There’s an interesting Op-Ed in my local paper entitled “Energy Efficiency is Not About the Windows,” making the argument that energy efficiency in the home is about sealing up the home and cracks around the windows.  To me this raises, a broader question: What are the most energy inefficient structures in my community, and how are the best “low-hanging fruit” for energy efficiency in my own home?

For my own home, home energy-audits are available (often subsidized) and turning down the thermostat and hot water temperatures are good starts. But the community at large is a more dififcult query, since resources should be allocated to the largest energy hogs.  While on the Montpelier Planning Commission before we left for China, we learned there were funds available to potentially do a large-scale energy efficiency project in town.  Most people on the Commission wanted to do a singular big project.  I argued that we should identify the most energy inefficient structures in the community, make them efficient, and spread the cost saving to the entire community.   My proposal was simply not sexy enough, and gained little traction.  I find it unfortuante that low cost – high benefit envioronmental choices often receive so little play (e.g., chaulking your windows and home weatherization), but the big ticket items (e.g., new windows or biomass plants) seem to get everyone so excited.  What’s wrong with a little cost-benefit analysis?