The New Independent Home
People and Houses
that Harvest the
Sun, Wind, and Water
"written by a visionary with dirt under his fingernails. If you want to seriously pursue self-reliance, you must read this book."
-- Denis Hayes, chair of Earth Day 2000
"These are the people who actually do the things most of us only talk about, and we'll have far less fear of failure if we let their experiences show us the way."-- Malcolm Wells, architect and author of The Earth Sheltered House
"An excellent tour through all the options... Acting locally with good information is the politics of transition to a healthy planet"-- Hazel Henderson, economist and author of Politics of the Solar Age
"... here is a book of true stories about real people who have taken the environmental high road. Potts's pioneers strike a high, clear chord..."-- John Connell, architect, cofounder of the Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and author of Homing Instinct
Michael Potts's 1993 book, The Independent Home, has become one of our
best sellers and is the flagship of the series of popular Solar Living
Books, produced in association with Real Goods Trading Company. Because
of its impact in bringing the almost unknown promise of solar energy to
thousands of readers, one longtime observer of energy trends described
the publication of the original Independent Home as "the most important
event in the solar industry in more than a decade."
The book's initial publication coincided with a National Tour of
Independent Homes. When more than ten thousand people attended this
one-day event, it suddenly became clear that the promise of living in
homes powered by sunlight, wind, and falling water had caught the
imagination of far more Americans than expected.
In this newly revised and expanded edition, Potts again profiles
the solar homesteaders whose experiments and innovations have opened the
possibility of solar living for the rest of us. Potts provides clear and
highly entertaining explanations of how various renewable energy systems
work, and shows why they now make more sense than ever. He is a
brilliant guide to the stages of planning and design faced by everyone
who seeks to create a home that reconciles the personal and global
dimensions of ecology.
Over the past five years, the concept of an "independent" home has
evolved beyond the energy system to encompass the whole process of
design and construction involved in planning a renovation or a new home.
Independent homes are homes with integrity and personality. Beautiful
abodes are now being built with age-old materials, such as straw bales
and rammed earth, and combined with state-of-the-art electronic
technologies for harvesting free energy from the surrounding
Potts writes with lucidity about a group of homeowners some would
consider to be the lunatic fringe and others would regard as among the
only sane people on the planet. This move toward self-reliance is an
important trend that will continue to surprise and delight us as we
approach the inevitable dawn of the Solar Age.
about the web edition
From the author:
It took me 20 years to get ready to write my book -- tinkering, visiting, figuring arcane technology out -- and then another 6 years to get the book right. Independent homesteaders offer us all lessons on using our energy better. On-the-gridders waste half the energy they buy, while we who carefully harvest every electron, teaspoon of water, and therm of heat, strive to waste as little as possible. This work
reconnects us with the planet in unexpected ways.
There are important lessons in my book about phantom loads, free energy sources, and small habit changes that have helped many "on-the-gridders" reduce their energy bills by 30% - 60% -- enough to pay for their energy improvements with enough left over to buy a new copy of my book (and give it to a friend) every month!
As the Chelsea Green webster and the author of this book, I am trying something new with these web pages: I'm trying to open a wider window into the book, in the hopes that web visitors will browse, enjoy, find useful information, and ultimately buy the book in its ever so much fuller and more convenient paper version.
I invite you to explore these excerpts from the new book, starting with the contents
and the Introduction
. If you find unfamiliar terms, the Glossary
may help; it opens in a separate window, so you can refer to it as you read through the excerpts.
about the author
Michael Potts is a free-lance writer, networker, and teacher, who lives happily with renewable energy in Caspar, California
. He and his family have been building their own innovative, low-impact home over the course of many years, steadily improving their relationship with solar technologies and with their own unique location on the planet.
He invites you to visit the
Solar Utilities Network
's home page.