This op-ed piece in Monday’s New York Times has people all over the historic preservation community talking. So, I figured I’d chime in.
In said piece, Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, stresses the importance of energy efficiency to historic homeowners. While most were quick to agree with him (at least those I monitor), others had a different opinion.
“Twice with the word “wasteful”! Seriously, is this the best way for a preservationist to frame the issue of how preservation and environmentalism intersect? Why are we all buying into the notion that being an environmentalist or Green, whichever you prefer, pretty much exclusively means that your house is ‘energy efficient’?”
“We agree with the author, Richard Moe, when he points to what he thinks is the most important first step in greening an older home. It is not screwing in CFLs or putting a stake through the hearts of energy vampires, or tossing bricks in your toilet tanks or even wrapping your water heater. It is easier than any of those, and cheaper.In fact it’s usually free. The answer is . . . (drum roll, please): Get a home energy audit from your local utility company. This is not a sexy, techy, go-out-and-buy-a-new-gadget solution, but it is a solid and necessary first step. A good audit will uncover issues you didn’t know you had, pinpoint effective solutions, and inform you about programs in your area that might help cut the cost of putting those solutions in place, from tax breaks on solar to incentives for energy-efficient appliances. It will put you in touch with people who are on your side, give you a sense of perspective about your projects, and will, we hope, inspire you.”