One area that I am passionate about, is Renewable Energy. God has given us forces of nature such as Sun, Earth, Wind, Rain, etc. We can responsibly leverage these forces to improve the quality of our lives, for generations to come.
My dream is to be energy self-sufficient in our homes, neighborhoods, city, state and country; by generating our own power. Doing this can reduce our dependence on foreign oil, slow the burning of our precious natural resources and minimize the risk of a nuclear accident. As responsible citizens, it is our duty to keep our land, water and air; beneficial for many generations to come.
To accomplish my dream, as my first step, I deployed solar panels on my roof. They generate enough power to not only meet my needs; but the surplus feeds into our grid. With government incentives, credits on surplus power to the grid, better tuned thermostats and proper home insulation; my Return of Investment (ROI) on the solar panels is expected to be 6 years. If all goes well, touch wood; I will generate free and surplus power, for an additional 15-20 years. As stated, feeding surplus power to the grid fetches me credits on my electricity bill, almost every month. Our southern and central states are ideal for solar power generation. Solar power can ensure that we not only burn less coal or petroleum; but during months like June, July & August, the chances of power outage or rolling blackouts are reduced.
As my second step, I installed smart thermostats in my house; one for each air conditioning unit. I programmed them to activate to higher temperatures in summer and lower temperatures in winter, for times when no one is home. For other times, they are set to comfortable levels. These settings serve 2 benefits. First, the heating and air-conditioning units run for a lot of less periods of time and thus consume less electricity and natural gas. Second, the units last a lot longer, before repairs and/or replacements are required.
As a third step, I have planted fruit trees and vegetables in my backyard. They help clean the air, beautify my landscape, prevent soil erosion, cool my yard, etc. Of course, there is the joy of enjoying the “fruits” of my labor.
To leverage the surplus power I generate, I would like to purchase a 100% electric car. There are existing and upcoming models, which substitute gasoline with electricity, avoid polluting the environment and reduce dependency on foreign oil. Over time, we expect to see many more cars that will be 100% electric.
In the mid-to-long term, I would like to see electric trains/subway connect the suburbs of Greater Houston to downtown, airports, ship channel, Galleria and other prominent locations. Even better would be connections to metros in Texas and Louisiana. While this may be far-fetched for a host of reasons; I believe they will help reduce traffic jams and pollution, ensure faster movement, etc. Last month, I was holidaying in Portugal and Spain and saw the true benefits of suburban railway. Over the years, I have seen the same benefits in China and India.
I have only scratched the surface of renewable energy. There are so many other renewable energy solutions. Just to be clear, I am not toeing any propaganda, party line, Think-Tanks, NGOs or corporations. These are just my personal actions and aspirations, on how we all can contribute to a sustainable future.