why not

byBillMay 17, 2004

Yesterday there were 14 posts in the building forum and none concerned with energy savings at all. It really amazes me. I wonder what the percentage of people who are concerned with building think about their health, their comfort, their economy, the ecology. Renewable energy has had only one question in a long time.

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Why not post a question in the building a home forum asking how many folks using a design to incorporate renewable energy into the new home design (or other energy saving features)? Also ask those who are not, why aren't they?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 11:09AM
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Thanks Brew, I already did !! It really boggles my mind that they are concerned with the color of their concrete and other nonsense, but not a thought to energy.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 12:12PM
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Energy savings / consciousness does not make as good an impression as colored concrete, exotic wood floors, or the right kind of countertop to all too many. They cannot see the forest for the trees . . . .

I try to look at things from the perspective of what am I leaving behind for future generations / what energy calamity am I bringing on sooner. Also; I work hard for my money and I'd just as soon not donate more than I have to to some energy conglomerate. It's also a matter of control . . .. . control the resources people want / need; and you control them . . . . . just my slant on things . . . . .


    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 6:46PM
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Bob and Brew---you are both right. I posted a question on both building a home and buying and selling houses --- both are sinking down the page quickly. Two responses in building---two people who want or have geo-thermal.

I hope those folks with the colored concrete basement floors in their 5000 sq ft MacMansions enjoy sitting on them when there is no heat one of these days. If the US doesn't become independent it is going to happen sure as shooting.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 7:45PM
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It is odd that people don't care more but then they keep buying gas guzzling SUVs when gas is approaching $3 a gallon. People get used to things the way they are and it is hard to get them to break out. I think another factor is the intangible side of renewable energy production. We just redid a bathroom that cost 2.5 times what our new PV system cost but guess which gets more oohs and aaaahs? When I explain to people that our investment in the PV system will take 7-10 years to pay for itself they sort of yawn. The fact that individual PV systems reduce CO2 and other pollutants and can reduce our need to build more electrical generation plants (now we are talking expensive!!!)just doesn't really sink in. Plus there are those who get off on how much energy it took to make the PV panels, etc.
Until the economics of home renewable energy make it really attractive it is not going to be a high priority for most people.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 11:54PM
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Steve 889

When people harp about how much embodied energy went into makeing the PV panels . . . . tell them that they will produce around 25 TIMES the energy that was used to make them, ovet their lifetime of ~ 20 - 25 years. Then ask them if they have anything that will even REPLACE one-on-one the energy to produce it . .

How bout building with low embodied energy stuff . . . cellulose vs f'glas is one prime example. Even if you consider them comparable as insulation ( I don't; but follow the train of thought here ); there is a HUGE amount of energy required to make f'glas; cellulose is virtually nil . . . . . so; you can get similar performance with vastly different amounts of energy involved.

It has to be IMPORTANT to people to conserve . . . some of us were raised or exposed to thing(s) in our upbringings . . . and some of us were not . . . . that end up making us aware of stuff and actually giving a damn about it. In reality; it is a social problem . . . .

The government could help promote the issue and conservation; but seems as though with an oil baron as prez that it ain't gonna be happenin soon . . . . .

Off the soapbox, Bob . . . . EASY Bob . . .EASY now . . .


    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 6:29AM
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It is funny that I turned you on so early in the morning--I was reading something this morning that turned me on also
------a survey taken of potential home buyers at shows throughout the country included a top ten list of important features/benefits the buyer was willing to pay for.....Location, of course, was #1, but nothing related to energy conservation made the list.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 7:15AM
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Why not indeed. I guess that after dealing with all their horrible neighbors, lawsuits against anyone and everyone and homeowners association Nazis they are simply too exhausted to think about how they are going to heat and cool those 7100 sf monstrosities. There is just not a great deal of info there that a couple of cheap Yankees who want to live off the grid can use.

I also just don't get the obsession with resale value, but, we plan to stay in our current house till we're old and grey and the kid puts us in the home, so I guess I just can't relate.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 6:57AM
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Why should they think about these things, they're so common place they're invisible? When someone gets a quote to build a house they don't have to mention electrical wiring, it's assumed and instantly added in to the figure. Heating is another area where people pay little attention it seems, most builders I've encountered simply suggest and install whatever system is most common in the area - irregardless of the benifits other systems may offer. I have spoken to a number of custom house builders who have no idea what seer their air conditioner is, or what effciency the heating is. People are less interested in how something is acheived and are most concerned with the outcome. They don't care how the electricity gets to their appliances, just as long as it does. Nor do they care what is cooling or heating their home, provided it keeps the building comfortable.

I also find people are short sighted when budgeting. They will be happy to install cheap poor quality parts in their houses, for example short lived asphalt roofs, hollow doors and the lowest priced laminate floors, but then they spend a vast ammount on things like whirlpool baths, granite/chrome kitchens and home entertaiment systems. Sure, 500 could be spent on a high effciency boiler that will save thousands over it's 20+ years of life, but they would rather spend it on the milti-program dishwasher that has chrome trim. The mentality is to build the biggest and most extravagant house right now at any expence, even quality, and with a total disregard for the future running costs. What do you expect from a society where everyone is playing millionaire with store cards and visa platinum? Many people have stopped caring about tommorow and how today's choices affect it, they just want things, and they want them now. Saving up for something is considered old fashioned for much the same reasons building a vast poor quality house is more common than building an average sized high quality house.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 9:51AM
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The last two posts are interesting. Liz from New England and Bry from old England. And both with the same thoughts---young home buyers whose obsession with resale value is scary. Because I am in the business I meet them often. i.e. The 30 y.o. young woman who was building a 3 million dollar home who told me this was their 3rd house and they expected it to be the next to last. Five years and then---onward and upward---another "bigger" one. Then they can start their family. It is a sickness. I thought it was "only here in America" but Bry is talking about Britain aren't you Bry?????

My original post "Why Not Here" asks the question why we don't build better homes, more healthy, more comfortable homes, energy conserving and with the ecology in mind. Homes you can use, then your children and then your grandchildren and then their children. It is a wonderful idea and it worked for centuries.

Liz, I was involved in a group complex built in Vt---if you don't know about it you might look it up---Cobb Hill. They have a web site. It is very unusual. Goes a little further than most of us want to go, but worth a few minutes.

Bry you are right about builders. I have tried to talk to them for over 20 years. They just don't care. A friend of mine, Dan Holohan, is one of the foremost authorities on heating in the world. (Not new stuff like solar and wind and cells, but the old stuff we have been using since the 1800's. He has written about 15 books. If you ever need help with an old system look him up.) Dan says that HVAC contractors are doing things the way their fathers taught them and they were taught by the grandfather, and all have been successful. It has worked all these years so why change ??? But those same guys have the latest TV stuff, computers, cars with all the latest gadgets, but nothing new in their business. Maybe you are right Bry, maybe because they can't see it they take heating for granted, and as long as there is a/c in the house they don't need to know if it efficient or not. You can see baseboard heating right there, even if it in the wrong place. You can see the a/c registers--what else do you need?

Keep going America and when the bills get so crazy you can't afford the new MacMansion you will start to think about energy consumption. Everyone is screaming about gasoline prices now----wait until they see the oil bills this winter.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 8:55PM
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I think one of the big problems is there are many people intrested in solar but get discuraged before they go any further.

The word solar has been looked up on oveture over 200,000 times in the last month on the other hand efficient has only been looked up under 10,000 times.

Most people these days don't take the time and energy to research thier purchases. I am one of these people I just bought a new computer the other day and when asked what I got I didn't even know the brand. I tried to research it some but didn't get far because I couldn't find the information I was looking for. Most people look up solar and find out that at current prices that it doesn't make sense to them.

I belive that by finding options to reduce energy consumption without raising the price tag of the house or taking away peoples way of life more people will build green than by telling people give up your luxuries to make a better life for everyone.

That said lets start a list of no cost/low cost ideas that people can incorperate into building to make thier houses more energy efficient.

House orientation
Programable thermostat
Thermal mass
Window dressings

    Bookmark   May 20, 2004 at 6:43PM
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I want to add this to Smile's house list:

Reduced size

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 11:54AM
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Hey Brewbeer----you just said a naughty word. Reduce size.
You will never go to heaven if you talk that way here in America.

I recently sat in the living room of a MacMansion waiting for someone. I was alone in a monsterous room with a ceiling about 25/30 feet high. I sat there feeling very small (I'm 6-3) and wondering how much fossil fuel that room used this past winter. And how much electricity will be wasted trying to keep it cool this summer. Besides the fact it will be unoccupied 99% of the time. It is really a crime.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 9:33PM
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I've been lurking on the Building forum but am happy to have recently discovered this forum. A recent post (on the Building forum) about building a small house turned out to mean 2200 sf. That's small?? We're planning a 1500 sf ICF home. I simply can't relate to most of the threads in the Building forum. I have tried to debate the monster home issue, but most posters there feel that no one has the right to tell them how to spend their money. Truly sad.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2004 at 9:45AM
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What I have found re:house building is that the vast majority of buyers buying newly built homes have spec'd very little. There are very few custom homes being built in comparison to spec homes. Those that visit the building forum, or research in other ways, are few & far between. Most buyers, at least in my area, are buying homes in developments where the most they can choose is the color of carpet & vinyl. Most home buyers that talk with their gc's get pooh-poohed with rolling eyes for even asking about different systems, etc, as though discussing anything different than what they are used to is just a complete waste of time.

I have been researching for the last 6 months on how to build an energy efficient cabin in the woods. Finding information on the different products available, even with the vast search capabilities of Google, has been challenging. Once I have found the products that I am interested in getting prices on, finding them in the local economy and finding local installers are more challengers. Usually I end up finding all the naysayers. When you are spending $$$ to build, it's really hard putting together a house of components like an experiment to see what works, and have confidence that your money was well spent.

In summary, I think buyers are uneducated, have difficulty finding information for alternative building products, get resistance from local supply houses and subcontractors, lack support from family, friends, community on energy conservation, and lack the confidence in themselves and the components to build such an experimental model with their hard earned $$$.

But I hear what you are all saying about the building forum. I started one thread a few months back on passive solar design. I thought the information was helpful, as I had never considered PSD in our previous build. It fell off the list in a matter of days with just a dozen responses. Similarly, there was a post recently of someone who didn't know where to start with building a home. When I gave a thorough response about different things to research (siding, window, insulation, building options) the response was "you have used lots of words and abbreviations that I have never even heard of." I got the sense that the choices/decisions overwhelmed her and she was planning on going with whatever is the GC's standard fare.

It is interesting, though, that energy efficiency is rarely discussed on the building forum when that's a whole lot of the conversation on the laundry forum. I wonder if it's just a matter of not being able to compare apples to apples. For instance, you can compare to different washing machines and determine the which is going to use the least amount of water or fuel. I don't know of any sources for comparing different homes for energy efficiency. I think so much of it has regional variations, and there are *so* many variables in a home (size, insulation, windows, air leakage, hvac, etc.) to have apple to apple comparisons.

Eegad - sorry for such a long ramble!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2004 at 1:25PM
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Want to talk about expensive - and wasteful?

How about bottled water?

That costs more (in small bottles) than gasoline (in bulk).

But whine about the price of gas - but not of the bottled kind of water. Which requires quite a bit of energy to build the bottles, apart from the trucking.

By the way if you want cheaper heat for most, except wood that you cut yourself (which requires a lot of specialized equipment, apart from the labour), get a heater that burns wheat, rye or corn (some even burn cherry pits).

I wrote a thread on that subject here a couple of months ago - but with the traffic here, it'll be down several pages, by now.

It requires electricity to operate (three smallish motors).

The operator must remove a clinker build-up in the 5" firebox daily or oftener, so it needs to be a supplemental heat source for all but dairy farmers who must be home to milk at least twice daily.

But a retired dairy farmer that I know who had a wood/coal burning furnace that required stoking more frequently than once daily told me that he just used some portable electric heaters in the kitchen and bathroom when he took off for a week in winter.

Most of us have to have someone check the house daily (or maybe once in two days) in order to keep our insurance in force, anyway.

Good wishes for success in your effort to tread lightly on the earth.

By the way - if you think that the U.S. may be able to exist independently on this earth - think again.

We're all in the same canoe, boys and girls.

joyful guy/Ed

    Bookmark   May 28, 2004 at 5:07PM
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I was wrong - the thread that I wrote on the grain- and corn-fired heaters is still on this page.

Good wishes for keeping your cool ...

... and warm, as well, without getting too hot under the collar (or using an inordinate amount of scarce resources, especially the ones that take millions of years to make, but which we've been using in major quantity for less than a century).

joyful guy/Ed

    Bookmark   May 28, 2004 at 5:15PM
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We are currently building a new home and just the general process can be overwhelming. However to swim upstream and request a different building method than the GC or local industry are used to adds the "never mind" factor. I feel very lucky that our GC has been receptive to our requests, and for the most part supportive of our decisions. However, if we had not done all the research and insisted on certain building methods and products wed be building your typical new house in the suburbs.

Id like to think that most people give home size, solar orientation, building envelope, heating system, and environmentally friendly finishes at least a passing thought. I dont believe that the housing industry will make a significant change until architects and builders start utilizing new designs and products. Just my opinion, but even when homeowners start out environmentally responsible, the sheer volume of resistance and hassle factor outweigh their commitment. Then throw in the budget factor (short sighted in some cases, but cash out now, not savings later does factor in) and most people take the easier path and following the path of least resistance.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2004 at 4:12PM
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If you had not sat on the tail of your GC you would have "a typical new house in the suburbs". Right on, Brother. That is exactly what is happening. If clients with big money are willing to buy big boxes and to pay for wasted energy until

---1) they go broke,
or 2) we run out of oil,

we are in big trouble, because one way or the other either one is bound to happen.

I have a fellow contractor who says the same as you. Clients come to him with the idea of building a real solid, energy conserving house. But then they opt for the whirlpool and the granite countertops and the fancy something-or-other. In comes the whirlpool and out goes the radiant heat. Take your pick????? The generation of kids buying houses for "resale" don't give a darn about the house, it is the fancy stuff that attracts the next generation of house buyers. Ask any realtor. It is the stuff that shows that most new home buyers are concerned with. Lay out your energy bills showing how efficient your home is and they will completely ignore them. If you are building for your own health and comfort, as well as your family's, and maybe their decendents, you will not be like the rest of the morons only buying for "resale value". I wonder if the young people had the same mentality in 1929--until the stock market crash which brought the country to it's knees. Only WW11 brought us out of it. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2004 at 6:59PM
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Bill, I've been building for years, and my experience is, quite frankly, that the majority of people either do not know, or think about, many of the issues brought up here. People do not really think, for the most part, about gas mileage when buying a vehicle, nor how much electricity those new puck-lights in their kitchen cost to run every month, nor how much it costs to heat a new home. They are more concerned with what the car looks like, how the light shines on their new granite, and if they can get a lower-effeciency furnace so they can have that granite in their new home. That is simply the state of what many people think about, or don't think about. People who are buying new homes generally are in that position not because they know about, read about, or are experts on energy effeciency, but because they are experts or work at something else that allows them to afford that home. Of course, that doesn't really excuse the behavior, merely point out that I find it hard to get too upset at someone who simply doesn't know...or doesn't think about those things.

I won't even go into the whole building "business"; it certainly is not setup for the incremental profit-making of upgrading things like insulation, it's more built on speed.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 7:30AM
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Jason you are right. I also have been building for years and in addition selling heating and a/c systems to fellow builders. No one that I have met tries to sell the benefits of building better or using the best HVAC equipment----unfortunately they do not have to. People buy anything. If the world was to revert to 1973 when we had the first oil embargo people would think differently. It was then that U.S. automakers started building better cars. The same would happen with houses if oil and gas heating continues to soar. When people start bragging about low energy bills instead of granite we will have accomplished something.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 5:36PM
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I gave up bragging that my yearly gas bills are lower than my neighbor's monthly. No one seems to care too much...

    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 7:24AM
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I, too, had to bite my tounge not to respond about that "small" 2200 sq ft home on the Building forum. Recently I read someone saying that their house was "average sized" at 3000+ sq ft! I sit in my neighborhood of 1000 - 1400 sq ft ranches built in the early 1950s and watch the young folks buy in, have a baby and leave. Can't have two kids in this small a house! But then we have at least two original owners here who raised their families in these houses - three, four, or five kids in some. You tell young people that you grew up in a three bedroom home - one for parents, one for the boys, one for the girls, and they look like you are suggesting child abuse.

Yes, my closets are way too small. Yes, the two of us have completely filled this 1400 sq ft ranch and I could not fit in a kid if I had to, but I am not proud of that. I looked at the middle bedroom today and thought, "where would I put all of this if I needed this as a bedroom?" We do own a lot of "stuff" and more clothes than our grandparents used in 10 year's time. Things have changed. But I tell myself that we DO have enough room for two, and if we are getting too crowded, maybe we need to rethink all of our "Stuff!"

But I, too, sit in rooms with soaring ceilings and remember wearing gloves to class in the early 1970's because the school was kept so cold. I wonder how these people are going to feel when they have to install a lowered ceiling to be able to heat that room someday. Already the SUV folks are having fits over the cost of gasoline.

A funny story - we have a sweet couple across the street, married one year. They both drive compact cars. I mentioned to them that it was nice to see younger people who did not feel they needed the "Monster Truck" most other young folks here have, and they said it was only because they could not yet afford one! Oops!

Today there was a news story about the extremely high air pollution level here in SE Michigan. No one really does care, unless they personally are affected by it. You tell folks that it increases the incidence of asthma, heart disease, and early death, and they shrug it off. When I moved here in '94 they were doing tailpipe emission checks. The governor decided not to comply with federal monitoring rules and just stopped doing it, and no one in Washington blinked an eye. Even before they started trying to dilute the Clean Air Act, they figured out the best way to bypass earlier laws that put a burden on industry to be good neighbors was to downsize the enforcement and research in this area so that the laws became irrelvant because there was no one to enforce them. Almost no one I know cares anything about all of this, our society is very self-centered and "now" oriented.

When I moved here I was happy to find a coallition that was concerned about air quality. They would do the monitoring and declare, "Ozone Action Days" to warn us about expected high air pollution levels the next day. They told folks to gas-up early in the day and try not to cut grass, etc. I was quite impressed until I learned that the coallition was one of high polluting big businesses that wanted the population to lower pollution-causing activities because if we went over the federal level too often, we might get sanctioned with some better pollution control measures. My reaction was to gas-up late in the day and tell everyone to do so, hoping we would "earn" those sanctions so that I could breathe easier in the summer with my asthma!

A lot of the guys I see in my work (substance abuse and mental health counseling) are fishermen. I made an effort to have materials avaialble to them about the heavy metal problem in fish. I gave them research that showed that the IQ level of the Innuit people had decreased in direct proportion to the level of heavy metals and other chemicals in the fish they eat. I gave them statistics about the rise in ADD and the increase in special needs children. They just don't care. Their families depend on their fish from Lake St. Clair and no one can show them three eyes or eleven fingers on their kids, so it all just scare tactics to them. Now the state has such a large deficit that they quit publishing the pamphlets warning about the danger of eating Great Lakes fish. I guarantee that folks will take that to mean that the danger has passed.

Sometimes I think we deserve everything that will happen to us. As we watch the funeral of the president who gutted the alternative energy research incentives and taught us that we don't need to help those less fortunate than ourselves because that only teaches them dependency, who thought that businesses should only have to have free market forces, not regulation, influencing their decisions, I am glad I do not have children.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 11:53AM
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Nancy, of SE Mich,

Thanks for your concern about air quality - on behalf of the citizens of Windsor, who live south of Detroit (which you may know, but citizens of many other areas may not).

They have to deal with the air that comes to them from SE Mich, as well.

And on my own behalf, a resident of London, Ontario - 100 miles or so somewhat north-east of Windsor, I thank you, as well.

Sometimes my eyes sting and water, for several days, even weeks, at a time - I am inclined to blame the lousy atmosphere, though I have no proof.

My Dad, who farmed in this area until his mid-40s, in the mid'40's, was confined to bed for a period from time to time, due to bronchitis and beginning asthma.

Fearing that he would be able to farm for only a few more years if he stayed in this area, he moved to Saskatchewan, in the central Canadian Prairies, where he sharecropped for a while and bought his own farm slightly over 50 years ago.

From the operation of which my brother retired a year ago now.

Dad enjoyed forty more years of excellent health on the Prairies, where the air is much less crappy - died 17 years ago at age 85 (in a car smash). He drove alone about 1,800 miles from Regina to London in 3 days a few days before his death, so he was in good shape.

We said he was crazy to do that - but when they're 85, who can tell them what to do? When I told this story to a lady a while ago, her response was, "Hmmmph - try 16!" Yeah - they're hard to guide at that age, as well.

Heck - I'm pretty self-willed (when it's you, or someone else, it is, of course, "stubborn") - and I'm only 75! Actually, I drove about 1,600 mi. to my brother's retirement party (and 40th wedding anniv. - thought I should be there, as I married him) last fall - in 45 hours (in my defence, I was under major time constraint).

To be fair, the lower moisture levels had a major part in the improvement in Dad's health when he moved to the Prairies, as well.

Our grandkids will thank us for building a major concern over air quality. (Maybe, if we're lucky).

Also water quality.

And conserving the fish, along with keeping them healthy.

It costs to raise animals - but fish eat at no cost to us.

Good wishes to all for deepening concerns over environmental conservation and cleanliness.

Don't get discouraged - converts are made one at a time.

And over the long haul.

Go to live for a while in the Orient - people there are more patient.

Plus less frantic.

Lower rates of suicide, as well, I beleive - though they call America "Heaven". Or, they used to call it that.

Actually, the term was "Gold Mountain".

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 3:21PM
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Yes. Well, unfortunately the time to worry about air pollution is when none of us can breathe and global warming caused the loss of the coastline--according to most people who vote.

When we built we could find no builders who would consider looking into solar. Our electric company offers no rebates or help of any kind in asking what is necessary. You cannot sell back to the electric company extra energy. If you should have a problem later--well that's your problem. No electrician could be found who knew anything about it. Maybe if you are in CA or in an urban place this is different.

That's a pretty scary thing to face. So we hooked up with the electric company and hope for things to change in the future. That perhaps someday we could make it happen.

But we did what we could in orienting the house, getting a basement wood heater to supplement(which could, if we could keep it going) supply all our needs).

What we found was that many of the small things we did (house orientation, window placement) have made a big difference in energy usage. Energy efficient appliances were bought. Rain is saved in barrels.. Oh my--you would think we were nuts for doing that because people think that only Californians would be interested in doing that.

People don't mind spending more for solar--they mind not having a way to understand it themselves or have confidence in someone installing and maintaining it. The industry is not seen as solid.

Around the turn of the century thousands of homes used solar energy for household hot water. What happened? It became passe when cheap electric came in. Does that mean it isn't useful? No, just that it is difficult to find.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2004 at 1:38PM
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Simmer down, guys ... simmer ....

With the boiler pressure that's being built up here ...

... shouldn't it be possible to heat you guys' homes for, say, about half of the winter?

A higher proportion, of course for those who live in the southern states.

Tread lightly on the earth, all.

Let's listen to the aboriginals - they did it for a long time before we came along.

We Canadians were sort of dumb - when we made the free trade agreement, we agreed to continue to export the same proportion of petroleum as we did in the glory days.

When the wells run dry - you'll be inconvenienced.

We'll freeze.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 30, 2004 at 7:29PM
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After all of the visual and space issues are taken care of, there seems to be no time left over, and most GCs don't care.....

I picked through the debris piles, yaking nails and saving wood. He was taking it all to the dump. No need to trash all of that reusable lumber.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 7:09PM
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**This reply is just my opinion =)**

More people, more problems. Sustainable growth is a myth. Sustainable population is what is needed. Leadership is another area we need help in. There is another type of attitude that hasn't been discussed. The attitude that people have who might care, but figure that there is no point because not enough people are practicing conservation. I believe this leads to a "what's the point" attitude. Strong leadership in the White House could change this.
I believe most people do care and would convert to more energy efficient practices/homes if it were convenient. Let's face it, our society is a live for the moment type, play now, pay later, instant gratifacation society (as pointed out in another post). Why anyone would expect this attitude to change without an event or events to reinforce an attitude change is not dealing with reality. I predict that it will take an cataclysmic event (perhaps a long term world energy crisis due to overpopulation)before such practices will become seriously considered by the majority.

We just recently built a home. I bought the best insulation I could, highest energy rated windows I could and tankless water heaters. I wish I would've of gone geothermal, but no one local had the experience to install it. And it's true, a lot of GCs actively discourage environmentally sound practices because that's not something they know about, or they buy the hype about it all being too expensive and not proven. Eventually I will replace my 40 year shingles with the slate looking solar cells on my home. Especially with the recent reminder (Katrina) of what life is like without power. I will keep sending money to WWF, Nature conservancy and other environmental groups. Even if everyone else on earth stopped donating. I will convert my house over to solar in the next 3 years. I am selling my pickup and buying a VW Jetta TDI (45 mpg), the wife can still keep her mini (=]). So I am trying. I think others will as well. I see one group that will try because of personal motivation (energy saving,etc) and others that will because they care about the planet.
Europe is generally perceived as more energy efficient than North America. Is this because they are smarter? Or is it because of limited resources and land? I believe its the resource/land issue. In a sense, they adapted their energy uses based on what their situation was. I firmly believe that will be the deciding factor that finally drives the US in the right direction.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 5:06PM
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Europeans do use less energy, that's a fact, but the reasons are varied and the general public interest and concern about energy use is little different to the majority of America.

Generally, it's a lifestyle difference. Europeans don't normally live in huge houses, nor do we drive cars with big engines (2.5L is considered large, with sizes like 1.2L or 1.8L being common), plus we have a general trend of smaller everything. My fridge would easily fit inside your average American fridge, but it works great for me as I prefer to buy food every few days and eat it fresh. I also have a front loading washing machine, which is so common out here many people don't even realise you can still buy those huge energy and water eating top loaders. Few people want them anyway, space is tighter in these smaller houses. Much of the trend is due to far higher prices for energy. But, Europe is far from being the land of good sense and efficiency, simple things like low energy light bulbs and appliances with higher energy ratings have yet to gain much interest in the majority of Europe. A few items have caught on in some markets, Germans for example use a massive amount of low energy lighting, but they're an exception. Mostly, Europeans in general could improve their energy use by a large amount.

I've allways been careful, but with a number of small improvements I've halved my energy bills. Actually, more than that as the cost of fuel has been going up, although my bills are going down. All my efforts so far have been conservation, I don't actually use any renewables at the moment. I'd like to, but cost is prohibitive. For most people electric and natural gas is just a necessary part of modern life, but certainly it can be used carefully in small amounts. Like most parts of human life, it's bad for the environment, but it's our excessive over consumption of fuel which is causing the major global problems.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 9:39AM
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