Building Electrification

Gas appliances like furnaces and water heaters in California’s homes and buildings are responsible for over 50 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. Burning gas in homes and buildings for heating and cooking produces toxic air pollution like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides, and formaldehydes that are hazardous to our health. Old, leaky gas infrastructure also increases the risk of fires, especially in earthquake and fire-prone regions spanning across the state. Gas rates are rising as the system ages and requires costly upgrades, making this an important moment to shift from gas to more affordable clean energy.

As the electricity sector transitions towards 100 percent clean energy, we must turn our attention to using this clean electricity to drive down fracked-gas use in our homes and buildings. By replacing polluting gas appliances with clean, electric alternatives, we can 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 gas industry is our primary obstacle as it has a firm grip on our agencies and policy debate, and overwhelms communities with propaganda about the false benefits of fossil fuels while driving a wedge along lines of race and class. By using legal and policy expertise, grassroots and online organizing, and hard-hitting communications work, we can win policy reforms, new building and appliance standards, and incentives needed to eliminate fossil fuel use in the buildings sector. You can find a list of California cities that have already passed building electrification ordinances here.

Below are the first three installments in an illustration series by Vrinda Manglik on building electrification for the Yodeler. You can also view the full first installment here, the second installment here, and the third installment here.



Benefits of Building Electrification

Health Benefits

Burning gas in homes releases dangerous toxins—including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and ultrafine particles, as well as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde—leading to air pollution levels in many gas homes that would be illegal if measured outside. In fact, children are particularly at risk; children living in a home with a gas stove are 42% more likely to have asthma. By moving to all-electric construction, we’re giving these kids the chance at a healthier life and their parents a break from constant worry and medical bills. We have an asthma epidemic in California — and it costs more than $11 billion annually. Researchers have calculated that burning fossil fuels in commercial and residential buildings is responsible for about $32 billion in annual health-related damages and thousands of premature deaths every year.


Gas in buildings does not contribute to resiliency — and in the face of natural disasters, can be a huge safety liability. Not only are gas lines and leaks a dangerous liability during fires, they typically take longer to get operational again after a safety shutoff or disaster-related inspection and repair, compared to electricity. It can take weeks to restore gas service when it’s been cut. New water heaters, stoves and household heaters all have electric ignitions since pilot lights are no longer legal. As a result, they do not work when the electricity is off regardless of their primary fuel source. Some gas stoves can be lit with a match during a power outage; however the exhaust fan will not work making the stove unsafe to operate. All-electric appliances can easily be set up to use a backup power source including generators or solar-powered batteries during disasters when the grid is down. Heat pump water heaters can use electricity from rooftop solar to heat water and store it for over 24 hours, so families will have hot water even if the grid is down in case of disaster or when the sun isn’t shining.

Climate Benefits

The energy used in buildings is the largest source of climate pollution in the world, and here in California, buildings are second only to transportation as the leading source of climate pollution. The bulk of these emissions come from burning fossil fuels such as natural gas and propane to heat our homes and buildings. Gas has overtaken coal as the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S., and gas is now the primary driver of emissions growth worldwide. Leaks from gas pipelines and distribution equipment are common nationwide with more than 2.3% or more of the gas leaking from extraction to the gas meter. Another 0.5% is found to be leaking in homes. As methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, 3% leakage doubles the climate impact from natural gas combustion over a 20-year horizon.

Existing Rebates




Alameda Municipal Power

Heat pump water heater


Electric dryer


Bay Area Regional Energy Network

Heat pump water heater


Central heat pumps


Mini-split heat pumps


Induction range


Heat pump dryer


Electrify Marin

Heat pump water heater

$1,000 - $2,000

Central heat pumps

$1,000 - $4,500

Induction range

$250 - $500

Panel upgrades

$500 - $1,200

East Bay Community Energy

Commercial Induction Rebate Program

Varies by project


Heat pump water heater


Campaign Objectives:

  1. Prioritize electrification programs including incentive and pilot programs that help low-income residents electrify their homes and lower energy bills.
  2. Drive the development of new policies that support an equitable path to zero-emissions for all new construction and existing buildings.
  3. Remove policy barriers to electrification at the state and regional level.
  4. Raise awareness on the negative impacts of gas pollution from buildings and mobilize a broad base of community members and volunteer activists across the state.
  5. Advocate for workforce development and training programs that support a just transition from fossil fuel jobs to positions in the clean energy sector.
  6. Tighten state and regional air pollution standards for residential and commercial appliances.

Get Involved

In order to build a stronger movement with robust grassroots support to layer onto our administrative lobbying and legal work, we need your help. To get involved or sign up for our monthly newsletter, please contact Conservation Program Coordinator Melissa Yu (

More Resources

East Bay Green Home Tour - Learn what your East Bay neighbors are doing to electrify their homes. Each tour segment consists of a 10-minute video tour followed by a live 10-minute Q&A with the homeowner or tenant.

Redwood Energy’s Pocket Guide to All-Electric Retrofits of Single Family Homes has costs, case studies, and electrification retrofit strategies.