Electrify Everything to Cut Emissions, Save Money

From The Jersey Sierran, July - September 2022


By Steve and Pat Miller 

In fall 2021, our 50 x 30 team sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy asking him to declare a goal for New Jersey to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions 50% by 2030 and to follow up with the rules and regulations that would make it happen. This 2030 goal would be an interim milestone toward the 2050 goal of the NJ Global Warming Response Act, updated in 2020, calling for an 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050. The governor did issue Executive Order 274 in November 2021 stating the 50 x 30 interim goal. 

There has been substantial progress by the state in two of the three largest-emitting sectors: transportation and electricity generation. However, we have seen little-to-no follow-up on the sector that is the second-largest GHG emitter: buildings. Together, these 3 sectors account for 87 percent of GHG emissions in New Jersey. Without significant emission reductions in all 3 sectors, including buildings, it will not be possible to achieve the 50 x 30 goal.

In 2022 our team is focused on building electrification (BE), and our title has been changed to “NJ 50 x 30 BE Team.” We continue to expand our membership and welcome NJ residents from across the state, some of whom are owners or principals in heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning; architecture; or engineering businesses; and employees or retirees of key NJ administrative departments.

The basic goal of all electrification is to reduce GHG using the least-cost energy policy described in the 2019 NJ Energy Master Plan. As electricity evolves toward 100 percent clean in 2050, GHG emissions due to electric appliances and vehicles will disappear. The most effective action is to switch to high-efficiency, cold-climate electric heat pumps for both heating and cooling, thus minimizing both energy use (and costs) and GHG emissions. Cold climate heat pumps will keep residents warm in winter in a well-insulated house, down to an outside temperature of 5 degrees or lower, and cool in the hottest summer. Backup heat, if needed at low temperatures, can be either electric resistance heat strips or, prior to a complete transition to 100 percent clean electricity, use of the heat pump with your existing gas or oil furnace or boiler. Electric heat pump water heaters and dryers and induction stoves complete the electrification.

Clean, electric appliances improve air quality and safety in our communities, lower energy bills, use local clean energy resources, and help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. The health benefits of electric appliances over those powered by gas are substantial. Fossil fuel combustion in buildings is a significant contributor to both indoor and outdoor air pollution and adverse health outcomes in New Jersey, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color, with over 250 premature deaths and $2.8 billion in monetized health impacts annually. Households with gas stoves regularly exceed safe levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, among other pollutants, and have significantly higher levels of indoor air pollution than those with electric cooking. Studies have shown that children in homes with gas stoves have a 42 percent higher likelihood of asthma incidents.

We are asking the governor, state agencies, and the legislature to do their part in passing laws, regulations, and building codes that accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean energy and electrified buildings and vehicles. After seeing a press release that the governor has included in the upcoming budget over $300 million to build 3,300 affordable housing units, we sent letters asking that these homes be built to all-electric, zero energy building code standards. This would mean that the homes would be highly energy efficient; would produce as much clean energy (eg, solar) on an annual basis as they needed to power all heating, cooling, appliances, lighting, and vehicle charging; and would need no gas hookups. Fully electrifying these new affordable housing units can showcase New Jersey’s commitment to its climate mitigation goals and be a proof-of-concept that building electrification using the latest technology is possible while providing energy cost savings to residents.

Email the authors at stevemiller@comcast.net and patmiller@comcast.net if you would like to join the NJ 50 x 30 BE Team. 



Rewiring America “NJ Benefits of Household Electrification”

Acadia Center “The Future is Electric - Helping NJ Live in Cleaner, Healthier and More Affordable Homes”

NJ 2019 Energy Master Plan is the NJ strategic vision for the least cost path to 2050.