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Articles by Peter Thomson

Peter Thomson is the environment editor at the Public Radio International program "The World," and the author of Sacred Sea: A Journey to Lake Baikal.

Featured Article

There’s a monster in our basement. It eats fistfuls of dollar bills, guzzles No. 2 heating oil, and belches filthy clouds of soot and CO2. We have to kill it before it kills us. Only problem is, we and our tenants are dependent on it — this being New England, we need something down there to keep us from freezing our butts off when winter rolls around again.

Nothing to fear but furnace itself.Ever since my partner Edith and I bought our 100-year-old Boston triple-decker two years ago, we’ve been plotting the demise of its beastly old, big-as-a-refrigerator, criminally inefficient, oil-fired boiler. Now we’ve found an unexpected solution, and it’s taking shape right under the gluttonous old fiend’s outstretched cast iron pipes. We’re replacing our monster with a state-of-the-art, super-efficient micro-combined heat and power system.

Huh?

Combined heat and power — or cogeneration, as it’s also known — captures the waste heat from generating electricity to heat a building. Thomas Edison himself thought it up in the late 1800s, but only now, in the face of 21st century energy challenges, is it starting t... Read more