To reduce greenhouse gas emissions we need to electrify all of our buildings. New electric appliances — such as heat pumps and induction stoves — are often less expensive to operate than conventional natural gas appliances. For example, at $2/therm for natural gas and $0.30/kwh for electricity, it costs about $1 to heat up a 65 gallon hot water tank for both gas and electricity. Add in rooftop solar and you can heat that tank for less than $0.25!
So from both an economic and environmental standpoint it absolutely makes sense to replace old gas appliances with new electric appliances. Except for one big problem: many older homes have a 100 or 125 amp electrical service — which is insufficient to run most domestic hot water heat pumps, heat pump HVAC systems (heating and cooling), induction electric stoves and level 2 electric vehicle chargers. Not to mention anything other than a relatively small (< 5 kw) rooftop solar power system.
The solution is to contact your electric utility to get an electric panel upgrade to a 200 amp system. Unfortunately, an electric panel upgrade is complicated. Every house is different — some homes have overhead wiring which is relatively easy to replace, and some homes are powered by underground wiring which can take many months and dollars to upgrade.
Navigating the utility and city regulations for electric service upgrades can be a nightmare. To help us understand these issues — as well as the shortcuts and rebates that are available from some utilities — our guest on this week’s show is Sue Kateley. Sue is the former Executive Director of CALSEIA (now known as CALSSA), and has also worked as the Chief of Staff for California State Senator Bradford.
Please listen up to this week’s Energy Show as Sue walks us through her personal experience with PG&E and her electrician as she cost-effectively completed an electric panel upgrade — and took advantage of some of the little-known incentives and procedures that can make this process much faster and cheaper.