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...ALL-ELECTRIC-Life - Part II - Preparing to Decarbonize Our Homes…

By Allen Hibner: David Roberts of Vox, quotes Saul Griffith – author of Rewiring America - in his August 6, 2020 article (“How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly”) as follows:

“First, it is still possible to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions in line with a 1.5°C pathway. Specifically, it is possible to reduce US emissions 70 percent to 80 percent by 2035 (and to zero by 2050) through rapid electrification, relying on five already well-developed technologies: wind and solar power plants, rooftop solar, electric vehicles, heat pumps, and batteries. Think of those technologies as the infrastructure of 21st century life. If everyone uses carbon-free energy to heat their homes and get around, the bulk of the problem will be solved.

Second, to decarbonize in time, substitution of clean-energy technologies for their fossil fuel counterparts must ramp up to 100 percent as fast as possible, after a brief period of industrial mobilization. Every time a gas or diesel car is replaced, it must be replaced with an EV; every time an oil or gas furnace is replaced, it must be replaced with a heat pump; every time a coal or gas power plant goes offline, it must be replaced with renewable energy.”

The above quotation from Saul Griffith forms the basis for and the validation of my blog series of articles on shifting rapidly to an all-electric life. I am aggressively underway towards obtaining that goal in my own life with our home and autos.

In Part II of this series, it makes great sense to take a step back for a moment and to consider how to prepare our homes for the coming shift to full-on decarbonization. What should we do first (or in parallel) within our homes before we replace our fossil fuel based HVAC systems, hot water heaters and appliances with their all-electric counterparts? One word immediately comes to mind: weatherization…

Why start here? Why focus on weatherization? Simple… If I am going to replace ALL of my home’s existing fossil fuel burning systems and appliances with all-electric ones, why would I also not want to use LESS of the 100% green, renewable and carbon free electricity flowing into my home. Weatherizing my old 1950’s Penfield home is a NO-BRAINER for me!

I am about to tell you about what I have done to-date to further weatherize my 1500 square foot, 1950’s raised ranch home in Penfield. In fact, this entire blog series (acronym = OBBGAEL = "Our Big Beautiful Green All Electric Life") is about the actions I have taken, am taking now and plan to take in the future across the board. I tell you the story of what I am doing for ONE REASON ONLY! I hope that it makes you think about the need, if you have not already done so, to take similar actions in your own family’s situation. I strongly believe that seeing actual examples of actions someone else has taken can fuel the imagination and spur us into completing our own set of green, sustainable home, projects.

My parents had a home built in the Penfield Hills (first traffic light east of the Penfield 4-Corners on Rt. 441) in 1953. We moved out here from Anson Place in downtown Rochester when I was 3 years old. I watched, as a little 5-year-old kid, the house behind us on Highledge Drive that my wife and I live in right now, being built in 1955. I remember that vividly. This was the time of the “baby boom” and the demand for suburban homes from GI’s who had returned from WWII and were starting families was huge. Lots of homes were built during the 50’s and 60’s in Penfield… lots. These were solidly constructed homes. They don’t build homes like this anymore. Take a look at the chart that follows:

Are there many more things we can do to weatherize our home even further? SURE there are…and I may take more actions in the future. For now, the really big weatherization projects are done and it’s time to start replacing those old fossil fuels-based heating/hot water systems and appliances with all electric ones.

We’ll take a look at how we replaced an inefficient, 30+ year old on-wall natural gas furnace in our basement “in-law” apartment with a high efficiency mini-split all electric heat pump in Part III of this blog series: “Our Big Beautiful Green All Electric Life.” Hope you are enjoying this series and that you’ll join us for the next adventure. Thanks for reading this blog article.

NOTE: If you own one of those "mid-20th century Penfield homes like me" and you've been inspired to explore weatherizing your home even more but you are unsure where to start, you can get a free (100% funded through NYSERDA) energy audit and an approved contractor will complete the audit and make recommendations. Click on the link to go to the NYSERDA website - Energy Audit Programs page.

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