Apr 16, 2020
personal finance

Top Five Things You Can Use Your Money For to Help Stop Climate Change

This s an adaptation of a longer post that I wrote August, 2019 on my personal blog. It will continue to be updated & lengthened as we gather new data and as we build out more in-depth articles for each of these actions.

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One of the most common questions we get asked is, "What can I do? I'm just one person. How will my individual actions lead to the systemic change that we need to see?" (note, most people don't frame it exactly this way)

There are many actions that we can each take that will have some positive effect in our fight against climate change, but there are a few, that will have a much greater impact because of their follow-on effects. These actions will help to either (or both) drive down the cost of certain technologies, like solar or electric vehicles, or they will normalize the behaviors of taking these actions for others.

What can you do with your money as an individual? Here are our top five things:

1) Decarbonize & Electrify Your Transportation

Decarbonizing our daily transportation is becoming more affordable, convenient & enjoyable by the day. If you’re physically able to, walk or bike to work. Get an electric-assist bicycle to make it even easier so you don’t show up so sweaty if you want. If you need to drive, and as soon as you’re financially able to get a new car, make sure it’s all electric. It can be as much as 5X cheaper per mile to drive than your gas car is. Hybrids aren’t enough, although there are some cases where they are the best option. In some cases and getting more frequent, it can even make sense to trade-in, sell, or scrap your gasoline vehicle for an electric one because the incentives & savings are so great. If you don’t want to buy right now, lease one. It’ll only be 3 years and you’ll save money and emissions while new models come out.

2) Electrify Your Home

If you’re replacing your furnace, or any other gas appliance, make it electric. Most Air Source Heat Pumps are over 3x as efficient as the most efficient gas furnace and some are more than 5X! Electric Induction stoves are over 2X as efficient in heating food, are better to cook on (more even heating, and better temperature control), and don’t turn your kitchen into an air quality danger zone. While the operating costs are significantly lower, the high-cost of remodeling usually makes these investments a very long payback if you only include the price of consuming gas vs electricity. If you include the improved indoor air quality, increased comfort, increased safety, and the reduction in carbon emissions, the payback improves significantly.

Most furnaces and hot water heaters last around 10 years. If yours is getting near to this age or has already passed it, call your HVAC contractor or a plumber to get ready for this upgrade. If it takes a couple of weeks to get the permits, you don't want that done AFTER your water heater has burst and you have no hot water until it's replaced,

3) Solarize Your Home

See if solar makes sense for your house. The cost has come down by 70% in the last decade and it will drop another 30% - 50% by 2025. If you do steps one and two first, or at the same time, the electricity from the PV system will cost even less and so your cost of driving and conditioning your home will also be less. In a few more years, solar make come down another 30 - 50% and when that happens, the fully-financed cost of adding solar and electrifying your home may be less than running your fossil fuel appliances now, depending on what market you live in.

4) Move Your Investments into Mission-Aligned Funds and Companies

Since the launch of the Principles for Responsible Investing in 2006, there have been a growing number of investment products that exclude fossil fuel companies and others that contribute to climate change. Using a tool like Fossil Free Funds, from the non-profit As You Sow can help you determine if the "green" fund you want to invest is legit or has only been washed in green.

As part of Earth Day celebrations, we're participating on a panel to discuss different climate investment options we can all take.

5) Move your Cash out of the Big 5 Banks.

The four largest banks in America are also the four largest lenders for fossil fuel extraction in the world. They also hold 40% of the $13T in total deposits. At Atmos, we'll only lend to projects and companies that provide measurable impact towards stopping climate change.

If you want help with any of the above, please reach out and let us know.

Our planet is still very livable, we have the technologies that we need to stop emitting fossil fuels and bring the rest of the world into the age of electricity and the internet, but we cannot wait any longer to begin taking action.

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