Don’t Like Blackouts? Insulate!
Your article on the Texas power grid [“It Could Happen Again,” February 2022] gives an excellent account of supply-side failures but doesn’t mention that those failures would have mattered far less if electrically heated Texas buildings weren’t also poorly insulated (if insulated at all), drafty, and hence extremely demanding of heating. Not only do the electricity and gas supply systems need winterization, but the main sources of peak electricity demand—inefficient buildings—do too. This would also cut customers’ bills, winter and summer, for decades to come—and create durable local jobs and a healthier environment.
Yet nearly all the policy discussion, like Russell Gold’s otherwise fine article, is about the supply side. Both are important. And when political conditions make supply-side fixes difficult, efficient buildings become far more important.
Amory B. Lovins, Old Snowmass, Colorado
All My Excesses Live in Texas
Upon seeing the article “A Good Mansion Is Hard to Find” [February 2022], I started out, as I suspect many readers did, slightly agog at the idea of a 23,688-square-foot house. As I kept reading, however, a different thought hit me: “Why would anyone do this?”
The husband-and-wife owners have a wine cellar but are not serious collectors of wine. They have a swimming pool, but they don’t often swim. A golf simulator is under consideration, but they are not big golfers. And if they end up living in the house at all, it will be only from time to time, and they certainly do not seem very enthusiastic about that either.
Yes, this is America, and Texas to boot. We have the God-given right to waste our time, money, and resources on any folly that strikes our fancy. But if the wife really suffered sleepless nights thinking about all the details of this soulless monument to excess, and neither of the owners seems to enjoy its amenities, what’s the point?
Niel Powers, Kerrville
Good article on the late Robert Bruno and his Steel House, near Lubbock [“From Art to Airbnb,” February 2022]. I knew Bob very well for many years. He was my neighbor when I had a house at Ransom Canyon, and I can honestly say that I loved him.
As for his house design, it was completely impractical. I do have a clue, however, as to its deeper meaning, and I’m sorry it didn’t occur to me while he was still alive, so that I could run it by him. I don’t know whether he would deny it or laugh and admit it possible, but the clue is that the house is quadrupedal, ruminant, and passably bovine. A Jungian analysis would note the vast industrial feedlot business around Lubbock and the South Plains. The feedlot is a modern manifestation and not necessarily healthy for humans or the environment, but it does result in juicy steaks. Kind of grim, in a way.
Carlton Godbold, Buffalo Springs