Electrification of Buildings in California


The state of California has long paved the way for effective climate policy. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions through 2050 California has an ambitious plan related to climate change. Research has shown that the electrification of buildings is likely to be a lower cost greenhouse gas mitigation strategy than reliance on renewable natural gas. A study conducted in 2019 titled “Residential Building Electrification in California” confirms that the electrification of buildings can lead to consumer capital cost savings to both homeowners and developers, bills savings, and lifecycle savings under many circumstances. The most substantial electrification options that reduce greenhouse gasses is found in all new electric construction and high efficiency air source heat pumps in homes where the traditional air conditioning can be replaced with heat pumps. Electrification can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in homes by up to 90% percent in 2050 compared to mixed – fuel homes.

What is Electrification?

Electrification means switching a building from multiple energy sources to 100% electricity. Greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy we use in our homes from both electricity and natural gas. Electrification of buildings by using electric heat pumps help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels from gas furnaces.

E3 Study of Electrification

A study commissioned by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power along with other local utility companies such as Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Southern California Edison (SCE) assesses the effectiveness of electrification in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how electrification can be implemented in communities. The study titled “Residential Building Electrification in California” also assesses the energy savings, impacts to the electric grid and overall economics of residential building electrification for customers in California.

The study considers housing in six different climates and covers both single family and multi-family homes. It reveals that an all-electric home would produce 45% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a home that uses mixed fuel sources. An all-electric new construction home results in savings of up to $130-$540 per year over the life of the equipment. Furthermore, there are cost savings to the developers as well who would not have lay down gas lines and can pass the savings onto the homeowners as well.  For retrofit homes the study suggests that single family households could save between $10-$60 per month on energy bills and about 84% of households would save up to $30 per month on total lifecycle costs. The savings also includes the cost of installing efficient electric equipment instead of replacing gas equipment. The study goes as far to estimate that in 2050 a home powered by electricity only would produce 82% fewer emissions than a mixed fuel home.

The study recommends that certain steps be taken to encourage higher rates of electrification. This includes developing programs that will educate customers about the environmental and economic benefits of electrification. As such, many utility companies and Community Choice Aggregators in California, including LADWP, SMUD, Marin Clean Energy, and Sonoma Clean Power have begun to offer incentives and programs for electric heat pumps and/or providing incentives for electrification of new homes. It is important to note the study did not account for any state or utility incentives and when these are considered the benefits are even greater for consumers.

The Future of Electrification

If you have had a furnace for your entire life replacing your furnace with a heat pump has several benefits. Once the system is installed not only will you benefit from lower energy bills every month but you will also be doing your part to slow climate change. Heat pumps use electricity to provide both cooling and heating. Building electrification is key component in achieving California’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides cost savings for households. Give LA Construction, Heating and Air a call today at 818-341-3406 or contact us online. We install both heat pumps and mini split systems for homes and we would be more than happy to help guide you along the way.

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