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Building Electrification

What is Building Electrification?

Building electrification refers to the transition from gas-fired appliances to using entirely electric powered appliances in your home. Getting rid of gas furnaces, water heaters, ranges and other appliances and replacing them with all-electric alternatives makes your home safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Before you make your next appliance purchasing decision, consider switching to an all electric set of appliances. Many existing homes across the state are converting to all-electric appliances. The Building Decarbonization Coalition provides information and support for households wanting to switch to all-electric appliances. Visit their website for tools and more information:  Make the Switch to an All-Electric | Switch is On.

How Heat Pumps Work

A common misconception about heat pumps is that they don’t work in colder climates. This may have been true 25 years ago, but in recent years, air-source heat pump technology has improved to now offer a legitimate space heating alternative in colder regions, such as the Sierra Foothills.

A heat pump’s refrigeration system consists of a compressor and two coils (one indoors and one outside), which have aluminum fins to aid heat transfer. In heating mode, liquid refrigerant in the outside coil removes heat from the air and evaporates into a gas. The indoor coil releases heat from the refrigerant as it condenses back into a liquid. A reversing valve, near the compressor, can change the direction of the refrigerant flow for cooling mode as well as for defrosting the outdoor coil in winter.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Gas water heaters contribute to pollution that impacts local air quality and causes climate change. And, like gas furnaces, water heaters pose risks to home occupants if there is a leak or other undetected defects.

A heat-pump water heater (HPWH) can be three times more efficient than a conventional gas-powered water heater.

To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse. While a refrigerator moves heat from inside a box to ambient air of the surrounding room, a heat pump water heater moves heat from ambient air outside to water in a storage tank. Heat pump water heaters can reduce energy consumption for water heating by 50 percent or more, according to the Department of Energy.

This chart explains in more detail the functions and potential advantages for using a heat pump water heater: 

Heat Pump Space Heaters

Instead of burning fuel, heat pumps use a refrigerant to move heat from one place to another, similar to your refrigerator. Like the heat pump water heaters, heat-pump space heaters are more efficient, more consistent and offer more control. Plus, a single heat pump can replace both your heating and your air conditioning units. 

An air-source heat pump can provide efficient heating and cooling for your home. When properly installed, air-source heat pumps deliver up to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy pumps consumes. This is possible because a heat pump transfers heat rather than converting it from a fuel, like combustion heating systems.

Multi-Zone vs. Single-Zone Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have different configurations, commonly known as single-zone or multi-zone systems. Single-zone systems are designed for a single room with one outdoor condenser matched to one indoor head. Multi-zone heat-pump installations can have two or more indoor coils connected to one outdoor condenser. Multi-zone indoor coils vary by size and style and each creates its own “zone” of comfort, allowing you to heat or cool individual rooms, hallways or open spaces. These heat-pump setups can also be referred to as “multi-head vs. single-head” and “multi-port vs. single-port.”

For more information on Air Source Heat Pumps or other similar technologies, visit the US Department of Energy website.

Heat Pump Clothes Dryers

Most homes have either gas or electric clothes dryers. Gas-powered dryers, like gas furnaces and water heaters, contribute to our dependency on fossil fuels and increases local and global pollution. Conventional electric dryers have the advantage of not burning gas but are less efficient than gas dryers.

Heat pump dryers, on the other hand:

  • Are easily installed, since they don’t require venting
  • Reduce monthly utility bills
  • Are gentle on your laundry since they dry at a lower temperature

On average, laundry dryers have a 10-year lifespan. When you are ready to make the switch, ask your preferred retailer about heat pump laundry dryers

Induction Cooktops

When it comes to cooktops, gas and electric heating elements have been considered the only real options. Electric cooktops are easier to clean, while gas provides even heat across your cookware. Induction ranges combine the best of both worlds – they’re easier to clean than electric and provide heat that is as consistent as gas. Induction also provides unique benefits not found in any other form of cooking.

Compared to gas and electric coil ranges, induction ranges:

  • Heat up faster
  • Offer more precision, with digital temperature controls
  • Safety – induction cooktops heat up the pans, not the stove surface
  • Safety – the harmful emissions of a gas stove are all eliminated

For expert insights on induction cooktops, visit the Kitchens to Life website.

For additional information and resources regarding induction cooktops, watch the video below: