After speaking for the trees as the Lorax in a recent animated film, actor Danny DeVito was asked about global warming. He said we only have about fifty years to get it right. Professor Coty would disagree with Danny. The Union of Concerned Scientists says we need to reduce our Carbon Emissions by 70-80% NOW to have any hope of reversing climate change/global warming. Dr. William Keller, the speaker at our February meeting, is getting it right. He described how his family has been able to achieve zero net carbon emissions through the use of solar energy at their New England and now Port Charlotte homes. Perhaps more important is the fact that his experiment proved that a couple of school teachers were able to reduce their carbon footprint by the target set by the The Union of Concerned Scientists – and made money at the same time.
Starting with solar water heating, a “no brainer” due to its quick payback time, he progressed to five kilowatt photovoltaic solar arrays on his roofs. After moving to Florida he found that he generates more electricity than he uses. Due to the fact his power company will buy back the remainder at only about thirty percent of what they charge, he leased an all-electric car to further lower his carbon footprint. He also generates enough extra power to enjoy an electric boat.
As an economist Dr. Keller pointed out the financial reasons that made his home improvements sensible as well as environmentally sound. Those included rebates from power companies and government tax incentives as well as the lack of any kind of power bill for his home or for most of his transportation. He stressed that it is important to note that investments in renewable energy and transportation are cost effective without Florida rebates. The price of solar eclectic power is now half of what it was when the Kellers installed their system in 2009. His trip to speak to us cost him time, not money.
Dr. Keller emphasized several associated, important, low-tech things that made his home conversions work. They included insulation as recommended by an energy audit, observation and maintenance to be sure the equipment is working properly, and reasonable behavior e.g. no luxuriating in the hot shower, plus keeping the AC up and the heat setting down. Another very important item is to monitor the systems. If you don’t look at your thermometer and meters, you may “feel good” about your green initiatives, but actually achieving little to save the planet.
When asked why sunny Florida is not more of a center for solar and other renewable energy, he lamented that economic policy for decreasing one’s carbon footprint in Florida and in the USA is not as prevalent as they are in other parts of the world.
The talk was well received, and some audience members are apparently already taking steps to leave lower carbon footprints. Please see the Professor Keller’s flyer that is posted on the FLVCS website for additional information for those who want to pursue action.
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