SPRINGFIELD, NJ - For Springfield resident Alen Kalati, being conscious of his energy usage is something he has always done.
“I’ve always since I remember, was conscious of basically seeing things as not being taken for granted," he said while talking to TAPinto. "[Just because] something is there for me, doesn’t mean that it’s there as an infinite resource.”
Kalti, who moved with his family to Springfield in 2003 is zealous about resource conservation, which made him a pioneer in town in that category.
Both he and his next-door neighbor put solar panels on their house more than a decade ago, making them the first houses in town to do so. Additionally, they were the first houses in the entire state to get solar arrays side-by-side. But for Kalati, his quest for resource conservation outdoors does not stop there.
He has a backyard composter in his garden and a rainwater barrel that catches falling water for use in gardening on his back deck.
Inside his house, Kalati has upgraded his appliances and other electrical components, and rarely blasts the heating or air conditioning. For his work in bringing the house to an energy efficient state, Kalati and his family were declared a carbon neutral house for the time period between September of 2017 through September of 2018.
However, Kalati noted that the financial savings are only part of why he does what he does.
“It’s important for me beyond money," he said. "I used to bug people about it. And I don’t get anything out of it. When I tell a neighbor, ‘hey, you know your outside light is on during the day,’ I don’t get anything from of that, but I think it’s an important thing for everyone.”
Kalati was also asked about why it was so easy for him to take the necessary steps, and how other Springfield residents can follow in his footsteps.
“In my case, [resource conservation] is not even belt-tightening, it’s a psychological disorder for me,” he noted with a slight chuckle. “ Call it a disorder, I’m really a nutcase about the situation. It’s like I’m terrorizing people for things that I think are wasteful. And it’s not for money, it’s for the principle. Generally, to achieve something like that in Springfield, it’s going to be very very difficult."
"You have to have some source of energy that is clean, either wind or solar," he added. "Then you have to make sure that your appliance and other devices that you use are as efficient as possible…but I think the most important thing is belt-tightening, but it’s monetary, it’s taking a little bit off your comfort to try and achieve something like that. Which means, don’t leave the heat on at night at 68 degrees, drop it to 60 or whatever.”
Along with his efforts in resource conservation, Kalti also dabbles in energy efficient inventing. He created a home generator called the Hybrogen.
Its name is a portmanteau of hybrid and generator, and in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy battered the East Coast, he was able to use the stored power in the device to charge his car, run the bare necessities in his house and provide phone charging for Springfield residents at the community bonfire that took place later that week.
During the interview, Kalati noted that while he sees his efforts as vital in the fight for resource conservation, he does not like to be boxed in and labeled as a politically-motivated environmentalist.
“In a way, it is a political issue, but it’s a political issue because people are political generally," Kalati said. "When I used to give presentations at Gaudineer [Middle School], they wanted the subject of the presentation to be ‘how to go green’. And I used to say I don’t like to call it that, because when you say go green, it immediately becomes political."
"If you ask anyone ‘should my faucet drip water?’ they would tell you no," Kalati continued. "If you ask anyone ‘does it make sense not to waste my electricity at home?’ almost everyone would say yes, except the crazy ones. So that’s what makes it maybe political, but bi-partisan. But there are political issues that get into it when you turn it into a life and death situation like global warming.”
As the interview wrapped up, Kalti circled back around to the central message, one that he hoped people who read the article would take to heart.
“Things that are out there are not out there as much as you want, where you can just go grab them and take them," he said. "We see things as for granted. Stop and think before you open up the faucet. Think what’s behind it.”