My family is carbon-neutral. I know that’s quite a claim, but I stand by it. When I began to seriously explore global warming and the climate crisis, I decided that we as a family had to make sure we were doing our part before I could ask anyone else to do their own part. I wanted to make sure I could lead by example.
In my book Comprehending the Climate Crisis, chapter 6 addresses everything that people can do to try to reduce their emissions. We as a family explored many options to figure out what was best for us:
- we had a home audit to learn where our home’s energy efficiency could be improved
- we had an assessment with a company to investigate placing solar panels onour roof
- we had an assessment with a company that provides geoexchange for heating and air-conditioning
Ultimately, we decided to go with what we thought was the most cost-effective and simplest. Taking the advice of the home auditor ended up saving us money in the long run, but the other two options were really expensive with little chance of paying themselves off for many years, if ever.
We decided to go with Bullfrog (bullfrogpower.com). In Canada, most provinces have access to this service. They can provide 100% green electricity and natural gas and we use both. That means that all electricity that we draw from the grid, and all natural gas we use is replaced with green versions that are completely carbon-neutral. (You can check out their website—it easily explains how they accomplish this.) We still pay our monthly bills to the individual utility companies, but we pay an additional bill to Bullfrog that covers the more expensive but greener forms of energy we use in our home.
Our newest car is a hybrid which helps, but of course isn’t carbon-neutral. We added up the fuel we purchase on a monthly basis and decided to purchase carbon offsets to negate the amount of carbon dioxide our driving generates. Each month we pay a bill to Planetair (planetair.ca) that uses those funds to develop greenhouse gas emissions offset projects such as planting trees which will help emissions in the long run. We can also purchase carbon offsets for any flights we take, so vacations can be completely green as well.
The projects we took on in our house cost us extra, but we think it’s money well spent. Could you imagine what could be accomplished if every family did these same measures, and drove their emissions down to zero? Obviously not everybody is able or willing to pay the extra, but if you believe in the importance of this issue, you should seriously explore these options.