Catalyst Fall 2013


What is the best thing you have done to reduce your household energy use?


By creating buffers of plantings I’ve managed to cool my home and several outdoor areas, reduce watering more than 90 percent, cut back air conditioning, and in winter I rarely heat at all. I’ve used this approach (“estate style”) in southern Wisconsin and in southwestern Florida.

Frank B. Gabry, Osprey, FL


The best thing we have done is to have solar panels installed. In less than eight months of unusually cloudy/rainy weather, we have generated half of our projected annual usage. Between the power company incentive and the federal income tax credit, we quickly recouped half the cost.

Felicia V. Nowak, Athens, OH


I started to close [my bathroom] door and open the window slightly whenever the dryer was being used. That isolated the room and caused outside air to flow into the dryer without affecting the house air. My heating oil and electricity bills dropped around 25 percent during winter and summer once I started to use this easy method.

Daniel Shapiro, Jamestown, RI


My area (Central Valley California) is known for hot summers. In the morning, I run my whole-house fan [with] my windows open. I then seal up my house and run ceiling fans as needed. When the temperature cools at sundown, I again open my windows and run the whole-house fan. My AC is normally off.

John Murray, Antelope, CA


Hands down, it has to be installing a geothermal (ground-source) heat pump when we built our passive solar house. Over 28 years, we have likely saved thousands of kilowatt-hours (and thousands of dollars) over a traditional heat pump.

Jerry Klinken, Davidsonville, MD


A vegan diet significantly decreases my water and carbon footprint, and significantly decreases numerous health risks as well. And I like the fact that I no longer support the torture and slaughter of domesticated animals. It is NOT hard to do!

Karen LaVine, RN, CDE, Albuquerque, NM


We built a 2,000 s.f. Deltec round house on our farm and absolutely love it. In addition to all the built-in efficiencies, we added a radiant barrier to the trusses and it has, we believe, been terrific in keeping down our costs.

Nancy and Ron Bryant, Norwood, NC


We Want to Know

What innovative initiatives has your community undertaken to address climate change?

We will publish selected responses (edited for length) in the spring issue of Catalyst. You can respond via