A preliminary effort of “all-electric” homes is gaining attention in a world where clean and efficient energy is at the forefront of environmental efforts to reduce carbon emissions. If the house is built with the right conditions, it can achieve zero emissions, or net-zero. Utility businesses, contractors, and manufacturers are upgrading, creating, and pioneering technologies to achieve net-zero homes.
Electric homes have been in the spotlight before; they were all the rage from about 1950 to 1970. More than 850,000 houses were considered “Gold Medallion,” a program sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute, advocating General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Corp. The phrase “Live Better Electrically” touted these electric homes that showcased electric washers and dryers, garbage disposals, refrigerators, and furnaces. At that time, coal was not considered unrenewable, and electricity was expensive, so natural gas ousted electric.
In 2015, roughly 25 percent of homes throughout the United States were considered all-electric, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Advocates of all-electric homes have been working diligently to deliver clean electricity as power networks aim to decarbonize.
Justin Margolies is the senior energy research analyst for Slipstream, out of Madison, Wisconsin, which serves 21 states by joining with utilities, local and state governments, regulatory agencies, and other organizations to develop novel solutions to energy challenges. Margolies said, “Electrification can be an all-in or incremental strategy. For new homes, going all-in on electrification makes sense since costs for a gas connection, piping, and fixed monthly charges can be avoided altogether.”
All-electric homes contain programmable mechanics, appliances, and LED lights that are powered without emissions. New homes could forgo natural gas lines thanks to technologies including air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, heat pump water heaters and dryers, and induction stoves. Homes are typically wired for electric vehicles as well.
Collaboration with other trades is imperative in all-electric houses. Margolies said, “Manufacturers offer installer training for their equipment, utilities offer consumer-facing educational resources, and Energy Star offers valuable information as well. There are also forums such as the Electrify Everything Facebook group that offers a place for contractors and homeowners to exchange technical insights and resources related to home and vehicle electrification. The Illinois Green Alliance is a great source of education, and ComEd has materials and resources for its Electric Homes New Construction program.”
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