Home Electrification Energy Lunch Recap

By Max Walker, Green Iowa Americorps member

In last week’s energy lunch, Winneshiek Energy District’s energy planner, Joel Zook, covered the possibility of mitigating the severity of climate change through home electrification. There are two other major steps that must happen alongside home electrification if we are to reduce our environmental impact in a meaningful way. First, we need to transition our methods of producing electricity to renewable energy. This is essential because electrification does not help if our electricity production still involves carbon emissions. We also need to electrify our transportation. Transportation is a significant part of US emissions, and again must happen to yield a meaningful change.

The electric sector was the largest CO2 emitter in the US up until 2016. The electric sector emissions fell mainly because of the widespread transition from coal-fired power generation to natural gas. The US is also generating more electricity through renewables. Solar and wind are the primary sources.

Based on the US’s plans for electricity generation, there will be significantly lower emissions from this sector continuing into the future. About 70% of the electricity generation additions planned in the US in 2021 was wind and solar, and other renewables projects that will push the US’s energy transition are also planned. But more importantly, natural gas was the only CO2 emitter within the planned additions, which occupied only 16% of the total planned additions. So the US is moving toward clean electricity production options. This energy transition is important for electrifying transportation, and home electrification, as homeowners can help reduce US emissions just by transitioning to electric cars and appliances.

Joel shared a series of three graphs that presented the car mileage equivalent of an electric car for each power grid of the US. So the power grids that have adopted more renewables were labeled with a higher gas mileage. The most recent graph showed that by 2016, all but about three states were at or above a 50 miles per gallon average. A clear majority of US states are adopting renewables for electricity production, and everyday vehicles make up 17% of US emissions. This again proves that electrifying one’s life will reduce our environmental impact. 

Joel summarizes this opportunity that the average homeowner has to reduce their emissions in three relatively attainable steps. One, electrify your everyday vehicle, two, invest in a solar array, and three, electrify your home’s appliances and methods of heating. Considering these steps to reduce our emissions is vital because they can be fulfilled in the short-term, and climate change is already happening. These steps also do not necessitate a lifestyle change. You can reduce your impact by using your thermostat less or biking more. But electrification is what will significantly reduce your impact on the environment, and involves simply exchanging your fossil fuel-reliant machines for ones that can be powered by renewable energy. 

If you are excited by the idea of home electrification, reach out! Contact Joel, (joel@energydistrict.org), and he will help with electrification possibilities and costs for your home.

Click below to watch the recording:

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