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Why Electricity Is Better Than Natural Gas In Your Home

Published on 02 Oct 2019 / In How-to & Style

Are you still using natural gas in your home? Have you thought about the health impacts in doing so? Bruce Nilles--a Senior Fellow at the Rocky Mountain Institute--realized that his biggest carbon footprint was his own home, and that burning natural gas inside his home was unhealthy for his family. So, 9 months ago his family made the decision to convert from natural gas to electricity with the help of solar panels.

In this video, Bruce explains how burning gas in your stove actually causes the air quality in your kitchen to violate federal health based air quality standards - which is just crazy!
Why? When you light that gas stove, not only is it emitting carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes global warming, but it also emits carbon monoxide (CO) - a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. While carbon monoxide is the worst offender, burning natural gas also emits nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and formaldehyde (HCHO), both of which can exacerbate various respiratory and other health ailments.

Gas to Electric
It turns out that there are over 12 million homes and buildings in California that use gas. Bruce and Bonnie are one set of homeowners who want to change that.

How? There are typically four appliances that are powered by natural gas: space heating furnaces, water heaters, dryers, and stoves--so they addressed those four in order to convert their house to an all electric, emission free house. They started by replacing the kitchen stove with a GE Induction range, because the gas stove had the biggest health impact. Bonnie was a little worried about switching out the gas range, but it turns out the induction stove is just as responsive and powerful. They also installed an AO Smith Water Heater and a Whirlpool Electric Dryer. They even purchased a 7 seater Tesla with jump seats in the back that the kids love.

Next, they installed Sunpower PV Panels. These rooftop solar panels power everything in the house, including the Juicebox EV charger.

With all of these updates in place, they were able to completely shut the gas off two months ago.

The Numbers
RMI (Rocky Mountain Institute) states that in Oakland, for example, an existing home that converts from natural gas heating with an existing air conditioner to an electric heat pump would drop from 7,500 pounds of carbon emissions annually to less than 5,000.

New homes perform even better because of the increased efficiency of new construction. If built all-electric, new homes in Oakland will emit about 2,500 pounds of CO2 annually on today's grid, compared to 3,500 if they burn natural gas.

Bottom Line
Bruce points out that it’s important to make responsible choices where you can, and to take steps that address the bigger issues that are within our control.

The 3 upgrades that made the biggest impact in this home are:
1 - installing solar panels
2 - switching to an electric car
3 - getting rid of natural gas appliances

It’s not everything, but those are the 3 big ones and a great place to get started to minimize our carbon footprint.

The larger climate issues may seem impossible to tackle, but we can at least ensure the air in our home is safe to breathe. And if we all work together, we can actually solve global problems.


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