I got this idea from my good friend Mike Nelson, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of solar in Washington state, who predicts that new technologies and behavior changes are coming together in ways that are going to dramatically cut our total energy consumption.  I got a glimpse of that future when I visted the "Plus-Energy" buildings during a solar fact-finding trip to Germany in 2008.  Plus-energy buildings are the homes, office buildings, manufacturing plants (Solar-Fabrik) and cutting edge research facilities (Fraunhofer ISE) that consume less energy than their solar roofs produce.   They were able to do this because the small amount of energy that they consume is used very very efficiently. 

When are we going to see huge energy reductions in our everyday lives in the U.S.?  This forum's users already have the knowledge and skills to dramatically reduce the energy consumption of new and existing homes.  In other areas, consider how much energy desktop computers use compared to the energy consumed by an iPad or a MacBook Air (90-130 watts versus 3-8 watts).  What if this same level of energy efficiency were applied to large server farms?  How many residential air conditoning units in Texas are mounted in extremely hot/unisulated attics? Improved motion sensor and enhanced daylighting controls combined with LED lighting could dramatically reduce the energy needed to light our homes, offices, parking lots and streets.  Improved irrigation pumping and scientific approaches to agriculture and residential landscaping is another area that has tremendous potential to not only save energy, but also preserve our water resources. 

I'm hoping that this discussion will help others envision a brighter and more hopeful future.   I'm sure that there are many other examples that people can think of that will dramatically lower our energy consumption, while also improving our quality of life.  I look forward to hearing your stories and ideas. 

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This sounds like an excuse to do nothing.  My friend Marcelo da Luz, who built a solar car and set the world distance record by driving it 23,000 miles around North America, told me that we are all hypocrits waiting for the government to solve the problem or blaming the government when it does not solve the problem.  The only way we are going to change things is if WE become the change we want to see in the world.  Marcelo, who is a flight attendent, not an engineer, built his solar car and called it the Power of One, because he believes that it only takes one person to change the world.....  YOU!

I believe that dramatic energy savings could occur if the Empire State Building glazing replacement strategy was applied to millions of existing homes and apartments to replace the sliding portion of their sliding glass doors with R-7 (quad pane) windows. Glazing manufacturers/retrofitters could use economies of scale to focus on retrofitting the most common existing sliding glass door dimensions.  Sliding glass doors are particularly inefficient because a heater vent is typically installed right in front of them that blows hot air directly on the window. To make matters worse, this hot air is usually trapped by a curtain that covers the door.  It's like trying to heat the inside of your car with the window defrost.  Glazing retrofitters and manufacturers may also be able to reuse the existing sheets of glass that are removed from the sliding glass doors to make new quad pane windows like they did in the Empire State Building.

The problem becomes payback time, even with economies of scale. IMHO it would be much more cost effective to replace the leaky sliding doors with French doors.

It takes very little time to replace just the sliding portion of a sliding glass door.  Whereas replacing the entire sliding glass door assembly with French doors would require removing and replacing the entire door frame.  There is no telling what you will run into once you tear things back to the door's rough opening.

The crime is in the leaks around sliding glass doors, not the glass itself. The installation and material costs going from 2 pane to 4 pane would have too long of a payback time. Relocating the heating vent could be cost effective depending on accessibility.

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