This holiday season, we went on a family get away to a super efficient, newly built cabin in Colorado. This home is powered by a large solar array with battery backup. In other words, it’s off grid and (mostly) in the middle of nowhere.

This trip made me more aware of all the ways our home lives are impacted by cheap and abundant power that comes from a socket or a pipe.

Cooking. Hot showers. Laundry. Food storage. Phone and gadget charging. Television. Lights. Heat.

It’s easy to forget that our modern world owes most of its advantages to our ability to access cheap and abundant power for everyone. It’s not the weapons we’ve developed, the medical advances we’ve made, or the behemoth that is the Internet which makes us modern – it’s energy. Without it, we’d be in the same predicament as a lot of people living in “third world” countries right now: burning something for cooking, lighting, and heating.

As an energy efficiency advocate, I think about power like some people think about food: don’t waste it. Don’t take for granted that you’ve got it because there are a lot of people living in this world who don’t. But this mindset is ultimately about more than just gratitude – like with food or housing, there’s also a social or moral responsibility that goes with having something that feels vital to one’s existence, or rather, everyone’s existence.

Cheap and abundant power that comes from natural resources like coal and gas got our society to a great place when it comes to quality and longevity of life, but not without an environmental cost whose impact will be felt for generations to come. We know that now.

So how marvelous is it that technological advances have prepared us for the next step in our society’s energy evolution? Solar, battery storage, wind – these power sources are making energy cheaper and more accessible worldwide, even while they’re improving air quality and lowering the carbon emissions that are driving climate change. When coupled with an efficient home, the power we generate goes even further because it isn’t wasted.

This holiday season, I enjoyed some fresh-baked cookies and twinkling colored lights. I laughed out loud at another viewing of Elf. I snuggled up under a clean blanket in a cozy home while warm air blows out a vent somewhere in the room. And I was thankful for the sunlight on the solar panel that brought this energy to me.


Written by Cynthia Adams, Pearl’s President and CEO
First published in The Daily Progress here.