Switching to Electric Appliances

by James Florence


Many homeowners are considering replacing their gas appliances with electric ones. Some people just need to get rid of an old gas range or replace their water heater; others want to create an all-electric home. If you’re thinking about switching to electric appliances, here’s what you need to know.

Why Make the Switch to Electric Appliances?

Electric appliances are attractive to homeowners for several reasons. Today, many people are making the switch to reduce their home’s carbon footprint. While natural gas is promoted for being cleaner than coal, most of California’s electricity comes from renewable sources, which makes electric appliances the more environmentally-friendly choice. In fact, the state has passed regulations that significantly reduce the use of gas-powered appliances in new construction.

On a more practical level, many people prefer electric appliances because they’re safer and easier to clean. An electric cooktop doesn’t utilize an open flame and there’s no risk of carbon monoxide leaks. While old electric ranges featured cumbersome metal coils, today’s flat cooktops are easy to wipe clean. Lastly, certain electric appliances are often more compact in size (such as a heat pump or tankless water heater), making them a superior option for homes with limited space.

Options for Electric Appliances

There are electric options for all modern household appliances, and many offer advantages over their gas-powered counterparts.

Stoves: Electric stoves are usually slightly cheaper than gas stoves. For the serious chef who wants to go electric, an induction oven could offer the best results.

Dryers: Electric dryers tend to take longer to dry a load of laundry, but they don’t require an exterior ventilation duct, which means you have more flexibility as to where you can install your dryer.

HVAC: Air source heat pumps are a versatile HVAC option because they both heat and cool the home. They’re estimated to be three times more energy-efficient than gas furnaces and they take up far less space. For homes without central ductwork, a ductless mini-split uses the same technology.

Water heaters: Heat pump water heaters and hybrid heat pump water heaters are much more energy-efficient than older water heater models. The pump draws heat from outside air and transfers it to the water. They’re especially efficient in warmer climates, but they work well in cold environments, too.

Fireplaces: Many people prefer gas fireplaces because they require no cleanup and still create beautiful, flickering flames. However, electric fireplaces are much safer and more efficient at actually warming a room.

What Happens During the Switch to Electric?

Before you install your new electric appliances, you’ll need to make sure your home’s current electrical system can handle them. Most household appliances in the United States run on 120 volts, but an electric stove or dryer requires a 240-volt outlet. A qualified local electrician can help determine if your kitchen or laundry room is equipped for electric appliances and connect higher-voltage outlets to the circuit breaker where necessary. If you have an older home, an electrician can verify whether the electrical panel can support the additional amperage or if it needs to be upgraded.

When your electrical appliances are installed, you’ll also need to make sure the gas lines are capped off to prevent any future gas leaks. If you’re handy, you can cap off the gas yourself, or you can hire an experienced plumbing company to do this for you.

Electrical Appliances and Power Cuts

Converting to electric appliances offers many advantages. However, you may be worried about how your family will cope without a gas cooktop or hot water in the event of a power outage. This is an especially important consideration for those who’ve experienced planned power cuts enacted to reduce the chances of wildfires. If this is a concern for your household, you may want to install a solar battery storage system with the help of a qualified solar energy contractor. This will allow you a greater degree of comfort during power outages.

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