I’ve been working on environmental issues for decades: activist with the Sierra Club, working for NYSDEC in New York City, teaching at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, and writing all along the way. I like to think I’ve been reasonably effective over time.
But I’ve never had the chance until now to apply all the lessons I’ve learned on clean tech, environmental protection, and natural resource conservation into my day-to-day life. But that’s changed now. We bought a house in Northern Westchester at the end of June. We’re moving ahead on making this place an overall low-impact property.
Solar photovoltaics has been a priority. We’ve been talking to two different companies. Our roof gets a lot of sunlight and with one proposal, we’d likely have a fair bit more than we’ll need on an ongoing basis. What to do with that extra juice? You got it: Plug in an EV. And maybe we’ll still have a surplus. One solar rep said: “You can watch the meter run backwards.” I said: “I’ve been waiting my whole life to do just that.”
We also are moving ahead on removing invasive plants, ditching the doggone perfect American lawn with all its chemicals, and seeing what we can do to propagate wildflowers and native grasses. We went on a tour given by Healthy Yards in Westchester recently. The plan is to be part of the Pollinator Pathway. Not incidentally, one of the joys of living in a woodsy place is the quiet – that is until all the bleeding leaf blowers and lawn mowers kick in. We’ll be electric on that score.
Furthermore, we’ll be looking seriously at heat pumps, mainly for AC. (A former student founded a company to do home energy audits and said heat pumps really ought to be called “cold pumps.”) We’re also going to learn about wood-burning fireplace inserts. We’ve got some dead trees on our land, you get some cold Northeastern winters, and oil is expensive.
This is all going to be a lot of work but it’s also going to be quite satisfying.