Amory Lovins lives 7,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains. Winter temperatures there can drop to 40 degrees below zero.
His monthly heating oil bill? Zero. That's $0 -- no dollars and no cents.
It's not that Lovins doesn't use his furnace: He doesn't even have one. When it's really cold, he does use a couple of wood stoves, paying about $125 a year for wood.
His household electric bill? None. In fact, the power company pays him. How about carbon-dioxide emissions? The building is roughly carbon-neutral, Lovins says.
He is certainly not freezing. Far from it. He grows bananas and other tropical fruit in a greenhouse inside his home. Check out this house
How does he do it? It's a mix of technology, design and the right priorities.
Super-insulated windows (recently upgraded from the equivalent of 8 sheets of glass to that of 14) warm the house, and 16-inch insulated walls keep it that way. Extra-efficient appliances and lots of natural light mean that his solar panels produce much more electricity than $5 worth a month he needs. What does he do with the surplus? Sells it back to the power company.
And the kicker: Lovins' entire energy system cost only about $6,000 more than a standard household heating system would have cost. That extra investment paid for itself in less than a year.
Lovins built the house in 1983 to prove a point he's been preaching for decades: We don't need oil or nuclear power, and we don't need to give up our comforts, either. All we need to break our dependence on oil -- and stop global warming -- is thoughtful design, good technology and a bit of intelligent regulation. Slide show: America's 'greenest' buildings
What's more, he argues, far from being an economic threat, going "green" will spawn hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs, bringing us unprecedented economic prosperity.
Lovins is a Harvard-educated experimental physicist who has won widespread recognition, including a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (a so-called genius grant). More to the point, his ideas, once viewed as impossibly optimistic and utopian, are now being adopted by hardheaded organizations ranging from the Pentagon to Coca-Cola to Google. Indeed, the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit think tank that Lovins founded and runs, gets up to two-thirds of its income from consulting work for governments and corporations.