We hold smartphones in our hands that allow us to find answers to almost any question. More and more of our electricity is being generated by wind turbines made from fiberglass and advanced composite materials and by thin-film solar photovoltaics. Yet in our homes, why do we still heat and cook our food by burning natural gas or propane produced from drilling holes in the ground?
Like electric cars, which are cheaper to operate and maintain than gasoline-powered cars, there are efficient electric technologies and appliances for heating our homes, providing hot water, and cooking our food. These technologies offer improved comfort, cooking performance, and health and safety, and reduced energy costs. And they are part of the solution to reducing our impacts on climate change. For example, replacing your gas or propane furnace with a heat pump reduces carbon dioxide emissions by almost the same amount as replacing your gasoline-powered car with an electric one (for the average Colorado home and driver).
Electric cars are one example. In the home, you can electrify your heating by switching from natural gas or propane to an efficient electric heat pump. You can also switch your hot water heater from natural gas or propane to a heat pump water heater. And for cooking, you can switch your gas stove to an induction cooktop/electric range.
Beneficial electrification is the third key element in state and local plans to achieve aggressive climate change goals. The first two key elements are: a) using energy as efficiently as possible, and b) reducing the carbon-intensity of the electricity grid through renewable energy sources. With lower carbon-emitting electricity, the third element – switching from fossil fuel use to electricity, in buildings and vehicles, results in significant carbon dioxide emission reductions.
Electrification offers several potential benefits:
It could be expensive to switch your home completely to electric heating and appliances. But we suggest a more gradual approach, taking one system or appliance at a time. First, installing a heat pump system costs more than a gas or propane furnace, but the heat pump also provides cooling. The heat pump system costs about the same as the total for a gas or propane furnace combined with a central air conditioning system. Next, a heat pump water heater costs slightly more than a natural gas or propane water heater, but there are utility rebates available in many areas. An induction cooktop/electric range costs slightly more than an equivalent gas cooktop/range, but performs better and produces no harmful air pollutants. To reduce your annual electricity costs, you could also consider adding a solar PV system, or purchasing some of your home’s electricity from a solar garden. And you can apply for a loan to finance all of the above electric conversions.
Electrification means converting heating systems, equipment, or appliances to run on electricity, instead of using a fuel such as natural gas, propane, or gasoline.
For an all-electric new home, the heating costs will be about the same or slightly lower than for a more traditional home using natural gas for heating. However, for most existing homes that install a new heat pump system, the heating costs with the heat pump may be slightly higher.
Beneficial electrification means converting equipment from fossil fuel use to electricity use, when the conversion results in at least one of these benefits:
All-electric new homes cost about the same or slightly less than homes with traditional fuel-based space and water heating and gas ranges.
Love Electric aims to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and other efficient electric technologies in homes and businesses across Colorado, to lower consumer energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide improved health, comfort and other benefits. Love Electric is an initiative of the Beneficial Electrification League of Colorado (BEL-CO).