Sunday, August 8, 2010

Home Energy Efficiency Going Off Grid: What Took So Long?

Over a decade ago, someone engaged me in a discussion about alternative energies and their potential. They insisted that we would build massive power plants for solar and wind power. I insisted, that was such a waste and missed the point of alternative energy. He looked puzzled. I told him the power of alternative energy isn't within the traditional grid systems, but rather through microgeneration.

Today, 750,000 have taken this to heart, taking themselves off the grid for their power to create a more sustainable lifestyle. Contrary to the anti-environmental right of the political spectrum, this doesn't mean giving up modern conveniences.

Of those 750,000 people, the stories (linked above) include things like powering hot tubs, charging cellphones, and watching big screen televisions... all off grid. Alternative energies and energy efficiency would ultimately fail if it meant we had to give up our lifestyles, but it turns out that in many cases, we can have our cake and eat it too.

In the early part of the 21st century, when California was having blackouts; I was left wondering what is taking so long to shift to microgeneration. It turned out that some cities like San Diego started requiring alternative energy generation on new housing starts. Unfortunately, many areas that are generally Republican controlled have opposed this largely to be a good opposition, but hurting themselves for the sake of saying "NO!"

President Obama sees this potential for a market and has acted on it through the 2009 Stimulus Bill which helps to give tax credits for home improvements for alternative energies. Baby boomers would be smart to take advantage of this opportunity.

The best thing anyone retiring can do is to minimize their bills. Why? Their income will not increase in retirement, and will probably be below their pre-retirement income. We also know that energy costs will increase over time. That is the trend throughout American energy history. To minimize the impact of those increases by investing in alternative power sources on their homes is a smart financial decision.

The question still remains... why is America taking so long to either go off grid or to minimize the impact of power companies on their wallets?

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