From the comments section of this blog post/article from Marc about energy efficiency / solar and payback comes this classic observation:
“… the same people who fight for local zoning ordinances to protect ridgelines will mindlessly adopt a lifestyle dependent on mountain-top removal for coal mining. I keep thinking, perhaps naively so, that many people would behave differently if they could just see the connection, so carefully hidden by corporations and government, between their lifestyle and the destruction it causes.”
On another note, I would also add an item 4 to Marc’s list. It’s an item only for the people spending money on energy efficiency and such already (guilty!), but especially for people chasing after Passivhaus or Net-Zero-Energy medals is this: what about spending the money another way to reduce your carbon footprint another way altogether?
4. BANG FOR THE BUCK. Since you are already shelling out to save the planet/reduce your footprint/whatever… Just make sure… would a Prius would be a better way to spend the money? A low-thermal-mass isolated gain sunspace? A helper to get you on the road to growing your own Victory Garden? A “Dr Fuhrman”-inspired coach to help you kick the meat habit? Etc.
Insulation and HRVs and PVs are nice and all, and they may even be the very best way to spend some bucks, but building an energy efficient custom house, or doing a deep energy retrofit, is still pretty expensive and it’s hard work even with the right people doing the work for you. Maybe your time and money would be better spent moving to a city. Or a warmer climate. Or cohousing. Or closer to where you work. Or closer to the school you send your kids too. Or closer to family. Or closer to the grocery store. Or for that matter, free things that make a huge difference like flying less for vacations.
Spend a minute with Excel on THOSE topics on comparison and you might want to cry with the result!