Beneficial Electrification League Demonstrates Combining Efficiency and Electrification Can Make Single-Family Home Retrofits Affordable in California

Retrofit Pilot Projects in Rural Southern California Community Plus New Research Show Low- and Moderate-Income Homes Can Save Energy and Cut Overall Home Energy Bills
Jul 28, 2023 3:20 PM ET

ARLINGTON, Va., July 28, 2023 /3BL/ - With new federal rebates from the Inflation Reduction Act now available, low- and moderate-income households can overcome the cost barriers to home retrofits, according to the non-profit Beneficial Electrification League (BEL). BEL’s whole-home weatherization and electrification demonstration projects, bolstered by groundbreaking economic research on water heater technologies, have demonstrated a positive outlook for retrofits that can benefit home residents, the environment, and the electric grid.

“The upfront costs of electrifying existing homes, unaffordable for many rural low- and moderate-income households using propane and fuel oil, has long been a barrier to upgrades that could reduce consumer energy bills over the long term,” says Keith Dennis, President of BEL. “Our research shows combining weatherization and high-efficiency appliances can overcome economic barriers to whole home retrofits when combined with rebates, such as those expected to be available as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.”

For California households participating in the project, combining weatherization and electrification dramatically reduced overall energy consumption. A cost analysis shows one family’s monthly energy bill was cut in half. Expected federal rebates from the Inflation Reduction Act will enable electrification and upgrades with minimal or no upfront costs resulting in lower bills – an ongoing challenge for many California households – and increased safety and comfort.

“Electrification is a critical step in reducing energy costs for our members, and newer technology home appliances and equipment are enabling lower costs and a healthier indoor environment. This program is truly a win-win for homeowners and our utility,” said Anza Electric Cooperative General Manager Kevin Short. For more information on the home retrofits, watch the video.

Water Heating Technology Research

Electrification of residential water heating, which accounts for approximately 19 percent of residential energy consumption, has emerged as a strategy for lowering costs and reducing building sector carbon emissions. In a whole home retrofit, deciding whether to keep the existing water heater or install a new system – and if so, which type – is key to cost-effective investments that maximize consumer, environmental, and grid benefits.

New economic research from The Brattle Group and GDS Associates, Water Heating Economics in a Dynamic Energy Landscape, analyzed the total societal cost of major water heating technologies across various housing types to determine cost-effective and applicable options.

“Our study shows that policymakers, practitioners, and consumers will benefit from considering the full suite of available water heating technologies when making policy and investment decisions,” said Ryan Hledik, a Principal at The Brattle Group and co-author of the study. “The optimal water heating technology can differ depending on energy market conditions, rate structures, available incentives, and other considerations.”

These findings are consistent with the results of BEL's home energy retrofit demonstration projects. In all cases, weatherizing homes maximizes the benefits of new appliances.

The research and home retrofit demonstrations are part of Weatherization/Electrification Together. This initiative, supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation, tackles the challenge of deploying high-efficiency electric residential heating and cooling systems in single-family homes to benefit consumers, the environment, and the electric grid.


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About the Beneficial Electrification League: BEL is a not-for-profit organization bringing together a diverse group of organizations that support universal acceptance of beneficial electrification as a necessary strategy to meet economic, consumer, and environmental goals.

About Brattle: The Brattle Group answers complex economic, finance, and regulatory questions for corporations, law firms, and governments around the world. They are distinguished by the clarity of their insights and the credibility of their experts, which include leading international academics and industry specialists.

Anza Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit, rural electric cooperative in Anza, California. The cooperative provides electricity to 5,200 meters and serves 550 square miles of high desert in the San Jacinto mountains.