As climate change intensifies, many states and utilities are making long-term commitments to reduce planet-warming emissions. With buildings responsible for about one-third of these emissions, some stakeholders advocate for full electrification of homes. Others tout opportunities to use clean fuels, such as biogas and hydrogen, or gas-driven heat pumps. This paper reports the results of a home-by-home analysis of several thousand homes across the United States, looking at decarbonization options for space and water heating.
We find that electric heat pumps generally offer the cheapest way to cleanly heat and cool single-family homes in all but the coldest parts of the United States in coming decades. In very cold places, electric heat pumps with an alternative fuel backup for frigid periods (below 5°F) often minimize life-cycle energy and equipment costs.
Nadel, S., and L. Fadali. 2022. Analysis of Electric and Gas Decarbonization Options for Homes and Apartments. Washington, DC: ACEEE. www.aceee.org/research-report/b2205.