I love the intro to this topic. How we heat our homes and drive our cars IS really a result of our own personal energies.
To start with: We don't really use energy. We use energy services. We don't want 4,260 chemicals (inside computers, tv's) in our house, when all we want is to be entertained, communicate or share knowledge. So we need to back up a bit and ask: What is the root purpose for energy?
That's the latest from RMi (www.rmi.org) who are really the leaders in this field. I started my career as a renewable energy engineer in 1977 with PG+E and it's been an interesting road. Amory Lovins (CEO of RMi) has a wonderful concept called negawatts - the energy that we don't use. A barrel of energy saved is way cheaper than one used.
The proper frame for this discussion needs to start with boundaries and scale. Are we talking about individuals or communities? They are inter-related and as in permaculture - filled with rich transition zones.
Appropriate energy use is also something I've struggled to define since Jerry Brown started his OAT (office of appropriate technology) department in 1978. What's appropriate for one person is inappropriate for another. One thing I know for sure is that using fossil fuel or electricity to heat or cool - is inappropriate use of energy.
Cradle to Cradle also offers three guideposts that can stand the test of time and scale: Use CURRENT solar income, waste=food, celebrate diversity. Each of these is simple yet complex. Example: oil and coal are renewable energies! - you just have to wait a couple million years. So the closer one gets to using 'present' available energy, the better it is. The best use of energy is like in our bodies = at the present moment.
I have designed and built three energy plus (beyond net zero) homes over the years, and am now on a road to help co-housing and eco-villages get into this concept. It ain't easy. I just experienced Sieben Linden in Germany - and they will not use batteries for storing all their solar energy. In a recent power outage, their composting toilet fans were inoperative for days - u can imagine the stench! There are other ways to store energy besides batteries... compressed air, raised pumped water, hydrogen, fuel cells, etc.
Ok - enough rambling...
I like the way you think fred. i think when i was writing i was making a refrence to how our internal dynamics become externalized. The first step to moving away from fossil fuels is to consolidate our energy for that transition. first as individuals and then as communities. otherwise we are building our solar panels on sand. what ways do i/ we expend my energy in ways which arn't empowering to me/ we. if we are spending our energy in ways which don't contribute to that neccecary to that shift, its a net energy loss....
i really like the idea of using water to store energy, or sand perhaps like the ancients. hydrogen is a great idea to beacaus the amonium exuded from the human waste is an excellent source of ammonium NH4. which according to studies conducted at ohio state university takes half the effort to split through electrolysis vs water.
just saying. i hope the toilet situation get better