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If you are one of the typical Americans who drives about 40 miles a day, then you should consider an atypical scenario if you happen to be planning on building a new home.
If you are taking out a mortgage to build a new home and are willing to take advantage of the falling price of photovoltaic panels, then you have an opportunity to increase the value of your home and stop throwing money away on transportation fuel.
40 miles per day in a car that gets 30 miles per gallon will cost you about $140 a month (assuming a gas price of $3.50 a gallon).
This is $1680 a year that you will never see again.
Solar panels in your home mortgage and an electric car in your garage make financial sense.
It takes about 34 kilowatt hours (kWh) to charge an electric car like the Nissan Leaf for 100 miles of driving.
It takes about 13.6 kWh for a charge equal to 40 miles of daily driving.
Even in cold, gloomy northeastern cities like Boston, with an annual average of 7.5 hours of daylight and 3-4 hours of actual sunshine a day, a 4 kilowatt array of photovoltaics should be able to produce the 13.6 kWh needed for the daily commute.
Assuming a conservative price of $5 per watt to purchase and install the solar panels, you would be adding about $20,000 to the price of your home.
When my wife and I lived in the forests of the Congo several years ago, we had a friend and neighbor named Kauteli. He liked or was indifferent to animals that did not threaten his family, damage his crops, or eat his seeds. But he did all in his power to keep at a distance those that menaced his family’s safety, food security, or livelihood.
That Kauteli would rather not live with some wildlife put him in conflict with the conservation community, who like me (a European-educated biological research scientist) typically advocate for protecting all of nature’s parts and the ecological roles each and every species plays. Though saving all of nature is, I would argue, a good thing for humanity and the planet, it is a viewpoint that can at times be myopic to the needs and interests of those who must live with wild nature.
Kauteli is not alone. We all have “designer” arks, as I like to call them — a list of the species that, like Noah, we would make room for on the survival vessel of our imagination. Which species make it and which do not depends a lot of where you are sitting. Boston, Massachusetts, is a far cry from the Congo and each July my mind strays toward thoughts of Kauteli for perspective as our garden begins to look like a battlefield, with each tender perennial surrounded by a wire palisade to fend off the attacking rabbits.
Let me explain. Last spring I’d noticed white scars on many of our shrubs and saplings. At first I thought it was frost damage, then a trick of the light. Finally I realized that during this strange winter of snows and thaws something had gnawed the bark from most of the maple saplings, many of our rose bushes, and the two shad-bush that each year we try so vigilantly to protect from the spring time appetites of abseiling winter-moth caterpillars.
Looking into our neighbors’ backyards I counted many other trees girdled by sharp teeth to about a foot of南京桑拿