California Moves Closer to the Electrification of Heating

California believes that installing clean and energy-efficient technologies like solar panels and heat pumps will help residents save a considerable sum of money. The state has set several aggressive clean air and clean energy goals, which is why it is pushing the use of high-efficiency heat pump technology in the latest building code updates. These updates go into effect in January 2023.

California Wants to Become Carbon-neutral

According to a Synapse Energy Economic report that was released by NRDC, heating emissions can fall by as much as 7 million metric tons each year in the event that 33% of buildings in California switch over to electric water and space heating technology. Along with updating local building codes, California has also taken steps to make heating technology more accessible and affordable for residents.

California buildings are responsible for around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Over 50% of these emissions occur from the energy that’s consumed during water and space heating functions. The NRDC report indicates that the latest energy-efficient systems that can be used to heat homes and dry clothes are able to save people thousands of dollars while the appliances are in operation.

Heat pumps are an important focus in the transition to electrification. While heat pumps have already been installed in most commercial buildings, nearly all new residential homes that are built from January 2023 and beyond must come equipped with a highly efficient heat pump. According to AB 3232 bill, the California Energy Commission needs to lower emissions by 40% below the 1990 emission levels by 2030.

Upfront Costs Are Covered by Long-term Savings

Since heat pumps are considerably more efficient when compared to gas-powered equipment, residents should substantially reduce the energy that’s used each month, as well as the emissions that are produced. However, the economics associated with heat pump installations can vary depending on the size of a building, utility rates, and availability of solar panels.

For newer homes that are outfitted with electric water and space heating systems, costs can be reduced by upwards of $1,500 by getting rid of the need for plumbing expenses and a gas connection. Higher savings can be obtained with the use of solar photovoltaic panels that deliver a higher electric load.

While these panels don’t always eliminate the need for electricity from a utility, they can significantly reduce your household’s energy consumption. Additional benefits of electric heating include better comfort, a more consistent temperature, and quieter equipment.

How These Changes Benefit California’s Electrical Grid

The adoption of electrification of heating in the state could cause California’s electricity demand to increase by nearly 20%. In turn, the state’s gas demand could drop by 33%. If modern heating equipment is made to be flexible and more energy-efficient, the electrical grid resources that are used shouldn’t be too high. More efficient equipment leads to less demand on the grid. By implementing flexible equipment, electricity use can be shifted from peak hours to off-peak hours.

California’s Policy Updates

There are four distinct areas of California’s policies that focus on the move to electrification and clean heating technologies. These policies aim to make electrification more affordable to Californians.

First, they want to educate residents and raise awareness. Contractors, policymakers, and consumers should be more familiar with the benefits, availability, and installation process for clean electric heating.

They also aim to develop plans and set clear goals that need to be reached in the near future. Along with the laws and building code updates that have been passed, California also wants to help existing homeowners switch over to clean heating.

Another California policy is to get rid of the market and regulatory barriers that exist in the state by providing retailers and distributors with more incentives. They’re also striving to introduce utility rate improvements and financing options for electric heating to lower the cost hurdles that are currently in place.

The fourth step is to transform the entire market by revising their building codes to promote clean technologies in any new buildings. They are investing in additional research as well. By taking these steps, California believes that it will be able to clean the air, transition to more renewable energy, and make housing much more affordable.

Electrification Could Go National

A nonprofit organization known as RMI is working alongside the New Buildings Institute to take California’s energy-efficient innovations outside of its borders. The New Buildings Institute is currently creating building electrification codes that local and state governments can more readily adopt. The proposals that these two organizations have created are already being implemented by environmental groups and cities in places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

States can differ substantially in what their building codes look like. For instance, more than half of the states in the U.S. base their building codes on the International Energy Conservation Code, which is many years out of date.

Along with the statewide efforts that are being made to introduce the electrification of heating, the RMI also believes that federal leadership in this regard is possible and is already at work. Currently, the Biden administration has a goal to reduce carbon emissions in the country by as much as 50% by 2030, which is accomplished with efficiency investments for federal buildings and investments into efficiency programs. Earlier this year, the administration introduced a residential electrification and efficiency upgrade program along with a program designed to raise Energy Star efficiency standards with cold-climate heat pumps.

In recent months, the U.S. Department of Energy stated that updating building codes for better electrification could result in the average household saving around $160 per month from their energy bills during the next three decades. They also estimate that these updates will reduce carbon emissions by as much as 900 million metric tons, which matches the yearly emissions of nearly 200 million vehicles.

In the U.S., around 129 million commercial and residential buildings have yearly energy expenditures that total over $400 billion, which makes up more than one-third of the country’s carbon emissions.

Another nonprofit organization known as Rewiring America promotes the mass electrification of residential and commercial buildings. They state that aggressive action is needed to retrofit existing buildings with more efficient heat pumps. Electrical service must also be improved to support the new loads.

When implemented in anywhere from 65-103 million households across the U.S., the savings could be as high as $37 billion per year while also lowering carbon emissions by around 240 million metric tons annually. This organization also wants Congress to pass some form of legislation that offers incentives to contractors and homeowners to switch over to electric appliances as soon as their current ones require a replacement.

If you require maintenance or repair work on your heating system or HVAC unit, Temp Air System Inc. in La Puente offers comprehensive services that will allow your home systems to remain in good working condition. Along with our heating and cooling services, you can also request electrification if you’d like to conserve energy and reduce your monthly bills. We’ll help you obtain the rebates and incentives you deserve by performing an appraisal to determine what your energy savings are. Some of the additional services you can request from Temp Air System Inc. include HVAC inspections, thermostat repairs, air purification, and UV light installation. Call Temp Air System Inc. today to request service.

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