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I am the self-appointed “energy monitor” around our house. It is relatively cool here today…only 93 degrees, when 102 had been forecast. Low clouds have saved us from the 100 degrees plus that we have been experiencing for the past couple of weeks, and 106 is forecast tomorrow. But one cool day isn’t going to rescue us from the reality that is the Southern California Edison bill!

Since we have the choice and the opportunity, I would so much rather use electricity to cool the house rather than to heat the clothes, so I hang laundry on the line whenever possible. And I know my granddaughters are so tired of hearing me announce, “Your bedroom light is still on, girls,” in a voice that makes it plain I am not turning it off, but one of them needs to. (I know, I could do it myself, but then they would just continue leaving it on, and assuming that someone else would do it for them.) I get up early each morning and open up the house while the temperature at its lowest, then close it up to keep it cool for a while.

If we were buying this house, one of the first decisions would be to have solar heating and cooling installed. It only makes sense to harness the limitless energy of the sun when living in this sunshine-rich San Joaquin Valley. As our Earth gets more and more crowded, each of us need to do whatever we can to lighten our footsteps here…be as self-sustaining as possible, grow our gardens, recycle, compost, thrift-store shop, and conserve energy.

Each of us conserving in small ways adds up to big improvements.