According to Rewiring America, around 40% of the United States’ carbon emissions come from the appliances used in homes and vehicles on the road. Simply switching everything to be powered by electricity from renewable energy will go a long way towards getting the country’s emissions down and reducing the impact of climate change.
Rewiring American estimates that to achieve zero emissions, the U.S. needs to install 1 billion new machines or 50 million machines a year for the next 20-25 years! To help Americans get started it’s produced a fantastic FREE guide designed to help you (whether you are a homeowner or renter) to make a plan and take action to replace your outdated fossil-fueled appliances with modern electric ones.
The guide is called Electrify Everything in Your Home – a guide to comfy, healthy carbon-free living. You can read or download it on Rewiring America’s website and start planning to electrify your home today!
Below you’ll find a quick overview of the guide’s top recommendations. There’s much more detail and useful information within the guide, including links to resources, questions to ask contractors and tips on how to get started.
The key point is – you can start small. You don’t have to do everything that’s recommended in the guide all at once, but it helps you make a plan and support you as you go through each process — from understanding what the change is, to hiring the contractors who will do the work, to using your new machines.
Top recommendations from Rewiring America:
Purchase renewable energy
Nearly everyone in the U.S. can now buy renewable energy for their electricity supply, whether you rent or own your home. This is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to immediately reduce your climate impact!
If you can’t switch with your utility, you might be able to enroll in a local Community Solar or Community Wind project, where you buy (or subscribe to) solar panels or windmills that feed their power to the grid and then you get credits to offset your utility bill.
Replace your gas furnace with an electric heat pump
While a natural gas furnace might deliver 80% of the heat produced from burning the gas and an electric resistance heater can use 100% of the electrical energy to produce heat, a heat pump can pump 300- 450% worth of heat into your home for the same electrical energy input!
Upgrading to a heat pump is complex. That’s down to the fact you’re not just swapping out an appliance, but designing the heat pump to work well with your home. The guide suggests that as a first step you should get a home energy assessment (aka home energy audit). The Department of Energy has a video on what to expect from an audit which you can watch here. The assessment can cost between $100-$300 but check with your local utility to see if there are programs to make it cheaper, or even free!
Get a heat pump water heater (HPWH)
Since your water heater is 10% of your home’s emissions, it’s a great one to target for electrification. Depending on your hot water use, a HPWH might save you hundreds of dollars a year on your utility bill, which would pay for itself in only a few years. One major advantage of a HPWH versus a gas boiler is that there is no exhaust from burning fossil fuel that needs to be vented outside. This lets you put the unit anywhere you would like, and if you’re installing a new outlet, you have a lot of flexibility in its placement.
Switch to an induction hob
Modern “induction cooktops” are a totally different form of electric burner. Energy is transferred directly from electricity to the iron in a cooking pan through a magnetic field. The induction burner itself doesn’t get hot, so there’s less chance of getting burned. They heat super-fast and can be accurately controlled. For $50+, you can get a portable induction burner that plugs into a regular 120V outlet to start testing out, which will let you immediately start reducing your gas use.
Get a ventless heat pump dryer, condensing dryer or combo washer/condensing dryer
You’ll use less energy and can seal up the vent hole in your wall. The best option is to hang dry some or all of your clothes. You might also consider buying a new washing machine with a high spin speed at the same time that you buy a new dryer. This will reduce both the time and energy needed for clothes drying!
Get an electric vehicle (EV)
Once you switch, EVs are better in almost every way than gas cars. Most new EVs have a range over 200 miles, which is comparable to a tank of gasoline. But you can also find EVs for around $10,000 with a range of 60 miles that might be good enough for commuting and getting around town. For now, EV prices are largely determined by the range, so figure out how much you need to drive, and see if your budget matches the car prices for that range.
Even if you’re a renter or live in an apartment, you should consider asking your landlord or Home Owner’s Association (HOA) if you can install either a 240V outlet or standalone charger. Some states, including California, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon, prohibit “unreasonably” denying a tenant’s request to install an electric car charger!
Fit rooftop solar PV panels
People have been putting PV panels on their roof since the 1970s, but improvements in the technology and huge decreases in cost have made it much more accessible. Since solar panels can last 25+ years, you should find out if your roof is going to need replacing soon so you won’t have to remove the panels during that time. You can’t include the roof cost as part of the Federal tax credit, but it will save you potential repair costs later!
Install a home battery storage
Getting a home battery to store energy generated by your rooftop solar PV panels can make a lot of sense. It adds resiliency to your home when the power goes out, which most solar PV systems can’t do by themselves.
Having home storage batteries can be a great addition to solar if your utility either doesn’t have net energy metering or pays you less for your excess electricity than what you pay them for it from the grid. In either case, you’re better off storing the excess electricity in a home storage battery for later use!
For much more detail on these recommendations or to download your free copy of the guide, visit rewiringamerica.org/electrify-home-guide.