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Site Suggestions, Support and Resources => Show Discussions, Fan Mail and Topic Suggestions => Podcast Transcripts => Topic started by: Hootie on September 29, 2013, 07:41:33 AM

Post by: Hootie on September 29, 2013, 07:41:33 AM
The Survival Podcast

DATE:         December 7, 2011



Steven Harris returns to TSP for his 5th visit.  Today he joins us to discuss solar heating, movable insulation, improving greenhouse efficiency and solar hot water.
Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.
Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.
Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception.  Make sure to post your follow up questions for Steve’s next appearance in February in the comments section below.

Join Us Today as we Discuss…
Why solar heat is the best and easiest form of alternative energy
How you can build solar heating devices for little to no money
The three best books on solar heating
Why a solar heater can be too and how to prevent it
Why water best used to store heat
How you can insulate your greenhouse with “movable insulation”
How much heat is actually lost to the nighttime sky
How to make a simple portable solar heater

Additional Resources for Today’s Show – Get info on all Steven’s Sites – This is for the small still, currently sold out.
The Three Book Deal Steven Put Together for TSP (remember MSB get an additional 15% off) -
Steve on Facebook -

“Revolution is You” by Gregg Yows

Additional Resources for Today’s Show:           
Members Support Brigade (MSB) -
TSP Gear Shop -
Join Our Forum -
Ready Made Resources –
Sawtooth Tactical –
Groovy Green Glass –


<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 6:17>
Post by: Hootie on September 30, 2013, 09:22:38 PM
<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 6:17>


Jack Spirko: The next guy to I have to talk with us is groovy but he is not green. He is an awesome dude. His name is Steven Harris. He is the absolute all time returning guest king on The Survival Podcast. I think Paul Wheaton has been here 4 times, Mr. Harris is joining us now for the 5th time. It is because he is so cool and he has so much interesting stuff to talk about. He is hear to talk to us about alternative heating solutions and making solar heat inexpensively and easily and supplementing the heat in our homes. <song plays in background "Electric Avenue" song by Eddy Grant> With that we are going to be talking about greenhouses as well. Lots of cool stuff. Hey, Steve welcome back to the Survival Podcast.


Steven Harris: Jack, I am thrilled. It is my 5th time back. I love it. Does this mean I get my own theme music now?


Jack Spirko: Yeah, I was going to do "Electric Avenue." <Steven laughs> I might actually even do that. People will know if I did it or not by the time they get to this part of the interview. Maybe I will do it right as I introduce you. That would be kind of cool. <Steven laughs> As long as I don't get in trouble. If I do 30 sec or less I think I am safe from a copyright standpoint. I am glad to have you back. The last time you were on, you had these really cool stills and you sent me one for making our own alcohol fuels. I just wanted to give people an update on those. If you wanted one them you didn't move fast enough, right?


Steven Harris: Yep, they are all sold out. You have to sign up for the waiting list now. We sold out of the book, "Alcohol Can Be a Gas" and the DVD. We sold out of the stills. We have more stuff coming in every day so we can fulfill our current orders and get those out to people in a timely manner, because we are known for our fast shipping. We had to turn off the "Buy" on the website. You can't add one to your cart. You can't buy one. You have to click on "sign up for the waiting list." People are having extraordinary results with them. It is an automated still for making car fuel. Just in case you didn't hear it, it is at We will have show notes to it on That is how you find me and websites. It is kind of hard to forget, that is why I say that. I have it there on this show notes. We will have everything we talk about there today on the show notes and the great stuff with solar heating. If you want to find my other stuff, my other websites, and more about me just go there. Jack, thanks to your customers and my customer base it has been a successful hit.


Jack Spirko: Awesome, I know people are going to learn a lot with that product. You sent me one. I did it. It was way easier than I could have ever imagined it could be.


Steven Harris: Oh really?


Jack Spirko: Yeah. It was simple. The fermenting part is old hat for me. You pretty much dump it in there and it runs. You set the timer, once you figure out what you need. If does everything for itself. It couldn't be easier. It is probably not something, like we said before, that you are going to make 200 gallons with this week. It teaches you the processes. That is what I found really cool about it.


Steven Harris: And it makes a usable amount. It will make a few gallons a week. That is 20, 30, 40, 60, or 80 miles of free fuel depending upon your vehicle. You hear people are buying Chevy Volts so they can drive the first 35 miles on electricity and the rest for gas. That first 35 miles in a day does you great. If you make your own gallon a day of alcohol fuel. That is saving right there. Lets get on to one of my favorite all time subjects in the world. The one that I am the most passionate about that my life long work is in. My life long work is in very high temperature solar heat, like 3,000 and 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. My favorite and easiest stuff to do is solar heat that warms your house.


Jack Spirko: Would you tell people why this is the thing that does it for you. I think I know what you are exactly going to say. You know how to do biogas and alcohol fuels, we talked about that. This is the one that you would hang your hat on and say, "Everyone not only can do it but should be doing it." Why is that?


Steven Harris: I got an email that I am writing to send to my customers. I always send out a solar heating email this time of year. This time it is going to be "Regarding solar heating, my cat is smarter than you are." I have pictures of my cat who finds every sunny spot there is. He will go and lay on the black chair that is in the sunshine and be incomplete heaven because the sun is coming through the window, hitting the back chair, converting over to a higher grade of heat, and it is warming his body. Solar hot air is so easy to do. Literally I have 3 books on the subject. I am going to give you enough during the show that you can do it without my books, because I want to enable you. If you want the book it is "Sunshine To Dollars." It is the book I wrote. That is a fabulous book. It tells you how to get all the free solar glass you could possibly want, no matter what city you are in. I literally got tons and tons of glass and that stuff is the hard thing. People think that solar energy is expensive because they go and they price a brand new piece of blue low E glass, blah blah blah. They think they have to have that. They go "Oh my god, this is so expensive it won't pay itself back." Really it will, even if you do buy that. I show you how to get all the glass you want for for nothing. When you got free glass or you are using clear plastic from Home Depot, it is really cheap to make solar heat. Then I have another advance book called, "The Complete Handbook of Solar Air Heating Systems." Then I have another book called, "Movable Insulation." Which is just so simple. It not only shows you how to bounce more solar light into your house, but how to put panels up that look sexy that work on magnets or slush or shudder in or sudder out. Or they snap in and they prevent the heat from escaping your house. You live in Arkansas.


Jack Spirko: Correct.


Steven Harris: Solar heating is not really a big thing for you. It will work really great for you. Especially in the months of November, December, January, and February.


Jack Spirko: January and February for me... Right now it is about 40 degrees (fahrenheit) out, but even with that I get so much gain with just the sun on the house. January and Febuary get cold here. Not having to use just my heating system is very advantageous. Last year we had temperatures that were in the neighborhood of 7 degrees (fahrenheit). I know it gets colder where you are at, but 7 degrees (fahrenheit) sucks.


Steven Harris: Yeah, 7 degrees (fahrenheit) sucks. Being in Pennsylvania and in Michigan, I am used to having a winter heating bill. Depending upon what you live in, your winter heating bill can be anywhere from $100 a month to $450 a month. All the time the sun is hitting your house and you are doing nothing with it. Granted in Michigan during December there are only 3 sunny days, but I can use my solar heating in Michigan in September for part of the month. In October It gets cold enough. In November it is cold enough. In December it kind of stinks. January it is still a little bit overcast, but I do get free heat from sunshine. February, March, and April are all sunny and I get free heat on all those days.


Jack Spirko: Absolutely. With some of the stuff I have done, I have always done this. One of the things I picked up from you the way to phrase this is, we use water to catch heat in some instances and distribute it later.


Steven Harris: That is one of the big no no's in solar heating. People are going to say, "Well, what do you mean?" You see these solar hot water heaters all the time for sale. It is to supplement your water heater. Really your hot water bill is a fraction of your furnace or a fraction of your AC bill. It doesn't make sense to try to save money on something that is 1/10 of your energy expenditure and not try to save something that is 90% of your energy expenditure. The only reason you see them for sale commercially is because they can make them and ship them. Solar hot air are panels that are generally 4 feet wide or 3 feet wide. They need to be about 8 feet or 10 feet long. It is hard to make and it is hardship but it's easy for you to make at home. It just hard for a company to make them and then to ship them because you're doing freight shipping, it is glass, and everything else. It becomes an issue but back to the subject. You don't want to heat solar hot water and then try to move it into your house because you have a lot of heat loss. Heating solar hot water on your roof or outside, and then trying to move the hot water inside is over 3 times less efficient than just heating the air to start with in itself. The adage in the solar heating industry is “You heat the air and store in water. You make solar hot air heaters either on your roof, sticking out your window, outside the house, or however you want to do it and you heat the air. You want to take your 65 degree (Fahrenheit) air from your house and you want to blow into it. Then you want 85 - 90 degree (Fahrenheit) air coming out as fast as you can. You don't want to solar hot air heater where you go, “I got 140 degrees (Fahrenheit) coming out of my solar air heater.” Which is entirely easy and possible. I have melted thermostats before in my solar air heaters, because the higher the temperature difference the greater the heat loss and the greater the heat transfer. When you blow in your room air and you get out warm air as cool as possible, lets say as they are in 85 to 90 to 95 degree (Fahrenheit) air is a nice warm air. You want that to coming out as fast as possible to maintain the lower temperature, because you'll get 3 times the hearing capacity of the panel then if you just let it warm up to 140 or 150 (degree Fahrenheit) and let the air waft out. You want to have a fan forcing air in enforcing air out. Once you heat up your entire house and it is warm, it's like, "I just can't take any more of this heat." What you do is you have an automatic thermostat throw over, like when the solar air reaches 110 (degree Fahrenheit), it throws a switch open to dampen. Then you blow all your extra solar hot air either through rocks in an insulated bin or through water filled soda bottles in an insulated bin. Or you switch over to heating solar hot water and you store that an insulated barrels and drums. You heat the air and you heat it as low and as fast as possible. Then you store your extra heat in rocks, water bottles, or in water itself. That make sense?


Jack Spirko: Absolutely, I was thinking there is even some low tech solutions that are more applicable to me. Like you said, I don't need that my supplemental heat in my home down here. But I do grow a lot of vegetables and I do a lot of starting stuff out in a greenhouse. By using that same principle in my greenhouse I can store an awful a lot of heat and get through these nights when I don't have the solar gain out there to keep the internal temperature up.


Steven Harris: "Movable insulation", the third book. I have a package for all your customers. It is normally $70 for the books, it's $49. It's on, there is a link to it. It's only for people listing to the show and the TSP MSB discount does apply. My point in mentioning the movable insulation is they have an entire section in there on keeping greenhouses warm in the winter time with simple insulation towards the top of your greenhouse. Whether it's curtains that you pull over that insulated. Whether it is these really ingenious methods for using foam. They just have it such as it slides out, so it cascades itself out like you were sliding cards out of a deck of cards. It is just really easy to deploy in the evening and really easy to rollback in the morning but there's a whole section right in "Movable insulation" on insulating your greenhouse in colder climates. I got to tell you it works, because really people don't understand this. The clear nighttime sky has a temperature of -400 degree Fahrenheit. That is what everything see in the nighttime sky as. The only thing between you and that temperature difference is the atmosphere. That is what prevents you from freezing instantaneously when being exposed to the nighttime sky. If you're in the desert environment where there is very very low humidity, because water is thermally emissive. Thermodynamic you can see water in the atmosphere giving off its heat that blocks the nighttime sky. If you go out into the desert and you take a thermos bottle... This will really show you how much heat is lost to the nighttime sky. Weather is your swimming pool at night. You are just going to go, "Oh my god. No wonder my pool so cold in the morning." Because you didn't put the pool cover on it. It is because you lose so much heat to the nighttime sky. That's why they they blow smoke over orchards just so orchard's fruits sees the smoke instead of seeing clear nighttime sky. That's why you don't want your greenhouse to see the nighttime sky if it's not cloudy, because it's a tremendous heat lost. It so much he loss that if you take a thermos bottle and you go into the desert where there's no humidity, because it's really the humanity that's what we call thermally emissive. It is what traps in heat. You might want to say it is CO2 and global warming, but no I'm sorry water vapor out classes everything dramatically.


Jack Spirko: As Paul Wheaton would say,"No, that's just marketing." <laughs>


Steven Harris: Exactly. Anyways, you go to a low humidity environment like a desert. You take thermos bottle you put like an ounce of water in the bottom of the thermos bottle. Then you are going to take some newspaper and you are going to make a 3 foot-long megaphone, <talks like in a megaphone> like something you would talk to you, <returns to normal voice> like that. You are going to put it on top of the thermos bottle. Then you are just going to sit there and point it at the nighttime sky. Within the matter 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes depending upon how your humidity and what time of year is. Even though you're in the desert and it is not below freezing, it is like 80 degree (Fahrenheit) in the desert. That water in the bottom that thermos bottle freeze solid because all it can see is the nighttime sky and it is so well insulated is giving it's heat up by radiation to the nighttime sky and it freeze solid in the bottom of thermos bottle in the bottom of desert. That is why movable insulation has you pulling curtains. Even a bed sheet will help insulate your greenhouse because your plants aren't seeing the nighttime sky and your greenhouse isn't seeing the nighttime sky. That is why you want to pull a cover over your over your swimming pool during the nighttime is so your water doesn't see the nighttime sky even in the summer time, because you will lose heat through evaporation and you will lose heat through radiation.The book "Movable installation" tell you all this and says you can use sheets, you can use roll out curtains, you can use polystyrene, or Styrofoam. You can make them so they snap in like this. You can make up for the slide on wires like that. It covers all those great details but I want you to understand some the basic principles behind heat loss in the greenhouse. So whether not you use the books or not you can take what I told you and use it.


Jack Spirko: To be clear on what you mean on see the nighttime sky because I know we have some paranoid delusional's out there, that will think that is a spiritual thing. You just mean exposed to.


Steven Harris: Yeah, a cloudless sky. A star filled nighttime sky. Think about it, what is the temperature in space? It is about -400 degree Fahrenheit. That is the nighttime sky. That is one the reasons why we go up in altitude and when you are flying a jet plane at 35,000 feet it is -40 (degree Fahrenheit) out there, because you got so little between you and outer space that you're losing all your heat of their to outer space. It's such a cold environment.


Jack Spirko: If we didn't have heating in that plane it would be awful cold, as a bomber from World War II can tell you. On the note of being cold, what are some things people can do to warm their home. I have seen some of your stuff in "Sunshine to Dollars." I saw one where you built basically what would have amounted to glass house or a greenhouse attached to your home, which is a cool idea. Then you had a change the way you did it because I read that the ass clown from the city who came out to do the permit, did the permit based on how much the project cost. Since you had got all the stuff for free it was like $0.75 was supposed to be the permit cost. He wouldn't give you the permit because he didn't believe it.


Steven Harris: Yeah, I was a was a minimal permit cost of $110. He said “You can't do this.” Even though I was going to look nice and I had drawings and everything else, he said “you can't do this and blah blah blah.”  It is ridiculous and that's why went to making other types of solar air heater. My favorit solar air heater is the one that goes into your window like an air conditioner. You have a duct that goes in your window that goes up and down. It goes to the solar air heater that simply angles down to the ground at a 45 degree angle. The sunshine hits the solar air heater through the glass. It just blows warm air into your house all the time through your window. In the summertime you open your window and take it out. When it becomes fall you put it back in. In summertime you put your air-conditioner in and then we take your air-conditioner out and put your solar heater in. If you just warm one room in your house, that is a great financial advantage. These things can make as much heat as electric heater would that you plug into the wall. It's not hard to do. That solar heater is in two books. There is the one basic one I made called “Sunshine to Dollars.” There is a much better one in “The Complete Handbook of Solar Air Heating Systems.” I show you how to start it and do it quickly and easily. “The Complete Handbook of Solar Air Heating Systems” tells you have it really professional looking and much much sexier.


Jack Spirko: What I got out of both of those books is how easy it really is to do. I think that's why you are so big on this because it's a lot easier than trying to put in your own photovoltaic system or something like that. It is something that you really you can't even mess it up, I guess is the way I would put it. You can you can certainly learn to do it more efficiently guess there is 90 ways to do it right and 1 way you can find screwed up and do it completely wrong and not get any result.


Steven Harris: The only way to screw up...  First photovoltaic are not my favorites, I kind of hate them. You get your money back in 20 to 30 years maybe. With solar air heating you can literally get your money back in two hours.


Jack Spirko: Like today.


Steven Harris: Yeah, today. Even if you make one with clear plastic from Home Depot and you let sunshine come through blowing air. If it was free it was some free 2x4 and some foam insulation, it pays itself back real quickly. My point on that subject was it becomes extremely easy when you get the free glass from “Sunshine to Dollars.” My favor glass is doorwall glass or sliding glass door glass, because it is already two layers of glass. It is already insulated. It comes double pane. It is already...what's the word, tempered. It's very hard to break. You can throw baseball at the center of the glass and it won't break. If you tap the edge of the glass with a butter knife it will all shattered into rocksalt. that is the thing with tempered glass, you don't want to hit is on the edges with anything. You can hit it in the middle with your head and be frustrated all day long but you just don't want to tap it on the edges. You get this free sliding glass door glass and go “Aw, this is just fabulous.” You start seeing solar heaters in your mind when you see a piece of glass. You can make a solar seater that look like this. I can make a solar heater looks like that. One of the easiest thing you can do right now... We will talk about solar hot water for a second. You get a door from someplace. You rip it off your neighbors house, if it is post apocalyptic there are going to be plenty of doors on houses you can get. They are already foam core insulated. Or you can go to Habitat for Humanity, the people that build houses and things. You can buy doors from them for a $1. It is a wood door, foam core door, or what ever. You get a door and you throw down the ground. Then you put a 2x4 frame on top of it. Just a 2x4, 2x4, 2x4, 2x4 with some screws to make a little box on top of the door. You put some 4 mil black plastic from Home Depot down in there and tuck it in. You have it draped over it so that it is bigger than the whole thing. Then you put down piece of sliding glass door glass. Into this little tray or trough you made you put water, any type of water. It will get up to 180 degree (Fahrenheit) in the matter of an hour, more or less, depending upon where you are and what time of the year it is. I made 180 degree (Fahrenheit) water in February in Michigan on a sunny day. This as a prepper is fabulous because it gets you hot water for washing. It pasteurize your water. It gets your really hot water. Imagine having a 180 degree (Fahrenheit) hot water that you can cool down with regular water to 120 (degree Fahrenheit) that you can then use with a wash rag or a portable shower and take a shower with anytime you want.


Jack Spirko: Especially when it is 50 degree (Fahrenheit)  outside.


Steven Harris: Right.


Jack Spirko: You don't want to be taking a cold shower in 50 degree (Fahrenheit) weather. There is the old myth that you will catch a cold if you're out in the cold and wet, but there's also some truth to it because it lowers your resistance. There's a health concern as well there that having hot water helps to alleviate, in a situation whether it is long or short term that you are without systems of support.


Steven Harris: Exactly. “Sunshine to Dollars” is more of a preparedness book then it is... It is solar air and energy book on solar electricity, solar hot air, and solar hot water. If you read between the lines it all from the preparedness point of view. That is how I developed it. I was a prepper. I wanted to have my own hot air. I liked the idea of having free heat and free hot water. That's how I wrote the book. We were talking about the ways of screwing up solar hot air. The only way to screwed up is if you have leaks. If you have air leaks, that's the only way to screw up a solar hot air heater or a solar hot water heater or solar oven is that you have leaks. You can take silicon or putty or mud or a whole variety of anything you want, and you just fill up all of your cracks so no hot air can get out. When hot air heats up 100 degree (Fahrenheit) or 140 degree (Fahrenheit) or 180 degree (Fahrenheit) it wants to leave very quickly through any crack and try to heat up the rest the world.


Jack Spirko: Absolutely. When you were talking I ran and grabbed off my bookshelf the book “Movable Insulation.” You sent like 45 pounds of books or something like that for all of them. <Steven laughs> I was just reviewing some of the stuff you're talking about. It's pretty phenomenal book. It's not a coffee table full color book but when you want to know how to do this stuff it is incredibly well-documented. There is hundreds of different ways, as you were saying, to implement this stuff and make it look really good.


Steven Harris: Yeah and it is easy. It's not a pain in the rear end for you to do it every day. It doesn't take a half hour and it doesn't take minutes. You just walk in there and if you pick up one 2 x 4 and raise all your shutters up and say “My greenhouse is now insulated. I am done for the night.”


Jack Spirko: I'm actually kind of blown away on the stuff on the greenhouse. I am kind of feeling sad that I missed it the first pass through the stack of books. I was looking at that and it makes perfect sense to me. When we go out and we cover plants at night for frost protection we generally don’t do that with clear plastic. We do that with a white cover sheet of some sort. There are floating row covers that are designed to do that. There are people that use old bed sheets and things like that and that works very well.


Steven Harris: You could use clear plastic as well because clear plastic is as opaque to infrared and heat light as your wall is in your house.


Jack Spirko: Would you say then... My greenhouse is a 10 x 20 polytunnel.


Steven Harris: Right.


Jack Spirko: I am going to have a lot less heat escape than if I was using actual glass? Is that what you are saying.


Steven Harris: No, glasses thermally opaque as well. If you had a thermal night vision system. Like the one that shows hot bodies walk around. Whether it is black and white or color, the lenses and stuff are actually made out of germanium. They are not made out of straight silicon based glass because germanium is transparent to infrared light. Heat can go through it like light goes through window. If you take that thermal camera and you point your face and you are wearing sunglasses, you will only see the sunglasses. You won't see the person's eyes because you can't see...


Jack Spirko: They look cold. I've seen it when you have a big glasses on and you have thermal imaging on the person. The glasses look black.


Steven Harris: True. Exactly. The glasses will be the temperature of the air around it. If you look at your house, all your windows will be a set temperature. There is no such thing in the world as an infrared or thermal camera that I can see people moving inside of a the house. It is a complete Hollywood myth. No matter what anyone has told you because it's a thermal camera.


Jack Spirko: <laughs> You mean they lied to me in the movie Navy SEALs when they saw the guy through the cinderblock wall and shot of the 50 Cal.


Steven Harris:  Yes. they lied to you.


Jack Spirko: <sarcastically> No. Hollywood would not lie to me.

Post by: Hootie on December 17, 2013, 03:10:17 PM

Steven Harris: You can not do that with a thermal camera in any shape or form because all the camera sees is the temperature on the outside of the house. You would have to have a house made out of Germania windows to see the guy with a thermal camera walking around the inside.


Jack Spirko: <sarcastically> Wow, I'm telling you might my whole spirit has been crushed by the fact that Hollywood would lie to me. I never thought that would happen.


Steven Harris: Here's the deal with your polytunnel. Your polytunnel will not allow the heat from the plants to go to the sky because the polytunnel is infrared opaque. We got that?


Jack Spirko: Yes


Steven Harris: The very top of your very thin plastic polytunnel, it can see the sky.


Jack Spirko: Okay.


Steven Harris: The surface of your polytunnel starts to cool down. That then cools down the air on the other side of the polytunnel.


Jack Spirko: I get a cascading effect basically.


Steven Harris: You get a cascading effect. That is why it becomes cold with your greenhouse


Jack Spirko: I'm in a blow you away with learning from you here. This is the exact same effect in reverse when we look at passive cooling of the house. Where the house starts to heat from the top and comes down.


Steven Harris: Yes.


Jack Spirko: It is exactly the opposite effect.


Steven Harris: Yes, I have a book on that. It's called “How to Really Save Money and Energy in Cooling Your Home”


Jack Spirko: Correct. So it is the same effect flipped around. Cool.


Steven Harris: Completely. That's why you want to throw something over your greenhouse. If you put a tarp over your greenhouse then the tarp is seeing the nighttime sky. Then there is a air gap between your tarp and your poly so that it is not trying to transfer the coldness. The tarp is going to get cold and it is going to have a hard time transferring that heat to the greenhouse. Then it is going to have a hard time transferring that to the plants. That's why you put something over your plants or between the plant on top of the greenhouse or over-the-top the greenhouse. You are forming that insulative layer that is preventing the coldest from reaching the plant. Which is really prevent heat from leaving the plant to the polytunnel. Which is then preventing the heat from the polytunnel leaving it to the nighttime sky.


Jack Spirko:  Awesome.


Steven Harris: God I hope some people just are not just sitting there going, “Oh my god. He is speaking....” I try not to speak in tongues. I try to make this as simple as possible.


Jack Spirko: No... It's pretty simple, if we if we add that layer of insulation then we reduce the heat loss. If you wanted break it down. You just have the big technical explanation. But if you do this you will have more success with your greenhouse.


Steven Harris: yes absolutely. That's all in "Movable Insulation."


Jack Spirko: Awesome.


Steven Harris: If you want to turn your greenhouse into a solar heater that is connected to your house. You want to attach a greenhouse to your house, so you can heat your house with the greenhouse. Then “The Complete Handbook of Solar Air Heating Systems” will help you with some of that science. That's what I was trying to do with Michigan. I was trying to make a greenhouse for my house. Which be more like summer room. Then that would help heat the house in the wintertime.


Jack Spirko: When I read that, I was thinking that is why I don't live in cities.


Steven Harris: Exactly. There are people out there who have Home Committee ... What is the residential planning committee?


Jack Spirko: Homeowners Association.


Steven Harris: Yeah. People with homeowners association are just going, “Oh my god. I can't even have my grass grow more than 2 inches.


Jack Spirko: The homeowners association is on my hate list, even higher up on the list than politicians. That is how much I hate the entire concept of the homeowners association. At least they are voluntary thing you enter into when you buy your house, I guess.


Steven Harris: Well... they are something your wife makes you enter into because she wants to buy the house.


Jack Spirko: <laughs> Yeah, but not mine. Anyways, in one of your books I believe it was “Sunshine to Dollars” you had a really cool simple thing to do, like hanging black plastic on the inside of the window.


Steven Harris: Yeah, let me tell you about that. Free stuff for all you guys listening out there. There's something called quality of heat and that was basically the temperature. It has to do with converting long wave infrared to short wave infrared. Here's the thing, you got sunshine coming into the window of your house. If you go get some black plastic trash bag or some black plastic from Home Depot and it is cheap for a role of it. It can be 1 MIL, 2 MIL, or 4 MIL it really doesn't matter. As long as it is a long piece of black plastic. It could be a piece of black bed sheet that you dye black or it could be a bunch of black T-shirts. It is in “Sunshine to Dollars.” I hung it from the curtain rods and it cover the entire window. It was open at the bottom and it was open up top. This is on February day where is 32 (degrees Fahrenheit) outside but inside house temperature was 67 (degrees Fahrenheit). I had 67 degree (Fahrenheit) air going into the bottom of it and 77 degree (Fahrenheit) air coming out of the top of it, because it is increasing quality from being black long wavelength to short wavelength, blah blah blah. That is how simple it is to make a solar air heater with just a black piece of plastic hanging in your southern windows of your house.


Jack Spirko: I remember reading that and realizing that there was really nothing more to it then hang up a piece of black plastic. I was thinking, even if you didn’t want to do that on a daily basis, the knowledge that if you had a grid down situation for a time that you could just have some plastic set ready to go, have tested out know how to put it really quick, and use your existing curtain rods was extremely valuable.


Steven Harris: Right.


Jack Spirko: In fact most people would get it wrong because they would think hanging that piece of black plastic up there what I would help keep the heat out. Which I guess if you taped it to the  window that might be true. When you leave it hanging behind the window and you have that airspace back there, that's the spaced it warms up. Then that air circulates into your room.


Steven Harris: Right. That is why my cat is smarter than you are, when it comes solar heat. My cat understand this principle. The cat has a brain the size of a walnut. The bigger concept behind that piece of hanging plastic is called a Trombe wall. You can look it up on Google or Wikipedia. It's also in "The Complete Handbook of Solar Air Heating Systems." Basically that's where you replace the outside of your house with glass. Again it is always good to use free glass, shown in “Sunshine to Dollars.” You have a air inlets on the bottom and heat outlets on the top. It is a naturally siphoning system, where it syphons in the cold air in the bottom then heats it up and forces out of the top. It creates his own convection. It's called the Trombe wall. It is a very proven concept. That's what that piece of plastic emulates on a very small scale is a Trombe wall or Trombe window. It comes in the bottom and goes out the top. It does it on its own. In fact, you can self siphon water with solar as well because the hot water will rise and want to go up and the cold water will want to come down. You can have a barrel cold water inside and a barrel of hot water outside that is being heated by the sun and it will naturally syphon all the way around until everything is the same temperature.


Jack Spirko: Awesome. When I was was looking at that I was also wondering if this would work. If you took existing curtains that were opaque enough that you wouldn't mess up your appearance of them by doing this, you could actually line the backside of your curtains with black.


Steven Harris: Yeah. Even better. Yes you can do and yes that would work. Some of that is covered in "Movable Insulation." Also covered in "Movable Insulation" is something that was done in Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which is fabulous. You know what venetian blinds are right?


Jack Spirko: Correct.


Steven Harris: You paint one side silvery and one side black. In the summertime you pull the venetian blinds so that silverside is out and reflect the sunshine back out the window. In the winter time you turn them so the black side is facing and it hits the black venetian blinds and wofts in hot air.


Jack Spirko: Wow. You wonder why nobody is just making them that way. <laughs> If you think about it, that would be pretty genius right there.


Steven Harris: There there is a business. Any survival podcaster who wants to do this. He wants them for certain sizes and everything else, if you make them I’ll market them. I can reach out to nearly 70,000 people on my email list, who are my customers. If I say come buy it, it works, and it is Harris approved. They will com purchase it. For you to take some really good paint and paint venetian blinds in that color configuration, it will work. But don't believe me, try it at home.


Jack Spirko: Sure. That is the beauty of this is you can go out and get a cheap set of $9 venetian blinds and try it for yourself. 


Steven Harris: Yep. Use flat black paint on one side which is a $1 a can at Home Depot for the cheapest flat black paint. There is no such thing as mirror paint or chrome paint.


Jack Spirko: Sure.


Steven Harris: Any bright white paint or silver paint or one of the reflective paints will work just fine for the other side. There you go, summer, winter, summer, winter.

Jack Spirko: And just flip them around, that's awesome. Absolutely awesome. I love that you reach out to people and say, “Hey, if somebody wants to do this I will help you.” Maybe I will have you someday do a guest spot on my business podcast, Five Minutes with Jack.


Steven Harris: Sure any time.


Jack Spirko: Lets stay on track here though. What else do you have from a solar heating standpoint today?


Steven Harris: Oh lord, let me look at my list. Solar Ovens. I have got Solar Ovens in “Sunshine to Dollars.”  I have got 2 Solar Ovens. I got one I made with the piece of metal inside lining out of a freezer. I just wrapped it with pink insulation, like what would be in your walls. Wrapped it with pink insulation, wire, and duct tape. I put a piece of outdoor wall glass on top of it. It sealed down and made a tight fit just perfectly. Then I made a reflector out of cardboard. Cardboard reflectors are great. If you just want some more heat in your house right now, go get some cardboard. Cut it so it slopes down from your window. Go get aluminium foil. Shiny side up and take some Elmers glue and you dilute it 50-50 with water and you paste on the Elmers glue. Then you paste and put down the aluminum foil. You just bounce more sunshine directly into window right now. That's going to really going to warm things up just for your window, let alone if you put black curtains or black plastic on it. Solar ovens are magical. You do not need to spend $400 or $300 or $200 on a Solar Oven. I show you right in the book how to make one with the wood and foam insulation on the outside. I show you how to make one for free with cheap, free, and available materials. Again it all comes down to getting that glass really cheaper or getting that glass for free, is what really makes it possible.

Jack Spirko: You made a huge one dude. You made one that made 6 or 12 loaves of bread at one time it was insane.


Steven Harris: 20 Loaves of bread. <Jack laughs> Basically what I did was I took a freezer and  took the metal shell out of the freezer. I put the pink insulation all around it and wrapped it if wire. Then I put cardboard around it. You can actually just take freezer chest or refrigerator chest, because it is already insulated. Not as well as I would like, but it is already insulated. You can put glass on it. Rip the door off and put glass on top of it. Make sure it is sealed or that you can seal it, and that you can lift it up and down. Then you can put reflectors on it, like I just described out of cardboard. My reflector was 6 feet tall. It bounced a tremendous amount of sunshine into it. I baked bread with it. If you make them good enough they will get up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Technically and theoretically speaking, if you made an absolute perfect they would get to be the temperature of the sun and literally catch on fire. Don't worry about that, you will never make it that good. They will get up to 450 (degrees Fahrenheit) easy. The thing that people don't realize you can bake bread even at 225 (degrees Fahrenheit).


Jack Spirko: I got solar ovens. One that I bought and one that I built. I was amazed at how well they do bake bread. I don't eat a lot myself but it's a good thing to be able to make and it does a really great job. You even really can't burn it. I guess you can over cook it, but you kind of look at it by eye and you know when it is done. All the heat is uniform, so you don't get a hot spot where one stop cooks faster than the other.


Steven Harris: Right, it might not brown. If you cook the bread at 225 (degrees Fahrenheit) in an okay solar oven, it will get done. You will recognize it as being done. It won't be brown and crusted though, but it'll taste just the same. You just think, “This is white bread. I'm eaten bread that I know is supposed to brown, but it's white.” <Jack laughs> You cut into it and it's perfect. It just takes a few more hours to bake at 200 or 225 (degrees Fahrenheit) than it does take to bake at 325 or 350 (degrees Fahrenheit). Biscuits, breads, and cakes...  I like big solar ovens that don't cost me nothing. I can bake 20 loaves in it really quick, because I can feed my neighbors. I always say, “It's easier to feed your neighbors than it is to shoot them.”


Jack Spirko: I have to tell you, back when somebody first introduced me you I kept thinking to myself, “I know this guy from somewhere. I know this guy from somewhere.” That kept going through my head. It turned out that your little talk on family preparedness, I had listened to years ago. It was one of those things where you're doing six things. Like me you're an entrepreneur. When you listen some audio it is on, but you're doing other things. Actually, I've known about you for years longer than I thought I did.


Steven Harris: Aww.


Jack Spirko: I remember that and out of that whole talk, it was the one thing I've often said myself and made part of our philosophy here. Store a lot of cheap stuff that you don't even care about, because it is it is easier to feed your neighbors than to shoot them.


Steven Harris: Really, the talent is in the people. Your neighbor might be mechanic and he know how to fix things. He could be a carpenter. He or she could be a nurse or a doctor. They could have tools. There are endless amounts talent there.


Jack Spirko: My thing, Steve, is always been... You have got the bravado bullshit guys that say, “I got mine. If you don’t have your stuff...” I'm like really, you are going to let the little old lady you have gone to church with for the last 20 years at the end of your street starve? You really going to be that guy? The reality is that they are not. It is because they have a fear that they are holding onto, that they use that bravado try to force their fear way.


Steven Harris: Here is something you'll never forget. I bang this into the head of the police department that I was working with in Michigan. You know what the best thing those little old ladies are good for?


Jack Spirko: Tell me.


Steven Harris: For watching your children while you're doing other stuff.


Jack Spirko: Sure. They are good at it.


Steven Harris: They've they've done it all their lives. They have raised kids. Just say “Mrs. So-and-so, could you watch my three children for me? I need to know go out and shoot the zombies before they get through the fence line. <Jack laughs> Think about it. How can you do things when you are worrying about your children.


Jack Spirko: Sure.


Steven Harris: How can cops go out and work 12 hours on and 12 hours off during the blackout or during a disaster when they are worrying about their family at home. Hell, I told please the police chief during the blackout... If you buy “Sunshine to Dollars” you get a free copy of “Surviving the Blackout of 2003,” which I went through. I was in the police station talking with police chief working in the Emergency Operation Center. I said you don’t understand on day two, let alone day three, you can have all these cops bring their families to the police station because it is the only safe place. You need to have little ladies, that are members of the CERT team, to come in here and keep an eye on the kids because it's only way they will do their job. They won't come in. They will stay home and protect their family.


Jack Spirko: We may have just uncovered a gaping hole in many people's plans. <Steven laughs> So thankyou for that.


Steven Harris: Back to solar heating. What else should I mention on solar heating that you wanted to cover? I did solar glass. I did solar hot water. I did why you want to store in water and heat with air. I did solar hot air. Let's see I did the Trombe walls. I did greenhouses, we covered that. I got a fun subject for your people. First I'll say, if you want to Steve Harris preparedness class and over 108,000 people have downloaded and taking my class. 108,000... It is at, just like it sounds If you can't remember that, please remember There are links on to It's free. It's my charity. It's where I give back. It does not cost you nothing to download it and to listen to it. You can listen to it all you want. You can give it's all your friends. You can forward a link to your friends. Jack and I encourage it. I'll have our show notes up there and what we talked about over at I'll have the special for the books. $70 worth of books for $49 at, just for TSP people the MSB, the Membership Support Brigade people. If you're not a member of Membership Support Brigade join it. It will save you so much money. Jack has a wonderful program with that.


Jack Spirko: I appreciate that.


Steven Harris: You will save 15% off the $49 with the MSB membership. If you want to hear the shows that you missed, all my links to all of Jack's previous shows are not only on Jack's page he made for me but all links are on I'll give you a link to a something going tell you about is over on that will just blow your mind on solar energy. They are called solar balloons. Have you seen these Jack?

Jack Spirko:  I have not. You were telling me about them before the episode. It sounds cool. It sounds like a great way to teach your kids about solar heating.


Steven Harris: It really is. What is a solar balloon? A solar balloon is made from really thin black plastic. You go to Walmart and find the cheapest black plastic trash bags you can, because they are the thinnest. They are actually 0.3 MIL. Some are even like 0.18 MIL. They are the type that if you sneeze hard enough you will break the plastic. <Jack laughs> Anyways, you take a razor blade and you cut them all into rectangles. You just slip the seams and fold them open. Then you start taping them together with scotch tape or masking tape. You make either a pillow by folding them in half and taping the edges. Or you can make what is called a tetroon, which is two pyramids joined to each other. It's really easy to do. There is a website called Solar– They will show you how to make a solar balloon. I don't make any money off of this. They put it up there for free. It is just a fun thing to do. You make this great big black trash bag. You can make it 10 or 20 feet in size. You then inflate it gently with your shop vac so it is puffed out. You go out into the sunshine. It is actually great to do it in the winter time, because it is cold outside and the sun hits the black plastic and it heats up inside so it has a better lift.


Jack Spirko: Because it is about the differential between the two different temperatures of air. Not just how hot the air is inside it, right?


Steven Harris: Exactly. One of the most fabulous things I want you to do is when this balloon is heating up, before you let it go, stick your head on the inside of it and feel all that beautiful solar heat moving across your face. That is coming from nothing but sunshine. That can be the same free heat going into your house. You do leave the bottom of this solar balloon open. Otherwise it will burst and pop when it goes up in altitude. You let the thing go. It starts moving like an alien spaceship, up so slowly. Like it suspended there. I keeps on going up and up and up. These things will fly to over 50,000 feet.


Jack Spirko: That is just awesome.


Steven Harris: They will fly for hundreds of miles. They cost pennies to do. A razor blade, black plastic trash bag, and some masking tape. I use clear packaging tape but masking table work as well. It's a fun thing to do with the kids in the winter time. It really shows them what real solar energy is and the power solar heating and what it does. It is just so neat. You might even make the news. Just don't say your kid is inside of it and floating around and you will be ok. <Jack laughs>


Jack Spirko: I remember that. That's really cool. I guess it is the one case when you're buying something, buying the cheapest see you can get ends up being the right thing to do.


Steven Harris: Yeah.


Jack Spirko: Those garbage bags I would never buy, they are the ones I want for this little experiment. That sounds like a great project to do with kids in school and all types of things. That switches on that young mind because for all the things we talked about, the greatest stuff has yet to come. They are the ones that can do it.


Steven Harris: Yeah. We have gutted our space program. We are not going to the moon. We are not going to Mars. We have scrapped the space shuttle. We are not even making any new Star Trek’s right now. If you watch the documentary of Star Trek, there are people who say I went into aeronautical engineering, space sciences, or I became a pilot, or went into engineering because Star Trek.


Jack Spirko: Absolutely.


Steven Harris: There are people who say that about the space program from the 60’s. There are people that say that about the shuttle program, NASA, with the Mars rovers, and the new one going up Curiosity. This all inspires people beyond many multitudes of what the dollars spent on the actual space program. What comes out of it and inspirational motivation for people to reach out, to achieve, and to learn. Like I have always said, “You want fun field to go into for rest your life. Go into organic chemistry. You'll never be bored.” The organic chemistry will never be done. You can always be inventing things in organic chemistry because the number of chemicals there are in organic chemistry is into the millions and you can make all your own. That is what making alcohol is. It is organic chemistry. I am all for encouraging your kids to go into math, science, and physics. Have them take calculus and engineering. China is graduating more engineers every year than we have in our entire college population in total.


Jack Spirko: Yeah. I think it is important that we keep looking forward that way and that we keep staying optimistic. This dovetails nicely into yesterdays show, where I talked about avoiding burnout. Part of that is to be optimistic about our future. We have problems, but we also have a lot of solutions we need to implement.


Steven Harris: Let me tell you. People say, “Steve you are smart. You know how to do this.” The recession came along and knocked me flat on my rear end. People kept on saying, “Steve, you’ll make it out of it. You’ll figure out a way.” I am sitting there going, I haven’t got a clue. <Jack and Steve laugh> I haven’t got a clue how to dig out of this hole. I took an awful lot of work, hard work, thinking, and talking to people like you Jack. Your audience is responsible in many ways in getting me out of the recession. Not only did a lot of your people come and get my different books and DVDs. It wasn’t like a landslide. It was not like I was going, “Yippie! I am rich!” It was just a little bit of extra customer stuff, but it got me energized. It got me out of the burnout phase that you were talking about.


Jack Spirko: Absolutely.


Steven Harris: People were asking me questions were I have this show with Jack. I am not going to let these people down. It takes me a week or two of preparation of making notes and putting things together. What are we going to talk about this month? What can I give them so they can do something for nothing? What can I give them in terms of value that they can come and get from me when they want to know the second level and third level stuff because I want to give away the first level stuff for nothing to you. It really energizes your mind. I love teaching. I teach in different places. I do family preparedness class. I teach energy and I teach other different things. So I am teaching your people. That really kind of picked me up and got some more of the neurons firing and everything else. It's been 2 years since recession. Actually 3 years. It get me through.


Jack Spirko: I think the big part of being picked up and I think the thing that the audience always need to remember is when they feel the same way, it's when you realize what you do matters. That it changes a lot of things. Little things like realizing, “Hey I can cut 25% of my electric bill this winter or my heating oil bill or whatever it is, with some free glasses and a few boxes.” That is a pretty strong message of “What you do matters.”


Steven Harris: Yeah, it works. That is the thing I say about solar heating, it works. It is just so hard so hard screw it up. The way you can screw it up is by having air leaks. Some silicon or some duct tape takes care of that quick enough. Every city in the country, I'll tell you where to get the free glass. You can just go ask and they will say, “Yeah sure. Take all you want.”


Jack Spirko: It is true folks. It is in the book. I have a copy and it works. It definitely works. Again you got those 3 books for a special price, for $50 bucks or $49... whatever.


Steven Harris: And the MSB discount still applies.


Jack Spirko: The MSB people still get the additional 15% off. We will have links in the show notes for people to be able to get that. Of course, you always have everything at


Steven Harris: Don’t forget to write in to Jack with the questions that you have on solar heating because if I'm back next month, and I hope I am, we will do a show all about the questions and answers that you asked. Look for an even better solar heating show to come up in the middle winter, because we're going to do it all based on your questions. I'm going to generate all the answers and all the solutions and tell you exactly what the answer is to all the really great questions that I know you guys are going to ask us.


Jack Spirko: We always have the best shows when we do the show based on what the users are asking. We will definitely do that. It is probably going to be February before we get you back on right now. I will hand you off to Dorothy for booking on that. We have really slammed ourselves in December and January. I was running thin on guests and said, “If you want to be on the show let me know” and everybody did. <Jack laughs>


Steven Harris: Fabulous. I needed a break.


Jack Spirko: It will be dead cold here so it would be a great time to do that. As always I love having you on. If anything new or exciting comes up, we might even have you on for a quick segment or something like that if you stumble on to something.


Steven Harris: I love it. I'll come back any time for your audience. They are the best. They respond. Write me questions. Write Jack questions. Come on by and check stuff out. Get our free stuff. Stay energized. Stay excited. I was right we're so you guys are and like what Jack said, don't get burned out. Get motivated. Get moving and just one footing from the other. It gets better. That's how I became an expert in solar energy. I just never stop, one foot in front of the other. I never stopped reading books. I never stopped experimenting and away we go.


Jack Spirko: Steve, again thanks for being on the show. You are one of the people that when you say you are an expert in something, I actually believe you because you prove that time and time again. I appreciate all the teaching and information you brought to the audience 5 times now. There will definitely be a sixth appearance by you this winter. We will answer these questions folks. If you want to ask a question, the best way to do that to make sure that I get it into the queue for the next show. Go to episode 798, which is today's episode. Post your questions the comment section. I'll be collecting them from there. I'll get them into a document and over to Steve for some pre show prep before we have him back on. He will be happy to answer those questions. With that, today this has be Jack Spirko along with Steven Harris. Help you figure out how to live that better life, if times get tough or even if they don’t.


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