In the pursuit of healthy, sustainable, and environmentally conscious living, the concept of an all-electric house has emerged as a transformative option in modern architecture and construction.
An all-electric house relies exclusively on electrical power for its energy needs, eliminating the dependence on fossil fuels and ushering in a new era of cleaner, greener living.
This shift is not just a trend but rather a crucial response to the escalating global crisis. It’s imperative to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of human activities on the planet.
Embodied Vs Operational Carbon:
Central to the transition towards all-electric homes is the understanding of carbon footprints. The distinction between embodied and operational carbon is essential.
Embodied carbon is the carbon footprint of a building before it is built and encompasses the greenhouse gasses emitted during the construction process. This type of carbon emission encapsulates the emissions associated with a building’s materials and construction and has become a focal point in sustainable design discussions.
Recognizing the significance of embodied carbon is essential in addressing the entire lifecycle impact of buildings, complementing efforts to minimize operational carbon from day-to-day energy consumption.
The operational carbon footprint of a building is the sum of all the carbon produced over the lifetime use of the building. As we aspire for a more sustainable future, embracing the all-electric house concept not only marks a departure from fossil fuel reliance but also underscores a commitment to minimizing the environmental impact throughout a building’s lifecycle.
Electric Supply and Fossil Fuels:
Even though some electric supply comes from fossil fuels, the shift to utilities utilizing renewable energy sources continues to rapidly grow and become more important.
And if you're generating your own electricity with solar panels (or plan to in the future), then it's a no-brainer to have an all-electric house.
Making the Switch:
Transitioning to an all-electric household can be done over time, little by little as you replace appliances and systems. Tossing out an efficient gas furnace you bought two years ago to upgrade to an electric heat pump isn’t going to be good for your carbon footprint.
Take inventory of your appliances and their ages, prioritizing the replacement of the oldest ones. This methodical transitions ensure a more sustainable and effective shift to an energy-efficient, all-electric home.
Options for updating your electrical appliances and systems to create your all-electric healthy home include:
Heating and Cooling System
Heat pumps (sometimes called mini-splits) are highly energy-efficient, as they transfer heat rather than generate it, making them more environmentally friendly. Offering a versatile solution for year-round comfort, they provide heating and cooling.
As technology has improved, so have the conditions in which heat pumps can effectively function. Heat pumps work well in hot and cold climates, even at very low temperatures now. Additionally, they are safer than combustion-based heating systems, eliminating the risks associated with gas leaks, and are very affordable to run!
Ventilation System (ERV or HRV)
Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) and Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) systems enhance indoor air quality by exchanging stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while retaining heat or coolness. This ensures a constant flow of fresh air without compromising energy efficiency. ERVs also manage humidity levels which will improve overall comfort.
These types of systems are a must in an air-tight home as they bring in fresh air while removing stale, polluted air. Health benefits from a ventilation system include better sleep and more oxygen in the home (better for cognitive function - no brain fog). The removal of air toxins via mechanical ventilation is good for your short and long-term health as poor indoor air quality can contribute to asthma, allergies, and upper respiratory illnesses along with many other unwanted health issues.
Cooktop and Oven
Induction cooktops are highly efficient, responsive, and precise, allowing for rapid heating and accurate temperature control. They are also safer, as they do not have open flames or emit toxins, and the cooking surface remains relatively cool.
Induction cooking is considered more energy-efficient than traditional gas or electric resistance methods. A con of induction cooktops and compatible cookware can be the upfront cost which tends to be a bit higher than alternatives.
Most induction ranges come with convection ovens. These ovens are great since they speed up cooking time.
Heat pump dryers are significantly more energy-efficient than traditional electric dryers, as they recycle and reuse heat during the drying process. Wear and tear on clothes are reduced as heat pump dryers operate at a lower temperature. Additionally, they contribute to cooler and more comfortable indoor environments compared to conventional dryers.
Initially, purchase costs are generally higher, and the drying cycle may take longer. Some noise may be produced, and their efficiency can be affected by ambient temperature and humidity levels.
Electric Water Heater
Heat pump water heaters are highly efficient and can significantly reduce energy consumption for water heating. They are environmentally friendly, as they transfer heat from the air to heat the water. Long-term operational costs are typically lower than traditional water heaters.
During operation, the surrounding air can potentially impact the temperature in the vicinity and noise may be produced. Placement in utility rooms near living spaces should be carefully considered. Upfront costs may also be higher compared to conventional water heaters.
To help mitigate potential high costs, be sure to look for state and federal rebates and other incentives for purchasing electric appliances. There are a lot of federal incentives right now due to the Inflation Reduction Act. Contact your local electric company to see what rebates and incentives are offered in your state.
DSIRE is a very helpful website that provides a database of state incentives for renewables and efficiency for all US states.
Transitioning to an all-electric home is a progressive choice with numerous benefits. By relying on electricity for heating, cooling, cooking, and other daily functions, individuals contribute to a cleaner environment, reducing carbon emissions and fostering sustainability. In addition to environmental benefits, homeowners will enjoy improved indoor air quality and health-conscious living spaces. This shift also offers economic advantages through potential energy cost savings, while enabling better control over energy consumption. Overall, this transition represents a pivotal step towards a greener and more efficient future, supporting both individual well-being and global environment goals.
Oh, and don't forget to electrify your car too!
Ready to start your sustainable, healthy home project?
To learn more about the steps of the home design process, grab Kate's free start-to-finish guide that walks you through each step of the journey.