Sunday, June 24, 2018

Most American Homes Are Still Heated with Fossil Fuels.  It’s Time to Electrify. - By David Roberts

Replacing all those natural gas furnaces is going to be tricky.

The humble heat pump. (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to Enlarge.
Right now, most homes are heated and cooled by fossil fuels, and changing that is going to be complicated and painstaking.  A new report breaks down the numbers (more on that in a moment), but first, let’s quickly review why it needs to happen at all.

Decarbonizing means electrifying — yes, including your furnace

We know that over time, we need to Electrify Everything! That is to say, a crucial part of reducing carbon emissions is switching energy uses that currently run on combusted fossil fuels — notably, transportation, heating and cooling, and heavy industry — over to electricity, to the extent possible, so that they can run on zero-carbon power.

The heating and cooling of buildings accounts for about 10 percent of US emissions. While that’s not as big a carbon challenge as, say, transportation (28 percent), in many ways, electrifying the residential sector is trickier.

Right now, roughly 37 percent of US homes are electrified, mostly in the South, mostly using inefficient baseboard heating rather than efficient heat pumps. (Only about 1 percent of American homes currently have heat pumps.) Some 48 percent of homes use natural gas, which dominates in every region except the South. And 14 percent use “other,” i.e., fuel oil or kerosene, almost entirely in the Northeast. (Climate Central has a great breakdown of heating fuels in the US; so does the Department of Energy.

Read more at Most American Homes Are Still Heated with Fossil Fuels.  It’s Time to Electrify.

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