Utilities have taken on climate change in a number of different ways. In Sacramento, Calif., the local utility has gone all electric.
Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) All-Electric Smart Home project is part of the utility’s broader electrification effort. Kicked off last fall, it is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering partnerships with home builders to build homes powered entirely by electricity.
This summer, the utility announced it had reached the milestone of getting commitments from developers to add 1,000 new, all-electric homes to the city’s housing stock over the next two years.
The program has reached this milestone by including every angle of the homebuilding process. All types of home builders have been engaged, ranging from small, local infill specialists to large, national builders.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Watts Communities earned the distinction of propelling the program past the 1,000-home mark with its commitment for two all-electric developments in the community of Natomas.
In addition to the $5,000-per-home incentives, the utility also allowed the developer to include heat pump heating and cooling, heat pump water heating, and induction stoves. The homes will contain solar panels and such unique features as magnetic-induction cooking technology.
The smart home program will help SMUD meet its aggressive commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 and surpass the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals of 80 percent by 2050.
According to a study published in April by the consulting firm, Energy + Environmental Economics, electrification is the most effective decarbonization strategy for homes. The study, “Residential Building Electrification in California,” finds that electrification can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in homes by up to 60 percent in 2020 and by up to 90 percent in 2050 compared with mixed-fuel homes.
The study finds that electrification saves money, too, by creating cost savings for developers, who don’t have to lay gas lines. It can also help lower bills, saving customers anywhere from $130 to $540 per year.
SMUD expects another 1,000 all electric homes to be contracted by the end of 2019.