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At Home with...Ed Begley, Jr.

Actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. used to be mocked for his energy-conserving methods, but today people are turning to him for advice.
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Ed Begley, Jr. is a six-time Emmy-nominated actor most famous for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on NBC’s long-running drama St. Elsewhere from 1982 to

Actor and environmentalist, Ed Begley, Jr. Photo credit: Brentwood Communications International, Inc.
Actor and environmentalist, Ed Begley, Jr. Photo credit: Brentwood Communications International, Inc.
1988, but ask anyone about him and they’ll most likely identify him as “that green guy” or “that guy who always talks about solar panels” or “the guy who drives an electric car.”

Since 1970, Begley has been making green and energy-efficient improvements to his home to help reduce his role in the California smog and encouraging others to do the same.

Today, thanks to a greater awareness of environmental issues, the man who was once looked at as someone whose ideas and lifestyle were too far out there is now known as the green expert that others turn to for guidance.

“I had no idea I would be known as the Green Guy or that it would turn out at all like this,” says Begley. “Back then, I would hear things like, ‘Yeah, we hear ya, Ed. Electric cars are good. Now leave me alone.’ I was just trying to do what I could to feel better about my role in the smog.”

Affordable Changes
Begley’s father was responsible for introducing him to environmentalism as a young child. “My dad never used the word environmentalist yet he was one,” Begley recalls. “He turned off water, [saved] string and tinfoil, loved the

Ed Begley, Jr. changing the HVAC filter in his home. Photo credit: Brentwood Communications International, Inc.
Ed Begley, Jr. changing the HVAC filter in his home. Photo credit: Brentwood Communications International, Inc.
outdoors and got me into scouting. He also told me ‘never tell people what you’re going to do. Tell them what you’ve done.’ ”

So in the 1970s, when Begley’s acting career was just getting underway (look for him on old episodes of Laverne & Shirley, MASH, 3rd Rock from the Sun and more) but his bank account was sparse, he began putting his environmental beliefs into action. “I had to do stuff on a very strict budget and it proved to be good for my bottom line,” he says.

Then when Begley wanted to do something about the serious California smog problems, his dad taught him how to take a stand. “He asked me, 'I know what you’re against, Eddie, but what are you for?’ I knew I was for having an electric car so I bought one,” Begley recalls. “It was cheaper to fuel and service than a regular car, and I did my part to help the smog issue. All the other stuff—recycling, growing fruits and vegetables, composting—are also all very inexpensive to do.”

In 1979, Begley purchased what he called a ‘tiny home’ in Los Angeles with his first wife, Ingrid Begley, and planted a vegetable garden to teach his two young children, Amanda and Nicholas, where food really comes from. He moved to Ojai, California, in 1984 and with more property, he planted more food and added a solar hot water system. In 1988, he moved to the moderate

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