New report: Electrifying America’s buildings by 2050 could be like taking 65 million cars off the road
BOSTON -- Replacing fossil fuel technology with electric options in the majority of American homes and businesses over the next 30 years could reduce so much net carbon emissions that it would be the equivalent of taking 65 million cars -- almost one-fourth of the total number of cars in the U.S. in 2019 -- off the road. These important savings are just one of the major findings in a new report released Tuesday by Environment America Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Entitled Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, the study documents the benefits of electrifying the majority of buildings in America for consumers and the environment.
In addition, the report ranks states by their capacity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions through building electrification. New York, California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the states with the greatest ability to lower carbon emissions over the next 30 years by cutting fossil fuel usage out of homes and offices.
“Change is upon us -- we just need to embrace it. We have the tools and technology right now to make every home and most businesses in America run -- and run better -- on clean renewable energy,” said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Clean Energy program. “When my gas stove failed this year, I bought an induction stove. It sure is different -- and I love it. It boils water faster than my old gas stove, it doesn’t release dangerous air pollutants into my home when we’re cooking, and I no longer have to worry about escaping methane from the stove contributing to global warming.”
Such electric technologies as heat pumps, water heaters and other electric appliances like induction stoves can help America end its dependence on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, the report explains. Advances in these technologies make choosing a fully electric system for homes and commercial buildings an efficient and affordable decision for owners in almost all new construction situations. In some cities, installing a heat pump over fossil fuel heating methods in a new home could save between $1,600 and $6,800 for space and water heating over a 15-year period. In other locations, savings could reach as high as $13,700 during the same timespan.
Electrifying America’s buildings is critical to lower carbon emissions and put us on the path towards 100 percent renewable energy. In 2018, fossil fuel combustion in U.S. homes and businesses accounted for almost 9 percent of total U.S. emissions.
“Last century, many families saw their quality of life improve when they switched from a coal-burning stove to an electric or gas range, or an icebox to an electric refrigerator,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “Today, a new technological revolution is underway to replace fossil fuel heating and cooking with electric technologies. The sooner America makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize the benefits of cleaner and more efficient energy.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.