Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by swapping out gas and propane appliances
One of the County of Marin’s newest efforts in addressing climate change focuses on a source of greenhouse gas emissions that has largely been ignored: our home appliances. About one-third of greenhouse gases produced in Marin comes from buildings, mostly the result of burning natural gas and propane.
Now, upgrading those old appliances can result in cash. Electrify Marin is a new rebate program administered by the County of Marin’s Sustainability Team that encourages homeowners to replace gas-and propane-powered appliances with efficient, all-electric models. In the same way that electric vehicles have begun to replace gasoline vehicles, new electric appliances are now on the market to do the same job as gas-fueled appliances in cleaner and more efficient way.
Electricity has become a cleaner alternative to gas and propane because of changes in the way electricity is generated in recent years. Both MCE Clean Energy and PG&E have programs for Marin residents that provide electricity generated from 100% renewable sources, such as solar and wind.
As Californians work toward the statewide goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2045, the portion of renewable energy on California’s power grid grows each year. An all-electric home powered by renewable electricity will not produce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
In California homes, natural gas and propane are most commonly used for space heating, water heating, and cooking. Electrify Marin offers rebates for efficient electric appliances for each of those functions when they are installed to replace a gas appliance. Rebate amounts range from $1,000 to $2,000 for heat pump water heaters, $800 to $4,500 for heat pump space-heating systems, and $250 to $500 for induction cooking equipment. Higher rebate amounts are available for income-qualified households.
For water heating and space heating, electric heat pump provides an efficient alternative to gas systems. Rather than generating heat, the systems move heat from the surrounding air into a water storage tank or directly into a home, aided by a refrigerant. Heat pumps for space heating can be operated in reverse during the summer to cool homes. Homeowners looking to add air conditioning to their properties should consider removing their gas furnace and installing a heat pump, which can serve as a single efficient appliance for all heating and cooling needs.
Induction cooking equipment has gained popularity among professional and home chefs around the world. Induction cooktops use an electromagnetic current to heat cookware directly rather than with a flame or resistance burner, making it a much more efficient. Because no heat is wasted in the cooking process, induction cooktops won’t heat up a kitchen on a hot summer day. Induction burners can boil water in almost half the time of gas or radiant electric burners, and they provide cooks with a level of control and flexibility unparalleled by other cooking methods.
In addition to impacting the environment, natural gas use presents serious health and safety risks. Burning natural gas in enclosed spaces can produce unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide. Leaks are a pervasive problem with aging gas infrastructure, which is especially dangerous in earthquake and fire-prone areas such as Marin.
Dan Vianueva of San Rafael has taken several steps toward electrifying his Santa Venetia home. He wanted to be sure he’s using the clean electricity generated by his rooftop solar to power his home, so he recently replaced his gas furnace and water heater with efficient electric heat pump units. Through Electrify Marin, Dan received a rebate of $6,200 for his home upgrades. His next project is to install battery storage to make his home more resilient in the case of natural disaster.
Increasing concern over electrical outages, either resulting from a disaster or due to PG&E’s public safety power shutoffs during fire season, highlight the importance of having an emergency preparedness plan. When both electricity and gas are shut off after a major disaster, electricity generally is restored much sooner than gas service. Public safety power shutoffs are expected to be brief and take place in hotter months when home heating is less crucial. Emergency plans should include contingencies for loss of both electricity and gas service.
For more information about the benefits of home electrification, efficient electric appliances, and details about the rebate program, visit www.marincounty.org/electrify.