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Daugaard Describes Energy-Efficient House: Conservation for Conservatives!

David Montgomery tracks down this video of Governor Dennis Daugaard talking about his super energy-efficient house. The clip comes from the Governor's address to the South Dakota Rural Electric Association's 2011 annual meeting.

Inspired by President Jimmy Carter's call for energy conservation, Dennis and his wife Linda built their own house in the 1980s to conserve every bit of energy they could:

  • The Daugaards doubled their 2x4 walls and put six inches of insulation between them.
  • They installed no west-facing windows, reducing summer heat.
  • They installed only one small north-facing window, reducing winter cold.
  • They installed lots of south-facing windows with big overhangs, providing passive solar heat in the winter and lots of shade in the summer.
  • In summer, their heat pump water heater pulls the heat from the house and, instead of dumping the heat outside, uses it to heat their water.

Whether you are Jimmy Carter in a sweater or Denny Daugaard preaching self-reliance, energy conservation makes all sorts of sense.


  1. Testor15 2012.07.14

    Notice how he uses Jimmy Carter as his inspiration?

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.14

    Yup... which demonstrates how we can look at sensible energy solutions as a non-partisan issue... maybe just a practical people issue. I've had people ding me for riding my bike, as if bike-riding is just for sissy-hippy liberals. But getting around under your own power is just as sensible as investing in your home to use less energy or wearing a sweater instead of cranking up the furnace. Liberals and conservatives should be able to agree on things like this, not turn them into political posturing.

  3. Dougal 2012.07.14

    Ah yes. That reminds me of the time so long ago when – WAIT! Not even two years ago when Gov. DD, when he was a mere Lt. Gov. campaigning to be Governor, and personally endorsing General Electric’s Capture the Energy Tour, which was part of the Alliance for Climate Control’s effort to pass a comprehensive clean energy bill. The Alliance was founded by former Vice President Al Gore, and Gov. DD came to Aberdeen to get his picture taken wishing a fond farewell and hardy congratulations to the Capture the Energy Tour which carried the clean energy bill message to Washington, D.C., and then to the national wind conference in Dallas, Texas.

    General Electric then and now called attention to passing the cap-and-trade bill (Congressional Republicans favored strongly just before they opposed it strongly) to address climate change (Republicans understood strongly just before they denied its scientific proof strongly). Its tour started in Aberdeen at a plant where they manufactured the wind tower blade that was featured in the Capture the Energy Tour.

    Way back two years ago, candidate DD full-throatedly endorsed the “national energy policy (that) provides some incentives to interstate transmission lines” so more wind towers could be built in South Dakota and carry electricity to other states. But, alas, the answer back then was the Waxman Markey clean energy bill which provided the incentives to build a new national transmission grid to replace the incompetent grid which wastes more than 20 percent of the electricity generated in the USA.

    Here’s the link to the candidate DD video on the GE website, including a transcript below the video:

    Yes, Cory, I agree that making money from 1 million new clean energy jobs, making money from investing in wind and solar to replace dirty coal, making money here in South Dakota when we hook onto a new national grid, conserving energy from retrofitting homes and business structures, making money from building clean and green and preventing the waste of billions every year on mitigation from severe and freakish weather and fires and floods due to climate change should be a strong Republican value and a strong Democrat value.

    Sadly, the politics of the extreme right, which has emasculated Gov. DD and nearly every Republican in Congress, requires that anything sensible or agreeable must be rejected as “job killing” ideas. The extreme right is opposed to America (and President Obama) succeeding. Nothing else.

    I truly long for the return of the real Republican Party that held conservation as a conservative principle, and who understood that compromise is the only way anything good comes out of Washington.

  4. Stan Gibilisco 2012.07.14

    One of the chief criticisms of "little bit of this, little bit of that" energy conservation is that none of the measures can really make any difference all by itself.

    True enough in pure theory, maybe. But in practice ...

    Combine all the "little thises and little thats," and multiply by a few million households, and it could make the difference between uninterrupted power and rotating blackouts.

    Cory, you forgot the white shingles on the roof. No, I'm not snarking here. A lot of nothings can add up to something ...

    As for those people who think bike riding is for sissies, let me tell you, in these Black Hills, that theory could not be more wrong.

    Now I feel guilty for not putting my butt where my brains are. Er, um, I mean ...

  5. Douglas Wiken 2012.07.14

    If conservatives really are conservatives instead of TEA party ideologues with primary desire to get rid of Obama no matter how much it costs them personally, they should be interested in conserving resources and energy just as do environment-aware liberals might be. Energy conservation should be a natural meeting area for real conservative and real liberals.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.14

    Dougal, yes, we've got other policy issues to hammer on. But I'd like to believe that one Republican's home improvement efforts provide an extra toehold for making the case that changing our energy consumption patterns is the American thing to do. As Doug says, energy conservation is a natural meeting area where we can cut through our stereotypes and maybe have a rational conversation.

    White shingles -- yes, Stan! Ace Hardware needs to run a special on those!

  7. Bill Dithmer 2012.07.15

    I have been having a hard time figuring out what Governor Doogie Daugaards financial plan is for this state. If I didn’t know better I would think he was trying his best to keep things the way they are now. You know what I'm talking about so don’t pretend you don’t. Power east river, jobs east river, economic growth only along the I-29 corridor.

    Well I don’t think they need any help out there it looks like the unemployment for those counties isn't to damn bad when it is compared to a few that are in the middle and west side of the state.

    Lets look at some examples. “Green energy” when asked recently why there wasn’t more development in the green technologies in western SD Dusty Johnson stated that this part of the state is just in the wrong place to take advantage of the distribution grid. I have my doubts about this claim.

    Western Energy who at one time owned the coal fired power plants at Colstrip Montana moved their product from there to Puget Sound for use on the coast. Does electricity move in a different manner when it is made by the wind?

    How about the Governors economic incentive program? If economics where so important to him why isn't he challenging companies to come to the three poorest counties in the nation and state with unemployment way way above fifty percent?

    I could be wrong about that but I have never seen an economic policy that was directed toward any of the west river reservations.Why isn't he pushing the empowerment zones? Why isn't he offering incentives for businesses that start there? After all there is a work force, and people that would work for a living wage.

    And that leads to this. Why isn't there a trade school on any of our reservations. There are colleges why not trade schools? Just think about the impact that a trade school could have if administrated properly. Lets face it there are just some people that don’t want to go to college but would love the opportunity to learn a trade. Wouldn’t the state government be useful in securing federal contracts for the building of homes and buildings on the reservations built by local talent trained and nurtured by their own trade school?

    It’s a damn shame when the federal government moves Indian houses in from somewhere else when they could be constructed on the reservations for a fraction of the cost of building elsewhere, and then moving them here. It has never made sense to move a house from North Dakota to the Pine Ridge Reservation but it was done, a lot.

    While I'm on the subject why are we still building stick built homes? They are slow to build, high maintenance, short life span buildings that cost more in the long run then something built in a different way. How about incentives for building energy efficient, alternative energy, self sustaining homes. Steel built buildings either of the square type, or something that got my attention a while back Quonset homes.

    A 60ft by 60ft Quonset would give 3600 square feet of living space just on one level and built facing the southwest to take advantage of the suns power would be almost immune to tornados, or hail, the two things that cause more damage then anything else in this part of the country. Thinking outside the box doesn’t necessarily hurt your head but it could make the insurances companies scream because of the smaller risk. Its tough to burn steel, cement, and glass. How about a monolithic dome home? Easy to heat and cool and weather proof. All it takes is knowledge folks, something that could be learned in school.

    We here in South Dakota are setting on a geothermal gold mine and refuse to use it. We continue to want to pay oil companies in one way or another to heat and cool our homes and places of business.Why? Don’t say cost because that wont fly anymore. The cost to upgrade to green energy is even with oil and coal right now and when those prices go up it will compete quite well thank you. Anyone that thinks that oil will go anywhere but up is delusional.

    Governor if you are worried about a workforce why not spend the $5000 a job that you were willing to spend to bring out of state workers to this state on the education of a home grown workforce? Three new trade schools would do the trick if they were built in the right places. If people making money and paying taxes are really important to you why are you dragging your feet when it comes to educating the employable residents of this state? We don’t need no stinking out of state workers when we have this much unemployment. Do we?

    I recently read that the governor wants South Dakota to become a model for other states to follow. I guess I am wondering what will be a part of the model. Credit card companies, banks looking for safe haven, big oil companies that want something for nothing, insurances companies, bad roads, low paid teachers that are searching for equality but instead are given a chance for advancement only if they teach certain subjects? Would that include keeping the poor poor without trying to find solutions to the problems causing poverty in the first place. Maybe how to remain a nanny state while pretending you are not.

    Governor Doogie you lead by example, you don’t drag someone with a rope around their necks. I'm sure that you would be all to happy to not have to represent those that live under the poverty level but you cant. Your oath of office wont let you do that. When you took that oath it was to govern all the people that live in this state, not just those that live in the right place and give the most in campaign contributions. Your job is and has always been to represent and protect the people that live here. That doesn’t include big oil “XL” but it does include safe water harvested for the use of those that live here.

    And that brings us to something else that pisses me off, fracturing. I have friends that live in southern Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arkansas, and most recently Missouri, that can tell horror stories about the practice. And we pass a resolution that states that fracturing is our friend. Well I happen to live where fracturing is a real possibility and I sure don’t conceder it a friendly practice.

    We have problems here in South Dakota. They start and end right there in the River City of Pierre. Why do we continue to send people there that don’t want to do anything to improve the state? Why do we send people that are only interested in what people do in their own bedrooms, or to their own bodies? And why do we continue to help big business when it is the unemployed that need our help.

    Why are there never any strings attached to the incentives when we bring business here through the use of taxpayers money? If our state is so great why do we need to offer more to get business to come here? We might be business friendly but we aren't people friendly.

    Really people we couldn’t look any more like hicks if we had an outrigger on our shoes supporting a sixth toe.

    Ya I know I'm a little pissy today. I have a headache, my water pill isn't cutting it, and full moon is just around the corner.

  8. Stan Gibilisco 2012.07.15

    [Sisu, or courage] gives environmentalists the strength to battle for the land they love, to take scorn and epithets in their stride, knowing that they are fighting for something eternal; if they win, the world will be a more beautiful place in which to live.

    -- Sigurd F. Olson

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.15

    Stan, if we win, we get a beautiful world... or at least a breathable one. If we lose, nobody eats. Fight on!

    Bill D., I feel your grief. I wonder: would it help if we could create a new metro somewhere near you that could act as a hub for industry and services? Would there be a way to incentivize growth and make, say, Murdo or Kadoka or Rosebud the Sioux Falls of that big middle space?

    I agree about the energy point. We put hydroelectric dams on the river and coal plants in ND and Wyo. to send juice elsewhere. Heck, why not build the power plants (wind, solar, you name it) to power all the local needs first (Daugaard's self-reliance!), then worry about export?

  10. Bill Dithmer 2012.07.15

    Cory please don't interpret what I'm saying as a direct assault on Governor Donguard. He just happens to be the one in charge at this time and as such he is the person that could most easily effect the start of change.

    Would creating a metro area help. No. This part of the country isn't ready for something like that, yet. You incentivize in small steps just like it has been done through history. We already have enough towns that meet the true meaning of perpetually unemployable right now we don't need any more of that.

    What we do need is small sustainable industry that gives direct product to the people of the reservation and the towns and rural peoples around them, and then enough growth and expertise to export those products elsewhere. There is no reason that the rural people from both on and off of the reservations couldn't become leaders in sustainable housing, green energy, and the services needed to help each of these industries grow and survive.

    And no it wont be easy to make this change but it has to be done not just for the native population but for all of us in this state to go forward and prosper. You have to remember that nearly 1/8th of our population is native American and yet the only times our state uses statistics from the reservation is when it suits our purpose, "jobless rates" doesn't seem to be one of those.

    There is plenty of blame to go around. First the tribes need to make some fundamental changes in the rules governing. They have to make it possible for big or small companies to come here and have their investments protected. That's not so right now, if it were there would be no end to the capital coming in from outside. No company will knowingly put money where it will not have complete control over it.

    Now I have no idea how much money would be involved here, my mind doesn't work after the fifth digit is put to paper. What I do know is what every person is this state should know. If you have people working, getting paid, and rolling that money over many times in the local economy and then the states, how could this be a bad thing? And yet we advertise for jobs for people in other states to come here and are willing to fund someone to find these people. WTF.

    What we are doing now isn't working, hasn't worked in the past, and will never work in the future, either for the state of South Dakota or for the reservations that are a part of the state and our nation. My suggestion is to change. Instead of blaming some of our economic problems on the tribes make them a focal point in restructuring the whole states economic future. More people making more money, spending more money, and getting off of the government handout line.

    We cant have it both ways. We cant continue to pretend that on the one hand the reservations are problematic and on the other hand we just don't do a damn thing about it.

    Think about this. We have an 8th of our population that is under represented because of where they live and the government they live under. Would or could the rest of the people in this state live like that?

    Education=industry=jobs=better quality of life not only for those that have the jobs but for the rest of us that would get to use the money made from the work these people would do through things bought both on and off of the reservations. Or we could just keep doing the "same old same old."

    Using my plan you would be getting a return on your investment. Can you say the same now?

    The Blindman

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.15

    Bill D., I'll agree the fantasy of creating a whole new town out there is a wild idea. We have lots of people on the reservations; we ought to be able to work with them first. Maybe we should adopt a new rule for the Governor's Office of Economic Development: invest nowhere but the reservations. The economic conditions in even the poorest white South Dakota town are not as bad as conditions on the rez, right? Maybe we should let the market work on its own in white South Dakota and focus on fixing the really hard problems that the market isn't solving on the rez.

  12. grudznick 2012.07.15

    Mr. H, I think it's great you ride your bike around to the Madison downton and other places and while I have not met you I am sure you are not a sissy liberal hippy longhair. But The Blindman even using echolocation like some blind people do to ride bikes cannot see what color of hippy spondor pants you are wearing or what shade of muave your liberal thrift-store bike helmet is.

    What if this Governor's Office of Development came in backing your soon-to-be Thrift Store and added a burger joint in the back and maybe a golf pro shop out front. Would that make it better?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.15

    I don't wear a helmet.

    GOED's support for the thrift store would only fuel my disgust: we'd be wasting not just Madison tax dollars, but all South Dakotans'! I won't speak to a burger joint and golf pro shop, but I do believe a multi-purpose facility—or better yet, multiple facilities, hosting multiple businesses, incubators, entertainment, community space (third place!), etc.—would be better than a million-dollar thrift store.

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