As we get the last blast of idiotic summer heat through the middle of the country, I can’t help but think about what it means to be green in the context of utilities. Several months back I did a project on climate (one of many over the years) in the home – at the time it was the dead of winter, but what we saw then holds true in the heat. People have a difficult time articulating why it is important to save energy from a moral and ethical position, but they all reference it. There is a cultural understanding that preventing waste is simply something people “should do.”
Being green is often a secondary issue and can be extremely vague for most people. Yes, there are the true believers, but the perfect recycler is often the same person driving the Yukon. It’s about justification and rationalization. The family is wiling to make changes to their life style, but not if it reduces a sense of physical comfort in the home. They recycle diligently and take measure to reduce electricity use, which they learn about from the local utility website, Dr. Phil and the recommendations their children bring home from school. However, the idea of raising the temperature in the home more than a degree or two is out of the question. Sacrifice or actionable awareness is relevant only to a point. And there is probably a connection between immediacy and short-term gain (instant gratification) vs. long-term benefits/suffering. Turning off a light is painless and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Dialing up the heat all summer is just asking too much for too long.