Electric appliances are powered by electricity from a variety of sources, while gas appliances rely on a single, unsustainable fuel. The energy mix of the grid produces fewer emissions than ever before and is only getting cleaner. Today’s heat pump and induction technologies are both far more efficient than their gas counterparts and can take advantage of an ever-cleaner electrical grid.
A gas furnace or water heater installed today will never be more efficient or produce fewer greenhouse emissions than it does right now. An electric heat pump, on the other hand, will draw a greater and greater percentage of its energy from clean, renewable sources over time.
Using less energy is a good goal, but we will always need to power our lives. In order to reach our emissions goals, there must be a path towards the complete elimination of fossil fuels.
Today’s heat pump and induction technologies are both far more efficient than their gas counterparts and can take advantage of an ever-cleaner electrical grid. In addition, every new grid-connected electric appliance adds a new opportunity to control energy demand and manage the grid through responsive technology.
Power outages have many different causes, including:
- Humans (accidents like cars running into power poles or vandalism)
- Severe weather (wind, rain and snow)
- Extreme heat (leading to air conditioning use that over-taxes the system)
- Natural disasters (earthquakes, lightening, wildfire)
- Utility maintenance and construction (updates on infrastructure)
As mentioned above, new technology can lead to better opportunities to help control demand on the grid. While some appliances may occasionally put a minor burden on the electric grid, utility companies and other agencies are actively working together to improve existing infrastructure and increase grid capacity for building electrification.
Maybe, depending on your home and where you live. There are many reasons why upgrading an old panel might be a good idea (such as for electrical safety), even if you aren’t electrifying all of your appliances. That said, many people can electrify one or more appliances without requiring an upgrade to their electric panel.
Every home and situation is different. The best way to find out if you will need a panel upgrade is to speak with an electrician or an energy expert.
If you rent, your property owner likely makes decisions about the appliances/equipment in your home. You can let your landlord know that you are interested in using all-electric appliances in your home, and share resources about benefits and rebates with them. You can write a letter to your landlord as a starting place.
Every appliance is different, but here are some clues:
Water Heater: If you have a gas water heater you will have an access panel to be able to see the flames that heat the water. Find the access panel on the side of your hot water heater, and see if there is a blue flame when you open it. If so, you have a fossil fuel gas water heater.
Space Heater: Heat pump space heaters and gas-powered space heaters look fundamentally different. One clue that your system may be gas-powered is if the heating unit(s) has a small window with a blue flame when it is turned on.
Dryer: Pull your dryer away from the wall, If it is connected to a gas valve, then you have a gas-powered dryer.
Range/Oven/Stove: Gas-powered ranges look fundamentally different from electric coil or induction ranges. One hint that you have a gas-powered range/oven/stove is if you see a blue flame when it is on. Also, you will see a gas valve where it’s connected to the wall.
Any common home appliance that heats or requires heat can be powered by electricity, such as hot water heaters, space heaters/furnaces, stoves/ranges/ovens, and dryers. Once you convert all your gas-powered appliances to electric-powered appliances and disconnect your gas service, your home is electrified!
When swapping from gas to electric-powered appliances, the exact impact on your utility bills will depend on a number of factors (including, but not limited to, cost of gas in your region, cost of electricity in your region, how efficient your appliances are, etc.). But using an efficient heat pump can often lower your heating bills dramatically, especially in climates like California where winters do not get too cold.
Over the long term, it is very likely that gas prices will continue to rise and electricity becomes cheaper as the price of renewable energy continues to drop.
Most highly-efficient electric appliances cost around the same price as their gas alternatives. However, installation costs may vary based on your contractor’s familiarity with the technology. This is why it is crucial to find contractors experienced in electrification. The exception is replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump. The heat pump will cost more than replacing the simple gas furnace but you get significant benefit from it in addition to replacing the furnace: cooling, potentially zonal control for different rooms and higher efficiency.
Besides the labor and appliance cost there may be costs to upgrade your home’s electrical system, depending on its age and condition. Fortunately, California has introduced a number of rebates and incentives that make electrifying your home more affordable than ever. Check out our incentives page to learn more.
That certainly depends on your home and your energy usage! While heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) are often the biggest energy consumers in our homes, everyone’s personal use case differs. Speak to an energy expert today to find out more.
Environment and Climate Change
Clean energy refers to energy generated by renewable sources that create no emissions, including solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. You can see what’s in your energy mix.
Unfortunately, no. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, created deep underground by decomposing organic matter in a way similar to crude oil and coal. Burning natural gas still spews large amounts of heat-trapping carbon into the atmosphere. Even worse, unburnt natural gas (in the form of methane) is more than 25 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide when it leaks into the atmosphere. We have a very leaky gas supply chain in America.
They all can be recycled. With California’s waste fees, contractors who remove your appliances are financially incentivized to recycle them. You can ask your contractor to make sure that is what they plan to do, or ask for proof of recycling before you finalize payment.
Health and Safety
Indoor appliances impact the quality of our indoor air, among other concerns. Natural gas and propane stoves release carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and other harmful pollutants that can be toxic to people and pets. Using a wood stove or fireplace to cook can result in high levels of indoor air pollution as well.
No. In fact, a 2021 Consumer Reports assessment found that electric ranges out-performed gas ranges most of the time, when testing performance at high heat, low heat, baking and broiling.
Yes. A heat pump is the same technology as an air conditioner but can also run in reverse, heating a space rather than cooling it. A ducted heat pump can also use ducts to distribute heat around a house like a central HVAC system with a gas furnace, but does so with significantly more efficiency. Another type of heat pump, the mini-split, can distribute refrigerant to different rooms to heat and cool the rooms. This also allows for each room to be set to different temperatures.
Yes. Traditionally, air-source heat pumps have provided reliable heat even when temperatures drop into the 20s. Newer models are rated for temperatures down to negative 14 degrees fahrenheit, though efficiency does drop at those temperatures.
In a relatively mild climate like California, heat pumps are a no-brainer.
Gas stoves create heat by burning gas and are typically connected to both an electric outlet and gas pipe in the wall.
Electric coil stoves create heat in the coil/resistor by converting electricity to heat.
Induction stoves create an electric field that heats the cooking vessel itself. Induction is the superior form of cooking, as it is three times more powerful than gas and electric coil stoves and twice as responsive.
No. A tankless water heater does not have a water tank to hold the water once it’s been heated. Instead, water is heated in real time at the source when a faucet is turned on in the home. Heat pump water heaters have tanks and are more efficient than tankless heaters.
Electric Power Grid
If there is a power outage and you do not have a generator, battery or an electric vehicle that can power your home, you will not be able to use your electrical appliances. But since all modern gas appliances use an electric ignition for fire safety, they won’t be able to ignite during a power outage either. You still could light your gas stove manually but would not be able to turn on the vent over it to get all of the pollutants from the stove out of your kitchen.
Yes. California has built our grid for the hottest days of the year when all the air conditioners will be on full blast. Electric homes can help support the grid during peak summer times, since heat pumps are extremely efficient electricity users. Home electrification may add load during the winter, but our current grid will be able to absorb the additional electricity demand from an all-electric building sector.
It is not typical for refrigerants in a heat pump to leak. In the rare situation where refrigerants leak from a heat pump, the emissions from direct space or water heating (burning gas or other fossil fuels in the home) are still significantly greater than the emissions from refrigerants. Refrigerant management is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, learn more about these regulations here.