Thursday, September 30, 2010

Random Acts of Green

I love Lehman's. They sell all the wonderful old fashioned goodies and appliances I adore. I can easily wile away an evening perusing their online catalog.

The more I seek ways to reduce energy use and green my life, the more I find myself looking at the old appliances I grew up with as a child. The energy those appliances utilized were human energy, not manufactured energy purchased from suppliers at increasingly exorbitant costs.

The solar backlash to this gouging by energy companies was bound to happen, but the companies are already preparing to counteract it via clever marketing strategies that convince you to tie-in your personal energy production to their grid on the promise of a buy back of your excess, unwanted energy. Unwanted energy? Really? You would have to have a seriously major setup to ever get to that point given energy hogs such as refrigerators and air conditioners. Check out this online Average Daily Loads estimator to see what I mean. It helps estimate a home's wattage needs based on your existing appliances. Right now an 80 watt solar panel at one of my local retailers is going for $700 (before installation). It's pretty doubtful the average homeowner will have a ton of extra power to sell back via a tie-in.

The carrot of a potential buy back is a brilliant maneuver on the part of energy companies. They keep you connected and dependent. The consumer also assumes 100% of the financial investment - hardware, installation and maintenance of solar and wind energy generators - and the energy company reaps the benefit. I am imagining all those taxes and mysterious fees that are bound to whittle down one's "potential profits."

Personally, I don't see the wisdom of this arrangement. If you are creating your own energy, why do you need a middle man to use it? How will you ever audit your energy output and compute their cut? Isn't it smarter to install excess battery backups to store your energy for overcast days rather than to remain connected to a system that you already feel at the mercy of? If one really becomes a personal power plant of note there is always the option of sharing your excess with your neighbors in a random act of greening. 

Lehman's offers some useful solar primers and sustainable gardening books that are a handy reference for beginners. Lehman's also has a Country Life Blog now. Today's post is by writer, Mary Jane Butters, who writes about Random Acts of Green. One innovative act of recycling is called Book Crossing, where books are passed on to total strangers and the trail the book travels is followed on a website. Interesting concept. Maybe some solar power books are out there circulating right now. Click here to read her article. 

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