Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More solar home thoughts

Yesterday, my husband and I headed back to the Solar Decathlon with his brother. And once again, I found myself wondering: there is no interest in alternative energy by whom? The place was even more crowded this week than last, with some lines extending for longer than you'd expect at a carnival midway. In fact, the line for the winning house extended for approximately a city block, maybe more. Even the lower ranked homes, however, had lines that wrapped around for a good space. The information booths were crowded with people asking questions and waiting for the informational presentations.

And these were for houses that topped out at 800 square feet, for houses that were designed to work even without a connection to the electrical grid. Many of the ideas embodied were ideas that have been around for decades, with mostly disdain from the folks who *insist* that we would rather be beholden to Big Oil and Big Coal for as long as they will last. (And who will often insist that our technology for finding and exploiting more difficult reserves will keep improving without significant cost.)

I was disappointed that the house I was personally cheering for did not achieve a better ranking, but think that that may have been because I was drawn to a simpler design than most. The design was straightforward and easily taken care of. It was also essentially a mobile home - fully portable, though what I was drawn to was the kitchen - open, breezy, full of light and air. But it didn't have some of the zippier features that other houses had (some of which looked pretty, but difficult to take care of)

But though such a house might not have the most interesting new "toys", I think this is the direction to go in bringing alternative energy sources to most homes. Most people do not want to be faced with a complex array of switches when they go to look at the fuse box - they want a nice numbered diagram telling them which one is connected to the plate their toaster is plugged into. Nor (as one design had it) do they want to go outside to check on the electrical system, particularly since problems have a nasty habit of happening during storms, freezes, and other unpleasantness.

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