If you already drive an electric vehicle, then home electrification is one of the most impactful things you can do for the planet.
That’s because our cars and major household appliances — or “personal infrastructure” as it’s often called — contribute 42 percent of all carbon pollution. According to top climate scientists, the U.S. must move fast to electrify 120 million American households in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Luckily, switching to an electric car or major household appliance has never been easier or more affordable, thanks to new tax rebates and modern conveniences aimed at removing consumer friction.
We believe 2023 is set to be a breakout year for home electrification.
To meet climate targets, the U.S. must electrify 120 million households in the coming decades. That means replacing fossil fuel-burning cars with EVs and fossil fuel-burning furnaces with heat pumps, among other home electric upgrades.
The U.S. reached a key tipping point in EV adoption and is on track to meet targets for 2050. That means a renewed focus on household machines — especially fossil-fuel-burning furnaces, the biggest household polluter other than cars — is needed. According to research from Rewiring America, a nonprofit organization focused on widespread electrification, homes need to be run by “machines with plugs, not pipes” in order to meet climate goals.
Household appliances contribute about a fifth of all carbon pollution in the U.S. In most areas of the country, furnaces are the main culprit, followed by water heaters and cooking appliances like ovens and stovetops that run on fossil fuels like natural gas. They belch harmful pollutants inside and outside of the home and comprise a large portion of a family’s overall carbon footprint.
Switching to modern electric alternatives, like heat pumps for heating and cooling, can make a major dent in this harmful pollution. And the benefits of home electrification go beyond the environmental impacts. All-electric households save an average of $1,800 a year on utilities, according to research from Rewiring America. They also enjoy safer, more comfortable, and more convenient living environments.
EV adoption is a leading indicator of the broader electrification movement.
As EV sales climb, so do sales for household electric upgrades like super-fast home EV chargers (also called Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, or EVSEs), heat pumps, and electric water heaters. For example, Norway, which leads the world in EV ownership per capita, also leads the world in heat pump adoption.
It makes sense when you think about it. If you’re anything like the typical homeowner in the U.S., you’ve likely upgraded your car at least once or twice... but your furnace or water heater? It’s not likely you’ve thought much about them. That’s why an EV tends to be a person’s first major investment in electrification.
Once you convert to driving an EV, you’re more likely to consider other options for your home. In our Seattle pilot, we found that about half of our customers installing Level 2 EV chargers in their homes are still using fossil-fuel-burning furnaces. These are great candidates for heat pumps and other upgrades.
For many, an EV charger installed in the garage is the first foray in home electrification.
According to the Department of Energy, 80% of EV charging happens at home. EV owners who want to wake up with a full charge every morning install a high-speed “Level 2” charger in their home. Attractive rebates help make this a home electrification upgrade most EV owners can afford. Sky-high EV adoption means landlords are also looking to add charging stations to attract tenants.
To keep up with demand, electricians across the country need to install 28 million high-speed Level 2 home chargers by 2050, according to a McKinsey analysis.
We’re working hard to develop the commerce infrastructure that enables electricians to meet that demand. Over 90% of our customers get a price and book their installation completely online, often within just a few minutes. Installs generally happen within two weeks — all without calling, or Googling, around to get answers.
In addition to EV tax credits, there are new financial incentives in 2023 that will make home electrification more attractive than ever for millions. In January homeowners become eligible for a range of cash rebates and tax credits to improve energy efficiency and go electric, under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.
The Energy Efficient Home Improvement credit, or “25C,” allows households to deduct from their taxes up to 30 percent of the cost of upgrades (which includes purchasing the equipment and paying for the installation) to their homes. These measures cover heat pumps, electric water heaters, and, upgrades to breaker boxes in order to accommodate additional electric load.
These deductions are limited to $600 per measure, up to $1,200 per household per year, though there are two key exceptions. Households can deduct 30 percent of the costs for buying and installing an electric water heater or electric heat pump for heating and cooling, up to $2,000.
More than 15 states (including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin) and hundreds of cities are taking steps to encourage heat pumps as a critical climate, air quality, and affordability solution. Many are offering their own financial incentives, especially aimed at working families.
Another reason home electrification is poised to take off in 2023 is the technical innovation that’s removing traditional hurdles.
Traditionally, home electrification projects involved calling multiple electricians and arranging visits to the house. At Kopperfield, we’re eliminating that friction with a modern consumer experience that allows you to snap a few photos and schedule with a locally licensed electrician right from your smartphone or computer. The vast majority (over 90 percent) of users in our Seattle pilot got a price estimate and booked an installation completely online.
This combination of financial incentives and shopping simplicity means 2023 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for home electrification.
Editor's note: A condensed version of this piece was published on The Cooldown. You can read it here.