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The Compost-Powered Water Heater


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About the Author

Gaelan Brown is the founder of, an open source research network that has developed new methods of generating hot water from specially designed compost systems, and he's taught classes on the topic at Vermont's Yestermorrow Design Build School for several years.


"Of the humble things that might save this imperiled planet, compost is near the top of the list. When you read this guide, you'll understand why-and maybe you'll get off the pot and start working on it!" -- Bill McKibben, environmentalist, educator, bestselling author, and cofounder of
"Organic materials make up about two-thirds of the solid waste stream. Galen Brown's book will add momentum to the growing-and vital-movement to treat this waste as a valuable resource. As he demonstrates through a range of fascinating case histories, composting offers more than the most earth-friendly solution for feeding crops-it can also be a source of energy. The Compost-Powered Water Heater is rich with detail and includes clear instructions for those who want to create the innovative systems it profiles." -- Carl Smith, editor in chief, Green Technology
"It's not often you learn about a new approach to renewable energy that's easily accessible to homeowners. The Compost-Powered Water Heater is an indispensable handbook for anyone interested in diving into the details of how to do this for your own home or farm." -- Kate Stephenson, Yestermorrow Design Build School
"The only thing more surprising than the massive potential for compost-based heat capture is how long it's taken to get a book on the subject. This is a topic and book the world has needed for a long time." -- Ben Falk, M.A.L.D., Whole Systems Design, LLC
"In addition to a fine how-to guide on constructing compost-heat recovery systems, Gaelan documents the many errors that inventors fell victim to in efforts to produce an efficient system capable of going the long distance of multiple heating seasons. Whether he is discussing the merits of a truly static system-complete with documentation by major universities-or the troubles of getting a stalled system operational again, this step-by-step manual makes you aware of all the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them. All said, this easy-to-understand guide is a must-read for serious compost-powered projects." -- Paul Comey, former Vice President of Environmental Innovation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
"As industrial civilization begins its inevitable descent from the peak of fossil fuel production, technologies like compost-generated heat will be our lifeline to a decent and sustainable future. Gaelan Brown shows how these methods represent a holistic rethinking of the ways we inhabit the planet." -- Ron Miller, PhD, author/editor Most Likely to Secede
"After three decades in renewables, this took me by surprise-who would have thought you could heat your house or greenhouse with compost! Heating with compost is true ingenuity at work. It's ingenious." -- Paul Gipe, founder,
"This book has given me inspiration to try out different techniques next time around, and I see where I made beginner's mistakes on my first mound. It is a very useful book that proves beyond doubt that there are endless possibilities for capturing and using the heat generated by composting organic material, both at home and on larger scales. We all know that the world needs cleaner energy sources and restored soils capable of supporting food production. With compost heat recovery you get both! And it doesn't have to cost a fortune. After reading this book you'll want to get out there and try building a compost mound for yourself." -- Joshua Fenton Cabell, Research Technician, Bioforsk Organic Food and Farming Division, Norway
"This book is practical, complete, useful, and well written. I learned a lot and am impressed with the innovation and the investment opportunity for compost power. It's an exciting opportunity that doesn't need government subsidies to be viable." -- Doug Casey, bestselling author of Crisis Investing

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