Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Danish Solution

2734 Ellsworth - before energy saving devices
I made a trip down to Home Depot the other day to get a switch that would enable me to turn both bed lamps on and off at the same time.  I hate having to run from one side of the bed to the other.  I was on my way to the electrical goods section when I had one of those moments that make you believe in miracles. Walking straight up to me was this Greek god of a young man, smiling from ear to ear. Wow. Must have done something right in my previous life, I think to myself.  This man clearly loves me.

The homunculus who sits on my left shoulder and whispers temptations into my left ear says, "Use a hotel.  Don't bring him home.  And pay cash.  No need to leave a money trail."  The right shoulder homunculus then chimes in, "Don’t throw away twenty-one years of married life for 48 hours (I am a positive thinker) of ecstasy."

"It's only been two years.  The rest doesn't count," says the leftie.  "Besides, your husband will never believe you had the energy to go one hour, much less forty-eight.”

In the space of the few seconds I try clear my head of the cacaphony, the god extends his hand.
“Can I talk to you for a few minutes about a way for you to save on your energy bill?”

I try not to burst into tears.  “Uh, yeah, I guess so,” I say, hoping to regain some dignity.

Justin, we’ll call him, launches into the pitch.  Solar panels.  No cost to me.  The savings will start immediately.  All I need to do is agree to have somebody come out and see if my house is suitable.

There’s no way I’m going to say no to this guy.

The very next day his colleague Frank comes to the house.  An ordinary looking guy this time, not a Greek god.  Obviously this company knows how and where to distribute their talents.  Up the stairs he goes, tries to take the third-floor bathroom fan out so he can look at the rafters.  No luck. Takes pictures on his i-Phone of my fuse box.  Then climbs onto the roof, makes some sketches, and drives off promising to be in touch.

I wait several days.  And the idea of doing something for the environment begins to grow.  As does the idea of saving ten percent a month or more on my electric bill.  Now how do I make signing the final papers with Justin a condition of the contract without being too obvious.

More days go by.  Still no word.  Then an e-mail.  "Dear Mr. M.," it says, "We are so sorry, but your roof doesn’t have enough space to hold enough solar panels to make the job worth while."

Well damn.  So much for making the world a better place.

Next thing I’m on the phone with my friend Jason, trying to get some sympathy for having to live in such a small house.  It’s a nice house.  Three stories.  If it fell over it would be a ranch style.  But it’s true, it’s more like a tower than most houses in the neighborhood.

2734, with energy saving devices installed
No problem, says Jason. Jason is Danish. He grew up in Denmark.  That means he never saw the sun more than four or five times between the ages of seven and seventeen.  “Wind,” he says.  “In Denmark we don’t think about solar energy.  It’s overcast most of the year anyway.  What you need is wind energy.”

I remind him that a) this is not Denmark, b) if I don’t have enough room for solar panels, I have even less room for windmills, and c) California has 300 days of sunshine a year, so what the hell is he talking about?

Jason isn’t the kind of guy who takes no for an answer.  He goes to work and pretty soon I have a way to get back on the horse of energy conservation.  See the photo to the right.

Maybe it can work.  I like the added touch of the rainbow streamers.  We are a gay household, after all.


jchai said...

Recently I read about new wind turbines w/o the rotating arms and that don't kill as many birds (though I suspect they suck some in). Dunno if they're on the market yet. As PC as Berkeley is, I don't think your neighbors would approve. I wonder if there are other options...

BTW, the friends I visited in London recently have a Mac-based system I've dreamed about: all lights and locks are controlled by computer. Though they also have a yearly income that's larger than my lifetime income. Sigh. Still, I'm saving my PC cor the day I might be able to wire my flat so I can control all the lights remotely.

Good iuck!

ps: please forgive typos. I've written this on an iPhone 5.

Unknown said...

Al, did you see the picture of our solar panels Bonnie posted on Facebook?

Alan McCornick said...

Ed - Yes I did. Quite a coincidence. Happy for you. Guess I have to get a bigger house!