The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
Subscribe
| more

Photo Gallery

My Romance with Clean Energy

thumb_2_clean-energy-600.jpg

My Romance with Clean Energy

It is true: I love clean energy, but not necessarily because of some ideology, technical fascination or theoretical notion that it will contribute to a safer planet. I love it because it makes my life better.

My day-to-day work at the Center for Climate Protection revolves around advocating Community Choice and other clean energy policies in California. It can be very wonky and technical, and to many people, especially when all most people want is for the lights to go on when they flip the switch, just plain boring. However, there is a very personal aspect to energy. Energy gives us light, and it also keeps us warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and gets us where we want to go far faster than our feet can ever carry us.

My wife and I bought our ridiculously energy inefficient 1975 home in Sebastopol in 2009. The first order of business was re-insulating and patching up the many holes that you would never know were there. It turned out that when you add up all the minute cracks and crevasses we had a collective hole in our house the size of a large pizza! So we had the house “air-sealed” and re-insulated with state-of-the-art blown-in insulation. 

Whatever benefit we might have accrued by saving money or feeling good about reducing our use of fossil gas for space heating, all of it paled in comparison to the increased comfort we experienced from having a less drafty house that stayed warmer longer in the winter. And that is a personal thing. Bottom line? We love our well-insulated home!

Once Sonoma Clean Power was up and running we wasted no time in signing up as EverGreen customers. EverGreen ensures that 100% of our electricity generation dollar goes to pay for clean power producers. In the case of EverGreen, that means most of it goes to “keep the lights on” at the Geysers geothermal field. We think that’s great. We love our EverGreen program.

Since some beautiful redwood trees shade our roof, it took us a while to get our solar installed since we needed to construct a solar pavilion out in the back forty where it is sunnier. Now with our solar, our electric bill is much lower than it was and we are set for the next stages of decarbonization. We also have a lovely spot out in our yard to have a picnic lunch. We love our solar pavilion. 

Our electric vehicle gets me to and from work on a single charge and knowing that it is charged with clean power – our own solar electricity and the EverGreen power – is very important to us. But beyond that, we rarely have to worry about car maintenance since there is much less to maintain with an EV. The fact that we don’t need gasoline most of the time is a pleasure. We love our EV!

Whenever and appliance or energy using system needs major repair or replacement, it is an opportunity to consider fuels switching. That is what happened to us when our old home-heating system died. The latest installment in our evolution to fossil-fuel-free living is that we recently had an air source electric heat pump space heater installed to replace the old fossil gas-fired system. The day it was switched on, we knew we had a new love affair brewing. The new system is quick to heat the place, is quiet, and best of all, efficient and running entirely on our clean solar/EverGreen combo. We love our new home heating system!

As February and Valentine’s Day approaches, I write this in a comfortably warm home that is depending less and less each passing year on the fossil fuels that wreak so much havoc in their extraction, transportation, refining, storage and end use, and that are causing the climate crisis. The next phase in the adventure is switching from gas to electricity for water heating and cooking. There are many affordable and efficient options for both. My wife and I love that.