A chef we know of commutes some 40 miles every day to work -- on a 1.5-hp. moped. At something like 110 miles per gallon, the moped has taken all the discomfort out of spiraling gas prices.

A Long Island doctor who invested in an electric second car found to his surprise that it became the household's No. 1 car. So did several of his friends. In fact it's not surprising at all, since 90 percent of all automobile journeys in the United States are only a few miles in extent -- well within the range of the electric vehicle.

In recent months a number of traingular homes have begun springing up in New England. They are among the most efficient passive solar houses ever developed. A small wood stove is about the only backup heating system needed. Their heavy concrete (thermal mass) foundations and walls suggest they will endure for a thousand years. Yet the construction costs are coming in at less than conventional per-square-foot building costs.

For the do-it-yourself, energy-efficient, inexpensive log-end homes are making a comeback -- yet another idea whose time has returned, the log-end users say.

In a modern Maine home, an allbrick stove is stoked every morning with a bundle of twigs and small sticks. For perhaps an hour it blazes merrily away before dying down. But in that period it has stored enough heat in its maze of masonry tunnels to keep the house warm the rest of the day. In very cold weather it is fired up again in the evening. It is called a Russian stove, and besides small tree branches and other pruning it can also use shavings and straw. They key to its efficiency is the fact that the fuel is burned fast and then the escaping heat is blocked off.

Conventional wisdom suggests that windmill-generated electricity is so far too costly to be economic for most homeowners. But there is such a thing as a wind furnace -- wind-generated resistance heating that appears to be economically feasible right now.

In Harrisville, N.H., plans for a "different" solar hot water heater have been developed and will soon be ready for distribution.The prototype suggests that the home handyman will be able to build one for between $200 and $300 and get all the hot water his family needs. These and many other home-tested ideas will appear regularly in the Monitor under the title: New ways to save energy at home.

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