FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, March 07, 2005

Green Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Along with embracing hybrid cars and ecologically-friendly fashions, wealthy Americans are beginning to invest in sustainable housing. Posh homes at some of the nation's best addresses are sporting solar panels, wind turbines and even geothermal energy.

Wealthy homeowners have a variety of reasons for making their homes energy-independent. Along with the ecological benefits, such homes provide direct financial rewards, especially in a time of rising energy costs. One couple who owns a solar-powered estate in Florida spends only $1,000 a year (or approximately $83 a month) in energy costs! If you can afford the up-front costs of installing such energy systems (about $40,000 in this case), the return on investment can be impressive.

Another driver is a simple desire for energy independence. Natural disasters, combined with distrust of the nation's energy grid, make sustainable houses a type of insurance against power failure.

Whatever the reasons behind sustainable housing, environmentalists hope that the trend will "trickle down" to less affluent homeowners, who will see the value -- both ecological and economic -- of investing in self-reliant energy technology. The rich, after all, are typically early adopters of technologies that become commonplace later on, once prices fall.

Sources: MSNBC, WorldChanging