The Green Scene

Battling energy costs one draft at a time

The folks at Land-of-Sky Regional Council submitted this news item:

Who knew that a snake could help keep the cold away? Through the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, residents of Laurel Woods Apartments in south Asheville volunteered to stuff and decorate 17 draft-stoppers — aka "draft-constrictors," since the completed ones look like snakes. The volunteers on the RSVP Simple Acts of Green Team then donated the draft-constrictors to Hands On Asheville-Buncombe to be distributed to families served by the Council on Aging and Meals on Wheels.

Drafters: These volunteers — the RSVP Simple Acts of Green Team — show off their draft constrictors, an old-fashioned way to keep the cold winds from blowing under your door. Photo courtesy of Land-of-Sky Regional Council

"Draft-constrictors are a very simple act of green with a big impact on our environment," says RSVP Coordinator Patti Cameron. "Sealing drafts under doors and windows can save anywhere from 5 percent to 30 percent on home-energy costs. Plus, that type of savings can offset close to 550 pounds of CO2 per home, which means the volunteers at Laurel Woods helped stop 9,350 pounds of CO2 from entering our environment."

The RSVP Simple Acts of Green Team will go to the Lakeview Senior Center (Black Mountain) on Friday, March 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a "lunch and learn" workshop to make draft-stoppers and learn more simple ways to stop drafts in the home. A light lunch will be served and participants will be able to take a draft-stopper home with them. If you are 55 years old or older and are interested in attending this workshop, call Cameron at the Land-of-Sky Regional Council's RSVP program at 251-6622 or e-mail her at

Can renewable energy meet power needs in N.C.?

Yes, according to a report by John Blackburn, professor emeritus of economics and former chancellor at Duke University.

Here's a summary of the report, submitted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, a nonprofit based in Maryland:

Solar and wind power can supply the vast majority of North Carolina's electricity needs, according to the March 4 report. Combined with power from hydroelectric and other renewable sources, such as landfill gas, only 6 percent of electricity would have to be purchased from outside the system or produced at conventional plants.

"Even though the wind does not blow nor the sun shine all the time, careful management, readily available storage and other renewable sources can produce nearly all the electricity North Carolinians consume," explains the study's author.

"Critics of renewable power point out that solar and wind sources are intermittent," Blackburn continues. "The truth is that solar and wind are complementary in North Carolina. Wind speeds are usually higher at night than in the daytime. They also blow faster in winter than summer. Solar generation, on the other hand, takes place in the daytime. Sunlight is only half as strong in winter as in summertime. Drawing wind power from different areas — the coast, mountains, the sounds or the ocean — reduces variations in generation. Using wind and solar in tandem is even more reliable. Together, they can generate three-fourths of the state's electricity. When hydroelectric and other renewable sources are added, the gap to be filled is surprisingly small. Only 6 percent of North Carolina's electricity would have to come from conventional power plants or from other systems."

Jim Warren, executive director of the Raleigh-based North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, adds, "Utilities and their allies are pressing policy-makers to allow construction of expensive and problem-ridden nuclear reactors — with ratepayers and taxpayers absorbing enormous financial risks. Blackburn's groundbreaking study demonstrates that such risks are not necessary. Solar, wind and other renewable sources can meet nearly all of North Carolina's energy needs."

Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, explains why his center published Blackburn's report: "This is a landmark case study of how solar and wind generation can be combined to provide round-the-clock electric power throughout the year. North Carolina utilities and regulators and those in other states should take this template, refine it, and make a renewable electricity future a reality."

Makhijani is the author of Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.

Blackburn's report, Matching Utility Loads with Solar and Wind Power in North Carolina: Dealing with Intermittent Electricity Sources, is available online at along with an executive summary.

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One thought on “The Green Scene

  1. Alan Ditmore

    Keiran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity:
    is an old college friend from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I’m so glad to see him come around and his success reminds me how I need to get out of this Southeastern social conservative hellhole and go west young (middle aged) man.
    -Alan Ditmore

    A childless SUV driver is vastly greener than a parent on a bicycle.

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