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Green Home Improvement
by Daniel D. Chiras, PhD
Reed Construction Data, Publisher
Reviewed by Nancy White

If you are looking to save energy and improve your home, but don’t know where to start, this book will give you direction.  Simply by scanning the table of contents you can zero in on projects that would help you save on utility bills, improve the comfort of your home and increase its value.  Chiras describes 65 projects in detail giving approximate costs, rating the savings you can expect, the level of the environmental benefit and the project’s difficulty.

The main part of the book has six categories of projects:
1. Green Flooring, Walls, Countertops and Cabinets
2. Heating and Cooling
3. Conserving Water
4. Cutting Electrical Usage
5. Green Roofs, Siding, Doors and Windows
6. Green Paving, Landscaping and Pools

Each of these categories has many projects.  Just reading down through the contents will give you ideas for ways to improve your home, decrease your utility bills and help the environment.  Some of the projects are simple and inexpensive, ones you can easily do yourself (like change all your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent or start a compost pile).  Others are major undertakings that you may need to hire someone to help you (like installing PV,thermal panels or a high efficiency cooling system). 

For every project Chiras describes the situation or problem you will be addressing, defines any new terms, gives shopping and installation tips and then estimates the cost and how much you can expect to save.  In addition to this outlining the scope of the project, he also gives many related “Green Tips”.  These are good ideas related to the project that complement the major undertaking. 

The last portion of the book has a short section on building a new green home, briefly discussing the major considerations and decisions when building.  As with his other books (also highly recommended), he includes many resources for more information – books, pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, organizations and websites for building materials, and green products manufacturers.


Nancy is a retired secondary teacher.  She built and lives in an active and passive solar, high thermal mass home.  She is an avid gardener and helps others to learn how to garden.

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