I’ve been cooking with natural gas since 1980. I recall the mid-‘60s and ’70s term of “balanced power” to describe homes featuring gas for heating and cooking. My cooking uses two thermal units per month, costing me $2. The hot water heating uses 10 therms for $10 a month. Space heating for a 2,000 square-foot home is the Big Kahuna at 240 therms — $240 total for the winter season.

The State of California will be updating statewide building codes to phase out use of natural gas in new construction. But mostly it is the AIA architects that I look to and respect to make intelligent energy choice decisions for new homes or buildings. My family’s 1987 mid-size office building was designed with energy efficiency in mind and received SoCal Edison (with $$$) and AIA / CA awards and recognition. Passive solar walls eliminate 80 percent of the heating requirements, and natural daylighting eliminates most office light needs — except for June gloom and after sunset.

In 40 years, only once was I without use of my gas cooking range. June 1990 during the Painted Cave Fire I turned off the gas meter at 6 p.m. preparing to evacuate — along with helping two neighbors with their meters. After two hours of fire protection, mostly on the roof, I bugged-out when the row of eucalyptus trees 100 yards away lit up like a napalm drop. My house survived; my immediate neighbor was not so fortunate.


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