Friday, December 18, 2009

Insulation is Sexy

Before flying to Copenhagen to discuss climate control with the important people, President Obama stopped at a Home Depot in northern Virginia to pitch energy independence as a surefire way to produce jobs.

And he said, several times, that weatherizing or insulation is sexy, explaining that it's cool to save money.

"Insulation is sexy." That is probably the most profound thing Obama ever said and I really mean that. It's so totally cool. Let's retrofit the entire country -- caulk every window and seal every crack, and wrap a blanket around every hot water heater in the land.

Insulate the ceiling, then crawl under the house and insulate the floor.

Good insulation makes your house warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and helps to keep out the noise from traffic. It's an investment that pays off in the long run.

That's why President Obama said insulation is sexy.

Now I would like to hear someone like Glenn Beck say otherwise. I would like to hear Glenn Beck say that insulation is stupid and a waste of money.

Glenn Beck would say, why those people in China and India aren't going to insulate their homes, so why should we?

Then Glenn Beck would start to wonder about those people at Home Depot who sell insulation -- they're communists. They hate America. They want to take control of the government and bury us under intense regulation and taxation.

Boycott Home Depot! We're madder than hell.

That's probably what Glenn Beck is saying right now, as President Obama flies to Copenhagen.

Well, Obama is no angel of environmental perfection, and Air Force One spews a fair amount of carbon dioxide in a trans-Atlantic journey, but I think he's working in the right direction when he talks about weatherization and the benefits of insulation.

There is no dramatic solution to global warming. It's going to take a thousand small steps and adjustments to make our economy fit the changing conditions.

And one of the things to keep in mind is the following principle:

EVERY SOLUTION CREATES ANOTHER PROBLEM. An important principle that undergirds any attempt to improve our environment and conserve our natural resources is this: every solution creates another problem.

Here's a very clear example. Municipalities across the country have been replacing the incandescent bulbs in traffic lights with LEDs -- or Light Emitting Diodes.

The LEDs consume far less electricity and the bulbs last much longer. This brings considerable savings in energy and money.

So it's all good, right? No, it's only partly good because this solution has created another problem.

It was something nobody expected. The old incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat, which is wasted energy, but that heat comes in handy on a cold snowy day in the Midwest.

Because when snow falls on the traffic lights, the heat from the bulbs melts the snow, and traffic lights remain visible -- in places like Minneapolis and Chicago.

Now, when the LEDS were installed in the traffic lights, they don't generate any heat, which is great, except when the snow falls.

When the snow falls, the LEDS cannot melt it, and traffic lights becomes obscured and invisible.

This has resulted in a rash of accidents -- fender benders mostly, but people have been injured.

So we can see that this energy-saving solution, to replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs, has created another problem.

Now, we'll listen to what Glenn Beck might say about this -- with dramatic emphasis, with tears in his eyes, he says, "LEDs are killing Americans! Killing them! Environmental wackos, intent on taking over the government and forcing us all to submit to tyranny, have forced LED traffic lights on unsuspecting communities in the Midwest.

"LEDS are dangerous, This is further evidence of a terrorist/communist plot. Real Americans use incandescent bulbs. Only pinkos and wackos use LEDS."

But the rest of us, guided by the principle that every solution creates another problem, are not dismayed. We simply have to figure out a way to remove or melt the snow that can obscure LED traffic lights. We just tap into that can-do spirit, that All-American ingenuity, that Yankee know-how that is our birthright and tradition.

We just tinker with it until we get it right.

You want to know who my guiding spirit is? Not Glenn Beck, that's for sure, but Thomas Edison.

Edison invented the incandescent bulb, and I'll bet a hundred dollars that he would be a champion of the new LEDS if he were alive today.

Edison would say, "LEDs are the future. They burn cooler. They use less electricity, and the bulbs last much longer. Sure we might discover a few problems as we develop their uses, but we're not going back to the old way of doing things. We're headed to the future, and the future is lit with LEDs."

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EnergySavvy said...

Hey there! Great post - totally agree.

As a fun, just in time for Christmas gift oppty, we created an "Insulation is sexy" tshirt......

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