Electrification Backers, the Refrigerant Revolution Needs Your Support
- May 26, 2020 6:24 pm GMT
Building electrification—the idea that global warming emissions can be effectively mitigated by either forcing or encouraging builders to install electric heat pumps instead of fossil fuel burning furnaces and water heaters—is catching on. Already, 30 cities in California have adopted codes that either restrict natural gas usage or outright require heat pumps in new construction, and many more are on the way, all over the country. In principle, encouraging electric heat pumps is a good idea for two reasons. First, burning fossil fuels (natural gas, propane, and oil) to heat buildings and water accounts for a tenth of total US carbon dioxide emissions. Second, heat pumps cut the amount of energy consumed by conventional electric equipment to heat space and water by at least one-half, or more. By combining their efficiency with their ability to tap into a low-carbon electric grid, heat pumps could dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There is a lurking unintended consequence, though, that has the potential to undo some of those gains.
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