Review: Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook

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Solar living sourcebook by John SchafferAs the Internet has become more popular, reference works, such as encyclopedias, have gone the way of the dinosaurs. So, why is Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook: Your Complete Guide to Living Beyond the Grid with Renewable Energy Technologies and Sustainable Living in its 14th edition? Couldn’t you just use Google instead of reading this book? Couldn’t you just use Google instead of reading any book? The answer to those questions depends on how much time you want to waste spend weeding through information and trying to determine its validity. After all, anyone can write whatever they want on the web. But with more 600,000 copies of previous editions of this book in print, the author knows what he’s talking about.

“John Schaeffer is the founder of Real Goods — the foremost global source for tools and information on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living,” according to the publisher. “Since 1978, through Real Goods, he has pioneered solar technology in North America, providing over 150 MW of solar power and helping to solarize over 18,000 homes.”

Although the original book might have focused entirely on solar energy — and hence the name of the book — this edition goes so much farther than solar energy. It covers the basics of every type of renewable energy imaginable — and then some. There is even a section on green burials. If you’ve ever been responsible for someone’s burial, you know how expensive it is, but did you also know there is a significant environmental cost?

At more than 450 pages and measuring 8.5 by 11 inches in size, I can’t even begin to tell you about all of the great information in this book. However, I’ll give it a go. In addition to everything you ever wanted to know about solar energy and natural burials, he also covers green building practices; super-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling; water safety, pumping, and heating; water and air purification; composting toilets and greywater systems; permaculture; urban homesteading; and sustainable transportation.

5 thoughts on “Review: Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook”

  1. This year I am going to divide my garden into sections: herbs, kitchen (foods to grow and eat fresh), chicken garden, children's garden (popcorn, sunflowers, peanuts, watermelon, etc.), canning garden and market garden. I can't wait to get started.

  2. About half of our garden beds this year are going to be dedicated to being a salsa garden! So excited about that. And we are always interested in using more renewable energy.

  3. We're experimenting with solar power, inch by inch and row by row in our home and gardens. We have a solar pump that irrigates our field, so far! I'm going to introduce ducks into our gardens this year! Bunkie.

  4. I am looking forward to being able to incorporate some solar energy options into my yard. Though I will starting with little things, I hope to have it grow! One of my projects, though not solar, is a 250-gallon water tank with soaker hoses hooked from it to the garden. The tank can be filled and then turned on to the garden. This allows me to have a full soaking of the garden area without forgetting to turn it off and wasting. The advantage of the water in the tank is that it warms up and enters the ground as warm water to the roots.


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