We’ve created this step by step guide to clarify what’s involved in going 100% electric, and to share lessons learned by your neighbors who have already gone through this process. Some of these lessons can save you a lot of money and time!
Before you get started on switching your home equipment from gas to electric, it’s good to have a plan. A household that is switching its water heater, furnace, and stove from gas to electric will eventually need to work with an electrician, an HVAC contractor, and a plumber. However, you can save a lot of money if you have the electrician come to your house to do all the electrical work at once rather than come back several times. “All the work” in this case means: ensuring that you have adequate service in the house overall, as well as at the locations where you plan to switch from gas to electric.
Here’s a great resource to read before you get started! What are the hurdles to electrifying a home? Contractors and experts weigh in. Installing heat pumps and induction stoves can be costly and complex, but they boost homeowners’ health and comfort — and benefit the climate too. (Canary Media, February 2022)
Step One: Become All Electric-Ready
A first step is to check to see if you have adequate capacity on your electric panel. In many (but not all) cases, the panel needs a 200 amp service rating, and there need to be open slots in the panel to add new circuits.
Check the main breaker on your electrical panel. Does the panel have a 200 amp service rating, and are there empty slots in the panel? If so, your home probably has adequate service for full electrification.
If you do not have a 200 amp service or empty slots on the panel, it is recommended that you have an electrician come to the house to assess the situation.
If the electrician will be coming to your house to do this work, it could save you money to have him/her also evaluate and/or complete the other electrical work needed for your full electrification if you can afford to go ahead and do so.
If you also plan to switch from a gas to an induction cooktop, you are likely to also need an electrician to heavy up your electric outlet near the cooktop.
Step Two: Understand Your Current Equipment and Electric Options
One way to prioritize your electrification process is to prioritize the equipment that is closest to its end of life. Or, you may choose to prioritize the equipment that is emitting the most greenhouse gases.
Heat Pump Water Heaters
The life expectancy of a gas water heater is typically 8-12 years. When a hot water heater dies, you will want to replace it as fast as possible, so it’s important to be ready to go electric!
Consider what size you need. Are you replacing a storage tank water heater or a tankless water heater? If your water heater has a storage tank, how many gallons is it? It is common for storage tank water heaters to be over-sized after taking into account common water conservation measures such as low-flow showerheads and faucets that allow only about 1.5 gallons of hot and cold water per minute total, water-sense clothes washers that use about 13 gallons of hot and cold water per load, and water-sense dishwashers that use about 3.5 gallons of hot and cold water per load. A water heater capacity calculator can help you decide what capacity you need.
Consider your electrical supply. Most heat pump water heaters require a 240-volt outlet at the water heater location, although more recently, 120-volt heat pump water heaters are becoming available. If the unit you plan to install requires a 240-volt outlet, you will need your electrician to install this service in the water heater location.
Consider your space. Unlike other types of water heaters, you shouldn’t install an HPWH in a small closed closet because it wouldn’t have enough warm air to power the heat pump. Most manufacturers recommend a space that’s at least 100 square feet (10’x10′). Heat pump water heaters will end up cooling the room it is in by about 5 degrees. Heat pump water heaters also make some “white noise” so the best location is in a garage or utility room that is away from your living area. Is this available?
Contact a plumber about available options, pricing, and scheduling (See our list of Local Contractors)
More About Heat Pump Water Heaters
How to Install an Electric Heat Pump Water Heater (This Old House) (Video 6:27 min.) . This video explains how a heat pump water heater works and points out these water heaters usually require a little more vertical space, need a pipe for condensation (a location near a washing machine for example) and that they make a little bit of background noise you may want to consider when installing your new heat pump water heater.
Heat Pump Heating and Cooling Systems
The life expectancy of a gas furnace is typically 15-20 years. When your furnace dies, you will want to replace it as fast as possible, especially in winter. So it’s important to be ready to go electric before it dies!
Learn about your current gas furnace, including the approximate age or year of purchase (check serial number) and the capacity.If you have a forced-air system, it’s good to have a qualified inspector or HVAC contractor check the ducts and return to confirm that your home can effectively circulate the conditioned air. If your system of ducts is well-designed, you can use them for your new heat pump system. If not, a high efficiency ductless heat pump (“mini-split”) may be a better option. An HVAC contractor can help you make a decision that’s right for your home.
Contact an HVAC contractor about available options, pricing, and scheduling (See our list of Local Contractors)
Heat Pumps Explained – A Shallow Dive into the Technology (Zero Energy Buildings Learning Centre) (Video2:21 min.) See below for a more detailed explanation.
Understanding Heat Pumps – A Deep Dive on Types of Heat Pumps. (This Old House) (Video 8:36 min.). Yep, this is a deep dive, but you’ll be rewarded by understanding how new technology has solved early issues with these systems in really cold climates – and how you can get precise heat – 77.5 degrees? You bet.
Most gas ranges and cooktops have a life expectancy of 13-15 years. A new cooktop/oven can be installed by the company from whom you buy the appliance. If the right electric capacity and outlet is in place, you do not need to hire an electrician.
Important note: Before installing your new electric or induction stove, contact Avista Customer Service ((800) 227-9187) to remove the existing gas stove and cap the gas line.
Learn about your current range or cooktop, such as the approximate age or year of purchase and dimensions
Research electric and induction cooktop and/or ovens. Induction stoves are the most efficient and high-performing cooktops, but less-expensive electric stoves are also available.
Is a 240-volt outlet available at the stove location? Induction cooktops require a dedicated, grounded 240-volt circuit protected with 40- or 50-amp breakers that terminate in an approved junction box mounted below the counter on the cabinet back or on the wall behind it
Is the cooktop separate from the range? If yes, you could replace just the cooktop, and not the range, but remember that you will need venting.
IMPORTANT! Cooktop Vent. Building codes require venting for all cooktops, regardless of fuel source. This could be an overhead vent or a downdraft system. Is there a current venting system? If not, can one be installed overhead?
If an overhead vent cannot be installed, can the cooktop be separate from the oven? If yes, you may be able to get a downdraft vent. At this writing, there are no induction ranges with downdrafts. So if your current cooktop is on a kitchen island with no overhead vent, you may have to overcome some challenges to install an induction cooktop in that location. It’s not impossible, but be sure to do your research.
Induction Cooktops: Five Reasons They are Better than Gas
This is an EXCELLENT video on induction cooktops. Matt Risinger covers it all, kicking it off by saying his first client was a Wolf Gas Range user. The Five Reasons?
- Speed to heat
- Easy clean up
- Prep for net zero
- Ending gas line hook-up fees
The Truth About Induction Cooking
Induction cooking has a name problem. That’s why most of us can’t wrap our heads around it. In this video we will help you decide if an induction stove is the right choice for your kitchen.
The Case for Induction Cooking
As the perils of cooking with gas become more apparent, there’s ever more reason for cooks to turn to these flameless, easy-to-clean ranges.
NY Times, March 11, 2022
Induction Cooking with Chef David Wei
Watch a couple of dishes being made on an induction cooktop (WARNING: You may need to order Chinese after viewing.)
Electric Clothes Dryer
For those currently using a gas dryer, an electric dryer is a great option. Most gas dryers have a life expectancy of 13 years. A new electric dryer can be installed by the company from whom you buy the appliance. If the right electric capacity and outlet is in place, you do not need to hire an electrician.
Learn about your current dryer, include the approximate purchase year and capacity.
Exploring a Heat Pump Clothes Dryer (This Old House) (Video 2:37 min.). No outside venting needed! This dryer technology can be installed nearly anywhere. Bonus: There are nifty animated graphics to explain how this technology works.
Step Three: Draft Your Plan
Use this form to document your plan and share it with us (anonymously, if you prefer). Sharing it with us, will help us gauge the progress of the Electrify Ashland Now campaign, and communicate general Ashland electrification trends to local contractors and policymakers.