Why California’s Future Is Electric
California has always been at the forefront of the move toward new clean-energy technologies and ways to reduce carbon emissions. Consequently, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn that some cities in the state and the state itself are now pushing homeowners and businesses to switch over to electric options for space and water heating instead of relying on natural gas. California has already announced that it will ban the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles in 2035 in favor of all-electric cars, and it now seems that similar steps will eventually be taken so that all buildings in the state use electricity instead of natural gas for things like heating and hot water.
How Berkeley and Other Cities Are Leading the Way
In 2019, Berkeley became the first place in the United States to completely ban natural gas in some new buildings. From the time that the ban was announced, any new low-rise buildings were prohibited from using natural gas and required instead to have only electric appliances. This means no gas stoves or fireplaces and no gas water heaters or furnaces.
Other cities and towns across California are also attempting to take similar steps to reduce the reliance on natural gas, but it doesn’t yet seem that any are ready to go quite as far as Berkeley in banning the use of natural gas altogether. Instead, most places are looking at providing incentives and benefits for any homeowner or business that switches over from gas-burning appliances to electric.
San Jose has already announced its goal of having at least 47% of the homes in the city converted to fully electric by 2030, and it has proposed certain changes to the city’s building code designed to provide incentives that will help encourage people to choose electric options. It is estimated that there are around 60 cities and towns throughout the state that are considering taking similar steps, and there will likely be many more that do so in the near future.
California’s Proposed Energy Goals
The State of California also has its own specific energy goals that it hopes to accomplish in the near future, and it has passed several important pieces of legislation in the past few years that should help to meet them. The biggest and most ambitious goal is that the state wants to be 100% carbon neutral by 2045.
The first part of this goal was set out in Assembly Bill 3232, which was passed in 2018. This bill charges the California Energy Commission to find ways by 2030 to reduce the state’s total carbon emissions by 40% less than they were in 1990. To help with this, the legislature also passed Senate Bill 1477 the same year. This bill sets aside funding so that there are special incentives and rebates available to anyone who switches from a gas furnace to a heat pump or other type of electric heating.
Why Electrification Is So Important
Gas-burning appliances like furnaces and water heaters are a major source of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. Approximately 25% of the total carbon emissions produced in the state come from homes, businesses, and other buildings. Of these emissions, more than 50% of them are directly produced by gas-burning appliances.
Estimates show that if just one-third of the buildings in the state were to switch over to only using electric appliances, it would have an effect similar to removing 1.5 million cars from the streets. To put it another way, it would be equivalent to having nearly two-thirds of the cars in Los Angeles suddenly disappear.
Electrification doesn’t just have major benefits for the environment but it can also help out the consumer. Compared to gas furnaces, there are some electric heat pumps that cost as much as $1,500 less. Heat pumps are also far cheaper to run since they are much more energy efficient than any other heating option. Upgrading to a heat pump has the potential to reduce your heating costs by anywhere from 30% to 50% or more.
Heat pumps also have the advantage of being able to function as an air conditioner to keep you cool during the hot summer months. This can save you thousands of dollars over purchasing separate heating and cooling units.
Electric water heaters are also far more energy efficient than gas-burning units. The only issue is that an electric tank heater will still typically cost more to operate than a gas unit since natural gas is cheaper than electricity. However, this isn’t the case if you decide to upgrade to an electric tankless water heater because one of these will only ever use electricity when hot water is currently needed.
All types of traditional water heaters waste a lot of energy since they need to constantly reheat the water stored inside their tank. Tankless units eliminate this waste by almost instantly heating the water whenever it is needed and then automatically shutting off as soon as the hot water fixture is closed. Compared to a traditional water heater, a tankless unit will typically lower your overall energy costs by anywhere from 10% to 40% or more depending on how much hot water you use daily. The savings are always greatest in situations where you use less than 40 gallons of hot water in an average day, but you will still save at least some money even if you use more than 80 gallons each day.
Another option that can be equally as efficient is a heat pump water heater. These units still store hot water inside a large tank, but the process they use to heat the water makes them far more energy efficient. Instead of directly converting electricity into heat energy, they use refrigerant to capture heat from the air to raise the water temperature just as a heat pump works to raise the indoor air temperature.
When Is the Best Time to Electrify Your Home?
If you’re constructing a new building, choosing electric options wherever possible will provide major cost-saving benefits while helping you to reduce your carbon footprint and ensuring the building is more energy efficient. Otherwise, it usually doesn’t make sense to run out and immediately replace all of your gas-burning appliances with electric units.
Instead, you are always better off to wait until each unit is nearing the end of its life span and needs to be replaced anyway. When your furnace is 15 or more years old and not working well, consider upgrading to an electric heat pump instead of installing a new furnace. Once your gas water heater dies, look at replacing it with an electric tankless or heat pump water heater instead. By doing so, you can slowly start to reap the benefits of electrification without having to shell out thousands of dollars to replace equipment that may still work for years.
If you’re looking to electrify your home in La Puente or the Los Angeles area, our experts at Temp Air System Inc. are ready to help. We install electric furnaces, heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, and electric water heaters. We also install cooling and indoor air quality systems, and we handle maintenance and repairs for all of these appliances. In fact, we also perform a complete range of electrical services. To learn more about your options for going electric or the benefits it can provide, give us a call today.