Letters: July/August 2015
Revisiting “Revisiting Electrification”
Last issue’s editorial, “Revisiting Electrification” (May/June ’15, p. 2), received quite a bit of feedback on Home Energy Pros. We love a good discussion, so we wanted to share a sampling of the comments to keep the conversation going.
“I work a lot with multifamily rehabs and I’m recommending elimination of all gas appliances inside of building envelopes. That seems the obvious first step. Heat pumps are getting better and better, especially for mild climates. As you point out, air sealing and insulation is key to reducing loads and becomes much easier without combustion appliances to worry about. I think the primary cause for failure of ‘whole house’ utility rebate programs is due to issues around combustion appliance safety.”
—Ben Thompson, Oakland, California
“It’s not the source of the energy that's important—it’s the amount of energy used that matters. If you reduce your energy loads (whatever they may be) you will be generating less carbon emissions (wherever they may be produced). Without dramatically reducing energy loads (by mandating much more efficient structures in addition to appliances, transportation, and electronic devices) you just end up with an expensive switch from one form of energy to another with negligible carbon emission reduction.”
—David Eakin, Middletown, Pennsylvania
“As we move toward more and more renewable energy in the grid, storage will be a key issue. The biggest challenge is providing renewable energy in winter, when solar energy is lowest. Not coincidentally, that's also when heating demand is highest.”
—Graham Irwin, Fairfax, California
“Similar to cars going all-electric, removing combustion appliances from homes is inevitable. A few thoughts:
- Bringing the NACH down and reducing infiltration is significantly easier if there are no chimneys or other vents for combustion appliances in the house.
- Many combustion appliances are never properly commissioned, never adjusted for altitude, gas pressure, the CO dialed in, or serviced regularly, and therefore not running as efficiently as they could be.
- Achieving net-zero is a lot easier with an all-electric home, as all you have to do is watch your meter to know if you're on the right track. No therm to kWh conversion.
- If consumers were able to pick their electricity provider and decide what ‘pollution grade’ of electricity they buy, there would be real competition, and market transformation would happen more quickly.”
—Hans Joachim Preiss, Boulder, Colorado