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  Sierra Magazine
  September/October 2006
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Shanghai by Bike
Two-Time Losers
Fall Fashion
My Low-Carbon Diet
Interview: Al Gore
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
Good Going
The Green Life
Hey Mr. Green
Sierra Club Bulletin
Sierra Archives
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One Small Step: Mall Monitor
September/October 2006

Frank Zaski Franklin, Michigan
Retired auto industry executive, age 58

"My background is in market research at DaimlerChrysler. When I retired, I finally had more time to learn about environmental issues. Heating costs have been going up, and I read in the newspapers that you should save energy at home by setting your thermostat at 68 degrees. But when I was shopping with my daughter in the mall, I noticed that it was very warm in there, so I decided to bring a thermometer with me next time. I measured the different temperatures in all the open areas, and it was 72 or 73 degrees--and this is in Michigan, where people are walking around in their winter coats!

"So I contacted the mall manager, and he promised to look into it. Later, at Lowe's, I decided to go right to the top. I sent a letter to the CEO suggesting they lower the temperature in the winter and use energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs. They called me back and said that they set the temperature from the headquarters in North Carolina and that they would lower it to 68 degrees! I'm also working on Home Depot. I calculated that with 600 60-watt lamps on display in each store's lighting department, they could save $10,000 and 100 tons of CO2 per store annually by changing their lightbulbs.

"People say, 'Global warming is like the weather--you can't do anything about it.' But that's not true. Here we burn natural gas for heat, so it reduces our pollution if we keep our homes cooler in the winter. Check your offices, churches, schools, and stores. Contact whoever is in charge to show them they can save money and help the environment.

"My family thinks I'm a little wacky at times, sneaking around with thermometers, but they're supportive because they see that it works--a lot of the stores have responded." --interview by Orli Cotel

According to the Department of Energy, for each degree you lower your thermostat in winter, you save 3 percent on your heating bill. Visit (click on "Renter Tips").

For more information about making your home, workplace, stores, or church more efficient, go to

Photo by Rosh Sillars; used with permission

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