One lightbulb at a time |

One lightbulb at a time

Alex Miller

Have you heard the one about solving the energy crisis by replacing one bulb in your home with an energy-efficient fluorescent?No, it’s not a joke. It’s a real initiative from our friends at the federal government. It’s not a bad idea, even if that’s a little like a 300-pound lady having a diet soda with her meatball-and-cheese sub: It just ain’t enough.But we don’t need a PR campaign from the feds to tell us what we already know: We’ve got to cut back on our energy usage. It’s good for the environment, the economy and for national security.In the absence of real leadership from the White House and Congress on energy, some cities and towns are taking it upon themselves to do what they can at home. Eagle County, for one, is doing good work on new standards for more energy-efficient (or “green”) home-building. Over the pass, Summit County has become a member of the Rocky Mountain Climate Change Organization and is also looking at ways to use “biomass” to heat some of its county buildings.Aspen is all over the map with green initiatives. Some argue the little town has gone too far, trying too hard to join the big boys at the table. Still, although some of those efforts – like joining the Chicago Climate Exchange – are more symbolic than practical, is it possible to do too much on energy conservation?We’ve all heard, seen and lived the numbers: $3-plus gas, natural gas going through the roof, utilities asking for and getting double-digit price hikes for electricity. Does anyone doubt anymore that we’re fighting a war in Iraq because of the oil in the region? Imagine how our foreign policy would change – and improve – if we weren’t so dependent on foreign oil.But the extent to which we can control and influence all that is, let’s face it, pretty limited. That’s why we should do more locally, and Eagle County should lead the way. The green building work is good, but what about a unified countywide recycling program? One need only look at our neighbors in Pitkin and Summit to see how effective they can be. Here, we already have a strong player in the field – the Eagle County Alliance For Sustainability. The group just needs more help from local government to make its programs stronger.The bottom line is being “green” isn’t just a feel-good option anymore. It’s an economic necessity, and the efforts of one community really can and do make a difference. According to the EPA, if every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent light bulb at home with one that earned the Energy Star label, the country will save $600 million in energy bills, save enough energy to light 7 million homes, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1 million cars.Just by changing one bulb? It’s not a bad place to get started, right here at home. Vail, Colorado

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