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Greener Than Thou: The Prius Conundrum

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Greener Than Thou is our report on San Francisco’s obsession with all things green, giving credit where credit is due and calling bullshit when the need arises. Feeling morally superior on the green front? Testify!

Enter a new sociological phenomenon: The Prius Conundrum. Why are people willing to slap down the cash for a Prius rather than spend the same on energy-efficient renovations to their homes? Especially when a good old-fashioned greening would ultimately save about seven times the amount of C02 than driving a Jesus Car does. (Swap out for a Prius, conserve about 3.1 tons' worth of C02 emissions in a year. Install some efficient lighting and switch to energy saving heating, cooling, and appliances, save around 23 tons. Do the math, people.) One hypothesis claims that Prius owners get a rush at the pump, knowing that their fuel consumption (read: financial outlay) is so much less than that of standard car drivers. Prius drivers can rest easy, smug content in knowing that they're expending so much less energy than other cars. Finally, the Prius simply looks better. (Arguably so— very arguably, in fact).
At the end of the day, energy-saving home improvements just aren't that sexy. The return is a much slower one, and in the case of the housing boom and its attendant rash of 3/1 ARM mortgages, why break the bank only to split less than 3 years later? We want our instant gratification, and we want it now!
· Why we save and not save energy? [Predictably Irrational]
· The Prius Conundrum [Seeking Alpha]