Chelsea Green Publishing

The Greened House Effect

Pages:280 pages
Book Art:Full color illustrations throughout
Size: 7 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584500
Pub. Date May 24, 2013
eBook: 9781603584517
Pub. Date May 24, 2013

The Greened House Effect

Renovating Your Home with a Deep Energy Retrofit

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 24, 2013


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 24, 2013

$29.95 $23.96

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.


ForeWord Reviews-

“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.”

Library Journal-

"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


Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson has twenty-five years' experience in the building industry, both as a "pickup contractor" and as a television and radio host for various programs on the HGTV and diy networks. In his career he has demonstrated and done everything from small-scale home-construction projects to historic-home renovations. Together with his wife he runs his own video production company (Little Blue House Productions) and operates a website ( He is currently developing a multimedia website based on this project ( He lives with his family in Athens, Ohio.


January 20, 2016

Jeff Wilson at Michigan Sierra Club

109 E Grand River Ave,, Lansing, MI, 48906 | Jeff Wilson
More details to come.

See all Events by this Author


The Greened House Effect- Espisode 1

The Greened House Effect- Espisode 2

The Greened House Effect- Espisode 3

The Greened House Effect- Espisode 4

The Greened House Effect- Espisode 5

The Greened House Effect- Espisode 6

The Greened House Effect- Espisode 7


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This definitive manual marks the birth of a new vernacular for the 21st century. Over 400 color photographs and step-by-step instructions guide you through the building of anything from a garden shed to your own woodland house. This practical how to book will unquestionably be a benchmark for sustainable building using renewable local resources and evolving traditional skills to create durable, ecological, and beautiful buildings.

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The Chelsea Green Reader

The Chelsea Green Reader

Chelsea Green, the Vermont-based independent publisher, has always had a nose for authors and subjects that are way ahead of the cultural curve, as is evident in this new anthology celebrating the company’s first thirty years in publishing.

The more than one hundred books represented in this collection reflect the many distinct areas in which we have published–from literature and memoirs to progressive politics, to highly practical books on green building, organic gardening and farming, food and health, and related subjects–all of which reflect our underlying philosophy: "The politics and practice of sustainable living." The Chelsea Green Reader offers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list of books and authors and to the important ideas that they express. Interesting and worth reading in their own right, the individual passages when taken as a whole trace the evolution of a highly successful small publisher–something that is almost an oxymoron in these days of corporate buyouts and multinational book groups.
From the beginning, Chelsea Green's books were nationally recognized, garnering positive reviews, accolades, and awards. We’ve published four New York Times bestsellers, and our books have set the standard for in-depth, how-to books that remain relevant years–often decades–beyond their original publication date.

"Chelsea Green was born from a single seed: the beauty of craft. Craft in writing and editing, in a story well told, or a thesis superbly expressed," writes cofounder and publisher emeritus Ian Baldwin in the book's foreword. Today, craft continues to inform all aspects of our work–design, illustration, production, sales, promotion, and beyond. It has even informed our business model: In 2012, Chelsea Green became an employee-owned company.

With the rise of the Internet, new media platforms, and a constantly shifting bookselling landscape, the future of publishing is anything but predictable. But if Chelsea Green's books prove anything, it is that, despite these challenges, there remains a hunger for new and important ideas and authors, and for the permanence and craftsmanship of the printed word. Today our ongoing mission is stronger than ever, as we launch into our next thirty years of publishing excellence.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The New Net Zero

The New Net Zero

By Bill Maclay

The new threshold for green building is not just low energy, it’s net-zero energy. In The New Net Zero, sustainable architect Bill Maclay charts the path for designers and builders interested in exploring green design’s new frontier net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are carbon neutral.

 In a nation where traditional buildings use roughly 40 percent of the total fossil energy, the interest in net-zero building is growing enormously–among both designers interested in addressing climate change and consumers interested in energy efficiency and long-term savings. Maclay, an award-winning net-zero designer whose buildings have achieved high-performance goals at affordable costs, makes the case for a net-zero future; explains net-zero building metrics, integrated design practices, and renewable energy options; and shares his lessons learned on net-zero teambuilding.

Designers and builders will find a wealth of state-of-the-art information on such considerations as air, water, and vapor barriers; embodied energy; residential and commercial net-zero standards; monitoring and commissioning; insulation options; costs; and more.

The comprehensive overview is accompanied by several case studies, which include institutional buildings, commercial projects, and residences.  Both new-building and renovation projects are covered in detail. 

The New Net Zero is geared toward professionals exploring net-zero design, but also suitable for nonprofessionals seeking ideas and strategies on net-zero options that are beautiful and renewably powered.

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Serious Straw Bale

Serious Straw Bale

By Paul Lacinski and Michel Bergeron

In 1994, when Chelsea Green published The Straw Bale House, the response from many people was a loud, "Huh?!"

Those days are gone. With more than 100,000 copies sold, and straw bale projects underway in most regions of North America, we've entered a new era. Even building-code officials and insurance companies now look favorably upon straw bale buildings, with their extraordinary energy efficiency and wise use of agricultural waste for construction materials.

Bergeron and Lacinski's new book Serious Straw Bale is the first to look carefully at the specific design considerations critical to success with a straw bale building in more extreme climates-where seasonal changes in temperature, precipitation, and humidity create special stresses that builders must understand and address. The authors draw upon years of experience with natural materials and experimental techniques, and present a compelling rationale for building with straw-one of nature's most resilient, available, and affordable byproducts.

For skeptics and true believers, this book will prove to be the latest word.

  • Thorough explanations of how moisture and temperature affect buildings in seasonal climates, with descriptions of the unique capacities of straw and other natural materials to provide warmth, quiet, and comfort year-round.
  • Comprehensive comparison of the two main approaches to straw bale construction: "Nebraska-style," where bales bear the weight of the roof, and framed structures, where bales provide insulation.
  • Detailed advice-including many well-considered cautions-for contractors, owner-builders, and designers, following each stage of a bale-building process.

This is a second-generation straw bale book, for those seeking serious information to meet serious challenges while adventuring in the most fun form of construction to come along in several centuries.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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