Solar Panels--Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

katrina2I’m walking on sunshine…

…and don’t it feel good!

Katrina and the Waves, 1985

Yeah, that song is little poppier than my usual opening. But we need to talk about the sun, and I didn’t think Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”  was appropriate. (Love the new Chris Cornell song though.)

Barb and I have never discussed how “green” we want the new house to be. Our builder has told us since the start of this project that instead of regular sheathing and overwrap on the exterior he plans on using something called the “Zip System”. We didn’t pay too much attention. Turns out Zip is a pretty new and hopefully pretty awesome way to build a tighter, better insulated, house. So we get one point for being ecologically correct. But the other day, the architect suggested solar panels. It seems we will have the perfect exposure for it, with a south-facing roof and a big pond on that side of the house. Should get plenty of sunshine, even if it is Chicagoland. But we are not sure if we should go ahead or not. It is quite costly, even with ComEd rebates and future electrical savings. And that wide open southern exposure also happens to be the first thing visitors will see as they drive up the street towards the home. With all the effort Barb is going through to choose the right stone, stucco and roofing combination, are solar panels really the first impression we want the house to make? And since Time Magazine just got done telling me that fusion is the unlimited energy of the almost near future, maybe we don’t have to worry….

I shouldn’t make it sound like I am not concerned about the environment. We actually do a lot of recycling, both at home and in the lab. In my Board of Education days we worked very hard to have the school building be a leader in conservation. But my car, and my driving habits, are on the gas-guzzling side and I do have a bad habit (just ask Barb) of leaving the lights on in every room I have visited, however briefly, during the day. So maybe solar panels are something we can do to help the world–if they aren’t too, too unsightly. What do you think? Worth it to put solar panels in a Chicago home?

halloween2There was no sun yesterday for Halloween. Our scoreboard read Super Size Bags of Candy Bought at Target: 2, Trick or Treaters: 0. And if we didn’t already have enough candy laying around the house, Barb and I came home last night with even more as a prize for winning the best costume prize at a Halloween party. A “Kudos” and an “Atta Boy!” in the next post to anyone who can guess exactly what our costume was. Send your guesses to

So if Halloween is gone, it must now be Movember. My pledge is to grow absolutely no facial hair. Believe me, it is better this way. But most of you know that prostate cancer is my interest both personally and professionally.  Via the  SeaBlue Prostate Cancer Awareness Runs I have been fortunate to raise a lot of funds over the past few years. I am also doing a bit of research, so if you or a loved one has had a prostate biopsy, please check out  this site.

The sun sets early now, and this blog will go down as well.

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