The clearest way to mitigate global warming is to stop burning fossil fuels. California’s increasingly clean electrical grid puts us in a unique position to reduce the use of gas in transportation and buildings through electrification. But California, a gas producing state, now has only 10% of its buildings electrified. The national average is 50%. So we have work to do and this Expo gave us many ideas. Vendors, contractors, architects and plumbers participated in this event along with homeowners and renters. The expo was sponsored by the Ecology Center, StopWaste and the City of Berkeley with the generous support of BayREN (Regional Energy Network).
Sean Armstrong, founder of Redwood Energy, a leading electrification expert and residential Zero Net Energy Designer, was the keynote speaker. He talked about the urgency and ease of switching over from gas to electric homes. California’s gas production and transmission systems leak methane at 2.4% – 4.3%. House leakage alone is about 1%. Every year California’s gas pipelines emit more than 100,000 metric tons of methane — the main component of natural gas and a potent climate pollutant. To fight climate change, we need to move to electric appliances including water heaters and space heating, dryers and cooktops fueled through our own clean home grid. Rooftop solar, PG&E Solar Choice and East Bay Community Energy’s Opt Up are all good choices.
What electric appliances should we buy? Electric heat pumps for electric water heaters and space heating are at least 3 times more efficient than resistance electric appliances and competitive in cost-to-run with gas. They are recommended because of their extreme efficiency and many new options are coming soon. Resistance hot water heaters are 95% efficient but heat pump hot water heaters are up to 4 times better. Resistance or coil electric cooktops are 71% efficient while induction cooktops are 84% efficient. Sean Armstrong recommends buying European or Swiss appliances which have very high standards regarding EMF production.
Gas cooktops are only 40% efficient and emit toxins. The exposure levels of cancerous Formaldehyde and nitrous oxides from gas stoves have been linked to asthma. Studies link 12% of Asthma cases to gas stove use.
There is a need to push the State towards electrification, changing Title 24 standards which now favor gas. Rebates for electric heating and hot water heating are needed throughout the state.
Vancouver, B.C. is a leader in the carbon-free transition and Brady Fraught, an engineer with the city, spoke about what they are doing. They have limited the carbon output standard of appliances which effectively excludes new gas installations. Their goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-s-race-to-a-post-carbon-economy-will-change-everything
Altogether this was an exciting and informative event illustrating the tremendous change we are undergoing in powering our homes and transportation!
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