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Many homeowners throughout the Fairfield, Napa, Berkeley, and Sonoma area have been feeling a little confused about how to move forward with all electric appliances, as the Golden State says goodbye to natural gas and other fossil fuels for home use.
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about how to move forward with things like furnace replacement, installing a new water heater, or even solar energy, and how it relates to upgrading to an all electric home.
Why is California banning new natural gas lines?
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, which will release environmentally harmful carbon emissions when used to heat the air in a home, the water in a water heater, or a pan on a stove. The state of California is on its way to restoring its carbon emission levels to less than what they were 30 years ago, and since residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of all energy use in the US, decarbonizing the energy that buildings in California use is the most effective place to start.
Plus, mining natural gas often requires the controversial fracking method, which releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane in the atmosphere can be significantly more harmful than carbon dioxide. In short, moving to an all electric home is better for California’s environment.
Does this ban on natural gas affect my home, now?
The current bans on natural gas are for new buildings only. If your home currently has a natural gas line or natural gas appliances, you are exempt from the ban (actual requirements will vary, city by city). However, California only has 10 more years to eliminate natural gas from in-home use, and given that the average brand new gas powered furnace only lasts about 10 years, chances are homeowners will be required to replace their gas furnace with electric alternatives within the decade.
My natural gas furnace is getting old — how can I replace it if I won’t be able to use natural gas in the future?
This is exactly what Electrify My Home is here for! There are all-electric alternatives for gas furnaces that operate much more efficiently than conventional heating equipment like heat pumps and ductless mini splits. Our team can help you cut the gas line and switch to efficient all electric heating, without losing out on any of your dependable home comfort.
I’m planning to go all-electric. But do I need to replace all of my appliances all at once?
The beauty of getting ahead of the curve when it comes to going all electric is that you can do it at a pace that works for you. Perhaps you are in need of furnace replacement now, but would like to eventually replace your oven range with an induction stove in the future. And when that time comes, you may even need to replace your failing water heater with an all electric heat pump water heater.
Electrify My Home can help you envision every aspect of your electrification, and plan for it step by step. We can even integrate solar installation into your future plans, so you can power your electric home using your own solar energy!
Will an induction stove work with my existing cookware?
The short answer: it depends.
Not all cookware is induction compatible. Because induction stoves utilize an electromagnetic field to generate instant heat, your cookware will need to have magnetic properties (this usually means it will need to contain a certain amount of iron in order to conduct that electromagnetic field).
Want a quick test to see if your cookware is compatible? Use a magnet! If it sticks, chances are it will work with your new induction stove. If you are not sure, it is best to replace it with newer cookware that is designed specifically for induction stoves.
Won’t an all-electric home actually increase my energy bills?
It may surprise lots of Californians, but upgrading to newer, efficient all electric appliances can actually save you money when you look at the big picture. What makes the largest difference is the integration of ultra-efficient and versatile technology, like heat pumps.
Studies have shown that heat pumps alone can save a home $600 per year when compared to more conventional furnaces and air conditioners. And when you consider that cutting the gas line means you are no longer paying the unpredictable prices of natural gas each month, it's a little easier to see how an all electric home can save you money month over month, year over year.
Does a heat pump water heater work in Northern California's climate?
Heat pump water heaters utilize existing heat to efficiently heat the water that goes to your showerheads, faucets, dishwasher, and washing machine. So, does the California climate provide enough heat for heat pump water heaters to use? Yes — and your home can actually provide most of it!
Heat pump water heaters require a couple of things to operate correctly:
1,000 cubic square feet of uninhabited indoor space (roughly a 12’x12’ room)
An ambient room temperature of between 40º and 90ºF
Though there are some areas of California that reach the sub-freezing mark, most indoor climates will never drop below 50ºF. Heat pumps take advantage of the heat you are already using to keep your home comfortable, and use it to get a head start on efficiently heating the water you need as well. Think of it like recycling the heat that exists in your home!
If I install solar panels, will my lights stay on during a power outage?
For standard solar PV systems, solar panels and inverters are actually connected to the electrical grid, before they can send any renewable electricity to the outlets of your home. This connection to the grid includes a safety shutoff mechanism to protect powerline workers from electrical shock in the event of a grid outage, or a Public Safety Power Shutoff. So, the short answer for traditional grid-connected systems is that your power will not stay on during an outage.
However, off-grid solar PV systems will keep your lights on when the power goes out! Off-grid systems include battery storage, and can be designed to operate independently from the greater electrical grid. These solar plus storage systems store your renewable solar energy in high-capacity batteries for later use, like overnight, on cloudy days of low solar production, and during a power outage.