The Energy Environment Simulator

...the centerpiece of Nik’s living room ever since, even making a cross country move. The device demonstrates energy inputs and demands. Depending on how you turn the knobs, you can either engineer a future of never-ending power or, on the other extreme, your own personal zombie apocalypse. One of the energy sources is labeled “new technology.” This could either be solar or that UFO doughnut from the Thrive movie. The only info we...

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The Sundiner–A Groovy 1960s Era Solar Cooker

...in. And that tin, depending on the time of day and year, may be at a steep angle. Thus the Sundiner is more of a solar grill–anything liquid will ooze downwards and make a mess of the difficult to clean, unidentifiable space age insulation material. Grilling is really not the best application of solar energy–you lose the smoky flavor and grill marks you get with fire–which is probably why the Sundiner never caught on. More recen...

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Permaculture Design Course at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

...omass- focus in permaculture, keeping backyard chickens, composting methods workshop / build a worm bin MAY 11 / ENERGY + SHELTER – Passive solar design, walk through an energy audit, how to read a utility bill, ‘going solar,’ tour of energy-efficient home, design an alternative energy plan for your own energy-efficient home / home-scale energy audit MAY 31 / DESIGN OFF-SITE – Perform client interview/determine clients needs/wants; bu...

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Summer of Solar Cookin’

...at the veritable cornucopia of vegetables before me, wishing someone would harvest them and make me dinner. The solar cooker is perfect for someone like me because I can load it up in the morning, leave it all day, and when I come home I have a great meal hot and ready. So it is kind of like a crock pot or slow cooker, just using solar energy instead of electricity. I’ve made a lot of black beans in it, but I’ve also used it to cook...

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How To Dry Food With the Sun

...un drying to work well. But there’s an easy way to overcome humidity: convection, i.e. hot air rises. Most solar dehydrators take advantage of the passive movement of hot air to lower humidity enough to dry food. Here’s a couple of solar dehydrators that harness this simple principle to dry food without electricity: Appalachian Solar Dehydrator This is the dehydrator I built with plans from Home Power Magazine. The plans and an impro...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”...

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Build a Solar Dehydrator

...ces in the world, including here in Los Angeles, the relative humidity is too high to dry things out in the sun. Solar dehydrators work by increasing air flow to dry out the food. The one we built uses a clever strategy to get air moving without the use of electric fans such as you’d find in your typical store bought electric dehydrator. Our solar dehydrator is constructed out of plywood and consists of a heat collector containing a black m...

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Hay Boxes or Fireless Cookers

...fireless cooker? To save time at the stove To have food ready when you get up, or come home from work To save energy, because you’re a do-gooder. To save energy, because energy is expensive/unreliable where you live. To learn this technology well so you’ll know how to use it in case of emergencies. (A fireless cooker combined with something that can boil water, like a camp stove or a rocket stove, would be a great combo for any eme...

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What’s the Best Solar Food Dryer?

...makes this approach risky. Food can spoil before enough moisture is removed. That’s why you should build a solar food dryer. Brace Direct Food Dryer. Image: FAO. There are two basic designs for solar food dryers: direct and indirect. Direct dryers are just a box with a piece of glass on the top. Indirect dryers use a box to collect the heat of the sun and then, thanks to the fact that hot air rises, take that heat up into...

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DIY Outdoor Shower

...But we urban homesteaders don’t need to be stinky since it’s possible and easy to build an outdoor solar shower. There are two reasons this makes sense, particularly in a place with as warm a climate as LA. First of all, you can direct the water straight into the garden and in so doing irrigate some plants and keep that water from uselessly running down the sewer line. Secondly, placing the shower outdoors makes rigging up a solar h...

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