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What is building electrification?

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

In simple terms, electrification is converting our buildings to use electric appliances rather than ones that run on natural gas or other fossil fuels. This protects humans and the environment from the toxic pollutants that come from burning methane gas.

Keep reading to learn more!

Electrify All Homes and Buildings

Since day one, Climate Action Campaign has been working to stop the climate crisis and improve the quality of life of families in San Diego and Orange Counties. We do this by advocating for (and winning!) effective and equitable policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure all communities have the resources they need to thrive. All-electric homes and buildings are the next big thing in the fight to protect our health and safety.

The buildings we work, play, rest, and recreate in are central to our well-being because the average American spends around 90 percent of their time indoors. We can improve our health and comfort by electrifying our homes while reducing household costs and helping tackle climate change.

20% of San Diego’s climate-warming emissions come from burning methane gas for cooking, heating and cooling rooms and water, and drying clothes. Electrifying our buildings will eliminate our region’s third-largest source of GHG emissions.

Our wallets, health, comfort, and the environment benefit from electrifying our homes.

What Does Electrifying Homes and Buildings Mean?

In simple terms, electrification is converting our buildings to use electric appliances rather than ones that run on natural gas or other fossil fuels. This protects humans and the environment from the toxic pollutants that come from burning methane gas.

“A 2013 meta-analysis of 41 studies found that children living in homes with gas stoves had a 42% higher risk of experiencing asthma symptoms, and, over their lifetime, a 24% increase in the risk of being diagnosed with asthma.”

This looks like using an induction cooktop instead of a gas stove and switching out a gas-powered water heater for an efficient, heat pump water heater that runs on clean electricity. Electric appliances can effectively and efficiently heat and cool our homes, dry our clothes, cook our food, and heat our water without poisoning our planet and homes with toxic chemicals.

All-Electric Homes & Buildings, Powered By 100% Clean Energy

Switching to electric appliances will bring immediate, direct benefits to your home through improved air quality and help our region reach its climate action goals. As the percent of electricity generated by wind and solar power increases in San Diego and Orange County, including through our new Community Choice Energy programs, your all-electric home’s impact on the environment will move closer and closer to zero.

Local Governments Can Drive The Electrification Of New And Existing Buildings

First, a city must pass legislation—known as a reach code—ensuring that new buildings are all-electric and built without gas infrastructure. Nearly 60 jurisdictions in California have already adopted policies that phase-out natural gas (including Encinitas and Solana Beach). Because of this, local governments looking to replicate these policies have abundant resources and templates for reference. Electrifying new construction means cost savings for consumers because gas infrastructure is costly.

There is no one-size-fits-all way to electrify existing buildings. Instead, various innovative, creative, and equitable options are tailored to each city and community's needs. We must ensure that these policies to retrofit existing buildings address the needs of Communities of Concern and workers by engaging with them before, during, and after the retrofitting process. This will allow the most pollution-burdened communities to see the benefits of electrification first and create good-paying, high-road jobs. Cities must also work to electrify their municipal buildings and facilities ASAP.

What We’re Up Against: Fossil Fuel Spin

Electrification threatens the profits of fossil fuel companies because, as we electrify our homes and buildings, the need for the dangerous fuels they provide will disappear. Because of this, they are staunch opponents, working to undermine electrification at every step.

The fossil fuel industry is trying to promote alternatives to electrification, such as green hydrogen. Beware of the fossil fuel spin! Green hydrogen is not readily available and is not a proven pathway to making our homes and buildings safe, healthy, and pollution-free. SDG&E and SoCalGas are using hydrogen as a delay tactic to continue using fossil fuels well into the future.

Electrifying buildings is our proven strategy to reduce emissions and improve the health of our communities. Electric appliances such as heat pumps and induction cooktops are readily available and can seamlessly replace old, polluting, gas-powered ones.

Electrification Is Our Future

If “electrification” sounds like a buzzword to only be tossed around by pie-in-the-sky environmentalists, it’s not. It’s one of the greatest and most pragmatic tools available to fight the climate crisis. Buildings are the center of our lives and the places we go to work and grow our families. These spaces must be safe, breathable, and affordable to improve the quality of life and stop the climate crisis.

CAC has been advocating across San Diego and Orange County for strong building electrification measures, including reach codes for new construction and community plans to retrofit existing buildings. Our fight is just starting, and we’ll need all hands on deck to protect our climate and communities. Let’s #ElectrifyEverything.


This is the first blog in our "Surging Forward" series on All-Electric Homes and Buildings. Sign up here to be the first to read our five-part series!

The next four blogs will answer the “Why?” of electrification, focusing on how electrification can address equity, affordability, efficiency, and relevancy. Stay tuned!

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