nothing changes

byBillJune 30, 2004

Another few months have gone by with the same result----no one building a new house is concerned about energy. It is a sin, a crime. They are all morons. What color this and what shape that, but not one word about the most important part of the house----comfort. Heating, a/c and ventilation make or break a house, not the color of the granite. There are a lot of crazys out there having houses built. It is a shame-----GB Shaw once said "youth is wasted on the young". Amen.

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How about a variation on that theme - money is wasted on the rich.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 1:55PM
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And just as much is p---ed away by the poor and middle class---don't blame the rich---no one, rich or poor gives a damn. I have done work for HUD, Humanities and other low income projects ---- given the choice they prefer granite to geo-thermal every time. Granite is glamorous, HVAC isn't.

I bid on the condos built by Path in Washington DC, a division of the Department of Energy, and when it came right down to the bottom line they went for glamour rather than the practical--------they have no problem telling you what to do, but they don't do much of it themselves.

Months have gone by in this topic and now I come back to find no one, no one, interested in building better homes or saving energy. Instead I find "What type of water heater", "what type of pool heater"--it is a sad situation.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 4:42PM
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Yes, we have built a consumer society and we teach through the media that you are judged by what you have. Few remember the hard times of the 1970s. Even others my age (45) do not remember the hardship of turning down the heat at school to the point that you needed to wear goves in class. Obviously, those building two-storey foyers do not remember when those with 10 ft ceilings in their older homes installed drop ceilings so they could heat less space. People younger than I am never have suffered from energy shortages. Our government does little to encourage conservation. We are a society of upward mobility and yearning for the good life. Even the poor have been convinced that it is in their best interests to keep tax policies and social policies that favor the rich, because someday, they hope to join those ranks. When a society has these values, they do not think of the common good or the long run. These concepts reek of socialism, so are not accepted. If I can scrabble and fight my way to the top of the pile, then dam! those I step upon on my way up. That is the American Way. So why would I want to limit my use of natural resources? How does that help me get to the top? Lets talk about interest-only mortgages instead.

I'll step off my soapbox.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 12:03AM
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Actually, there's a pretty good post going on about SIP Framing over in the "building a home" forum, and I have noticed recently that when house size comes up, there are dissenters to a "small" house being considered 2000 square feet or more. The people who think are out there; but we just don't hear their voices as much as others....yet.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 8:19AM
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Everyone strives to be rich, as pointed out by Nancy, it's the American Way. The wealthy HAVE the money to waste, and they set the example for the rest of us. But you are right, bill, the blame rests squarely on each and every one of us, wealthy or not, as we continue to support politicians that support policies that result in such wasteful practices.

When it comes to our procurement and consumption energy, which is so obviously the highest national security issue facing this nation since the collapse of the soviet union, the American people and our government as a collective whole are doing almost NOTHING to addess the problem: excessive consumption. I again propose that the cost of energy be doubled (see previous posts in other threads regarding specifics).

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 9:33AM
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Point me towards some of these discussions, will ya? I have a little "uneasiness" with that idea (raising prices), but before I start opening my big mouth, I'd like to read more about it. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 10:06AM
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Hi Bill and the other guys,
Kevin5 just posted on Building a Home about a problem with headers. He is building a house with thick, energy-efficient walls for better insulation. There is hope. Bill, maybe you can give him a hand to see if there is a solution for his problem.
Nancy (avoiding making phone calls by paying more attention to my virtual life than my real one -LOL)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 11:45AM
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We are in the planing stage of building a new home. We are considering timberframe with SIP panels or log. I like the energy efficiency of the SIP panels, but a log home would eliminate the need for exterior sheathing and greatly reduce interior drywalling. We'll install in floor radiant heat in as much of the house as possible (I'm hoping to provided all the heat this way, but since we will have some hardwood floors I still need to do more research). At this point we think it's feasible to site it with one long wall facing solar south. BUT...we also have to consider marketability issues. For this reason, there will be a great room with a lot of windows with a fireplace and a vaulted ceiling. We are trying to keep the ceiling height down as much as possible and I'm researching Rumford fireplaces. I'm working on a floorplan that would place the fireplace in the center of the house and I was thinking we could put a woodstove directly underneath in on the walk-out basement level. I also think we will need to have central a/c (or at least have the ductwork in because it's hard to retrofit log/SIP homes). Anyway, I'm certainly open to any suggestions on how to achieve an energy efficient home, but that's not my only goal and the end result will be a compromise that considers personal preference, cost, marketability, structural soundness, and energy efficiency.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2004 at 3:52PM
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Solie . ..

Let me clear up one misconception that is all over the place . . radiant heat and hardwood flooring don't mix: FALSE. They in fact work very well together, I am completely baffled where this "rumor" got started, and what keeps perpetuating it. I have a log home with nothing BUT hardwoods and nothing BUT radiant heat. Works great; been through 4 heating seasons here in central New York state where we get the COMPLETE mix of weather / temperatures / humidity / seasons.

Consider something else for your great room floor; or use a slab underneath it. . . . good for absorbing heat and holding it. And remember that thermal mass works for you cooling as well. A/C uses lots of energy; and depending upon where you are and your building location; you can do a lot to avoid needing A/C: trees, overhangs ( eaves ) chosen to pick UP solar during winter but NOT during summer; consider metal roofing . . very little thermal mass to hold heat like conventional roofing . . . . and it'll outlast you too. Sheds snow like a banshee, and makes the most wonderful sound during a rain . . . . a myriad of colors / profiles out there today . . . can really impact what a place looks like as well . . . my logs are sort of a honey color; chose a dark green metal roof . . . really adds to the look of the place . . . all seasons . . .

If you do radiant heat and have unheated basement below; you WILL want to insulate. That would preclude using a wood stove below as most of the heat would not get through the insulation. If the basement will be heated, this is not a concern.

If you're doing fireplace for looks; then fine. If you want to get some heating benefits from it; consider instead a pellet stove . . . VERY efficient due to the combustion process used; and far easier / less messy to carry / load bags of pellets than chunks of firewood . . . .

I just had an energy audit done on my place; it was by far the tightest house this guy had EVER tested; of ANY type construction. And this place is not brand new; it's been through 6 seasons of weather and done all it's settling / checking / warping etc. So, again to dis the misconception that log homes are "leaky" . . . . only the leaky ones are . . . .

Good luck with your pursuit; email me if I can answer any more specific questions for you . . . or send a few pix of heating system, roof, etc. . ..


    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 6:51AM
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Thanks Bob. The limited research I've done so far has indicated that the in-floor radiant heat is fine with wood floors. But having heard so many people say it isn't for so long, it's a little hard to get comfortable with. But after reading your post I guess at this point I'll plan on using it with wood floors unless I discover something convincing that contradicts it's use. These are my current flooring preferences: Main floor: random-patterned fieldstone in the dining area, kitchen, hall and bath, wood in the great room, carpet in the master bedroom, Lower level (walk out basement) poured concrete possibly with carpet or tile over it; third story - wood. I'd like to use the radiant floor heat everywhere except the third floor, where I was hoping not to need heat (we are in NC). BTW - did you purchase a package from a log home producer?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 9:02PM
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Pooh Bear

Bob, I have a question about radiant heat and hardwood floors.
I am wondering how well the joints between each piece of hardwood look after being down a while.
I am wondering if the heating doesn't cause the wood to dry out and shrink causing cracks between each piece of hardwood.
I know the wood is fairly dry and should be acclimated to the house before installing it.
But after being in that heat, it should dry out further.
How does that work out for you.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 10:42PM
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Hardwood floors and radiant heat . . . .

Wood shrinks and swells due to humidity in your house; it also shrinks and swells with temperature. We can make the fairly safe assumption that the temp range in your house is fairly limited; so shrinkage / swelling due to that can be ignored.

My hardwoods have been down through 4 heating seasons. Most is white oak, some parquet, and about 1/3 maple. Maple, more than typical oak and others; tends to shrink and swell more than many other woods . . . . it is the nature of the beast . . . no matter acclimation or whatever . . . it just does more of it.

The oak does very well; a few very small gaps show up in a few boards in the winter . . . maybe 1/16" . .. not even a "gap" in my book. The maple does do a bit more; but still nothing I'm even concerned with. If you look for them you can find them; if you don't, you won't. Simple as that. These appear during heating season only; I have NO twisting or anything of the sort; and the gaps close right up when humidity levels go back up. This seasonal shrinking / swelling occurs no matter WHAT kind of heat you have; unless you control the humidity very carefully . . not necessarily easy to do throughout the entire year in many climates. For what it's worth; I have NO dehumidifiers or humidifiers or AC.

No matter WHAT type of heat you have; it is the humidity that buggers up wood flooring; NOT temperature. Besides; a properly operating system will not push floor temp any higher than 75 . . . maybe 80 deg F. If it's higher than that; there's a problem somewhere else . . . .

My house is a "kit" type. I lived in a "hand-made" one for 15 years; and much as the chinking and it's look are quite quaint; I simply got tired of keeping up with it. Pounding sand is more fun than chinking. I bought a chinkless type; tongue & grooved for weathertightness. Hand-peeled outside and machined flat inside. Works for me; and NO MORE CHINKING to keep up with. To each their own . . . .

If anyone wants any more specific details; I will happily furnish them; email me as I don't want to be accused of doing any "advertising" here by mentioning company names . . ..


    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 6:13PM
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Ive searched for the old posts I was referring to, and it seems they have fallen off (they were in the heat/AC forum). Here are my (initial) ideas to reduce domestic energy consumption.

(IMO), the only way the general public will reduce the amount of energy they consume, is to make energy conservation voluntary. We americans don't really like being told what to do or not to do. But if we are given a choice, we generally choose that which costs less.

Becasue energy is so cheap (comparitively) to Americans, we hardly even notice that we are consuming it. If we don't recognize it's consumption, we don't really think about it. By increasing it's cost, the consumption of energy will become more noticable. Where it becomes noticable, we will now be in a position to actually notice our consumption, and make changes to our patterns of consumption, it we choose.

Basically, I propose that the cost of energy be doubled for individual, private consumptive purposes, with the revenue generated and collected by the implementation of such a proposal be used exclusively to reduce energy consumption here in the states by private individuals for private consumptive uses.

For the purpose of this discussion, let us pretend that this proposal would be implemented in such a manner that would prevent our political leaders from spending this revenue on ANYTHING but saving energy.

The target is to reduce energy consumption by private consumers in two primary areas: housing and personal transportation. Large business initially would not be included in these measures as they are already fairly good at reducing their costs to consume energy. Bear with me here for the sake of discussion, obviously this proposal has many problems that would need to be addressed, but we gotta start somewhere.

My proposal has two parts, houses and automobiles. The largest part of my proposal is initially directed toward houses, as I am guessing that the greatest improvements with the lowest efforts and least disruption to the American lifestyle, can be realized in this segment of consumption.


In my part of the country (the northeast), there are dozens and dozens of cities absolutely full of old houses built between approximately 1900 and 1940 that are about as energy inefficient as houses get. Many of these houses have ancient heating systems, zero insulation, and very old, if not original, windows. Many of these houses are owned by folks of limited financial means, or are rentals where landlords donÂt invest $$$ into energy improvements, so heating systems and windows are only repaired to the extent that is necessary to allow for continued functionality. Energy efficiency doesnÂt even enter into the equation for these folks. I propose that the owners of houses, be allowed either generous tax credits or direct dollar for dollar re-imbursement for qualifying (note: the definition of "qualifying" would need to be worked out) energy improvement upgrades to these structures, with ancient heating system systems, leaking windows, and insulation upgrade being the primary focus. I am guessing that the biggest "offenders" (an old house with little/no insulation, an old 1930s coal boiler that has been retrofitted to burn oil or gas, and original windows) would consume roughly 50% the energy after it were upgraded in the manner suggested (with perhaps a 25% saving for houses that donÂt need as effort to make them more efficient).

Also, there are lots of houses built between 1945 and the early 1970s that also have original heating equipment, original windows, and less than adequate insulation, and energy saving are also readily achievable in these buildings. New construction houses would not be eligible for the rebates/re-imbursements, as presumably the new owners have choices in what kind of heating system/windows/insulation would be installed (for spec houses, buyers have a choice as to whether or not to buy them).

I also propose that for those folks who have upgraded their homeÂs energy efficiency, but who still cannot afford higher energy prices, that a tax-rebate be initially offered to assist these folks, that eventually be phased out over some suitably long timeframe (say 10 years).

As a side note, I'd also make utility companies give away, free of charge, compact flourscent lightbulbs to any homeowner who asked, as long as an incandescent or burned out CFL was exchanged for each such bulb, and the homeowner is a customer of the utility providing the exchange.


For private transportation, the money would be used for tax rebates for vehicles that get "high" mileage, at the time of sale of a new vehicle. (again, the terms need defining). This would make vehicles that use the lowest amount of energy per mile would be the least expensive to purchase. In order for this to work, these very low energy consuming vehicles would need to be very inexpensive, perhaps costing only 20 or 30% of what they now cost. The focus would be to get people out of large vehicles used for single-person long distance commuting. I am not opposed to large vehicles, or to people driving large vehicles, but large vehgicles should be used judiciously and only when needed, and doubling the cost of gas would get people to think a little harder about whether or not they need one for day-to-day use. SUVs should be reserved for hauling boats and the family to the lake on weekends, or transporting kids and stuff to and from college, but not for 75-mile round-trip commutes to and from the office for a single person. If small, energy efficient vehicles were available at low cost, people would have the option of having an additional vehicle that would be low-cost to operate for much of what we currently use private transportation for  commuting.

For folks who use a "truck" in the course of doing business, increased fuel costs would be offset by tax credits when business owners file returns for the business, in an effort to try to keep for hurting the plumber or carpenter or electrician who actually needs such a vehicle in order to do their job (but a realtor driving clients around in a snazzy SUV or 4-door oversized truck wouldnÂt fall into the category)

This is my basic proposal. Again, I want to re-iterate that in order for this to work, the money generated, MUST be spent in a manner that reduces energy consumption.

This is a tall order for America, this I do recognize. These changes would result in real hardship for many, many Americans. But then again, Americans have a history of rising to the meet the occasion, and overcoming hardships, when it was necessary for us to do so. And I believe when it comes to Our consumption of energy, this is such an occasion.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2004 at 12:31PM
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Hey Brewbeer,
DH and I were just reminiscing yesterday about how Detroit Edison used to replace your lightbulbs at their stores, trading in 1:1 for burned out ones. I like your ideas, rather retro and looking out for those who need it most. So when are you running for Congress? Even more interesting, what party?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2004 at 10:54PM
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Pooh Bear

And then there is the age old question:

What's in it for me?

Tax credits won't work for me.
We don't make enough yearly to pay taxes.
We are not currently saving anything.
And we don't live extravagantly either.
We never go anywhere that costs anything.
Bottom line is, we have nothing (nada, zip, none) to spend on this stuff.
We can't go buy a new hi-gas-milage car.
Nor can we buy new energy saving appliances.

There are a lot of people out there just like us.
How do you propose we get along in a new economy of "doubled" energy costs.

I would love to cover my roof with solar panels, and install
a Trace Sinewave Inverter system to feed energy back to the utility.
But it just ain't happening on our budget.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 6, 2004 at 11:41PM
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Attitude is what it's all about . . and I don't mean individual attitudes; I mean collective ones. Like the one all too many Americans seem to have: If I can afford it ( whatever it may be ) then I'm entitled to have it. Period. No matter what environmental, social, or economic repurcussions it may have; I can pay for it so I can have it.

Make energy cost MORE than what it does now, hit people in the pocketbook. That will ALWAYS get people's attention. It will also always have great impact on many who are less fortunate for whatever the reason. It also puts politicians out of office . . . political suicide. You've hurt people who can least afford it; and those who can simply continue on their way . . . . .

I'm all for gov't programs to help institute change . .. such as promoting better vehicles, technologies, assistance to those who need it to implement such things . . . but then there is the Big Brother thing ( being told what to do by the government ), who qualifies for some assistance ( income level or such ), and who is going to make the "rules" such that everyone is happy ?

There is an INCREDIBLE amount of money to be made / being made in the energy sector of the economy. All those who say "don't buy foreign products" are oddly silent on the oil issue . . . . oil is our biggest import. Why the silence ? Because there's money to be made . .. and huge amounts of it. Notice too that most solar panel companies are now owned by oil companies. Power and money.

Sadly; it has been said that you can't legislate morality. How true is that ?

Those of us who were given the desire to do better for ourselves and our planet / environment got something that many others didn't. We will likely not change the "others" any time soon. We can do as best we can with what we have to work with; and continue to do so. Every day living cleaner and with less; becomes MORE of an economic thing that will eventually affect those who are far better off than many of us. We can perhaps lay the groundwork for these "misguided" folks; and feel good about our own lifestyles and what we do to the planet on our short stays here.

I believe it was a Canadian man who said:

" If the people lead; the leaders will follow ".

I'm a firm believer that what is right eventually reigns supreme. Some see the light sooner than others . . . . changing the attitudes of the masses WILL change the collective direction of the government; trying to have the government change the masses is Big Brother and will go over poorly . . .

I don't know the answer to it all . . . just a chance to pontificate a bit


    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 6:11AM
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Thankx for the comments folks.

Nancy congress? No way. I prefer to serve the public closer to my home (i.e., family, friends, neighbors). I will not bow down to corporate entities, which would be necessary to finance such a run, (nor would they be willing to give me a nickel after hearing about this). My political affiliation is "independent".

Pooh - what's in it for you? Well, if you are willing, a very low cost new car that gets great mileage, that will perhaps save you money over what you might currently spend in car payments and fuel. Also, note that my proposal would upgrade the efficiency of your older house's windows, heating/cooling system, and insulation for perhaps nothing. (In a tax credit mode, even those who don't pay taxes due to low income, receive the earned income tax credit from the IRS). Also, refining my proposal slightly, as part of the doubling of energy prices, prices would also be fixed so as to not fluctuate wildly like they do now. These wild fluctuations we live through today really hit people at the margins the hardest. At least you will know how much gasoline will cost this summer, or how expensive heating your house will be next winter. This proposal is about security. There is none in the "business as usual" mode (at least not any for the little people).

But Pooh, what's in it for you, most importantly, and the whole reason for this proposal - National Security. Knowing that your family and your children have a chance at a more secure future. What is that worth to you?

Bob - that's why participation in the energy saving pieces of the proposal is "voluntary". Yeah, people arent going to like it. But lots of people don't like lots of things now. Lot's of people don't support tax dollars paying for social programs and welfare. Lots of people don't like paying taxes to support the Iraq war or corporate subsidies. But what these people with different views have in common, is that they accept them as part and parcel of living under the form of government that we have, and move forward.

This proposal is all about National Security, about reducing America's dependence on unsavory foreign characters, and our government's support of them (and by extension, OUR support of them). And for those foks who don't care about these issues, the message is: you ought to, because your way of life and your children's way of life, Our American way of life, is in peril. We can choose to ignore it now, but for how much longer? And ultimately, at what cost?

These are great comments. Keep them coming, and please add your ideas. What I'm really hoping for is a discussion and dialogue on the issue, because as it is now, there is nothing but silence (punctuated by us moaning about 2 dollar-a-gallon gasoline).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 9:46AM
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I think that's an interesting idea, but the caveat that I would like to add is that, like RCMJ, I think that this attitude towards energy is just part of the larger "american idea" that we've grown into since the ending of WWII. Cheap energy and goods have not taught us to be more frugal or patient or better, but just the opposite; screw the other guy! As long as I can save $10 by shopping at Walmart, putting someone else out of a job (or destroying the environment in another country I don't know about), is fine. Methinks that we need to go back to the education of young people and children for this one, and that this one (energy), is merely one facet of that education. As long as we "collectively" believe we are entitled to cheap ANYTHING with no consequence...well, I think we're kind of doomed.

But in any event, let me kick my soapbox back under the chair here for a minute; I do have one concern, and that is this; it seems to me that when the prices of anything are increased, the pocketbooks are generally not hit by those best able to afford it (e.g., the SUV driver who then buys a smaller car), but by those least able to afford it. That's one of my big concerns.

I also have the obvious concerns; what party, or corporation, or group of people would support this? I mean; it'd be political suicide for sure.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 10:16AM
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I hear you Jason, on both your points: this hitting the poorest hardest, and who would support such a (crazy) idea.

The proposal will need to include provisions to assist those least able to afford it, and thats why I included that part. Yes, the details would need work.

If we are ever to get meaningful campaign finance reform (which I believe is the MOST important issue facing our nation) that takes ALL private money out of campaigns (or at the very least, reduces maximum contributions to a very, VERY low common denominator, and totally removes corporate contributions), people running for office will be free from trying to pay for being elected. These folks would now be free to speak to their beliefs, not to the financial interests of their financiers.

But I beleive that energy proposal can get some traction, espeically the housing portion, if it is framed as a National Security Issue. If someone like John McCain (who many people on both side of the political spectrum believe in because he speaks to his ideals and beliefs, not to the beliefs his party's supporters) were to advocate such a proposal in the context of National Security, I think people would at least listen.

Hey, I'm a nobody, and you are listening.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 11:10AM
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Ah well, Brewbeer, the best know enough not to get into that dirty business that we call politics. May you make your neighborhood a better place.

Here's my proposal:
The reason the world runs the way it does is that those who have an interest in things (read: monetary interest) or those who get some unconcious psychological benefit are most likely to seek public office these days. Sometimes the psychological benefit sought is benign and does not put self-interest above the public good. (I agree with you Brewbeer, that campaign financing can make the most pure sell out in order to stay in office and try to accomplish something.) More often, I fear, the psychological benefit sought by those who are not in it for mere power is less benign. What do we end up with? Leaders no one trusts, a disaffected electorate, a loss of any feeling for benefiting the community or working for the future. Our current "me first" society is the result.

Under my proposal, there are certain jobs that cannot be given out to most people who seek them. These include officers of the law, prison guards, and politicians. Although there are many folks who serve without personal gain (ego or financial), they seem to be decreasing in number. Instead, those who have demonstrated no interest in the job, whatsoever, and have demonstrated some skill that indicates that they may have a knack for the job, are conscripted for a certain length of time and made to fill the position. Since there is often a high learning curve, I would overlap the terms of these offices. The conscript who is coming into the position next will work side-by-side with the outgoing conscript for the first half of the term, and will work side-by-side with the conscript who will be their replacement in the second half of the term. Perhaps decision-making is shared by the two holders of each office, with weight going to the "elder" of the two. They will provide checks and balances for each other, as well. Society will feel great gratitude toward each person who has served, treating them with honor to the end of their days. The retired public servants will serve part-time on an oversight committee that provides counsel and checks and balances on the current officeholders.

This idea came to me when I saw time and again where known bullies were given positions of power in which they ran roughshod over the people they were there to serve. When will we learn that a person who seeks power is the least likely person to use it wisely? Until there comes a time when human hearts and minds can be trusted to be generous and kind, we have to find a way to get around our baser instincts.

I believe that one of our biggest impediments to thinking in the communitarian sense is that our political right-wing has labeled anything that was meant to serve a larger good as, "Godless Communisim". Perhaps as the generations that never knew the Berlin Wall come into power, it will be possible to be Communitarian without also being accused of being Communistic!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 5:35PM
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An interesting idea, I have to think about that. I'd also suggest that it's not the political right-wing that's the problem, but any -wing that does things the way they've been done, and our profeciency in reviling whatever -wing we're not. Not too get too political, but that I see as one of the biggest problems; it's always someone else fault....and spending so much time and energy trying to point that out or prove it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 10:58AM
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I agree, Jason. All the wings are problemmatic. It just was the right one that accused anyone who asked individuals to sacrifice for the good of greater society of being communists or socialists. It is the labels that get in our way and prevent discourse.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 10:31PM
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Well, no matter who blames who for what, that doesn't help our discussions/questions/solutions here. So, although I think the idea (of finding alternate energy), to be an interesting idea, I'm not too sure of it's actuality. I would think the things we have today, if pushed (e.g., energy effecient building practices), would go a long way towards our goal. Alas, I know here in Michigan it only took something like 17 years to upgrade the residential energy code from walls of R11 to 13. 17 years for two measly points. So I hold out little hope for doubling energy prices for research. I think the solution MUST rest with an educated public.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 9:24AM
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The government has figured out how to make the income tax graduated such that in theory the poor are not overwhelmed by taxes. Same could be done with an energy tax. If the government can convince the country that investing its children's lives in a war is a good idea, than certainly it can convince the country that an energy tax is a good idea.

The thing is, petro-energy is an engine of economic growth. Start taxing it and the economy slows down. This is why the government will not start taxing energy at substantially higher levels.

Alternative technologies already exist for transportation, home heating, electricity generation etc. They will become econmically attractive when the oil supply dwindles.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 10:07AM
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I guess that those who posted, and put such interest into the first couple posts really don't care...since they're willing to let this post die off. No one has another or futher opinion?

If that's the case, then we DESERVE what we get. That's what's truly pathetic; not everyone elses' waste, but our own apathy.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 8:58PM
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Is it apathy or disillusionment? Or lack of imagination? Sometimes I feel as though all of the optimism of youth has washed out of my generation already. People seem so resigned to the status quo.

You mention that the solution lies with an educated public. It seems that the trend in our society is away from education and participation in public life. What did I hear on the radio yesterday - that more Californians voted for the last American Idol than voted for the Governor in the special election! If "reality TV" has become our current opiate, I don't think there are too many who care to hear the pros and cons of improving building standards to increase energy efficiency (and thereby increase their building costs)! When folks build expecting to stay only a few years before moving up to the next size home, they hardly care that they will more than make up the difference in energy costs in the course of the life of the home. I fear that there are fundamental problems with our consumer society that make any long-term planning impossible. Truly, no one really cares. Well, not "no one," but not many, not enough.

Perhaps I am just feeling cynical today. I spent some time yesterday reading the summary in the local paper on how the superintendant, school board members and other school officials took anywhere from $20,000 to $450,000 in kickbacks from a local builder for ensuring that he got the contracts to work on the schools. All together the enrollment in these two school systems equalled only 8000 students! So $70 to $100 per student in taxpayer's money went to pay bribes. People cannot even honor the shared responsibility for educating our youth - will they accept a shared responsibility for anything?

Jason, want to get really depressed? Go read John Brunner's "Sheep Look Up" and "Stand on Zanzibar". I grew up on Science Fiction, and when the present starts resembling the dystopian futures of my youthful reading, I can only be happy that the drug company that gave my mom those pills to take when she carried me rendered me infertile. No children of mine will be there to see what becomes of us. It is very disheartening these days.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 11:37PM
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Well, I think I understand your feelings, but my contention is this; nothing will change until people start taking a little basic responsibility. Nothing. Brewbeer's ideas will not be implemented by anyone in government who wants to stay there, and any changes that are mandated would be so convulted, added to, and fought over that they'd bear scant resemblance to the original bill. And of course, someone would figure out how to make more money off of them. No, I don't think legislation works nearly as well as most people think it does. I just do not believe you can legislate basic things, such as morality, or ethics, or reponsibility, or common sense.

Only education can do that, and only people taking the most basic steps of personal responsibility, such as voting, will get us there. I'm not saying everyone should dump their SUVs and move into refrigerator boxes...but that they should take just a little bit of time out of one day every couple months to vote; that'd be a good start. Of course, the only way they'll do that is if we educate them, and the only way we can educate them is to change the system....kind of a circle, huh?

The only OTHER way I can think of to start changing attitudes is to make them popular; in the same manner that SUV advertising has made driving an SUV with clean air and outdoors, we need to do the same thing with other "ideas"; smaller, more energy effecient homes, voting, financial intelligence.....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 10:24AM
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I agree, we need to be inspired by a great leader, or by a movement that catches fire in the hearts and minds of the people. When we have a reason to pull together and do for the common good, we Americans (and Canadians!)can be selfless for a short while, as we were around 9/11/01. I was in Toronto that week, and the blood banks up there were as flooded as the ones south of the border.

On your smaller scale, education about how good building practices can lessen our dependence on foreign oil could be made palatable. Hows about you get with the HGTV folks for a Trading Spaces spin-off where retrofitting insulation and replacing incandescents with fluorescents, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances is made to look fun and sexy? It may take this kind of "beat them at their own game" approach to get people interested in something other than consumerism.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 9:32PM
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Eurpoeans have high energy taxes, and successful societies.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 10:18AM
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I don't know, Brew. Successful is kind of subjective, isn't it? I mean, yes, they have high taxes, and they have some very good things in many European countires, but also many really bad things I would not want here in the U.S. (or at least to not do it that way). Plus, I always am leery of making too big a comparison to europe; their evolution to what kind of societies they are today is much different than ours, and I think it's hard to form too broad of a conclusion by simply looking at another society and saying "it's better" or "worse". Of course, if we both could kind of "steal" a few ideas from each other.......

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 12:03PM
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This is too pertinent not to be bumped! I am soaking in everything you folks are saying and although I don't like being called a socialist or a commie by the masses who don't quite understand what I am trying to convey, I keep trying to convey. But don't lose hope! I don't have kids, but I keep my self surrounded and constantly try to educate. It may only get worse before it gets better, but it *will* get better. I like to believe that we humans are not de-evolving, we're just having a bad stretch.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2004 at 2:06PM
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I was doing a search on photo-voltaic lighting and found this old thread. I thought it would be interesting to bring it back up top after four years have passed and the $2/gal gas prices talked about then are now $4.15!

Has anything changed yet? What do you guys think?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:02PM
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Back to the original post of all the energy-inefficient homes being built. We ended up owner-building a home after finding nothing that suited us in the marketplace. The state of Florida has many 'energy codes' that must be followed but ignores such basics as orientation of the structure on the lot, roof overhang to shade windows, double-paned low-e windows, requiring heat recovery units on A/C's, solar ventilators for the attic...the list goes on. Things that don't cost much but seriously reduce energy consumption. Our new home has about a $120 monthly electric bill as opposed to the $250-350 bills people we know in new tract houses are paying (what if power bills double?)...and we aren't being particularly frugal about turning off lights or keeping house cool/warm. If we really wanted to get anal about it, I'm sure we could cut our consumption 30% but that would make us work for it rather than just letting the house design do the dirty work. Even in a development where the direction a house faces is pretty much fixed, clever architecture work can shield the body of the house from afternoon sun with the garage. West facing windows can be minimized or shaded. The A/C can provide the domestic hot water. 10 ft. high ceilings in Florida are energy savers since unlike up north where it's a problem to heat them, in Florida they let you run your A/C warmer and still be cool as the heat rises up above your head and collects at the ceiling. Adding 2' to the building height costs very little but increases the energy savings in the south. Just like appliances must have the yellow EnerGuide sticker, the front door of new homes should be required to have a sticker showing their electric/fuel use cost. Bet that would ramp up the competition among builders to have the lowest energy cost on their product's sticker. I feel for the people stuck in inefficient homes but in the long run, what will help is actually forcing all new construction to be REALLY energy efficient in ways that minimizes the resident's need to address the issue (again, letting the structure do the work). That can be done without making us all live in foam-covered domes. Architects just need to bear down a little and do their job properly rather than just jot down whatever cosmetic beauty they dream up and just spec the minimum components to build it...(wiping the foam from my mouth) Gary

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 3:14AM
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I have a earth sheltered home. The house is in the side of a hill, with 3 feet of dirt on the roof. I don't need to heat it. Maybe once a year it will get to 68 degrees here in Texas if it has been cloudy for a couple of weeks. It uses passive solar heating. I do have a pipe under the home that will bring in air the temp. of the underground but have not really needed to use it.I also have all floresant lights and am very pleased with the house. It is safe from Hurricanes. Ya! If I had to build again I would do it all over again.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 6:42PM
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Do you have pictures or drawings of the layout?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 1:51AM
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Well, the cost of energy has doubled. There are alot more groundsource heating system questions.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 8:25PM
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