Okay, I admit it, I'm one of those lazy, half-assed environmentalists...the type who totally absolutely agrees that global warming is a Very Bad Thing, who buys organic veggies as long as the price isn't too much higher than conventional, who turns on her A/C when the guilt overwhelms (and turns it back on when the heat overwhelms).
So although in theory I cheered, inside I balked when my cohousing group chose to spend extra money to make our homes super-insulated and have a perfectly tight envelope. I mean, did we really need triple pane windows? 2x6 construction and 2 inches of rigid insulation? Isn't that just a little over the top?
Well, that was back when gas was less than $3 a gallon. Now that it keeps nudging over $4, those choices are seeming more like frugal than profligate.
people are often surprised to hear that rather than a fancy heating system (we did consider heat pumps and solar) we have regular old electric baseboard heat. "Electric? Your super-eco-green community heats with electric?!" Well, yes. Because you actually get better bang for the buck improving the envelope than improving the system that heats the air inside it.
With any luck, just the heat-generation of daily life (running the fridge, using computers and TVs, people breathing and moving) will keep the house comfortable warm except on the very coldest of days...at which point we'll turn on our cheap baseboard electric heat.
(If that turns out not to be the case, we are also set to buy an air-source heat pump.)