As Climate Reality Leaders, we regularly present to any of a variety of groups about the situation at hand with our changing climate. The cornerstone of these presentations is the slideshow by former Vice President Al Gore as was first introduced to the world in the film “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. The slideshow has been constantly updated with the latest data and talking points by world leaders. I’ll be the first to admit, nobody will stir your soul and impress this issue upon your heart better than the originator himself. He still gets me to the core, that Mr. Gore. His passion is palpable! It can still bring me to tears when I hear him present to new leaders at subsequent trainings I’ve attended as a mentor.
It’s worth noting that the sequel ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ will open in theaters at the end of this summer — be sure to catch it at a theater near you.
While the slideshow is amazing as a starting point to the discussion, I quickly came to realize that, at least for the audiences to which I present, that a whole second half was needed and perhaps, at this point in time when the vast majority of the public agrees that something must be done, needs to be the focus.
What. Can. We. Do?
Since I speak to my audiences as individuals, it’s ‘What can we do as citizens or households?’ For that, I don’t claim to know all of what can be done and can’t necessarily provide a comprehensive list of all the choices available. But I have compiled a list of what we have done which can serve as a roadmap to what you can do. And I’m providing you with sources for these adaptions. The efforts we have made for our household make all the difference in helping me sleep at night knowing we’ve done our part to the best of available options at this time.
The biggest issue with the most immediately available remedy is addressing your home’s power source. In this age of digital, well, everything, I can’t power my iPhone or laptop daily unless I know it’s coming from clean, renewable energy. The good news is that renewables have come to complete maturity and can compete with our centuries-old fossil fuel energy. Costs are on par or just pennies more per kilowatt. If you’re leading a middle-class lifestyle in America, then you have a little wiggle room to make this adjustment by slightly adjusting your priorities. I was more than happy to sign up for 100% renewable wind power through Arcadia Power though a 12% cost increase was quoted. In this age of more, I’m happy to shift toward quality over quantity. For instance, there are a lot fewer Starbucks runs these days. We brew at home more and I’ve become quite a master barista on our existing espresso machine that had hardly been getting used.
I can tell you from embarking on selecting a provider other than the default, that yes, it can be daunting and absolutely confusing. So much so that it ultimately keeps people from pulling the trigger. There are websites that will show you a long list of options, many of which require contracts and variable pricing after a starter rate. Everything is very straight forward with Arcadia, presented very clearly, the process made simple and no contract. A huge peace of mind for us was knowing that Arcadia Power is endorsed by the Sierra Club. Also, this wasn’t our first rodeo. Previously, we were able to elect green energy via a third party that was established (but not widely advertised) as a green energy option for our town. But when the contract was up for renegotiation, they were out. With Arcadia, it won’t matter what the current contract is for our Village. We will supersede it with our green energy choice which provides offsets for our energy usage known as Renewable Energy Certificates (or Credits), RECs, no matter who handles our local power as a whole. You can employ this energy option even if you rent. I like to call these acts #ValuesMadeVisible.
To detail the move to renewable energy a bit more, we simultaneously replaced our two standard thermostats with smart Nest thermostats. We can control the temperature of our house from our phones. This ultimate convenience allows us to change to ‘ECO’ mode — a wide range of temperature that keeps the house pipes from freezing or from becoming a two-story oven — and can even be set to work with the GPS of connected family members so that it senses automatically whether climate-control at home is necessary. We scored $100 off each Nest, a rebate which is readily available Illinois as the power companies here are required to improve efficiency as part of state legislation (Go Illinois!).
In addition to the thermostats, we invested in LED light bulbs for the plethora of canned lighting throughout our home. Again, we were able to score nice rebates on this investment with BOGO-free offers and buy-two-get-one-free offers. At this point, I believe our home is 95%+ LED bulbs. In case you’re wondering, NO, do not wait for the old light bulbs to burn out. Replace them now. At Batteries + Bulbs where we carefully selected the right cast light for our LED bulbs with assistance from their staff and lit display samples, they additional accept your old bulbs which will be properly recycled. The savings gleaned from replacing them immediately are well worth discarding your incandescent bulbs now.
Employ energy efficiency in your home paired with renewable energy!
Install Nest (or similar) thermostat(s):
(ComEd selling at 40% off: bit.ly/comed-nest)
Change bulbs to LEDs (don’t wait for burnout):
(10% with preorder online + pickup; look for BOGO sales)
Conduct a home energy evaluation:
Strive for net-zero someday!
Know that we are in the midst of an energy transition and that we all need to do our part.
The good news, you’ll have answers at the ready for your children and
grandchildren when they ask what you did.