Weatherization is key to effective, low-cost building electrification

(ACEEE blog, 14 Jun 2023) Billions of dollars in Inflation Reduction Act rebates are set to become available beginning this year to help households improve their energy efficiency and electrify.

As state energy offices prepare their programs to disperse the funds, they should strongly encourage households installing heat pumps to pair them with insulation and air-sealing measures. These improvements in walls, roofs, and windows—and other parts of the building envelope—pair well with electrified heating to significantly reduce households’ utility bills, stress on the electric grid, and climate pollution.

Fossil fuels burned in buildings contribute more than 10% of U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so electrification is a key climate mitigation tool. Yet on its own, electrification of buildings will increase electricity demand, driving a corresponding need for additional electric grid infrastructure. To help avoid potential increased costs, improving insulation in walls, attics, and basements, sealing air leaks, or installing higher-efficiency windows may be appropriate.

Better-insulated buildings reduce utility bills

A well-insulated building can use a less powerful (lower capacity) heat pump, which costs less to purchase and operate. Part of these savings result from tighter envelopes reducing the energy required to keep a building at a comfortable temperature. The average residential customer who weatherizes while electrifying can expect to save between $150 and $1,200 per year—with most households saving between $500 and $800 per year—compared to one who electrifies alone.

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ACEEE blog, 14 Jun 2023: Weatherization is key to effective, low-cost building electrification