• Solar Tours

    It might not have been as fun as Star Tours, but it was much more educational and could help to save human life on this planet. Last weekend, my family and I went on a Solar Tour of various solar and energy efficient homes in the Maryland area.

    I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. When my wife and I bought our house, our main concerns were finding a location half way between our two jobs and finding a place with at least a better than okay school district for our then future children. Now that I have been laid off from my decent paying job and we actually have children our priorities have changed. Now, we would like to find a better school district and help to save the planet. Okay, that last part is a bit much. The planet isn’t really in any jeopardy, but our (humans) continual existence on this planet very much is in question.

    With the economy about to get shot by the Republicans and not really in great shape to begin with, we are looking for ways to save money in the long haul. Some of the families we visited on the Solar Tour not only don’t need to pay an electric bill, but the power companies in some cases actually pay them. How awesome is that? Most however are just happy to not have an energy bill at all.

    So what the fuck am I talking about? There are homes that were either built or retrofitted to conserve energy and use solar and geothermal power that they generate on the property to power the home and in at least one case we visited, the family car too. That family owned a Nissan Leaf, which doesn’t use gasoline at all.

    The dream of course is to build a new house designed specifically to conserve energy and to get its energy directly from the Sun and through geothermal heat. But like most families in this struggling economy, we don’t have the money for that and may never have enough money for that. Although, we did visit some new homes designed this way that weren’t all that expensive considering the location.

    Still, there are things we can do to our already existing nearly 100-year-old home that would go a long way. One could get an energy audit of their home and find out where their home is leaking energy and how one could save that energy and lower the electric bill. Some suggestions were getting better insulation, safety plugs for outlets, weather stripping the doors, and turning power strips off when not in use. Then there are the solar panels, which are getting more efficient every day. Costs are dropping for solar panels and one can get government rebates and tax incentives for having them. While it is a big investment upfront, they typically pay themselves off in about seven to twelve years.

    We live in the twenty-first century and it is time we start thinking in that way. Energy is the new currency and we need to start saving energy and finding new cleaner ways to obtain energy. I’m tired of the big oil companies. It is time for us to get off our drug of choice. So I want to encourage everyone to start looking into alternatives to fossil fuels and start moving the world into the future.

    Our use of fossil fuels is not sustainable anymore. We are facing global climate change and higher energy costs due in large part of instability in the Middle East. I think this is an area where people of Reason can really lead the way. We are science minded and care about the environment generally.

    Still, not all religious believers are climate change deniers. One family we met on our Solar Tour was very religious and talked about how God had given them a sign to buy their home. Unfortunately, I don’t think they noticed my atheist bumper sticker as I drove out of their driveway.

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    Category: Global Climate ChangeHumanismPersonalPolitics


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.