I was wondering the other day if saving energy might be, you know, contagious. And yes, that's an awfully dorky thing to think. But I found myself wondering that because I really was being a bit of a dork.
You see, before I started working at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, I never thought about saving energy. It wasn't that I didn't care, mind you, I just didn't know what to do. I turned off my lights, sure, and tried not to keep the house too warm. But that's all I knew, so that's all I did.
Then I started working here, and it all changed.
I discovered this the other day, when one of my friends bought a house. It was an exciting (and stressful) time for him, and the moment that he announced that he was done, that the house was his and he was moving in, I happily turned around and bombarded him with links to Energy Savers.
There was a time in my life where I wouldn't have done this. But there I was: he was curious about how he could save money on his pricy new purchase, so I sent him over to our financial opportunities for Consumers page on the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Web site. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy is one of my favorites, since it has a ton of information on loan, rebate, and grant programs in every single state. So I specifically pointed that site out.
And hey, while he probably wasn't really looking for renewable energy on his brand-new (to him) house, maybe he needed to insulate a bit or upgrade the roofing to something more energy efficient—there were tax credits for that!
And he might have needed to replace some old appliances—I didn't know, actually, but I was so deep in the thrall of throwing links around that I didn't care—so I sent him to the Rebates for ENERGY STAR Appliances page, so he could find out what major appliances were eligible for incentives.
And finally, I just sent him over to Energy Savers and this very blog, and told him to just browse about and see if he saw anything else that looked interesting.
All in all, I probably rambled at him for about an hour. And how, I wondered, did I go from someone who thought "Gee, I guess I'll turn off the lights when I leave the room!" to brutally assaulting my friends with information about where to find grants, loans, or information about how to weatherize your windows?
Maybe, I thought, because saving energy is just a wee little bit contagious?
Elizabeth Spencer is a communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its Web sites.