Shanti Devins 

A recent art installation at Missoula Public Library showcased Big Sky High School students’ world view on climate change. Students could create images of causes, effects, or solutions to climate change; almost every piece depicted some element of catastrophe. To be fair, two of the choices (cause and effect) lean negatively, but even so, there were very few images of hope. 

This both was and wasn’t surprising. 

We know we live in a void of stories about hope and solutions when it comes to the climate crisis – yet we can still get so much of this right! There are tangible solutions to decrease pollution and improve our lives at the same time—solutions that are available right now to many Missoulians, with federal and local incentives to help adopt them.

At Climate Smart Missoula we’re seeking to fill the optimism void with stories of solutions during our second-annual Electrify Homes Tour this Saturday. The tour brings neighbors together to talk about one of our most powerful climate solutions: electrifying our homes and buildings.

While there's no single silver bullet that can eliminate all pollution and end the era of dirty fossil energy, switching from gas-powered to electric systems, such as installing a heat-pump HVAC system, is one individual action that has a much larger impact than most of us realize.

Methane gas, the primary component of "natural" gas, has a far higher heating potential than carbon in the short term and must be decreased immediately if we want to combat overheating, extreme weather and other negative impacts of climate change. 

We are also learning more about how bad burning methane is for our health. Numerous studies have linked gas stoves to childhood asthmablood cancers like leukemia, and more. By removing polluting appliances from our homes and upgrading to clean, all-electric ones, we’re decreasing methane use and demand, and improving indoor air quality and comfort.

Even in Montana, where 42% of our electricity comes from coal, making the change to efficient, electric appliances still reduces carbon pollution (especially in the case of heat pumps!). Plus, there are big movements underway to transition to clean electricity in our state, such as Missoula’s Green Power Program and the recently-announced Solar for All grant. The more we can electrify now, the more impact these clean energy projects will have.

Finally, these all-electric appliances, including mini splits, electric cars, induction stoves and heat pump water heaters are just better! They are cleaner, quieter, faster and often result in significant energy savings over time. But, before you dive into electrifying your space, it’s critical to make a plan. Home systems are interconnected and a change to one may impact another. 

This Saturday is a great opportunity to learn more about what to electrify and how. 

Join us for our two-hour homes tour as we talk with Missoulians in the Southgate Triangle and Rose Park neighborhoods about their journeys installing heat pump HVAC and mini split systems, going solar and embracing driving electric. We’ll bike and carpool to three locations, concluding with a drop in-happy hour at The Dram Shop Central. Space is limited and registration is required, so sign up now

If you can’t make the tour, still come by The Dram Shop Central afterward for informal conversation about the movement to Electrify Missoula and how you can take part. Even if you’re not quite ready to dive into your electrification journey, your voice can help share stories of hope and climate solutions, filling the void and shifting focus to all we can still get right.

Saturday, May 18:

  • 2-4 PM: Electrify Homes Tour (Register here).
  • 4-6 PM: Drop-In Happy Hour at The Dram Shop Central (2700 Paxon St, STE G)

For more details about the tour, visit To learn more and find local resources on going electric, visit 

Shanti Devins is the Program Director at Climate Smart Missoula. Climate Smart Missoula brings this Climate Connections column to you two Fridays of every month. Learn more about our work, support our efforts, and sign up for our e-newsletter at