Stop Wasting Energy and Let in the Light

We should find ways to improve energy efficiency and tap into passive solar design.

| October/November 2001

There is no national energy crisis. We don't need to rush to drill for more oil in pristine Alaskan wilderness or fragile offshore areas.

Energy is expensive, to be sure. Certainly and sadly, high utility bills are causing huge difficulties for millions of low-income Americans, and mega-headaches for many businesses. But the primary cause of our current crisis is not a shortage of energy, but a crisis of consciousness. Far too few Americans are aware of just how much we are wasting energy.

As our story Save Energy and Money Now spells out in more than 40 specific tips, American homeowners are currently wasting up to half of the energy they buy. Our homes are leaky and underinsulated our light bulbs and water heaters and other appliances are often inefficient and wasteful.

Somehow, we have come to think bigger homes are better homes. Deed restrictions on new building lots often prohibit smaller, more energy-efficient choices. Sprawling McMansions continue to sprout everywhere you look.

And take note the next time you drive through a newer neighborhood: How many houses have been faced toward the sun to reap the enormous benefits of passive solar designs? Just the simple step of turning our homes toward the south can give us enormous reductions in heating costs, yet few people are taking advantage of such a simple, common sense technique. The world is facing a global environmental crisis, and wanton burning of fossil fuels is clearly a large part of the problem. Yet, we don't even bother to orient new homes toward the sun? How is it possible that so many of us are unaware of how helpful this would be? How can so many people be so foolish?

It is foolish, isn't it, to fail to recognize the seriousness of imminent oil shortages, air pollution problems, and the threats of global warming and international conflicts? It is foolish, when the solutions are so simple. Yet we fail to act. We like to think we are the smartest species on the planet, but these days, you really have to wonder.

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