Step 1: Tell your municipal councillor, MPP and MP what concerns you about climate change. Elected officials must know they have your support for urgent action on climate change. Consider this – your city councillor makes decisions for the 1 million people of Ottawa. Your own actions add up but decisions made by elected officials are orders of magnitude more significant. Click on the template below for ideas.
Step 2: Learn as much as you can about climate change. Knowledge will prepare you for the changes ahead and allow you to help others become informed. Ottawa.ca has flood awareness tips. The Guardian has an excellent global climate news section. Locally, Carleton University-based Efficiency Canada runs weekly DiscoverEE episodes on a wide range of climate actions on their website and on YouTube. Go to A Matter of Degrees for some cool stories about people taking action.
Step 3: Join a local environmental organization. Such organizations can connect you with people in your community working to make our city more sustainable. Being part of a group can achieve more and have more influence than one individual.
Step 4: Prepare your home for unexpected weather. Prepare for power outages, flooding, drought, fires, tornados, and freezing rain. The Ottawa.ca website archived information on Safeguarding your home.
Step 5: Mitigate climate change by reducing your combustion of fossil fuels. Transportation (air, road, train, ship) and space heating are the two big sources of green house gases in Ottawa. This means 1. reducing the use of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by using alternative forms of transportation or battery electric vehicles, and 2. replacing fossil fuel burning appliances (furnace, hot water heaters and gas ranges) with electric alternatives. Also, you can source your electricity from alternative energy providers, like BullFrog Power, which feeds equivalent electricity into the grid from wind, solar, and run of the river hydro for every kWh you use.
Step 6: Have your home assessed for energy efficiency. An energy audit shows, for example, where heat is lost, where additional insulation could be added, which windows and doors need replacing. You can also borrow an infrared camera from the Ottawa Public Library to see the areas of your home that are hot and cold.
You can also do your own assessment by keeping track of the amount of natural gas, gasoline, oil, etc. you purchase using utility bills and fuel receipts.
Step 7: Make the switch from gas powered lawn and yard equipment and recreational vehicles to electric. This includes: lawnmowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, boats, all terrain vehicles, snow mobiles. Leaf blowers and other 2-stroke engines are notoriously heavy GHG emitters.
Step 8: Make your home more energy efficient. Once you have the results of your energy audit, you can focus on those areas that will make the most impact on household energy consumption. Making the home more air tight and insulating attics, walls, and basements are often needed. Homeowners often upgrade to Energy Star Most Efficient windows and doors at the same time. These actions may require a fair amount of money depending on the level of energy retrofit. Ottawa now has a Better Homes Loan Program to help you financially.
Step 9: Offset your electrical costs with solar electricity generation. As you add more electrical appliances like electric vehicle chargers, electric water heaters, heat pumps and electric ranges, your electrical usage will increase. Solar systems are not cheap. The payback period can be 6-20 years depending on a number of factors. Your solar installer should provide you with this information.
Step 10: Reduce your general consumption and “buy local.” All the things we buy are transported, using fossil fuels and much of it is made from plastic, sourced from petroleum. Reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse, redesign, recover, rethink, repair, rot and more!
Don’t forget to talk to your friends and neighbours about the climate actions you are taking. You never know what will inspire people to take action! – saving money, reducing fossil fuel consumption, or just that you are making the future better for their children. You can show others what is possible and help put them on their road to climate action.