Remote-controlled quadcopters, drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), whatever you want to call them, they seem to be quite rare around here. I have only noticed one or two buzzing the houses here in Silicon Fen over the last few years since these wonders of modern technology became affordable. The same could be said of 3D printers, despite the marketing hype even here within commuting distance of the science parks and innovation centers well stocked with international post-graduates and Cambridge university spinoffs (pardon the pun), I only have one acquaintance who talks about objects she has printed.

Interestingly though, a friend from out of town turned up with his drone offering to take, in the words of Genesis, an "aerial view of the ground". How could I resist, always fascinating to get a new perspective on one's domain. The UAV in question lacked any kind of weapon thankfully and even backs away from you if it's hovering at head height and you try to draw it too close. Instead of weaponry it has another kind of sharp shooter, a 4K video camera for that high, hi-def movie quality from high up above, the kind you see increasingly in documentaries and news stories from remote climes or bombed out city streets where truly weaponized UAVs have been employed to great tragedy and loss.

After a quick compass calibration, we launch from the confines of my back garden having left our senior, but still enthusiastic, Labrador retriever in the house tended by my seemingly uninterested wife, who for the purposes of her online alter ego has the epithet "Mrs Sciencebase". Anyway, back in the garden the pilot and I step carefully with the controls and a 64 gigabyte micro SD card, avoiding the dog's enthusiasms hidden by the overlong winter lawn and get ready to launch and buzz the neighbors from on high.

The drone quickly and smoothly leaps to about 35 meters with its flashing blades whirring and whirling at goodness knows how many rpm (I looked it up; it's usually between 400 and 600 revolutions per minute). We can see ourselves, heads bobbing, looking skyward and then to the connected mobile phone latched on to the control unit. Red lights flash, greens are steady, in the golden hour before sunset, we take the drone vertically up to 100 meters so we are no longer annoying or agitating the neighbors and then set the controls for the heart of the sun...Well, actually we head north, with the sinking sun to the west, over the houses, some old in this part of the village but mostly 1960s, and then on towards the very edge of the Fen.

Although the 'copter is now well out of sight and its drone no longer audible we can tell it is having a fine time in sports mode (60 kilometers per hour) heading to the limits of its signal range. Of course, even out of sight and beyond its controller signal it has the autonomous capacity to return directly to base, which it would also do if battery power (damn those lithium cells) runs low. So, we're safe in the knowledge that it won't get lost unless a farmer takes a potshot.

Anyway, given my earlier description of our location, some of the residents and the age of our homes with their relatively expansive roofs, what struck me surveying our village rooftops with the drone's 4K camera was just how few houses have solar panels. There have, of course, been subsidies and special offers over the years, but it seems even in this scientific and technophilic locale few of us have adopted this technology to power our homes and feed the national electricity grid; I confess Mr & Mrs Sciencebase have yet to bite the bullet. Is it that despite the subsidies the technology remains too expensive and inconvenient? That's my guilt-ridden personal stance (we'd also have the expense of reinforcing our roof first). Or do most of my neighbors not care about "going green"?

Is there among the scientific academics and startup CEOs in the village a reluctance to invest at a time when money is tight and the financial return on that investment in terms of money saved, and perhaps even profit, relies on a 25 year payback period? However, while the local schools, the large care home and some of the sheltered housing is paneled up, is very frustrating to see new build properties in the village where the opportunity to design in the solar panels as part of the roof is not being adopted by any but a handful of buyers. Small housing estates are springing up on the periphery of our village and in the gaps, but few of the properties get solar panels as a matter of course. Maybe I am over-estimating the number of technophiles and even the wealth in the village (we are North, not South, of Cambridge, after all). Maybe this place has no more and no less than the average number of solar-powered houses compared with other semi-rural villages.

It is irrelevant to whether one should go green that new leader of the free world has proclaimed climate change to be nothing more than a hoax. We should be cutting down our reliance on carbon for energy simply for the reduction in toxic pollution and the fact that transporting power from centralized power stations is highly inefficient. Home-grown power should be the way forward, solar cells on your roof, geo sinks, wind turbines if you've got land and a domestic biomass gas burning fuel cell for heat and power. The side effect of going green would be cleaner air and the chance to stave off to some degree the anticipated devastating impact of global warming.

It rains here North of Cambridge, but really not that much, it's often cloudy, but we get a lot of sunny days too. The rooftops of these 1960s boxes are ugly with their half century of lichen and crumbling tiles, they'd look so much more attractive with a technological layer and my drone footage agrees.

David Bradley blogs at Sciencebase Science Blog and tweets @sciencebase, he is author of the popular science book "Deceived Wisdom".