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Let’s pick the biggest, lowest hanging fruit!

Roughly 70% of all workers in the United States travel to work in single occupancy motor vehicles. It seems to me that this is one of the lowest hanging pieces of fruit on the tree of opportunity. Perhaps the only lower one is the wastefulness of energy use in buildings.

For example, while California has been a model for stabilizing total energy consumption for the past 30 years in spite of its population growth, there is still only something on the order of 12% market penetration of compact fluorescent lamps in the residential market. The reason frequently given when I raise this point is ‘color rendition.’ This may have been the case at some point in the past, but a wide range of color rendition is available in CFLs now. Go to a good lighting specialty store where they display the range of CFLs available and you will be able to see this. When an investment of $2.50 to $5.00 results in a lamp lifetime saving of $40 to $50, it is hard to explain. Potential electrical energy saving — huge!

Now for the really big one — passive solar. Why do we restrict the minimum size and amount of opening area of windows and yet let people put windows on any side of a building regardless of compass orientation? Passive solar is the invisible low-hanging fruit. Use overhangs and properly oriented and sized windows and you can save half the heating costs for a house in most North American climates, far more in sunnier, warmer locations like nearly the entire west coast and southwest. Get a clue! Heating is nearly half of residential energy use, therefore, nearly 1/3 of building energy use and nearly 15% of all U.S. energy use.

Let’s pick the biggest, lowest hanging fruit first — no new technology is required.

Anybody out there know how to do this?