A funny thing happens when people know I write about green technology. They get ideas—and great conversations result.
Take my friend, Rene. He leans toward the conservative, and loves busting my chops when “Obama’s green plans” like solar-company bust Solyndra don’t work out. In return, I tell him he’s one the greenest people I know. He wants a solar-powered light for his shed. He built his own composter for his yard waste. And the other night he asked if I knew about a solar cell technology that uses “nano-somethings.” He may have been talking about this. Or this.
“Imagine your car powered by the sun—or the moon,” he marveled. We agreed that the whole exterior of a car should someday be made up of solar cells to help power our travels. The same with exteriors of homes, buildings, smart windows. Solar paint has been in development for a while.
My friend Peter, who commutes several hours each day, wants a car powered by a hydrogen cell. He’s even talked about building his own, which I discourage for now, for safety reasons.
My friend, Robert, likes to show off his new LED lights and is making an investment in bamboo flooring. He’s no “greenie” either, and happens to lean right politically.
I’ve been asked about my little Honda Insight hybrid car by pickup-truck driving contractors, state policemen (without being stopped by them), and many others. How many miles per gallon does it get? How do the batteries work? The conversations quickly turn to electric vehicles and EV charging and when EVs will become popular enough and practical enough to buy. People are interested.
My friend John just bought an Insight as well. He loves it. He’s not a typical “greenie.” He’s a retiring accountant and lawyer. “My next car will be electric,” he says. He’s thinking of putting a solar system on his house. He wants to tie it to an EV charger and maybe even a battery storage system, when they come down in price. This is not unusual. Like many, he doesn’t like the idea of a grid-tied solar array shutting down when the utility power is out, which is done so there’s no dangerous backfeeding of power on the powerlines. But install a battery bank and a two-way inverter, and you can store the power and continue to power your house.
The fact is, people are interested in energy efficiency. Many people get it now. You don’t have to “green,” or “liberal,” or geeky or techie or anything else to want to save energy—whether it’s to save money or help the environment or help us to be energy independent. There are many practical reasons to be energy-efficient, and that will change from person to person.
A big sell for many women is health, and that means healthy home systems including proper ventilation and green products that don’t emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause allergies and illnesses.
Savvy businesses today seek not just bottom-line improvements by being more energy-efficient, but “triple bottom line” performance that values people, the planet and profit. They are realizing that they can use today’s technologies to be green, improve their operations and capture a competitive advantage.
More and more people today want to be energy-efficient. We just have to show them the ways.