VEIC Author
Emily Levin

Building electrification is essential to meeting climate goals. However, many customers who heat with natural gas face an “affordability catch-22”: They are likely to experience energy cost increases from building electrification in the near term, but could be at risk of energy cost increases in the long term if high upfront costs prevent them from electrifying.

Low- and moderate-income (LMI) households are particularly vulnerable to short-term cost increases because they already face high energy burdens and often live in housing that is challenging and expensive to electrify. The affordability catch-22 demands that we find equitable solutions to help LMI households electrify their homes without increasing their energy burdens.

Presented at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, this study applies an affordability lens to survey electrification barriers and solutions, with a focus on LMI households that rely on natural gas. It reviews the cost impacts of building electrification for households that use natural gas, and shows the particular challenges that electrification poses for LMI households.

The study also provides an overview of strategies to advance electrification while avoiding adverse consequences for LMI households and integrates these considerations into a definition of equitable beneficial electrification that accounts for both short-term and long-term cost impacts.

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