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Dilbert Goes Green

Cartoonist Scott Adams on the realities of building an Earth-friendly home.

10:00 PM, Aug 21, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, Dilbert creator Scott Adams explains how his earnest attempts to go green were thwarted by reality, impracticality, even aesthetics.

As a rule, the greener the home, the uglier it will be. I went into the process thinking that green homes were ugly because hippies have bad taste. That turns out to be nothing but a coincidence. The problem is deeper.

In fact, the problems are multitudinous:

The biggest energy drain in a home is for heating and cooling. We opted to heat our home with a system that runs warm water through all of the floors. The system is energy efficient, I'm told, and wonderfully comfortable, but it's powered by gas. So while our photovoltaic system will someday help during the summer, it will never help much in the cold months when the sun is wimpy and we're burning gas to heat the floors. Worse yet, the heated floors are so pleasant that we probably overuse them compared with a forced air system. That's a classic unintended consequence.

Conclusion: Photovoltaic systems are a waste of money. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat, because I love the Earth, damn it. In my defense, the price of your future photovoltaic system will never come down unless idiots like me pay too much today. You're welcome.

Adams's list of caveats and qualifiers go on at some length. But it's worth the read. Plus it should go without saying that he's very funny about all of it.

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