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Off The Grid: Modern Homes + Alternative Energy    by Lori Ryker order for
Off The Grid
by Lori Ryker
Order:  USA  Can
Gibbs Smith, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In her Introduction to Off The Grid, Lori Ryker speaks of the evolution of the grid of infrastructure (electricity, water, sewage etc.) that underlies Western civilization, and its impact on the environment. She discusses 'environmentally resourceful energy strategies' and presents a series of home projects, in different regions and climates, that apply some of them. She emphasizes active as well as passive energy systems, and advocates for moving towards 'a less-energy-reliant lifestyle.'

Technologies discussed include geothermal energy, composting toilets (have one at our cottage, they're great!), wind turbines, photovoltaic arrays, solar water heaters, micro hydropower, rainwater (also gray water) collection and reclamation, fireplaces and woodstoves, gas generators, batteries and inverters. The ten projects vary from those in relatively benign to extreme climates, in locations ranging from New York City to a cabin in the woods. For example, there's a California Bungalow Remodel to incorporate a solar array, and a Montana Grassland Homestead using a photovoltaic system and wind turbines, amongst other technologies.

A detailed floor plan and many full page photos are included with each project, which also comes with a 'The Facts' summary of size, materials, technology and energy use. For anyone concerned about the impact of our current energy technologies on the environment, their growing cost, or their vulnerability to interruption through acts of man or nature, this coffee-table sized volume, Off The Grid shows what others have done, and offers an intriguing source of information and ideas on the subject.

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