he has written a comprehensive and robust introduction to the subject that balances practical instructions with design, engineering, and social/environmental context. The Greened House Effect is very informative. And it’s a good read, too.”--John Abrams, president and CEO, South Mountain Company, Inc., author of Companies We Keep
About The Author
|Book Art:||Full color illustrations throughout|
|Size:||7 x 10 inch|
|Publisher:||Chelsea Green Publishing|
|Pub. Date:||May 24, 2013|
Available In/Retail PricePaperback, 280 pages, $29.95
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