Efficiency Before Renewables = Function Before Fashion

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Practicality is rarely sexy, and so goes the plight of the energy efficiency industry as the nice guy in a bar full of slick solar and wind powered charmers. Neighbors rarely notice when you save money on energy bills through better insulation and appliance management, but they sure can't wait to ask about your shiny solar panels and elegantly whirring wind turbine.

In a culture where keeping up with the Joneses has been a religion, saving money and helping the environment by subtly making your property more efficient just doesn't have the sex appeal of more ostentatious green technology projects. Still, the recession has brought a new sense of humility to homeowners, green conscious or not, and 2011 will be the year of energy efficiency!

The government is trying to do their part. It looks like the long-awaited Homestar legislation will finally pass in Q1 2011 and encourage homeowners to take a hard look at where they can ‘go green' by making their home more energy and water efficient, but it's hard to know if the aggressive rebates entailed will have any more meaningful impact on their own than the largely ignored state incentive programs that flopped getting homeowners to take action in 2009-2010. It seems like no matter how hard the government pushes to encourage less flashy green practices, the ego of more visible renewable energy projects trumps vanilla building envelope improvements with a more attractive spreadsheet ROI.

I hear a version of this every day from frustrated energy auditors and efficiency contractors: "I'm all for solar panels and every other kind of renewable energy, but there's no sense pumping good energy into a leaky building." At the risk of alienating our friends in the solar business, we tend to agree.

However, it's not a matter of being pro-efficiency and anti-renewables. That would be horribly off base. We hope 2012 is the year of renewables...integrated into some newly efficient buildings.

Brian Koles is the founde of GreenTechBuyer, a web service that educates homeowners and real estate pros about green technology and energy savings, and then matches them with top local companies to get proposals for a specific green technology project.

 

Learn about your optiosn for green technology and energy savings at www.GreentechBuyer.org

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