How You Can Electrify Your Home
For years, experts have suggested strategies for using less electricity at home to lower your bills, benefit the environment and reap other benefits, such as improving the comfort of your home.
But today, as clean energy sources, such as solar and wind, are increasingly added to our power grid, some are encouraging increased electricity use in the home – in lieu of natural gas, heating oil and other fossil fuels.
This process of swapping out fossil fuel-powered technologies for those powered by electricity is known as “beneficial electrification”, and it can lead to many paybacks, including lower total energy costs, fewer pollutants in the home and in your community, and often better performance from your appliances.
Let’s look at a few ways that you can electrify at home and how you might benefit:
1. Replace your gas range for an electric – or induction – cooktop
While many home cooks rightfully love the control they have with their gas stovetops, there are many benefits of going electric, especially if you decide on an induction cooktop.
For one, “gas cooktops and ovens affect indoor air quality the most” of any home appliances, releasing nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide that can be harmful to your family’s health. Regardless of which electric stovetop you pick, you’ll be free of these dangerous fumes in your home.
Induction cooking offers even more benefits over a standard electric range, including energy savings and near-instant heating. Some top chefs – including Eric Ripert, co-owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York – are beginning to favor this method.
2. Swap your A/C and furnace out for a single energy-efficient appliance
Did you know that there’s one energy-efficient, electric-powered appliance that can replace both your A/C and your gas-powered furnace? It’s called an air-source heat pump, and it may be the single best electrification upgrade you can make at home.
During the summer, your heat pump will push hot air from your home, making it cooler, and during cold weather months, the process works in reverse, bringing heat from outdoors into your home. This highly efficient process ensures that your home stays comfortable all year. Plus, heat pumps are much better at dehumidifying your home than standard A/C!
Though your savings vary significantly depending on where you live, Consumer Reports estimates that you could save about $115 each year on your energy bills if you upgrade to a high-efficiency heat pump.
3. Upgrade your gas water heater to an electric or heat pump water heater
After space heating, water heating is typically the next highest single use of energy in the average home, accounting for about 20 percent of the average home’s total usage. So, it makes sense to look for the most efficient model next time you need a new one.
According to Energy Sage, electric water heaters are typically much more efficient than gas-powered ones, with gas models usually having energy factor (EF) numbers of 0.5 to 0.7 and electric models having “EF numbers higher than 0.9” (the higher the EF number, the more efficient the appliance).
Like with space heating and cooling, there are also heat pump versions of water heaters that are even more efficient than a standard electric water heater. According to Southern California Edison, they “can reduce energy bills in new construction, single-family homes with gas storage water heaters by 15-24 percent annually”.
Upgrading to a new appliance is a major decision that will impact your wallet, comfort and even health for years to come. While electrifying these appliances can have substantial benefits for you and the environment, you’ll want to do your research and determine what pros and cons are the most important to you so you’re ready when the time comes to make a purchase.