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Measuring 'Negawatts' for Savings : Environment: They used to call the Colorado researchers gadflies. Now they are more like gurus as their methods save electricity the easy way.

May 27, 1990|JULIA RUBIN | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Solar-heated with 16-inch walls, the building is built into the north side of a hill to protect it from the elements. Insulation is two to three times that of a normal house.

Inside, the toilets use up to 90% less water than traditional ones and the faucets are adjustable. There are high-efficiency, compact fluorescent light bulbs, a refrigerator that can be adjusted to provide passive cooling in the winter and a greenhouse with garden vegetables, a banana tree and an insect-eating iguana.

The light-sensitive lamps leave things a bit dim at dusk, and Strickland said he felt cool in the big main room.

But the Lovinses insist that there is no need to freeze in the dark to increase efficiency.

Said Hunter Lovins: "What matters is if you've got to go out today and build a new plant or discover new oil, what that's going to cost us? And how does that compare to going out today and building solar panels on your roof or adding attic insulation?"

The respective answers, according to the Lovinses, are "too much," and "not well."

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