How green can you get? Hager’s Thin House Project

This was not on the week’s posting agenda, but there's no help for it:  Go check out Thomas Hager’s new blog, ThinHouse.

Phathouse
      from Tom's Blog, Oct. 23, 2008

It records his family’s ongoing attempt to cut their energy consumption by about 80%. That’s eighty percent. Gulp. At this point he and his wife have decided it can’t be done in their current house, seven or so miles from town. They’re going to have to move.

I’ve written before about Tom’s new book, The Alchemy of Air, first when I’d just heard about it, and again last week, when I was about half-way through it. It’s terrific—not just informative, though it is that, but great fun as well. So much so that I had to write something about it before finishing the thing. Of course I’m planning more on the book, but once again Tom has forced my hand, this time by alerting me to his blog, the first non-gardening blog to make my blogroll. (As soon as I win over TypePad to the cause, that is. At the moment, it's not letting me make any changes.)

Apparently the whole project got started because Tom read that while a sustainable energy-use level for the earth is about 2,000 watts per person, most Americans use closer to 12,000. Cutting by eighty percent would still be over the desirable goal, but it would be a HUGE reduction—much more than most of us would be willing to contemplate.

As for moving? As I remarked in a comment on his latest post, most people would be revising the goal at this point, not planning the move. Here's what they'd be writing, or thinking: Well, it can’t be done. I mean, we can’t be expected to live like hermits, which is what would be required to cut back the town trips to an acceptable level, and of course we’re not going to sell our house; we love our house. Come on, be reasonable!

They might also be wishing they’d never started the blog. Some might even wipe it off the face of the internet. Blog? What blog? Thin house dot net? Don’t know what you’re talking about.

As far as I can tell, though, the blog is still up, and these people are seriously thinking about giving up their house. “These people,” by the way, are Tom, his wife, and their three children. Both Tom and Lauren are contributing to the blog, and as both write beautifully, it’s a pleasure to read. (I do wonder how the kids feel about leaving their home, especially the youngest, who’s still in high school. Will she have to change schools?)

Here’s the short version, though: check it out. And here’s the big question: how sustainable are our gardens?

Now, if Tom will stop doing interesting things that I feel compelled to post about, I’ll be able to get back to my agenda, and if he'll stop doing things that make me think, I'll get back to my life. Think I'll microwave my coffee, turn the heat up a tad, maybe crank up some tunes . . .

4 Responses to How green can you get? Hager’s Thin House Project

  1. Hey, thanks for the link. I’m always looking for stuff like this. I am intrigued and drawn to the idea of simplifying my own life, so I’m always on the lookout for how others manage to do it.

  2. I am a natural conservative type. I drive a small car that is an 05 model but only has 17,000 miles on it. We live in town so that cuts down on distance. I live in a mild climate so we don’t need much heat. I just built a home that is designed to use less energy. I choose to cook with gas cause it is faster, turns off more quickly, and is an abundant source. I live in a 2,800 square foot home and my utility bill is about 120 per month. That’s pretty good considering the sewer fee is hooked in to the water bill.
    I didn’t really set out to be so conserving. I set out to use less money. I even took into consideration the lot my house would sit on so that the afternoon hot sun wasn’t hitting the family room. I have a high pitched roof that stores a lot of heat and keeps the house cooler in summer and warm in winter. The crawlspace is designed for energy conservation as well. My toilets have one gallon water tanks. I don’t like that so much. You have to flush more and clean more often.
    I use Method products which are good on allergies and not harmful to anything that I know of.
    Do I win the approval of the green gang? I do admire these folks you wrote about. At least they are actually living their convictions and not just preaching about it. So many people gripe but do nothing.

  3. Interesting article…not sure I would have that much dedication but admire those that do. I also wonder what their kids are thinking right about now. Hmmm you’ve given me something to think about…going to turn off lights now!

  4. Me too, Susan. It’s helpful to get the blow-by-blow details.
    Wow, Anna. This semi-green (olive green?)-gang member (?) certainly approves. It’s interesting how saving the earth and saving money coincide. A lot of folks are finding that conservation is in their own best interests in various ways, which I think is great. That may be one of the few (only?) perks of the gas crisis this past year.
    I’m not ready to make that level of committment either, inadvertentfarmer but I’m glad these folks are both doing it and writing about it. I want to watch what unfolds.
    –Kate

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