November 6, 2008

Hot Showers, Barack Obama, and the Most Abundant Energy on Earth

There are many undeniable truths in this world. But I’d like to address the following three: the sun will shine, hot showers feel great, and no blog post can be written this week without mentioning President-elect Barack Obama. Let’s examine each of these in order.

The Sun Will Shine
The sun is the only external power source we have. And, lucky for us, it pours so much energy down on our smiling faces that—for all intents and purposes—we can consider it an unlimited supply. It is free, clean, abundant, and universal. The fact that we do not regard solar power as THE ONLY viable power source for the future is boggling. (Though, micro-hydro is fun too.)

Hot Showers Feel Great
You know it. I know it. But hot water isn’t always good for the environment. There are only so many ways to heat up water. Electric water heaters are wasteful and usually powered by fossil-fuels. Oil-powered boilers dump carbon into the atmosphere all day long heating a water tank while waiting for you to take your hot shower.

But, oh man! After a long, hard day in the office/truck/field/hospital/seaside resort, nothing refreshes the soul better.

President-elect Barack Obama
What does he have to do with any of this?! Well, besides the fact that he enjoys hot showers too, he’s inspired a nation and pledges to do all he can to combat climate change. But he can’t do it alone. We all need to take action. And, to that end, I’ve been planning to install a solar domestic hot water system. This way, my hot showers will be fueled by the free energy of the sun. Guilt-free and hours long.

Greg Pahl is a friend of mine, and the author of several books about converting our homes and society to renewable energy sources. My favorite of his books is Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options. In this video, Greg explains his own solar domestic hot water system. Check it out.

Now, what are you doing to ween your life off oil?

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