Eleven years ago, when my husband and I put a bid on our house in southwest Washington, DC, we were terrified. Terrified that we would not get the house and we’d have to start our home search again from scratch, or even worse, that our bid would be accepted and we’d have to figure out how to pay for it!
At the time though, one thing we weren’t concerned about was how climate change could affect our home. Eleven years later, as more and more information on climate change impacts have emerged, it’s clearer than ever that climate change is what we really should have been terrified about. The biggest fright: the rising Potomac River just a block away from our soon-to-be home along the DC waterfront.
Thankfully, we got lucky. While close to the river, our home is slightly safer than those of our neighbors a few blocks north. But there’s still a chance that rising seas can reach our door, based on the amount of storm surge that New York and New Jersey saw during Sandy. And that chance is a stark reminder of why my husband and I decided to prepare and proactively tackle climate change in our home.
The preparations we’ve made in our home have not only been affordable, but they’ve added great joy to our home and to our family, and helped us to protect the planet—which is ultimately all of our homes. Here are a few ideas you may want to try:
Tackling climate at home:
Every four minutes another American home or business installs solar, and we were thrilled to be one of those many homes! We installed solar panels in 2009, and improved our appliance efficiency to the point where we use less electricity than we generate in most months. When we do need to use electricity from the grid, we rely on locally-generated wind power that we pay for right on our utility bill.
Installing solar was both cheaper and far easier than we thought, and it actually increases the value of our home. WWF’s new “Renewable. It’s Doable.” campaign makes it easier than ever to get a quote for solar! Check out WWF’s solar quiz for more fun details on why and how your family can go solar.
Preparing for climate at home:
When you live one block from the river, it is just practical to prepare for climate impacts, and so we do have an emergency kit. We are also prepared for electricity outages, with smaller solar panels that can charge our phones for emergency calls, and solar-powered gadgets like radios and speakers. We have a lot of fun having picnics and camping with our solar gadgets, and our solar-powered blue-tooth speakers are always a huge hit at the pool, too!
The next time we buy a home, we will prioritize buying a home that already has solar installed, and we will look for a home that has a solar back-up power option. Luckily, that is becoming more and more possible. Since 2009, the number of home listings on Redfin.com that included mention of solar panels grew 288%. And that’s great news for families that want to be practical and prepared, and to protect the species and places we work to save at WWF.