This article from the NY Times describes super-airtight houses that use almost no energy to remain warm and comfortable. The article says the cost of construction is 5 to 7% higher than conventional construction. I have a sense that the payback on the slightly higher construction costs are going to be recaptured rather quickly through the greatly reduced utility bill.
None of that personal accounting for cost addresses the larger social savings of a reduced energy grid, lowered pollution etc.
There are solutions to our problems on the small blue planet. We have to choose them individually and encourage our governments to enact public policy that encourages sensible, sustainable choices.
DARMSTADT, Germany From the outside, there is nothing unusual about the stylish new gray and orange row houses in the Kranichstein District, with wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights twinkling through a freezing drizzle. But these houses are part of a revolution in building design: There are no drafts, no cold tile floors, no snuggling under blankets until the furnace kicks in. There is, in fact, no furnace.
In Berthold Kaufmanns home, there is, to be fair, one radiator for emergency backup in the living room but it is not in use. Even on the coldest nights in central Germany, Mr. Kaufmanns new passive house and others of this design get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer.
Hope and Glory – The Politics of Survival on a Small Blue Planet