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J.R. goes green

Solarpanel_2Larry Hagman’s career has spanned decades. He’s starred in countless television shows and movies, but he’s probably best known for two roles: The ruthless oil baron, J.R. Ewing from Dallas; and Major Nelson from I Dream of Jeanie.

You probably wouldn’t expect a former television oil baron to be an advocate for the environment, and user of clean, environmentally friendly energy, but Larry Hagman is nearly completely off the electricity grid. His electricity bill was a mere $13 for all of last year—that’s about $1.08 a month to power a 10,000 square foot home.

Hagman is generating so much alternative energy that he decided to run lines from his solar power sources to five low income homes near his ranch, all of which are now completely powered by his solar energy. In addition to his solar efforts, Hagman has recently installed wind turbines, drives a Toyota Prius Hybrid and an electric Dodge Gem.

This year the 75-year-old actor started a campaign, refundsforgood.org, directing people how to claim telephone tax refunds and turn that money over to environmental funds like the Solar Electric Light Fund, which helps developing nations build solar energy infrastructures.

“I thought the campaign was a good idea,” Hagman told The Associated Press before a press conference. “Hopefully it will help people find a way to help the planet. We’ve got problems.”

What did Hagman spend to make his house go green? About $20,000—which will pay for itself in about 5 years based on normal electricity bills for a home the size of his. More importantly, the benefits of living green are forever lasting when it comes to the environment.

All of us can learn something from Larry Hagman—it’s time to change the way we use and generate energy. If each American replaced just one light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, as a nation we would save nearly $300 billion in energy costs over the life the bulb—the average American home has 45 light bulbs.

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  1. This explains your “Who shot JR” comment yesterday.
    How about you give us a link to where we can buy these fancy compact florescent bults??

    Posted by: Jen R | September 26, 2007
  2. So his ROR on his solar panels is 5 years? What are the effective life of the power storage batteries? I seem to recall they last something like 5 years. What are the rated life of the panels?
    Suffice it to say I doubt the ole’ fella will live long enough to see a return on his investment.

    Posted by: You Hippie | September 26, 2007
  3. Jen, you can get these bulbs anywhere light bulbs are available–Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, K-Mart, hardware stores, probably even at the grocery store.–If you want to replace a lot of bulbs at once you can get multi-packs at Costco or Sams club and they only cost about a buck a piece that way. For less than $50 you could replace all the bulbs in your house and cut your light energy cost and consumption by about 80%. I should also mention the compact florescent bulbs last about 5 years.

    Posted by: Chris Kaufman | September 26, 2007
  4. Dear “You Hippie”,
    The solar panels have a life of 20 years and the batteries 10 years on average. Even if Larry Hagman does not live to see the return on his investment (even though most people would), that’s not what switching to clean energy was about in the first place. Yes, solar and wind energy are more economical than traditional electricity, but more importantly the lasting benefit to the environment is the ultimate appeal.
    Additionally, I’ll admit that wind and solar power are not for everyone–they have expensive start up costs which are unrealistic for most people. Most people can make simple changes that make a big difference–as simple as changing some light bulbs.

    Posted by: Chris Kaufman | September 26, 2007
  5. I agree with Chris on this one. The issue shouldn’t be about what is cheaper. It’s about what is better. We are one of the richest countries in the world. If we have to pay a bit more for energy that is sustainable and less-polluting, we shouldn’t even have a choice.

    Posted by: Clay C | September 26, 2007
  6. Clay C – sounds good on a message board, but who is going to buy in. You will be preaching to the people screwing themselves out of jobs buying cheap (and dangerous) Chinese goods over quality american made products to save some money. Then suddenly when they find their job moved overseas complain that we need to do more to protect American jobs.

    Posted by: You Hippie | September 26, 2007
  7. Actually, Clay, I disagree with you on this one. You say the issue shouldn’t be about what is cheaper. But it is. If we can’t come up with economical AND environmentally-safe alternative, we haven’t come up with a viable solution. Sure, we’re the richest country in the world, but there are a heck of a lot of other people around the world that won’t use this alternative if it’s expensive.
    Oddly enough, some really smart dude actually agrees with me on this one — his name is Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish economist. And even more oddly, Scott Adams talks about this on the Dilbert blog:

    Posted by: Peppermint | September 28, 2007
  8. Ann-Marie,
    I agree, we’ve failed as a society to develop an environmentally friendly, clean, cheap energy source that is as convenient as traditional electricity. Maybe it’s politics, or money, or ignorance, or maybe we just don’t care. We can however be much more sensible with the energy we are already using. Compact florescent light bulbs are a great example–they are not at all cost prohibitive. They are only a few dollars each and conserve as much as 80 percent of light energy (the largest chunk of a household energy use)–you cannot deny that’s huge.

    Posted by: Chris Kaufman | September 28, 2007

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Sunday, March 18, 2018