May 29, 2008


Aileen Eilert, an accountant who in lives Lisle, Ill., about 30 miles west of Chicago, recently installed a 70-foot wind turbine in her family’s backyard. The turbine cost $12,000 and will generate all household power and more; the family will trade excess back to their power company for credits.
It should pay for itself in 10 years.

Yes, the neighbors may talk. But most, added Ms. Eilert, simply said,
“If it doesn’t make noise, I don’t care.” Her next campaign: to persuade neighbors to replace their lawns with vegetable and fruit gardens, in an effort to reduce the emissions involved in buying, say, strawberries from Chile.

Alexander Lee, founder of Project Laundry List—which tries to revive the use of clotheslines to save energy has run into resistance from suburban community associations. “There are three complaints,” Mr. Lee said. “It will lower my property values. That’s what poor people do. Also, I don’t want anyone to see my underwear.”

The average single-family home nearly doubled in size from 1970 to 2005, to 2,434 square feet. Americans commuting to work by car travel farther as suburbs sprawl (an average 12.1 miles in 2001, up from 8.9 miles in 1983), in vehicles whose average fuel efficiency has improved little.

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