Jonathan Hochman: ‘Could you write a column about the power emergency in California? All those utilities in California are on the verge of bankruptcy because they have had to pay exorbitant prices for every last megawatt on the wholesale power market. If only they had invested more in conservation programs over the last few years, they might have avoided these problems, without having to build new power plants or wreck the environment.

‘I bought a house in Connecticut 18 months ago, and have managed to cut our power use 40% since then. This cost me $350: about $200 for energy efficient light bulbs, and $150 to hook up a Hot Shot water heater. Rather than using electric coils to generate heat, the Hot Shot uses a heat pump. It takes a lot less energy to move heat from the basement air into the hot water tank than to create new heat from scratch. Our electric utility paid $850 towards the $1000 cost of the Hot Shot, and about 50% of the cost of the light bulbs. They are also giving us $75 to replace our old, dying washer with an energy efficient model. My $350 one-time investment is going to save me more than $500 each and every year! That’s a 142% tax-free return.’

☞ Could I write a column about the power emergency in California? No – but you just did. Thanks! For more on Connecticut’s Hot Shot program, click here. For a range of energy-saving tips from PG&E, click here.

Call your own utility, if you haven’t gotten around to it before, to find out what special programs and incentives it may have. Click here for a site that may turn you on to an energy-conservation incentive in YOUR area.

Click here for a good deal on 26-watt energy-saving bulbs that throw off the light of a regular 120-watt bulb. I haven’t dealt with this site myself, but do use the same kind of bulb. It takes only a quarter the electricity of a 100-watt bulb but throws off more light. I think I paid $15 for mine; this site offers them for $9.95. Much more than a normal light bulb, but they’re supposed to last 10,000 hours instead of 750. If electricity costs you a dime per kilowatt hour, then a 100-watt bulb costs you a dime a day if left on 10 hours . . . while this replacement would cost two and a half cents. After 1000 days – 10,000 hours – you’ve saved $75 on your electric bill. And spared the planet a little grief as well. (Have any of you have good or bad experiences with this? Mine, so far, have been good.) Imagine the savings in a home with more than one light bulb.

In yesterday’s column, I listed a few of the more interesting people who are, presumably, burning in hell. (So many I had to leave out! Tchaikovsky! da Vinci! Richard the Lionhearted!) My all-male digression wasn’t meant to be sexist; I just liked the juxtaposition of yesterday’s names and didn’t want to get too far off track by making the list any longer. But I assure you: if the religious right are right, there will be many fascinating women burning in hell, too. Among them, Emily Dickinson, Susan B. Anthony, and Ellen DeGeneris (reason enough to fly south!) – click here for a few historical portraits.


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