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Little House Off the Grid: Our Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency

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Like so many other city-dwellers, Cam and Michelle Mather longed for a simpler, quieter life in the country. When they found a century-old farmhouse on 150 acres of land that was in their price range, they jumped at the chance to make their move. The fact that the home was “off-grid” with no power or telephone lines connecting it to the outside world seemed like a bonus!

Twelve years later their life in the country is not quite as simple as they had envisioned, but it is peaceful. There were more challenges than they could have anticipated, as well as more rewards.

Along the way they installed more solar panels, erected a wind turbine, and upgraded and replaced all of the major components of their off-grid electrical system. They installed a solar-thermal hot water system; figured out how to have a phone, internet, and satellite TV; and kept their home heated with wood cut from their own property. They also carved out a garden and began growing much of their own food.

They acquired new skills and knowledge, but, most importantly, they learned to appreciate the value of good neighbors, good books, and good manure.

Cam Mather is a writer, publisher, and video producer who knows how to equalize batteries and pinch suckers off of tomato plants.

Michelle Mather looks after the editing, the website, and the dwindling bank account and keeps Cam calm during times of crisis.

Sustainable Energy, SI Edition

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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY focuses directly on energy related issues and includes a thorough treatment of all potentially viable energy sources. In most cases, individual chapters are devoted to each alternative energy approach. Although author Richard Dunlap covers past and current energy production methods, the text deals largely with future alternative energy strategies and follows the guidelines of ABET, the major engineering accreditation body. The book approaches these topics on a rigorous level — familiarity with the basic concepts of freshman Physics and Chemistry is needed. The book contains enough material for a typical one semester course. The end-of-chapter problems are predominantly quantitative in nature. However, most are not straight forward calculations based on substituting values from the chapter in to the appropriate formula. The problems are designed to require the students to analyze information, to make use of material from previous chapters, to correlate data from various sources (not only from the textbook itself but from library, internet or other sources) and in many cases to estimate quantities based on interpretation of graphical data, interpolation of values and sometime just plain common sense. While maintaining a quantitative approach to the study of energy in our society, the text and accompanying problems show that this is a complex and very interdisciplinary topic. This approach is intended to provide students with an appreciation for the real problems that are encountered in the understanding of how we produce and use energy, and the realization that, while exact calculations are important and necessary, a broadly based analysis is often most appropriate.

The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance

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Systemic global risks of oil supply, climate shock and financial collapse threaten tomorrow’s economies and mean businesses and policy makers face huge challenges in fuelling tomorrow’s world.

Jeremy Leggett gives a personal testimony of the dangers often ignored and incompletely understood – a journey through the human mind, the institutionalization of denial, and the reasons civilizations fail. It is also an account of tantalizing hope, because mobilizing renewables and redeploying energy funding can soften the crash of modern capitalism and set us on a road to renaissance.