Dear Ronald Reagan:

I am writing to you about a topic of great concern to most Americans: Energy.

Let me tell you what happened a few days ago on my farm, which is just a stone's throw or a short helicopter jaunt from the place you and Nancy have been renting near Middleburg. In an attempt to be a good, patriotic citizen, I have been trying to conserve energy around the homestead.

Do you have any idea how much that costs?

I say woodstove and you, a good rancher and outdoorsman, think: Chop a few logs and save a few gallons of oil. Amen, not to mention that cutting wood is great exercise if you don't maul yourself with the chain saw ($150). But I'm talking county codes, asbestos firewalls, yada yada yada. Let's make it look good and sheath the asbestos in copper. Woodstove: $425; copper and asbestos: $633.So then the guys come to install the copper and they're drilling a few holes in the wall and the next thing you know a deputy sheriff walks in the back door. (No charge.) The workmen have severed a line from my burgular alarm system. A mere $125 to get the line patched up and rerouted.

How about some thermal shades for the bedroom? Great invention! An ingenious double-roller system utilizing five layers of collapsable insulation with a vapor barrier. It seals windows virtually airtight and triples the R-factor on double glazed storm windows, which of course I installed years ago when they were only $75 apiece. At $4.25 a square foot, plus an installation fee of $15 each, insulating shades will pretty much stop all the drafts in any room of an old stone house for $400.

So this guy comes to put them in. He's three hours late because he had an emergency call in the morning: A deer walked across somebody's solar collectors and the poor guy had no hot water. Well, at my house he can't quite get one of the shades installed right, so I call a carpenter to remedy the problem. The carpenter first falls through the window (replacement cost: $48, and fortunately he didn't need any stitches) and then in the process he cuts another wire in the security system. This time it summons the fire department. (Again no charge.) We reroute the fire sensor wire for a mere $75.

Now there's the question of a shed to shelter farm equipment. Have you seen this new material called Loretex? Light, pliant, lets the sun in and then retains heat. So all you need to do is rig up a little aluminum framing and then drape the Loretex over it. Simple, huh?

Well, there's the matter of a concrete pad to retain the heat at night. For a 14-foot by 24-foot shed you'll need about 18 tons of crushed stone for $90, and nine square yards of ready mix concrete at $40 a cubic yard. Then three men for one day to raise the structure. Figure another $300. The aluminum rigging and Loretex are a steal at $1,650.

We got it up! It actually works, except that the guys in New England who cut the Loretex cover made it about four feet too short, so now all the heat escapes from the base of the structure. I can hear you saying it right now: They were probably Democrats. Well, it's nothing that about $200 worth of plywood won't patch up.

The amazing thing is that all the work (except pouring the concrete) was done in a period of 24 hours. I was going to put a $30 insulating blanket on my electric hot water heater the same day, but I had this strange premonition that the thing would blow up if I tried to do it. Maybe next week.

Let's see. I dropped about five grand to make home sweet home a little more energy efficient. Last year I spent $1,000 on fuel oil. Maybe this year it will cost me only $800. So 25 years from now I'll have recouped my investment, not to mention that I got to know the police and fire folks better and earned a federal tax credit for being an energy-conscious citizen.

You are going to continue this tax credit, aren't you? Your ob't servant, Tom Zito