As an angler and a scientist, I’m trying to make a commitment to do my part to help fight climate change, live sustainably and protect our environment. I’m focusing on things I can do while also being realistic about the economics of some of these choices, all while trying to continue to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life.
In Ontario we are fortunate to have quite a clean power grid. In 2022 the electrical supply mix was 56.8% nuclear, 24.4% hydroelectric, 8.7% wind, 6.3% natural gas, 2.4% solar, 0.5% bioenergy, 0.9% other. So anytime I can switch from fossil fuel to electric it’s a major reduction in carbon dioxide output.
I’m going to break this into a number of categories (by source of CO2), talk about what I’ve done, what my plans are and any hurdles and drawbacks or wins and happy surprises I find. This will likely be a long term work in progress…
Home – Conservation: Current home is very well insulated and has new windows and doors. I generally keep thermostat set at around 19 – 19.5 C in winter.
Home – Heating: My current high efficiency (92.8 %) natural gas furnace is 17 years old but is still in very good shape. When it does come time to replace it the goal will be to go to a heat exchanger system. The technology for these have improved significantly over the last few years and are apparently, now a better return on investment compared to a gas furnace.
Home – Water Heating: House came with a natural gas rental water heater. When funds permit I will switch this to a fully owned electric system (less CO2 plus buying is cheaper than renting in the long run).
Home – Cooking: House came with a natural gas powered range – need to switch this to a high end electric when funds permit (they are not cheap!). Gas stoves leak methane (bad), produce CO2 (bad), and have been shown to emit various nitrogen oxides during use. Recent health studies have shown very concerning results that show gas ranges contribute to very poor indoor air quality.
Home – Small Engines: I’ve replaced gas powered lawn mower and trimmer with battery powered items.
Cottage – Off Grid Power: Solar power system now (after replacing inverter and old batteries) provides almost all needed power for the cottage. Backup gas generator has only run 2-3 times last year during late October and early November when less daylight was available.
Cottage – Small Engines: Eliminated most other small engines. Now have battery powered chainsaw, trimmer, and leaf blower. Small gas powered water pump will be replaced with an electric system when it reaches end of life (or when tire of keeping it running). I was originally skeptical that the battery powered chain saw would be robust enough – I can say that I’m exhausted from cutting wood long before the batteries have depleted. It has a 16 inch bar which is generally more than enough to do the jobs I need to do around the cottage.
Cottage – Heat: Wood heat is considered to be carbon neutral. I’m generally harvesting dead trees that would release CO2 during decomposition. New trees are always growing on the property to replace the dead ones and recapture CO2.
Cottage – Refrigeration: Currently running a propane powered fridge. I am investigating a solar powered replacement when this one reaches end of life. Solar powered fridges run directly off of 12 V or 24 V batteries, bypassing the inverter system and saving power usage overall. They also can have built in shutoffs that save the batteries from being fully depleted – extending battery lifetimes. Just need to see if my current solar/battery system can handle the needed power usage.
Cottage – Cooking: Propane powered stove and BBQ, unlikely to be able to change from this unless I do a massive upgrade to the solar power system. The good news is that unlike natural gas (methane), which when leaks is a major global warming contributor, propane leaks do not contribute to global warming.
Boat – Main engine, when purchased, was the lightest and most full efficient engine in its class size. Use electric motor more (e.g., no more back-trolling, use electric for bottom bouncing)
Boat – Cottage – I’m keeping a small tinner at the cottage marina and I’ve been using it much more this year. Less towing of the bigger boat up to the cottage when it’s just me or me and one other person. The 20 HP Yamaha (newer four stroke) just sips gas and the 55lb electric XI5 on the front moves the boat along relatively quickly. It’s set up nicely for a comfortable day of fishing.
Truck – My current truck was one of the most fuel efficient ICE full sized trucks available when it was purchased. Next one will have a hybrid engine. The needed electrical charging infrastructure for more remote areas that I visit for fishing trips is just not there yet in Ontario to make the switch to a full electric vehicle – hopefully that changes soon.
Motorcycle – 3.3L/100 km
Work – Less flying – more virtual conferences, less driving as well. More on-line meetings. Considering more work from home days (no commute).