Three Myths About All-Electric Appliances

Here are three of the most prevalent misconceptions about electric appliances debunked.

We all know it’s there, and we all know that no one wants to talk about it. The all-electric “elephant” in the room (or more specifically, the home). We are about to rip off the band-aid and address the belief that it costs more to have all-electric home appliances than gas or duel-fuel appliances.

Myth 1: It’s More Expensive to Build a Home With All-Electric Appliances.

Reality: The savings of switching from mixed-fuel appliances to all-electric appliances is significant on both the cost of the appliances and the infrastructure.

  • The appliance savings on a two-story, 2,700-square-foot single-family home is $3,282 per home and a two-story multifamily 6,980-square-foot 8-plex is $2,650/unit.
  • The infrastructure savings that can be obtained by switching to all-electric home construction, based on Southern California Edison CPUC Rule 16, is approximately $1,400 per single-family detached and $1,000 -$2,500 per unit in a multifamily attached building.
  • Reach Codes, local enhancements to state codes, typically act to the benefit of all-electric construction. Under the reach codes, mixed-fuel homes must meet additional requirements, which will add to the cost of construction, whereas all-electric homes have no additional requirements.

Myth 2: Buyers Will Not Settle For an All-Electric Home.

Reality: It is often assumed that buyers won’t settle for an electric stove/range nor do they want a heat pump water heater, HVAC heat pump, or electric clothes dryer.

However, according to a recent study conducted by Meyers Research health and wellness features are the new premium elements desired in a new home, with the second most desired feature being indoor air quality (IAQ).

“Data analysis has identified indoor air quality as a major area of concern for both new and existing homeowners. Online discussions and commentary about indoor air quality finds that it’s one of the quality-of-life topics discussed most frequently, with the greatest ‘passion.’”

COGNITION Smart Data goes a step further and says IAQ is more than a premium, it’s a necessity. In the COGNITION report, Indoor Air Quality: A New Urgency, Green Builder magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Power says, “Data analysis of consumer perceptions in real-time has identified indoor air quality as a major area of concern for both new and existing homeowners. Online discussions and commentary about indoor air quality finds that it’s one of the quality-of-life topics discussed most frequently, with the greatest ‘passion.’”

What does this have to do with making the switch to all-electric appliances?

  • Gas stoves are a primary source of combustion (burning) pollution inside the home. Cooking on gas can spike emissions of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide making the IAQ up to five times more polluted than outside air pollution. “There are clearly climate and economic arguments for electrifying buildings, but there is also a profound health imperative,” says an author of a new Rocky Mountain Institute report, Indoor Air Pollution: The Link Between Climate and Health, which highlights the impact of gas stoves on air pollution and public health.
  • Researchers in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have released a report focused on the impacts of residential natural gas appliances on indoor and outdoor air quality, human health, and potential benefits of widespread residential electrification. Although the study focused on California, indoor and outdoor air pollution from gas appliances can be expected everywhere.
  • Indoor air pollutants can lead to a wide range of illnesses, in both children and adults, including asthma, heart problems, lung cancer, poisonings, musculoskeletal injuries, and accidents.
  • The EPA lists indoor air pollutants as one of the top five environmental dangers. With people spend 90% of their time inside (plus the coronavirus pandemic), healthy indoor air quality has become increasingly important.
  • Recent research has also demonstrated that poor indoor air quality has effects on productivity, decision-making, and well-being.

Myth 3: Electric Appliances Are Inefficient, Ugly, or Both!

Reality: Appliance manufacturers have done a great job keeping up with modern technology to design and develop safe, efficient, affordable, space-saving, smart, and environmentally responsible appliances, which account for more than 10 percent of the U.S. carbon emissions. The new electric induction cooktops are not your grandmother’s coil range tops.

Induction cooktops/ranges are safe, as there is no open flame. This kitchen appliance is efficient, “no other cooking technology that we’ve tested is faster than the fastest induction elements.” They also maintain a consistent and precise temperature unlike gas, which uses more energy (gas) to maintain a desired temperature.

Home heating is the largest direct use of fossil fuel. Using a heat pump versus a gas furnace, will significantly reduce carbon emissions, and is 2.2 to 4.5 more efficient than Energy Star gas furnace (even in cold climates), delivers two to four times more heating energy than the electricity it consumes, and lowers monthly utility bills.

Gas water heaters are another appliance affecting IAQ in homes. Using a heat pump water heater will have a positive impact on the environment and be more cost-effective for the consumer. It will also benefit developers and contractors through the rebates made available by electric utilities and governing bodies in an effort to achieve their carbon goals.

Maria Meeuwisse, senior vice president of Engage Marketing, is a leading marketing professional in the home building industry with more than 25 years of experience marketing for large-scale master-planned communities throughout the country. She has spent the last two years educating Southern California homebuilders about 2019 Title 24 code requirements as well as promoting the benefits of building all-electric homes.