What is electrification and why should we do it?
Eliminating burning fossil fuels in the home is a way we all can combat climate change! Buildings in California represent 20-25% of the state’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Home electrification is the replacement of gas appliances (furnaces, water heaters, dryers, stoves) with all-electric heat pump and induction technology. Then, as SMUD moves towards 100% renewables, the carbon footprint of your house shrinks (by 82% relative to a mix fuel home that burns natural gas (NG) for heating and cooking). Every 5 to 6 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) you save is like taking a car off the road for a year. Imagine if all the homes in Sacramento were electrified by 2030. Bonus: eliminating burning natural gas in the home reduces indoor air pollution, and makes the air we breathe healthier.
How can we do it?
Electrification can be done in manageable steps, one at time or all at once. The best time to electrify is when you replace an appliance or remodel a kitchen or home. You can do it on any budget, and often for an overall cost savings. Whether you can spend $50 or over $5,000, there are options for everyone to move away from natural gas!
Make a Plan
If you are planning a remodel, adding solar panels, getting an electric car, or before your water heater, stove/oven, or furnace dies, make a plan to electrify. Check your electrical panel to make sure it can support any new electrical appliances (to include an electric vehicle and clothes drier you will likely need capacity for 5 240-volt connections). Upgrade if needed, because you won’t want to spend the extra time when your existing appliances fail. A recent study found estimates for panel replacement in CA ranging from $2000-4000. SMUD’s Home Performance Program can provide up to $2500 in support. See smud.org/HPP
- Recommendation: Switch from natural gas water heater to a heat pump water heater.
- GHG reduction: 11 metric tonnes CO2 emission reduction over life cycle (13 years)
- Requirements: 240 volt connection, 30-35 amp.
- Cost estimate: $3,000-$4,700
- SMUD support: Replace your gas water heater with a heat pump water heater and SMUD will give you a $1,000-3,000 rebate. With the Go-Electric Bonus package, you can save up to $4,000.
- Recommendation: Switch from natural gas heater and air conditioning to a heat pump system capable of heating and cooling.
- GHG reduction: 22.8 metric tonnes CO2 emission reduction over life cycle (13 years)
- Requirements: 240 volt connection on a 35-50 amp breaker (similar to the air conditioner you might be replacing)
- Cost estimate: $9,000-$20,000 (estimate is for single family home, lower is already ducted.)
- SMUD support: Replace your HVAC unit with a high efficiency unit and get $1,500. Plus, SMUD will rebate a bonus of $2,500 for replacing your gas furnace. That’s a total of up to $4,000 in rebates.
Note: The installation of HVAC heat pumps can save you up to $600 per year over the life-cycle of the unit compared to a combined gas furnace plus air conditioner (AC) system. And yes, you will stay cool in the summer!
- Recommendation: Switch from natural gas to electric oven and induction range.
- GHG reduction: 0.6 metric tonnes CO2 emission reduction over life cycle (10 years)
- Requirements: 240 volt connection on a dedicated 50 amp circuit.
- Cost estimate: $1,900-$2,500
- SMUD support: SMUD has $100-$500 rebates available for installing an induction range to replace a gas one.
Note: Induction stoves are fast like gas, and in tests have boiled water faster than gas. You will need cookware with a flat bottom and a high iron content to use (cast iron, stainless steel).
- Recommendation: Purchase and use electric small appliances to replace use of gas including:
- Microwave, rice cooker, Instapot, Toaster oven, Standalone induction stove tops
Note: Using these appliances will also reduce indoor air pollution from burning gas, which increases the chances for children to get asthma.
Much of the content (including cost estimates) of this blog post is derived from Residential Building in California, Consumer Economics, Greenhouse Gases, and Grid Impacts, Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc.., 2019; from Electrification 101 from the Berkeley Ecology Center, and from SMUD.