Want to make your home safer? Healthier? Cheaper to heat? Cool? Maintain? How about being more resilient? Even better– how about more climate-friendly?
We’ve got one word for you: Electrify.
Once upon a time, people thought electricity was a bit of a problem child—inefficient and kind of dirty. Even today, about 68 percent of our electric power comes from burning fossil fuels, but that energy mix is getting better every day. As more and more renewable energy sources come online, the more we ditch fossil fuels and gasoline to power our lives, the cleaner we live. Our electricity and transportation habits produce over half of the greenhouse gases in the U.S., driving climate change and increasing climate disasters every day.
Plus, we've got cleaner, more efficient gadgets hitting the market all the time. As the world comes to terms with global warming, using electricity for more things like cooking our food and getting around is a smart move to keep carbon out of the air.
And watt for watt, renewable energy just makes fiscal sense too. In fact, the International Energy Agency has announced that solar electricity is now the cheapest form of energy in the history of mankind. As a result, solar farms are cropping up along highways and on hillsides across the country. And with lots of government incentives, it makes fiscal sense as well.
And with residential solar going mainstream, homeowners can get in on the supply side of the power game. With a well-designed system, it may be possible to generate enough power for your home and vehicle on your roof, making you energy-independent even as you go clean.
But it’s not just about being green and saving money. If you are looking to make your home more energy efficient and generally better for your family, you should stop that flow of pressurized, highly flammable, poisonous natural gas that comes into your home and convert all your home’s appliances to electric. Burning natural gas in your home is often inefficient, dangerous, and contributes to long-term health problems.
So, how do you electrify your home? It’ll take some investment, but it’ll pay off in the long run. Let’s take a look at the most efficient options.
Your home’s heating and cooling system is probably the most expensive appliance in your home, but switching to a heat pump system can save you money in the long run. With the tax rebates for energy-efficient home upgrades included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the upfront cost of switching to a heat pump HVAC system is lower than ever.
There’s been a lot of talk about heat pumps as the latest technology, but they have been around for a long time. They use the same technology that makes refrigerators possible. A heat pump gathers thermal energy and moves (or pumps) it. In the case of a refrigerator, it gathers the heat inside the appliance and moves it to the radiator, which is usually at the bottom or the back of the unit. That makes the kitchen slightly warmer. During the summer, your HVAC system does the same thing, sending the heat out into your yard through that big unit outside your house. A heat pump just reverses that process–gathering heat energy from outside and pumping it indoors. There’s a myth that heat pumps don’t work in colder climates, but that’s not true. In the U.S., Maine, one of the coldest states in the country, is also one of the fastest-growing markets for heat pump deployment. In Europe, they are very popular in the snowy Scandinavian countries.
There are a lot of factors to consider when determining what kind of heat pump to install in your home. We recommend you find a knowledgeable installer to look over your options. Don’t be afraid to ask questions–although heat pumps are growing in popularity, many salespeople and installers have not been trained on their benefits.
Many types of appliances are shifting to heat pump technology. For years, the standard for hot water heaters has been gas or electric resistance heaters, but heat pump technology is making inroads in the U.S. market for hot water, too. It’s all about efficiency. By gathering heat instead of generating it, heat pumps require much less energy. And when you’re electrifying your home, you want your choices to be as efficient as possible.
We like the Rheem Performance Platinum 50 Gal. 10-Year Hybrid High-Efficiency Tank Electric Heat Pump Water Heater. At $1699, it’s a bit pricier than your average conventional hot water heater. But with expected efficiency savings of around $315 annually, this environmentally friendly option will pay for itself in a little over five years.
Although most clothes dryers in America use either natural gas or electrical resistance to blow warm, dry air through your clothes and vent that air outside your home, heat pump technology is transforming all that into an electrified and efficient new process. By using the heat pump condenser coils to gather the moisture from the dryer load, these new units use 40% to 50% less energy. But even better than that, they do not require venting–they collect the moisture as water, which can then be emptied down the drain.
Aside from being much more efficient, they eliminate the risk of fires driven by vents clogged with lint accumulation. Like any dryer, they do still collect a lot of lint, so always clean the filter between loads to keep things running efficiently.
We like Samsung’s Smart Dial Heat Pump Dryer. At 4.0 cubic feet, it’s got a good capacity, but it’s designed to fit in tight spaces. It learns your preferences and adjusts to them over time. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, it lets you know when the clothes are dry.
Electric stovetops have come a long way since the old-fashioned coil burners that most people think of when they hear “electric stove.” (Believe it or not, that technology was first patented in 1859.)
Nowadays, induction stoves are all the rage. They heat quickly, are very efficient, and are very safe to operate. The stove itself doesn’t generate heat. Instead, it operates by interacting magnetically with the iron in your cookware. That means the cooking surface is safe to touch if there’s no pan on it. The downside is that you have to use pots with iron content. That includes stainless steel but not aluminum pans.
It also means that induction stoves are much more efficient than other stovetops. All the energy goes into heating the cookware and the food. That efficiency translates into faster and more intense heat–something that should appeal to home chefs. Consumer Reports found that induction stoves heated water 20-40% faster than the best gas stoves.
Our recommendation is this 30” GE Profile Smart Induction Cooktop. It has precision controls, a sleek look, and is easy to clean.
In just half an hour, a gas-powered leaf blower emits the equivalent emissions of a Ford F-150 truck traveling a whopping 3,800 miles. Approximately one-third of the fuel used in these machines is expelled unburned, creating a hazardous haze. Beyond the environmental impact, these gas-powered contraptions are noisy, registering around 100 decibels. That’s comparable to heavy machinery like bulldozers and impact wrenches.
It’s hard to imagine an easier upgrade than scrapping any gas-powered yard tools you have–including your lawn mower. Contrary to common belief, the shift to electricity doesn't break the bank. Prices for electric tools, such as a self-propelled electric mower, stand on par with their gas counterparts.
Our favorite is Ryobi’s 40V HP 21 in. Cordless Battery Walk Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower. It’s good for about 70 minutes of much quieter lawn maintenance and is a bargain at $649. And you won’t have that smelly, dangerous can of gasoline hanging around in your garage anymore.
And last but not least, electrify your ride. Although technically, electrifying your home doesn’t mean you have to get an EV, why wouldn’t you? They’re green, efficient, and getting cheaper all the time.
And more and more, EVs are becoming a key part of your home’s electrical system. One new trend is bidirectional charging, which allows your EV’s battery to work as a whole home energy backup device. Your Nissan Leaf, with the proper charging system, can keep the refrigerator and heat pump running during a grid outage.
The home of the future is fully electric. The sooner you make the shift away from natural gas and gasoline to clean, green electricity, the quicker you’ll be able to recoup your investment and save money. There’s never been a better time to take control of your home’s energy needs.