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


The Natural Building Companion

The Natural Building Companion

By Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton

Natural buildings not only bring satisfaction to their makers and joy to their occupants, they also leave the gentlest footprint on the environment. In this complete reference to natural building philosophy, design, and technique, Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton walk builders through planning and construction, offering step-by-step instructions on:

  • siting and site analysis
  • choosing materials
  • integrating basic structural considerations into a design
  • strategies for heating/cooling efficiency and moisture management
  • planning for acoustics
  • developing an integrative design
  • navigating budgeting, code compliance, and project management
  • creating the foundation, wall system, roof, and floors
  • selecting and making plasters and paints
  • evaluating options for mechanical and utility systems
  • protecting against fire and insects
  • integrating structures within landscape, climate, and human communities

...and more

Applicable to building in climates that are cold and wet, hot and dry, or somewhere in-between, The Natural Building Companion provides the tools necessary to understand basic principles of building science, including structural and thermal engineering, and hydrodynamics. This guide offers thorough, up-to-date, and advanced installation details and performance characteristics of straw-bale, straw-clay, woodchip-clay, and cellulose wall systems, as well as earthen and stone wall systems and a variety of framing, roofing, flooring, mechanical system, and finishing options. This fully-illustrated volume informs professionals making the transition from conventional building, homeowners embarking on their own construction, or green builders who want comprehensive guidance on natural-building options. A State-of-the-Art Resource for Natural Builders The Natural Building Companion is a part of The Yestermorrow Design/Build Library and includes an instructional DVD.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The Natural Building Companion

Jacob Deva Racusin, Ace McArleton

Paperback $59.95



By Ugo Bardi

As we dig, drill, and excavate to unearth the planet’s mineral bounty, the resources we exploit from ores, veins, seams, and wells are gradually becoming exhausted. Mineral treasures that took millions, or even billions, of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries–or sometimes just decades.

Will there come a time when we actually run out of minerals? Debates already soar over how we are going to obtain energy without oil, coal, and gas. But what about the other mineral losses we face? Without metals, and semiconductors, how are we going to keep our industrial system running? Without mineral fertilizers and fuels, how are we going to produce the food we need?

Ugo Bardi delivers a sweeping history of the mining industry, starting with its humble beginning when our early ancestors started digging underground to find the stones they needed for their tools. He traces the links between mineral riches and empires, wars, and civilizations, and shows how mining in its various forms came to be one of the largest global industries. He also illustrates how the gigantic mining machine is now starting to show signs of difficulties. The easy mineral resources, the least expensive to extract and process, have been mostly exploited and depleted. There are plenty of minerals left to extract, but at higher costs and with increasing difficulties.

The effects of depletion take different forms and one may be the economic crisis that is gripping the world system. And depletion is not the only problem. Mining has a dark side–pollution–that takes many forms and delivers many consequences, including climate change. 

The world we have been accustomed to, so far, was based on cheap mineral resources and on the ability of the ecosystem to absorb pollution without generating damage to human beings. Both conditions are rapidly disappearing. Having thoroughly plundered planet Earth, we are entering a new world.

Bardi draws upon the world’s leading minerals experts to offer a compelling glimpse into that new world ahead.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Jorgen Randers, Ugo Bardi

Paperback $24.95

Passive Solar Architecture

Passive Solar Architecture

By David Bainbridge and Ken Haggard

New buildings can be designed to be solar oriented, naturally heated and cooled, naturally lit and ventilated, and made with renewable, sustainable materials—no matter the location or climate.

In this comprehensive overview of passive solar design, two of America’s solar pioneers give homeowners, architects, designers, and builders the keys to successfully harnessing the sun and maximizing climate resources for heating, cooling, ventilation, and daylighting.

Bainbridge and Haggard draw upon examples from their own experiences, as well as those of others, of more than three decades to offer both overarching principles as well as the details and formulas needed to successfully design a more comfortable, healthy, and secure place in which to live, laugh, dance, and be comfortable. Even if the power goes off.

Passive Solar Architecture also discusses “greener” and more-sustainable building materials and how to use them, and explores the historical roots of green design that have made possible buildings that produce more energy and other resources than they use.

Available in: Hardcover

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Passive Solar Architecture

David Bainbridge, Ken Haggard

Hardcover $85.00

Build Your Own Earth Oven

Build Your Own Earth Oven

By Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field

Earth ovens combine the utility of a wood-fired, retained-heat oven with the ease and timeless beauty of earthen construction. Building one will appeal to bakers, builders, and beginners of all kinds, from:

    •    the serious or aspiring baker who wants the best low-cost
bread oven, to
    •    gardeners who want a centerpiece for a beautiful
outdoor kitchen, to
    •    outdoor chefs, to
    •    creative people interested in low-cost materials and
simple technology, to
    •    teachers who want a multi-faceted, experiential project for students of all ages (the book has been successful  with
 everyone from third-graders to adults).

Build Your Own Earth Oven is fully illustrated with step-by-step directions, including how to tend the fire, and how to make perfect sourdough hearth loaves in the artisan tradition. The average do-it-yourselfer with a few tools and a scrap pile can build an oven for free, or close to it. Otherwise, $30 should cover all your materials--less than the price of a fancy "baking stone." Good building soil is often right in your back yard, under your feet. Build the simplest oven in a day! With a bit more time and imagination, you can make a permanent foundation and a fire-breathing dragon-oven or any other shape you can dream up.

Earth ovens are familiar to many that have seen a southwestern "horno" or a European "bee-hive" oven. The idea, pioneered by Egyptian bakers in the second millennium BCE, is simplicity itself: fill the oven with wood, light a fire, and let it burn down to ashes. The dense, 3- to 12-inch-thick earthen walls hold and store the heat of the fire, the baker sweeps the floor clean, and the hot oven walls radiate steady, intense heat for hours.

Home bakers who can't afford a fancy, steam-injected bread oven will be delighted to find that a simple earth oven can produce loaves to equal the fanciest "artisan" bakery. It also makes delicious roast meats, cakes, pies, pizzas, and other creations. Pizza cooks to perfection in three minutes or less. Vegetables, herbs, and potatoes drizzled with olive oil roast up in minutes for a simple, elegant, and delicious meal. Efficient cooks will find the residual heat useful for slow-baked dishes, and even for drying surplus produce, or incubating homemade yogurt.

Available in: Paperback

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Build Your Own Earth Oven

Alan Scott, Kiko Denzer, Hannah Field

Paperback $17.95