SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Utah’s affordable housing crisis coupled with global energy stressors from the Russia-Ukraine conflict have accentuated the need to reduce energy costs, and to limit our dependence on fossil fuels. But can it be done, and is it affordable? A new report from E3, a firm specializing in energy and environmental economics, answers with an emphatic yes.
“New construction provides a powerful opportunity to build homes and buildings fully electric. As recent events demonstrate, the price of fossil fuels is volatile, whereas the price of electricity remains stable throughout the year. All-electric homes are more resilient against these price spikes,” states Tyler Poulson, Deputy Director of the Building Electrification Institute.
E3’s study, “The Economics of All-Electric New Construction in Utah” compared homes built with equipment and appliances that only use electricity to homes built using “mixed fuel” equipment and appliances that use both electricity and natural gas. The study found that efficient all-electric housing is more affordable over a 15-year lifecycle, and that Utahns can build and operate an all-electric home more affordably than a home using natural gas appliances.
“Affordability is more than just what you pay for rent or a mortgage. High energy bills burden many Utah families. All-electric housing is an investment in affordable housing because all-electric homes can have lower utility bills,” states Thomas Kessinger, the Electrification specialist for local nonprofit Utah Clean Energy.
E3 evaluated the upfront capital costs, energy performance, and utility bill costs for newly constructed single-family homes and low-rise multi-family buildings across all major climate zones in Utah. Central to its analysis and findings were efficient electric technologies such as air-source heat pumps that can operate at around 300% efficiency by moving heat rather than generating it. In other words, heat pumps can do the same amount of work as a natural gas appliance but only use ⅓ of the onsite energy.
The study also found that all-electric construction can deliver air quality benefits and carbon emissions reductions, particularly as Utah transitions to a cleaner electric grid. Notably, indoor air pollution is of increasing concern to Utahns. New studies have shown that gas stoves can be a large source of toxic pollutants, and that children who live in homes with gas stoves have a 24-48% increase in risk of developing asthma. Moving to all-electric cooking is the safer and healthier option.
“Electrifying our homes is the best option for our pocketbooks, and our health. We hope that this study will inspire Utah’s building community to make the switch to all-electric homes, benefitting their customers and our entire community,” states Kessinger.
Study Note: the referenced E3 analysis and report was commissioned by the Building Electrification Institute (BEI) and was informed by an advisory committee that included staff from BEI, Salt Lake City Corporation, Steven Winter Associates, and Utah Clean Energy.
Tyler Poulson, Deputy Director for Building Electrification Institute | 801.898.3235 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Kessinger, Electrification Manager for Utah Clean Energy | 801-518-8185 | email@example.com