Beneficial Electrification: A Layperson’s Learning Experience
February 15, 2022
At Energy Sciences, I am lucky to work with people passionate about energy and sustainability. My colleagues’ ongoing education helps me become a better energy industry creative and a better all-around human being. I was in a call recently with our talented Associate Program Manager, Michelle Peters, and she mentioned a concept I had not heard about yet: beneficial electrification. Seeming to be way out of my depth on this concept, I sat down with Michelle and asked her a few questions to learn more about this exciting concept.
LH: So, Michelle, tell me a little bit about what Beneficial Electrification is.
MP: Absolutely! Beneficial electrification replaces carbon-intensive fossil fuel items we use in our homes and for transportation for identical ones that use electricity derived from cleaner renewable sources.
LH: OK, so essentially eliminating fossil fuels and replacing them with cleaner electric resources, does that sound right? What are the benefits of that?
MP: Yep, you got it! There are so many benefits, but one of the main ones is that taking this approach can help us lower carbon emissions which come from fossil fuels used to power things we use every day like our cars, furnaces, and stoves. Additionally, it can help us fight climate change, reduce overall costs to customers, and remove emissions from sources that can be electrified for people who live in areas with high air pollution, which improves health outcomes.
LH: Wow! Those are some pretty amazing benefits. Does that mean that electric infrastructure would improve too?
MP: It most certainly would be a driving factor. Beneficial electrification could lead to upgrades like smart grids, which would lower the probability of unexpected blackouts.
LH: Well, I’m inspired. I want to make moves and incorporate beneficial electrification into my life. How would I do that?
MP: There are many things we can do at home that line up with the concept of beneficial electrification. Choosing or upgrading fossil fuel-based appliances, like your stove or clothes dryer, or HVAC appliances like heat pump water heaters or ductless mini-splits. Other household items like lawnmowers, snowblowers, leaf blowers, and natural gas fireplaces can also be upgraded to electric models.
There are lots of options for people who rent to participate in energy efficiency programs in general that have minimal costs associated with them. You may be able to qualify for low-cost to free upgrades to some of your appliances and an upgraded Wi-Fi thermostat from your electric utility provider. You can also choose to “opt-in” to programs that allow you to purchase a fraction of all your energy from renewables.
LH: Awesome! Who knew there were so many options?! Michelle, thanks so much for giving us insight and information on this topic. If I wanted to learn more, where would I go?
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