I think Harold Orr, a pioneer in practical deep energy-efficiency in homes from Saskatchewan, summed it up very nicely three years ago at the ACI Deep Energy Retrofit Summit, when he said that with respect to serious energy-efficiency savings in homes, we don’t lack the technology, we lack the will.
Harold was right then. And the same holds true today. We do have the technology. We routinely save 20-30% in homes. We often save more than 50%. And even without getting into renewable energy like PV or wind, we could in many cases chop 80% of the energy a home uses. The technology exists today. Most of the technology has existed for decades. We have the skills.
But as a country we lack the will. The political will. We find it easier to ignore the problem. We strip our mountains for coal and fill in the streams with dirt. We damage our oceans. We use our farmland—the land we don’t allow to erode into the sea—increasing to grow fuel, not food. And we argue about global warming.
And we don’t do anything to address our energy security, our economic vitality, protect the environment. As a country, we don’t seem able to institute a sound energy policy.
This is epitomized by the energy bills (or “oil spill bill” if you prefer), Democratic and Republican alike, stalled in the Senate right now. “Energy” policy—or lack thereof—today seems to have more to do with making the “other side” look bad than with helping the whole country. Home Star, a bill that would create jobs across the country, help make millions of homes more energy efficient thereby saving homeowners money, and protect the environment, is stalled along with everything else. It would be downright silly that this isn’t moving forward immediately…if it weren’t such a shame.
We can make homes much more energy efficient—and more comfortable, with better indoor air quality, and a safer environment!—today. But to do this at scale and in a way that makes sense for the country, in a way that makes broad economic sense for the country, we need a coherent energy policy.
While partisan bickering keeps the country from moving forward, we the people are going to have to lead on this one. We do have the technology. We’d better find the collective will. And soon.