In my experience there tend to be three kinds of people: Climate-change warriors, non-believers or just plain indifferent, and well-meaning folks who care but don’t see what they personally can do about it.

Oh sure, the well-meaning folks may recycle and turn off lights when they leave a room. Some of them even have compost heaps in their backyards. But they don’t see what else they can do. They are willing, but need guidance.

Both Oak Park and River Forest have initiatives in place to address the alarming issues associated with climate change: Climate Ready Oak Park and the River Forest Sustainability Commission. This morning on NPR I heard the weather statistic that October 2023 was the hottest October on record, period. The hottest October in the history of weather tracking has resulted in record breaking storms, hurricanes, cyclones all over the world.

When we replaced both HVAC systems at our house in Oak Park, only one of the three bids we got included heat pumps and that’s the one we went with. Not only was it the lowest bid, but it was the smartest choice. And we were rewarded with a significant drop in our electric bill. (Previously we had zoned HVAC and one of the two furnaces was electric and a real power pig.) We moved to RF three years ago and had the same system installed at our condo. Last winter the conventional electric furnace did not come on once. The heat pump supplied the heat exclusively. Heat pumps, contrary to popular belief (on the part of many HVAC contractors) can be used in cold weather. Heck, they use them in Canada.

Then there’s our induction stove (our condo is all electric). I am a foodie who loves to cook and has sworn by gas stoves until now. Induction, unlike conventional electric stoves, works like a gas stove. You change the heat level via the knob and presto! Instantaneously the level of heat changes. And no dangerous flame. And no “NOX.” My husband has asthma. Back at the house, seldom did his sense of smell work. We moved and he immediately noticed that “my nose works all the time.” Imagine my surprise when I read about the problems gas heat and stoves causes for asthmatics! Why didn’t we know this before?

P.S. I found the late Harriet Hausman’s columns inspiring, just proving that at any age we can make a difference. I’m going to miss her columns. I figure if a 99-year-old lady can write a column, then anything is possible. What a loss!

Louise Mezzatesta
River Forest

Join the discussion on social media!