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Going All Outlet: How to Electrify Your Home

by SLCgreen Clean Energy Intern Monica O’Malley

As we celebrate the 5th Annual Utah Climate Week, it is a great time to take stock of the ways we can act on climate at home. In our last post, we talked about the importance of energy efficiency. The cheapest and most “renewable” energy is the energy we don’t waste.

After you’ve made energy efficiency improvements to your home, it’s time to look at the type of fuel you’re using to power it!

Perhaps you have solar on your roof or a subscription to Blue Sky. Or maybe you’re supporting Salt Lake City’s efforts to move all of our community to net-100% renewable electricity!

As our electricity sources get cleaner, moving towards partially or fully electrifying your home is one of the many ways you can use to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as reduce local air pollution. When we advocate for building electrification, we mean switching to using all-electric appliances and heating/cooling systems in your home.

Building electrification can be accomplished at any stage — whether you are updating an old or broken appliance, renovating your space, building a new home, or just looking for ways to live more sustainably.

Benefitting the Environment

It may come as a surprise, but choosing energy efficient electric appliances and scaling-back the use of natural gas, heating oil and other fossil fuels will significantly reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions.

You might be thinking: But if my electric grid is powered primarily by fossil fuels, how will switching out my gas appliances for electric lower my carbon footprint? The short answer is energy efficiency and a grid transitioning to renewable sources.

Homes that use all-electric appliances are more energy efficient than mixed fuel homes that use gas appliances. This was examined in a report conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute which found that an all-electric home in Seattle, WA had the potential for a 93% carbon emissions reduction over the lifetime of the equipment than that of a home that uses gas for water heating, space heating, and cooking.

With Salt Lake City’s goal to achieve net-100% renewable electricity by 2030 and its commitment to the Community Renewable Energy Program, we are making major strides towards a cleaner electricity grid. As this occurs, it is important that we maximize the benefits of that clean electricity supply by expanding the use of energy-efficient electric appliances in our homes and buildings. As our grid becomes cleaner, the large emission reductions that we see as a result of building electrification will only become larger.

Benefitting the Community

By choosing to electrify your cooking, space heating, and water heating appliances, you will not only be benefitting the climate, but also your health, savings, safety, and overall comfort level. 

  • Health: All-electric homes have much better indoor air quality than homes that use natural gas.  When gas burns, many pollutants are released, including nitrogen and sulfur oxides, carbon dioxide, and many other compounds that are harmful to human health, especially respiratory health.  According to a 2013 study, children who grow up in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to develop asthma than those with electric stoves.
  • Local Air Quality: Our homes and buildings are a significant source of wintertime air pollution, so reducing on-site emissions from natural gas combustion helps improve air quality.
  • Financial Savings: All-electric homes can save up to $800 per year on utility bills!

Costs and Considerations: Useful Sources and Guides to Reference

There are so many things to ask yourself when choosing the best appliance for an electric retrofit: What is your budget? How much power is supplied to your home? How old is your home? How much energy will your home consume? Are you willing to update your panel to accommodate a greater energy load?

With so much to consider, electrifying your home can be overwhelming.  Thankfully, you are not alone in this process. The following guides are here to help you make the best electrification decisions based on your specific needs.

  1. The Building Electrification Technology Roadmap (BETR) Summary explores electrification options within four categories: space heating, water heating, cooking, and laundry.  It even scores various technologies within each category so you can decide which is best for you.
  2. A Pocket Guide to All-Electric Retrofits of Single-Family Homes discusses the various costs that accompany home electrification and provides an all-electric product guide that gives a detailed overview of all the electric products on the market.
  3. A Zero Emissions All-Electric Multifamily Construction Guide covers best practices for building zero emission multifamily homes.
  4. The Multifamily Retrofit Playbooks provides additional guidance on equitable electrification of multifamily units.

Incentives and Rebates

If you are considering electrifying your home, check out Rocky Mountain Power’s heating and cooling incentives page to see how you can receive up to $1,400 cash back on heat pumps, $2,600 cash back on dual-fuel  heat pumps, and $1,700 cash back on ductless heat pumps. Rock Mountain Power also offers an incentive on water heating systems where you can receive up to $550 cash back when you buy a heat pump water heater. 

Dominion Energy offers an $800 rebate for purchasing a dual-fuel heat pump system which can be found here.

Whether or not you take advantage of these resources, remember that shifting to energy efficient electric appliances and saving energy whenever possible is a great way to shrink your individual carbon footprint. Start putting these tips to work in honor of Utah Climate Week!

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