Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Gene Logsdon has passed away

My first experience with Gene was 40 years ago reading Homesteading: How to Find New Independence on the Land. I still have that book, although it’s pretty dog eared, from reading it over and over. It was a primary inspiration for our own move offgrid over 10 years ago. Gene lost his battle with cancer today, and will be missed.


5 Gallon Bucket Book – DIY Projects

5gallonbucketbookThe common 5 Gallon Bucket is useful for so many things after it’s initial use. We have been building water filters, clothes washers, and composting toilets, but there’s a whole lot more you can do with this everyday object. Chris Peterson has written a full color photo and diagrammed book that lists parts, tools, and step by step instructions for over 50 neat projects including:

Small Room Air Conditioner

Cable and Cord Organizer

Trash Compactor

Shoe Rack

and so much more. We have been avid bucket upcyclers for years. This book is fantastic! I can’t wait to start some of these projects. A few of my favorites are the mailbox, dryer lint trap, and the storage stool.

You can read a preview of the book for free at, just click the book cover.

Discuss these projects at


Black Friday 3 for one deal on Renewable Energy eBooks!

solar-powerBlack Friday 3 for one deal on renewable energy and self sufficiency ebooks. Buy one book of your choice, and get two more for free! Stock up on proven hands on DIY Tech!


The Complete Biogas Handbook – The Bio Methane Bible

We have been involved with Bio Methane digestion for about a decade or so, and we were honored to work with Al Rutan, The Methane Man for several years before he died. By no means am I a methane guru, but I have friends who are. I’d like to introduce “The Complete Biogas Handbook“, by David William House.


Reviews by Experts

“Hoo BOY, is it complete! …So lots of the numbers you need are here, and many hard-won tips are shown from often bitter experience.… The book’s main value is in showing how to do things that have been glossed over or ignored in other books, such as burning methane in a gasoline engine. If biogas interests you enough to consider making a generator, this book is your next assignment.”

J. Baldwin, The Next Whole Earth Catalog

“This readable book provides a comprehensive survey of the theory and practice of biogas production. The author discusses the scientific terms used, the substances (such as manure and plant matter) which can produce biogas, and various types of biogas generators.”

Mother Earth News

“House… has written a thorough introduction not only to biogas plants but to the ancillary problems such as gas utilization, engine/generator interfacing, refrigeration, and similar topics.”

Alternative Sources of Energy

“…bringing together material of importance that has hitherto been spread far and wide.”

Steve Smyser, Organic Gardening

“I ordered your book several months ago and have been very excited to find one single source with so much great information in it. It is, without a doubt, the best book out there on small digesters! Bravo, sir! I am currently writing a fact-sheet on micro-digesters and their potential for sustainable farms in the U.S., and your book will be at the top of the recommended reading section.”

Rich Dana, an Energy Specialist working for the National Center for Appropriate Technology

Read more including free chapters at


Homebrew Wind Power

Our favorite (and in our opinion, the best) DIY guide to off grid power systems and DIY wind turbine construction has to be “Homebrew Wind Power” by Dan Bartmann & Dan Fink. It’s a complete guide to low voltage dc power systems and a good electronics tutorial in addition to being a step by step guide to producing free electricity with the power of the wind.

“Have you ever wondered how wind turbines work and why they look like they do? Are you interested in adding wind power to your off-grid electric system, but have been put off by the high cost of equipment and installation? Well, now you can build and install your own wind turbine!

Harnessing the wind can be a tricky business, but in this groundbreaking book the authors provide step-by-step, illustrated instructions for building a wind generator in a home workshop. Even if you don’t plan on building your own turbine, this book is packed with valuable information for anyone considering wind energy. It covers the basic physics of how the energy in moving air is turned into electricity, and most importantly, will give you a realistic idea of what wind energy can do for you–and what it can’t.”

Get the book here

Homebrew Wind Power

and if you email us your Amazon order confirmation, get the DIY ebook package of your choice from

absolutely free.

To learn more about electronics, and how to monitor off grid power systems and control devices, see


Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond

lancasterv1The award-winning Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape, is the first book in a three-volume guide that teaches you how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. The lessons in this volume will enable you to assess your on-site resources, give you a diverse array of strategies to maximize their potential, and empower you with guiding principles to create an integrated, multi-functional water-harvesting plan specific to your site and needs.

This revised and expanded second edition increases potential for on-site harvests with more integrated tools and strategies for solar design, a primer on your water/energy/carbon connections, descriptions of water/erosion flow patterns and their water-harvesting response, and updated illustrations to show you how to do it all.
Volume 1 helps bring your site to life, reduce your cost of living, endow you with skills of self-reliance, and create living air conditioners of vegetation, growing beauty, food, and wildlife habitat. Stories of people who are successfully welcoming rain into their life and landscape will encourage you to do the same!

Order this book from Amazon, email us the order confirmation, and we will email you the link to our DIY Rainwater Harvesting, Filtration & Solar Water Heating Guides for free.



The Ultimate DIY Wind / Electrical Resource

Want to learn how to build a wind turbine, not sure about amps, watts, volts, etc.? There is one source that explains it all in an easy to understand method. You will learn everything you need to design, build, and use the power from your own wind turbine, at a fraction of the cost of a commercial unit. I’m not talking about those cheezy 3′ units, I’m talking about whole house sized units.

Dan Fink and Dan Bartmann wrote the definitive resource on DIY Wind Turbines. It’s called Homebrew Wind Power, and we feel it’s the best resource on learning the basics, and getting the full story of hands on wind turbine design.

A Hands-on Guide to Harnessing the Wind

Have you ever wondered how wind turbines work and why they look like they do? Are you interested in adding wind power to your off-grid electric system, but have been put off by the high cost of equipment and installation? Well, now you can build and install your own wind turbine!

Harnessing the wind can be a tricky business, but in this groundbreaking book the authors provide step-by-step, illustrated instructions for building a wind generator in a home workshop. Even if you don’t plan on building your own turbine, this book is packed with valuable information for anyone considering wind energy. It covers the basic physics of how the energy in moving air is turned into electricity, and most importantly, will give you a realistic idea of what wind energy can do for you–and what it can’t.




reviewed by Larry D. Barr

I read a book last weekend. Now, this is certainly not out of the ordinary. I read a lot of books. Some of them, like Stephen King’s The Stand, I read about once a year. And I’ve probably read almost everything Martin Caidin ever wrote four or five times. Or more. However, the book I read last weekend is certainly out of the ordinary.

It’s called Homebrew Wind Power – A HANDS-ON GUIDE TO HARNESSING THE WIND. The book is written by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink, a couple of guys who live (and create wind turbines) in a small off-grid community somewhere up in the north-west part of Colorado. A few years ago, when I was the editor of an online publication called Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter, Dan Fink was one of our regular columnists, writing under the handle of “The Wind Bag”. DanF, as he’s also known, proved himself very adept at sharing his vast knowledge and his insights into the vagaries of the wind, and the various ways it can be captured and cajoled into sharing some of its energy (but never more than 59.26%) in the form of usable electricity.

The Two Dans have been working on this book for several years, and about two weeks ago I got an email from DanF asking me if I’d like an ‘advance review copy’ to look over and possibly share my reactions with y’all, the readers of Rebel Wolf Online. Of course I said “Yes” and the book arrived in a few days. As I removed the book from the bubblepack envelope, it was immediately apparent that this was a quality tome. It’s 8” X 10”, with a soft 12 point C1S cover (C1S is printer talk for Coated with plastic on 1 Side), and contains 320 pages of 100% post consumer waste recycled paper, a spectacular cover shot of a wind turbine
flying in a Rocky Mountain sunset and more appendices than the Dionne quintuplets.

I don’t necessarily consider myself a wind energy expert, even though I lived off-grid for about 19 months back in the ’70s with a Wincharger 1222H as my main source of power. However, I’m pretty well versed in the overall discipline and so I wasn’t sure just how much I’d learn from this volume. I learned a hell of a lot.

Mick Sagrillo’s foreword, written in Mick’s usual “if you didn’t want the answer, why’d you ask the question?” style, will be a real eye-opener for the renewable energy newbie who thinks that wind power is a simple “plug and play” experience. Mick Sagrillo is one of the ‘gods’ of renewable energy and getting Mick to write the forward for your book is a lot like Enzo Ferrari looking at your home-built car and saying, “You done good, Kid.”

The first four chapters, which cover wind energy theory, basic electricity and elementary magnetics are intended to bring the wind energy neophyte ‘up to speed’, and basically served only as a review for me. I’ve always been comfortable with the theories and math of renewable energy. And ten years as a working electrician gave me a very solid grounding (sorry) in the electrical department.

When I got into Chapter 5, “Furling and Regulation” my wind turbine education truly began. You see, my little Wincharger didn’t furl – it just had a couple of centrifugally activated flaps that came out when the wind speed got too high and slowed the rig down to a hopefully safe speed. Anything faster than that and I was supposed to be home and physically set the brake and secure it. Primitive yes, but it was a 1930s era design and it worked fine in the area I was living in at the time.

However, that’s not the way it’s done anymore and The Two Dans have designed and implemented a virtually fail-safe mechanism for the self-protection of their wind turbine design. In the interest of historical accuracy, I should mention here (as The Two Dans acknowledge repeatedly in the book) that the original axial-flux design didn’t originate in the wilds of Colorado with DanB and DanF.

The credit for the original concept goes to Hugh Piggott, another of the gods of renewable energy. Hugh lives in Scoraig, Scotland, many kilometres beyond the reach of the grid and pioneered a radial-flux wind turbine design built from old truck brake drums., which was the first homebrew design to have a furling tail. Then, as the price of neodymium magnets came down, Hugh invented the axial-flux design. Remember that Hugh’s initial challenge was twofold.

First, to electrify the little settlement of Scoraig. His second challenge was to devise a turbine that wouldn’t self-destruct in the vicious winds coming off the North Sea at N 57° 55′. Now, I’ve never been to Scoraig, Scotland. But my friend Ash lives at N 55° on the northern coast of Ireland, and we’ve clocked winds of better than 80 mph at his house. I don’t imagine that things calm down any almost three degrees of latitude further north. So Hugh had his work cut out for him. And he met the challenge brilliantly. Before long, Hugh was traveling the world, giving hands-on workshops for building turbines and bringing electricity to places where it had never been before.

The Dans attended one of Hugh’s workshops in the US and liked it so well they went back for more. After a couple more sessions under Hugh’s tutelage, they got back to their shop in the wilds of the Rockies and started thinking and tinkering and making a few changes here and there. DanB came up with the idea of using Volvo disc brake rotors one cold, dark night and as the process continued, one change led to a couple more — ad infinitum — and the turbine that’s detailed in the book is something like “iteration n+1” and generations removed from Hugh’s original, primitive radial-flux wind generator.

Chapter 6 of the book, “Shop Safety” is an absolute must-read chapter. I don’t care how long you’ve had a shop, worked in a shop or if you’re a rank newbie at building anything. Read this chapter. Then go back and read it again. It will keep you, and those who help you, from getting hurt. As you build your wind turbine, you’ll be working with all kinds of things that can hurt you badly. The magnets used in the turbine are among the strongest, most powerful magnets this side of the Large Hadron Collider and and if you let your hand get in between the two magnet rotors, the resulting collision will turn your fingers to Alpo. So pay attention. The chapter is broken down into sections regarding the safety procedures for each step of the build and each fabrication process you’ll be using. One of the good points that’s made in the
metalworking section is to treat every piece of metal that’s been cut, welded or ground, as if it’s hot. Mighty fine advice. However, I’d recommend that you also do what we always do in my shop. Once you’re done grinding, welding or cutting on a piece, just take your soapstone marker and write “HOT” on the piece in big letters. It might have cooled off by the time your co-worker goes to pick it up, but it’s much better to treat a cold piece of metal like it’s hot than the other way around.

Chapters 7 through 18 take you step by step and piece by piece through the entire process of building your own axial-flux wind generator. Each chapter, each step, each process is illustrated with photos of the components. As you learn what to do and how to do it, you also learn what not to do. The Two Dans also do a wonderful job of of explaining why you’re doing it that way.

Knowing why you’re doing something is vital in a process of this nature, because it gives you a solid foundation in the subject and prepares you for the sometimes not-so-simple task of living with and maintaining the wind monster you’ve created. Even if you’re consumed with an almost overwhelming haste to get the rig in the air, don’t skip over the ‘why’ parts of the book. You’ll need them later.

Chapter 19 is titled “Failures and Prevention”. It’s a machine. It can fail. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with any complex mechanism. This chapter details what to watch for – those little signals a machine gives to let you know that all is not well. The proper maintenance methods are described and, again, illustrated with myriad photos. There’s a very informative section with pictures of machines that have failed, along with a bit of failure analysis so you know why it happened and how to avoid that failure mode with your machine. The chapter concludes with a section on Troubleshooting. You built it, so nobody knows that machine better than you do. You’re also the one that’s going to be repairing it if something goes wrong. Nobody’s better qualified.

If you’re not satisfied with the 10 foot turbine described in the building process in the book, Chapter 20 “Scaling it Up and Down” may be for you. It describes a 17′ unit and also a downsized 7′ turbine. These two units are not as far along in the development process as the 10 footer that we build in this book. The guys have built and flown a few of them, but they don’t have near the hours in the air that the 10 footer does. I’d recommend building the 10 foot turbine first and getting some first-hand experience before setting off into less-charted waters. However, there is some advanced theory in that chapter that will certainly improve your technical understanding of the subject whether you build a larger or smaller unit or not.

Of the remaining two chapters of the book, one is devoted to sources of information, supplies, components, kits, towers, web resources and just about anything else that’s wind energy related.

Chapter 22 is the Glossary wherein you can find definitions for most every wind related term from “AC” to “Zymurgy”. The latter being one of my favorites.

Six appendices round out the book and contain information on tap drill sizes, wire gage, those sometimes pesky metric to English conversions, tools, wind data and other just generally useful brain fodder. I was gratified to see in the production credits that the book was almost entirely produced using free, open-source software. I believe that open-source software will be the force of the future and the fact that a book of this quality can be produced using OSS is proof that the free software movement is coming of age.

Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink have done a magnificent job in the writing and production of Homebrew Wind Power. They’ve created a book, written with a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the subject, loaded it with photographs that clearly show the processes involved and enabled any wind energy amateur to successfully build his or her first wind turbine and enjoy the rewards of living off-grid. The writing style vividly demonstrates that The Two Dans enjoy what they do and while they take the subject of wind energy very seriously, they never take themselves too seriously. They have fun building wind turbines and it shows in the book.

Do I have any grumbles about the book? Just one. I live on a 70′ X 100′ lot in the city and I don’t have room to fly one of these turbines even if I built one. I’d need a tower bigger than the lot to get above the trees. So, here’s a book that’s got me all fired up to build a wind turbine and I’ve got no place to fly it. What a book! I heartily recommend it.

By the way, you’ll love the “Dog Haiku”.


The Homeowner’s Handbook to Energy Efficiency: A Guide to Big and Small Improvements

The Homeowner’s Handbook to Energy Efficiency: A Guide to Big and Small Improvements

In The Homeowner’s Guide to Energy Efficiency, John Krigger and Chris Dorsi help homeowners set realistic personal goals for reducing their energy consumption. Their methods for making homes more energy efficient will also improve comfort, safety, durability, and resale value. They guide readers through the process of assessing current energy usage and predicting the benefits and estimating the costs of remodeling options. With projects ranging from simple fixes to large-scale renovations, this book offers solutions for the energy-conscious homeowner, regardless of budget, technical ability, or time.

A. T. Sterner says:

I am an energy auditor and I spend much time educating people about energy efficiency, conservation, products, building science, and more. This book is a life and time saver! Since it became available, I’ve been able to point folks to it and have saved myself lots of time. The book is very easy to understand, very thorough, with good graphics. Everyone who owns a home should have this book. And, everyone who is wanting to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint, AND fix their home should have this book.

About the Author
John Krigger is a highly respected authority in the field of energy conservation for buildings and the author of several books. He has been a passionate advocate of efficient construction technology for over thirty years. He is now working with other building scientists to develop the next generation of construction techniques for North America. Chris Dorsi has spent the last thirty years fine-tuning homes across North America. He has founded construction companies, developed real estate projects, and audited thousands of residential buildings. He is a widely acclaimed author and speaker who has motivated and enabled both homeowners and trade professionals to improve the efficiency and minimize the environmental footprint of their buildings.


The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster


Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster

From California earthquakes and Rocky Mountain wildfires to Midwest floods and Atlantic hurricanes, you can’t escape that inevitable day when catastrophe strikes your home town — but you can be prepared! Offering a simple DIY approach, this book breaks down the vital steps you should take into 101 quick, smart and inexpensive projects:

#6 Make a Master List of Passwords

#16 Calculate How Much Water You Need

#33 Start a Food Storage Plan for $5 a Week

#60 Make a Safe from a Hollowed-out Book

#77 Assemble an Inexpensive First Aid kit

#89 Learn to Cook Without Electricity

#94 Pack a Bug-out Bag

About the Author
Bernie Carr has had extensive experience with surviving natural disasters and keeping her family safe. She writes The Apartment Prepper’s Blog and resides in Houston, TX with her family.

Leslie Hock says:

I am not usually a fan of the ‘dummy’s guide to….’ or ‘101 easy steps to…’ kind of book. This excellent little handbook is a rare exception. Well written and broken down into logical subject headings it is a great checklist for the seasoned prepper to see if their preps are as complete as they think. Have you really checked to see if you have everything needed to cook that food you stored? Really? Going through the food section will help double check what you have.

For the beginner who is overwhelmed by the idea that they have to go out and get a year’s supply of food at $1300 per person this little book is the answer. Simply put, don’t waste your money. The guide leads through easy stages to find what you need, where to get it, and how to store it. No huge outlays – you can successfully prep on $5 a week and this guide shows you how.

In each major area, the book takes you through the essentials and shows you what you need and how to get it. There is no attempt to sell you on this gizmo or that food supplier. It is a simple straightforward look at those things that one needs should the support structure that we have grown accustom to disappear.