Decarbonization is a hot-button topic throughout the nation. However, nowhere are legislators moving faster to make it happen than in California. With an emphasis on eliminating gas-fired appliances, many cities and counties have already made it mandatory for all new buildings to have all-electric appliances. Whether you already own a home in Los Angeles, CA or you’re planning on building one, it’s important to understand what current and forthcoming legislation means for you.
Los Angeles Is the Largest City to Mandate Electrification in New Buildings
Unanimous approval of ordinance 22-0151 on December 7, 2022, brought an end to the expansion of gas infrastructure in LA County. As of 2023, all commercial, residential, and industrial properties are required to use electrically powered appliances as opposed to options that use heating oil or natural gas. However, there are a few exemptions. For instance, process gas for select industrial purposes and gas-fired appliances for cooking in commercial facilities are still allowed.
Electrification Is a Priority for All of California
Although Los Angeles has a history of leading the way in green processes and green energy, many other cities throughout the state had already enacted similar legislation. Municipalities in both Northern and Southern California have long been prioritizing the development of mixed-use facilities that include a combination of electric-powered appliances and gas-powered appliances.
Mixed-use development has offered an affordable and equitable way for companies of all sizes and consumers at all income levels to gradually make the transition to zero-carbon operations and lifestyles. However, with increasing anxiety over what many scientists are calling a fast-growing climate crisis, the move to total electrification is ramping up quickly.
The 2023 Adoption of a Statewide All-electric-friendly Building Code
Even cities and counties that have proven to be holdouts in the move to electrification are now subject to legislation and restrictions that support gas-free development. For instance, in 2023, there was a statewide adoption of an all-electric-friendly building code. This new code pushes the use of highly efficient heat pumps for both water heating and indoor climate control. Although California builders that aren’t subject to local restrictions on gas appliances can still install them, they’re now accountable for offsetting their higher emissions in other ways.
Making Buildings Electric-friendly
One of the biggest obstacles to making California an all-electric state is the cost. Many homeowners cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars to retrofit their homes with the appliances and infrastructure that would be necessary for supporting zero-carbon lifestyles. Thus, the new California building code also contains language and elements that make it necessary for builders to create structures that are all-electric-ready.
The adoption of these measures incentivizes builders to choose an all-electric design rather than paying for both the installation of gas appliances and the necessary connections, ducting, and other elements for electric upgrades.
What the Push for Electrification Means for You
California legislators are making aggressive moves to ensure that their zero carbon targets are met. Focused on transitioning to clean, renewable power, the state hopes to cut all demand for liquid petroleum fuel by 95% by the year 2045. This includes any liquid petroleum fuel used to support commercial or industrial operations that are currently deemed in state building codes as exemptions.
As builders, buildings, and consumers move away from gas-powered appliances, you can expect to find fewer HVAC and plumbing companies that offer them and fewer in-state technicians that are capable of servicing them. HVAC companies and the guidelines for HVAC contractor licensing will become increasingly focused on training for installing, maintaining, and repairing all-electric equipment.
Fortunately, most property owners in the state are equally concerned with lowering their carbon footprints and limiting their environmental impact overall. For eco-conscious consumers, both new and forthcoming legislation will open the door to cutting-edge climate control and water-heating technologies that cost far less to use and generate little to no carbon emissions. Doing away with fuel-burning appliances also means eliminating the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.
National Legislation Is Having an Impact Too
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 also provides some pretty impressive incentives for investing in efficiency-related home improvements. Homeowners can qualify for significant tax credits when investing in heat pumps, heaters, and air conditioners that have acceptably high-efficiency ratings. They can also obtain additional tax credits for supplementary efficiency improvements such as by:
- Upgrading their windows
- Adding more insulation to their homes
- Upgrading to insulation with higher R values
Whether tightening your home’s envelope or replacing old, outdated HVAC equipment, you can do your part to save the planet while enjoying substantial tax savings at year’s end.
Options for Electrifying Your Home
Heat pumps lie at the heart of California’s electrification plan. However, they certainly aren’t your only option for residential heating. You can invest in a high-efficiency electric furnace that has an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 98.5%. This unit will convert 98.5% of the electricity it consumes into thermal energy or heat for your home.
Comparatively, some heat pumps have efficiency ratings as high as 300%. These units produce three times the amount of thermal energy that they consume in electric energy. Optimum heat pump efficiency is obtained when heat pumps are used as air conditioners and when they’re used as heaters in locations where winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing. Standard, air source heat pumps typically experience progressive efficiency losses whenever outside temperatures fall below 30 degrees.
The good news is that this is very rarely the case in Los Angeles. Moreover, even in California cities that do see exceedingly cold winter temperatures, there are also high-performing heat pumps that can continue heating homes efficiently even when outside temperatures fall well below freezing.
Heat pumps use heat transfer rather than actually producing heated or cooled air. They move warm air from the interiors of buildings outdoors during summer just as air conditioners do. In winter, they source heat from outside and transfer it into living spaces. The only electricity they need is used solely for supporting their basic functions.
When choosing a ducted, whole-house heat pump, you can also use this same appliance to meet your home’s water heating needs. Heat pumps can be used as standalone water heating systems, or they can be used for both indoor climate control and water heating. Heat pumps can even be retrofitted to work with conventional water storage heaters.
How to Electrify Your Water Heater If You Have a Ductless Mini-split
Ductless mini-split heat pumps are a popular choice for homes that lack central HVAC ducting. Rather than routing heated and cooled air through ductwork, these systems have multiple indoor air handlers that service different zones or rooms. This allows for customized heating and cooling throughout buildings.
However, ductless mini-splits aren’t built to meet water heating needs. Thus, if electrifying your home with a ductless mini-split system, you’ll have to consider a standalone heat pump for water heating or install electric, point-of-use water heaters throughout the building.
We’ve been proudly serving residents of Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding cities since 2002. We’re committed to helping our clients navigate the process of electrification in a convenient and cost-effective fashion. We offer air conditioner, furnace, heat pump, and ductless mini-split installation, repair, and maintenance services. We also provide water heaters and indoor air quality solutions. Get in touch with Temp Air System Inc. today to schedule an appointment.