Michael Thomas Profile picture
Founder of Carbon Switch. Currently writing about all things climate and electrification. Words in @TheAtlantic @FastCompany @qz.
May 19 15 tweets 6 min read
Heat pumps are an essential climate solution. But there's very little data on how much they actually cost.

To fill some of the gap, we surveyed homeowners and analyzed publicly available data.

Here's what we learned:

🧵

#energytwitter #climatetwitter carbonswitch.com/heat-pump-cost…
May 17 8 tweets 2 min read
In the wake of recent wildfires, I checked our insurance to see what would happen if our house burned down.

I found out our insurance wouldn't cover the full cost to rebuild.

Here's a quick thread on what else I learned and how you can check your coverage.

#energytwitter

🧵 Most home insurance policies don't cover the actual cost to rebuild your home.

Many survivors of the recent Marshall Fire learned this the hard way.

After tragedy struck, homeowners were told it'd cost $300-400 per square foot to rebuild. Many were only insured up to $200.
Apr 12 11 tweets 2 min read
I've seen a few comments lately questioning heat pumps climate mitigation potential.

Here's a thread clearly up some confusion and debunking some myths.

🧵 #energytwitter Myth #1 - Heat pumps use electricity and our grid runs on coal. So heat pumps emit more CO2 than gas furnaces.

This is a similar argument people make against EVs.

In both cases they are wrong.
Apr 5 9 tweets 3 min read
In the last few years heat pumps have become more popular.

And for good reason. They can save people money, cut carbon, and make your home more comfortable.

This week I wrote an article about how they actually work.

🧵 #energytwitter

carbonswitch.com/how-does-a-hea… At the simplest level:

A heat pump is an appliance that can heat and cool your home.

But what makes these things so cool is the fact that they can do it 2-4x more efficiently than any other heating and cooling system.
Feb 11 24 tweets 5 min read
In the last few years, there have been a lot of headlines like this:

"We have 10 years to prevent catastrophic climate change."

But what does that really mean?

Here's a thread with some charts that will hopefully help you understand it better.

🧵 But first, let's talk about some recent controversy related to all this:

A few days ago @GhostPanther, director of Don't Look Up, tweeted this:

Feb 10 23 tweets 7 min read
.@MaraKAbbott just wrote a great guide to induction cooking for @carbonswitch

Here's a thread with some takeaways and an explanation of why induction stoves are so awesome.

🧵 #energytwitter

carbonswitch.co/induction-cook… First off, many people hear "electric cooking" and think coils and unresponsive ceramic stoves.
Feb 4 23 tweets 6 min read
There's a lot of misleading claims on the internet about heat pumps in cold climates.

Many people think they stop working below 30 or 40F

But heat pumps can work efficiently as low as -25F.

So here's a thread debunking 3 myths about cold-climate heat pumps.

🧵 #energytwitter Before diving into the myths, it's helpful to understand how a heat pump works on a cold day.

While it might not seem like it, on a cold day there’s actually some heat in the air outside.

That's true until the temperature reaches absolute zero (–459.67°F)
Jan 17 4 tweets 2 min read
Wow, ~150,000 people read this thread on gas stoves.

Thousands of people said they had no idea. Many said they'd never buy a gas stove again.

Lesson learned: People care a lot more about their health than cutting carbon or saving energy.

For those working to #electrifyeverything this is so important.

Personally, I get caught up writing for and to the #energytwitter crowd too much.

Peak load this. Carbon intensity that.

The reality is that most people don't care about this stuff.
Jan 14 16 tweets 4 min read
Well that thread certainly took off.

Lots of questions about ventilation, what monitor I used, and what you should do if you have a gas stove.

So here's... another thread 🧵

First, let's talk ventilation (i.e. range hoods, fans, etc).

The most common question I got was: "If I use my range hood am I safe?"

Yes and no.
Jan 13 16 tweets 6 min read
Over the last two months I've read dozens of studies about gas stoves and indoor air quality.

I also installed monitors in our home and ran my own tests.

Here's a thread on what I learned 🧵 #energytwitter First, I should admit that I was skeptical about the panic over gas stoves at first.

As a climate hawk, I was focused on the emissions.

Gas stoves are responsible for 0.12% of emissions in America. I felt like we should focus on the bigger stuff (furnaces and water heaters).
Dec 23, 2021 8 tweets 5 min read
3 years ago I started my company, Campfire Labs, and pledged 50% of the profits to climate advocacy.

Today I just sent ~$200,000 worth of grants bringing our total giving for the year to ~$300,000.

🎉🎉🎉

Here are some of the orgs we gave money to this year 🧵 .@theclimatevote for grassroots climate organizing and making effective climate action easy.

Here's a thread on why I love what they're doing:
Nov 30, 2021 11 tweets 5 min read
I analyzed ~65,000 nonprofit tax returns to see where charitable dollars go in America.

I learned that environmental nonprofits receive less than 2% of all donations.

Here's what else I learned 🧵

#GivingTuesday #energytwitter In 2020 Americans gave $471 billion to nonprofits.

Most of those donations went to the following categories: religion, education, human services, and health.

Environmental organizations received just $8 billion (~2%) — the least amount of any category tracked by the IRS. Image
Nov 12, 2021 9 tweets 6 min read
Most banks use your money to fund fossil fuel projects 👎

But some banks use your money to fund #climate solutions like solar ☀️

I spent dozens of hours over the last few weeks trying to find the best climate-friendly bank.

Here's what I learned 🧵 1. Most banks are still pouring trillions into fossil fuel projects.

Here's how much the top banks have lent since Paris:

@Chase: $316 billion
@Citi: $237 billion
@WellsFargo: $223 billion
@BankofAmerica: $198 billion

Source: @RAN's latest report - ran.org/wp-content/upl…
Nov 12, 2021 9 tweets 3 min read
AHRI just released the latest data on heating and cooling installs.

353k homeowners installed natural gas furnaces in Sept.

Those installs guarantee ~4m tons of carbon emissions / year for the next 20 years.

That's 80m of carbon budget 🔥 in a single month.

#energytwitter We need to get that number to zero ASAP. But we're trending in the wrong direction.

Here are the gas furnace install numbers for the last three Septembers:

2019: 286,870
2020: 351,087 (weird year)
2021: 353,047

Here they are for the last 2 decades (note: 2021 YTD is up 30%)
Nov 11, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
Wow, I knew that China burned more coal than any country, but this graph is staggering 🤯 But the US takes the cake on fossil gas emissions
Nov 3, 2021 6 tweets 3 min read
I guess #COP26 is a good occasion to announce that my team and I at Campfire Labs just gave a $60,000 grant to @theclimatevote.

Here's why I'm excited about what they are building: The single most effective #climate action anyone can take is advocating for policy change.

@theclimatevote makes that easy (and surprisingly fun).

Every week they host an hour of action. A bunch of us get together and learn from experts like the good folks at @ProjectDrawdown.
Oct 29, 2021 13 tweets 3 min read
Just went through the #BuildBackBetter bill text and here are some home electrification highlights:

🧵
#energytwitter Section 30421 provides $9 billion for home energy retrofits.

This is the biggest investment in efficiency / electrification by an order of magnitude.

Obama's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBNP) invested $508 million.
Oct 28, 2021 11 tweets 4 min read
Here's a thread on what I've learned looking at dozens of impact investing opportunities.

Tl;dr - you can make 5-10% returns and:

- Cut emissions
- Improve public health
- Invest in underserved communities

🧵
#energytwitter 1. Most people think you have to sacrifice returns to do good.

That's false.

I found tons of opportunities to invest in renewables, electrification, and regenerative agriculture.

All of them offered 5-10% returns.
Oct 20, 2021 15 tweets 5 min read
Is it more effective to reduce your personal carbon footprint or focus on collective action?

There might not be a question that divides the #climate community more.

Let's talk about why that's the wrong question and ultimately a distraction.

🧵 In the last few years there have been some great stories about Big Oil's "carbon footprint sham"

Like this story by @SkepticalRanger - mashable.com/feature/carbon…

And this one by @katemyoder - grist.org/energy/footpri…
Oct 19, 2021 18 tweets 9 min read
In the last year heat pumps have been getting more popular.

But most people still have no idea what heck they are or why they are such an important climate solution.

So here's a thread on why heat pumps are so important for meeting our climate goals

🧵 First, it's important to understand the scale of the problem heat pumps solve.

Today the energy we use in our homes is responsible for 20% of emissions in America.

That's a billion tons per year!

Source: pnas.org/content/117/32….