If you’re a California resident, you should already know that our state prides itself on its forward-thinking environmental policies. We’re home to some of the strictest anti-pollution regulations as well as the most stringent automobile fuel economy standards in the nation.
Recently, however, lawmakers in Sacramento unveiled an ambitious plan to help the state achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. To get there, the state will work to cut air pollution by 71%, greenhouse gas emissions by 85%, and drop gasoline consumption by 94%. It’s a plan that will require major changes to how we live here in the Golden State.
For homeowners, in particular, it will mean changing the way they satisfy many of their homes’ day-to-day needs. Of course, HVAC systems are high on the list of things affected by the plan. To help homeowners understand what to expect, the experts here at Temp Air System Inc. prepared this guide to what California’s net zero by 2045 goal means for your home’s HVAC.
The Carbon Footprint of Residential HVAC
Although many people don’t realize it, HVAC systems are a major contributor to climate change. Here in the US, the Department of Energy estimates that a full 40% of all CO2 emissions each year come from heating, cooling, and hot water systems. Air conditioners are an especially large part of the problem.
Since they require so much electricity to operate, they’re indirectly responsible for pumping around 100 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year in the US. It’s a global problem, too, as scientists predict that by 2025, air conditioning will be the cause of 25% of all global warming.
Residential heating systems are not quite as destructive but still harm the environment. On average, a gas-powered furnace releases about 12 pounds of CO2 for every 100,000 BTUs of heat produced. Since the average furnace in the US produces 100,000 BTUs per hour, the CO2 emissions add up fast.
For oil-powered furnaces, emissions are even higher. On average, an oil furnace produces 24 pounds of CO2 for every gallon burned. The only good news is that homes here in the Los Angeles County area don’t need heat for many days each year, which limits the environmental damage caused by heating systems here.
Achieving Net Zero HVAC
Now that you know how big an impact your home’s HVAC has on your carbon footprint, you’re likely wondering how you can reduce that impact to meet the state’s net zero carbon target. The answer is to move to heat pump technology and renewable energy. By eliminating heating systems that burn fossil fuels, heat pumps can dramatically lower the carbon footprint associated with residential heating needs.
They’re also far more efficient than conventional furnaces when used in heating mode. Today’s air-source heat pumps can achieve efficiency rates as high as 400% under ideal conditions. That’s more than four times as efficient as the best gas-powered furnace on the market today.
In cooling mode, heat pumps also typically offer greater efficiency than a standard air conditioning system. The difference between the two, however, isn’t as drastic. One of the reasons for the higher efficiency is that heat pumps do a better job than air conditioners at removing humidity from the air. That makes you feel more comfortable and reduces the demand for the heat pump. Also, many heat pumps use variable-speed motors to further improve their energy efficiency.
There’s another difference you’ll find in new heat pumps that also helps to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s that they rely on newer, more environmentally-friendly refrigerants. The refrigerants used in older air conditioning equipment can damage the Earth’s ozone layer as they slowly escape from containment. It’s an issue that goes all the way back to the use of Freon, which the EPA banned in 2020. However, its replacements, while not as damaging to the environment, still represented a problem.
Fortunately, most heat pumps now use refrigerants that aren’t as problematic. One of the most common refrigerants you’ll find in newer heat pumps is R454B. It’s approximately 78% less likely to cause damage to the ozone layer than the refrigerants it replaces. It’s also hundreds of times safer than the refrigerants you’d find in air conditioners that are 20 or more years old.
For most homeowners, switching to a heat pump system is the only thing they’ll have to do to get their home in line with the state’s ambitious emissions targets. That’s because the state plans to ensure that 100% of all electricity produced within its borders is renewable by 2045. That means any HVAC system that uses electricity only will become carbon-neutral by that date.
Preparing for the Switch to HVAC Electrification
It is worth pointing out that some homes could need some electrical upgrades to support a new heat pump. And even those that don’t will likely need upgrades to support the charging of EVs, since they’re also a key part of the state’s net zero carbon strategy. So, homes that aren’t quite ready to make the move to a heat pump just yet may wish to get a head start on preparing their home’s electrical systems for one.
In particular, you’ll want to consider upgrading your home’s electrical service if it’s currently lower than 200 amps. Otherwise, adding a heat pump as your primary HVAC system could stretch your home’s electrical capacity, to say nothing of adding an EV charger. Also, you’ll want to ensure that you have circuits with the proper amperage to support a heat pump already installed inside your home. Doing so now will minimize the disruption when you have your heat pump installed. This is especially true if you have an existing gas or oil-powered furnace that needs removal since that’s already a big job for your HVAC installer.
Consult the Heat Pump Experts
Now that you know how California’s push to achieve net zero carbon emissions will affect your home’s HVAC, you can start formulating a plan for your home’s future. Temp Air System Inc. would be happy to help you do that. We offer comprehensive HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance services, including the installation and maintenance of the latest heat pumps. That means we can help you to maintain your home’s existing HVAC system if it’s not ready for replacement. That way, you can protect your existing investment while keeping your energy costs as low as possible Plus, we offer electrical services to help you prepare your home to meet its electrical needs as it transitions to a fully-electrified future. We’ve served the local community with pride since 2002 and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of the work we do.
So, if you’re ready to install a new heat pump or prepare your Los Angeles County home’s electrical systems for the coming move to carbon neutrality, contact the experts at Temp Air System Inc. today!