- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Environment Lesons
- Written by Chris Cotter
David Mears and his wife Dorothy haven't paid a heating bill in 25 years--not one dollar, not even one cent! They haven't received a bill in 25 years, but it's not a mistake by the heating companies. Nor did they get lucky. Mears put his knowledge of alternative energy sources to good use.
Mears is a professor of Bioresource Engineering at Rutgers University. After the energy crisis in the 1970s, he built a system that would mostly end the use of fossil fuel to heat his New Jersey home. He installed a special space beneath his floor filled with water, then put in solar collectors to heat the water. On cloudy days, he could use a woodstove which used a water-heating coil. This made the system more efficient in extracting heat, so less wood was needed. As a last resort, a fossil fuel system remained in place to heat his home, but he never used it.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 85% of all energy consumed in the U.S. comes from fossil fuel. This means coal, oil, and natural gas. In addition, 2,700 pounds of carbon per year per person, or 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, comes from operating individual homes. Usually it's the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system that produces the most greenhouse gases.
Mears has been able to keep his home at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C) or above for 25 years. It demonstrates that his energy sustainable house isn't a ridiculous or impossible idea. The technology is available for everyone. Green living is a real possibility.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- Solar energy, wind power, and other "friendly" energy sources aren't practical.
- Global warming is a myth!
- Money is more important than the environment.
- Global warming isn't my problem. Any damage that might happen won't be experienced for hundreds of years.
- All countries should ban fossil fuels within the next 10 years!
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- They haven't received a bill in 25 years, but...
- Mears put his knowledge of...
- According to the U.S. Department of Energy...
- Usually it's the heating, ventilation, and...
- It demonstrates that his energy...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- How much is your monthly heating/cooling bill? What do you do (could you do) to reduce it?
- If your local government compensation to homes using solar power, would you install solar panels? Why/not?
- What can we do about greenhouse gases and global warming?
- Is green living a practical way of life for everyone? Why/not?
- How do you predict the environment will affect our lives in 25 years? in 50 years? in 100 years?
Google Search: Type "green living" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.