The environmental benefits of switching from natural gas to sustainably generated electricity are clear. Removing fossil fuels from our homes reduces carbon emissions, helps fight climate change, and makes our homes healthier to live in.
According to Oak Park’s recent 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 91% of the emissions from village buildings comes from natural gas use. Not surprisingly, building electrification is central to the village’s Climate Action Plan.
Many of us have gas-powered dryers, stoves, hot-water heaters, and furnaces in our homes. The expense of replacing them all with electric appliances may seem daunting. But as each gas appliance ages out, we have an opportunity to move closer to going gas-free. If we buy equipment that uses natural gas, we push the chance to make that switch out another 15-20 years, until the appliance ages out again.
A new electric appliance will cost roughly the same as the replacement gas-powered device, but it may save us money over time. Over 10-20 years, we can convert all our appliances without increasing our budget, while making our homes healthier and helping fight climate change as well. The electricity grid is relying on renewable energy more and more and will be 100% renewable within the next two decades.
As we know, hot water heaters and furnaces in particular often fail without warning. They also seem to fail at the most inconvenient times, such as the dead of winter, forcing us to make split-second decisions about replacement equipment. So, if we want to get off gas, we have to be prepared when that unexpected moment arrives.
Researching options for new appliances using unfamiliar technology — such as an induction cooktop or heat pump HVAC system — needs to be done in advance. So, too, does ensuring that our electrical service is upgraded with the capacity these new electric appliances and systems need. Upgrading your electrical service now is one more way to spread out the cost of achieving a fossil-fuel-free home.
With the consequences of our failure to address climate change ever more obvious and Illinois’ 2050 deadline for net-zero carbon emissions looming, the time to start electrifying is now. To get started, visit https://www.rewiringamerica.org/electrify-home-guide.