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Get on the Path to Home Electrification!

Welcome to the D.C. Home Electrification Guide from Chesapeake Climate Action Network. 

In this guide, we’re highlighting seven key steps in the home electrification process — and any discounts available  — so you can save money and fight climate change. 

Many of the steps we highlight will be free for income-qualified DC residents; check out the DC Sustainable Energy Utility program to find out more.

Step 1 (of 7): Make sure your home is weatherized

Are some rooms in your home colder or hotter than others? Is your house drafty, too dry, or prone to mold? A home energy audit and weatherization can help. The auditor should walk, crawl and climb all over your house before recommending ways for it to be more airtight.

(If your home is newly insulated and has no moisture or temperature-related issues, you may be able to skip this step.)

Once your home is weatherized, you’ll likely see your energy bills go down right away! Now you’ll be ready to make sure the energy you are using is clean and green. 

Step 2: Buy and produce clean energy

Get Cleaner, Cheaper Power

If you go electric, this is a great opportunity to make sure your house is running on electricity that’s good for your health and the planet. If you don’t go electric, this is a good idea, too!  Luckily, in DC, whether or not you have a roof, there are many good opportunities to go clean: 

  • Buy: DC Power Connect, a project of the DC Public Service Commission, allows you to choose a supplier of 100 percent clean electricity. These companies may purchase, broker, aggregate or market energy for sale to customers. There are dozens of options available! Chesapeake Climate Action Network does not endorse any specific energy supplier.
  • Connect: Community Solar gets you solar power without putting panels on your building, for those living in apartments or condos or without good access to the sun.
  • Produce: If it’s feasible on your home, put on your own solar panels! For more help on finding the right company to help you go solar, check out this helpful guide to going solar in DC from the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors or this DC specific page from Energy Sage. 

Save on Solar

DC solar incentives make solar installation a winning bet for DC residents. Check out the below options: 

  • Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, everyone can receive a 30 percent tax credit for installing rooftop solar or battery storage through federal 25D tax credits. Additionally, income-qualified consumers can get utility bill assistance from LIHEAP and PEPCO.  
  • Solar for All from the DCSEU provides free solar power, for income-qualified residents.
  • Households purchasing solar in DC can benefit from DC specific incentives including payments for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECS) and federal tax incentives. 

Now that your electricity is running on clean, renewable energy, you can prepare for the next step—upgrades! 

Step 3: Plan how to upgrade your home

Preparation Is Everything

Electrification is about making your home more comfortable and resilient. Making a plan can ensure you replace items before they break and get all the rebates available.  

Write down which items in your home use methane gas and how old they are. Plan to replace the oldest items first. Replacing one big item a year can maximize tax rebates.

Most important before you electrify, however, is making sure your electrical panel can handle it. 

    • First, find out your panel size. The amperage should be written on the main breaker, the big switch on top of the electrical panel. If you have a panel that’s 200 Amps or more, you should be able to electrify with no issue. Otherwise, you’ll need to plan carefully or replace your panel. 
    • If you have electrical issues such as flickering lights or sparks coming from the breaker box, you need a “heavy up,” or electrical upgrade. 
    • Follow this guide if your panel is fine and you want to avoid an upgrade 

Once your panel is working well, you can start replacing things. If your plans include

  • replacing a gas stove with an electric induction cooktop or range,
  • replacing a gas furnace with an electric heat pump,
  • replacing a gas dryer with an electric dryer, or
  • installing an electric vehicle charger,

then consider having new 240 volt plugs installed for each of those. If you have an electrician at your home, talk to them about whether you will need any new 240V circuits or plugs. 

Once you have a plan, you’ve finished this step! Now you’re fully prepared for an electrical upgrade. Next time we’ll talk about how to maximize tax credits for those upgrades!

Step 4: Tie electrical upgrades to another upgrade to facilitate tax rebates

Plan tax credits for Electrical Work

In Step 3, we planned for electrical upgrades, but to receive the federal Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credits (25C), you need to upgrade the panel in the same tax year as you make qualified energy efficiency upgrades or install a new device that the electrical panel will enable, such as solar panels, an electric heat pump water heater or an electric heat pump HVAC system.

Check out some info on these credits from IRS, Rewiring America, and Energy Star, then choose which electrical upgrade and appliance combination works for you. 

Next, contact an electrician to upgrade your panel and/or wiring and install the 240 volt plug for the device. Work with an HVAC professional to install the heat pump or heat pump water heater in the same tax year as when you upgrade your panel!

At tax time, claim both credits at once with File Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits Part II, and then enjoy your tax refund. 

Next week, we’ll talk about selecting the best heat pumps. Stay tuned!

Step 5: Get your electric heat pump HVAC installed

Stay Comfortable, Efficiently

As we mentioned in the last update, you can only get a credit for your electrical work if you do it in the same year as another project that it enables.  If you decide to use electrical work to enable an electric heat pump, then it’s time to pick one out! (Tax rebate tip: If you decided to do an electrical upgrade in the same year as a water heater upgrade, check out episode 6 right now and get your heat pump next year to maximize 25C rebates).

Most urban residents will need an air-source heat pump with variable speeds. Switching from a gas furnace to a full home heat pump HVAC system is a step up in efficiency and comfort from a gas furnace if it’s done well. Expect some time to decide on the correct system before installation begins. A thorough contractor will ask you about home comfort, check your energy use and then do a load calculation—known as manual J—to determine the capacity and size of the HVAC system needed, based on your usage and the climate where you live. Some contractors do not know current heat pump technology; if someone tells you your home is not heat pump ready, get a second opinion. 

For budget and DIY solutions, like a portable heat pump that plugs into a 120V outlet, consult the Redwood energy guide.  

For more on which heat pump to select, see the appendix below.

Next up, we’ll discuss how to choose a better electric water heater!

Step 6: Install an electric water heater

Heat Water with Less Energy

You can save lots of energy by installing an electric heat pump water heater. HPWHs are generally about three times more efficient than gas water heaters. Consider three factors: 

  1. Capacity: How much water do you need in your busiest hour? Make sure your hot water heater tank is large enough for that hour. 
  2. Location: Heat pump water heaters need 450 cubic feet of open space (about 8X8) to sit in because they pull heat from the surrounding air. They also dehumidify! Plan for them to make as much noise as a refrigerator. If you cannot tolerate those qualities, resistance heat electric water heaters are another gas-free option. 
  3. Plug: Depending on how much hot water they need, most people need a 240 volt plug to power the water heater. For tax purposes, if you tied your wiring upgrade to your water heater, definitely get a 240V system. The 25C tax credit has an annual cap, so get your water heater in a different tax year than your heat pump so you can claim the credit twice. 

Once you know how much hot water you need, look for contractors who mention heat pump water heaters on their website or in their reviews. While a full service “home electrification contractor” is a great idea, those are few and far between and most people will end up using different contractors for each stage of the process. 

For more on which water heater to select, see the appendix below.

So now you have electric heating for your air and water. Next we’ll tackle the kitchen!

Step 7: Hook up an electric stove

Make Your Kitchen Safer

Even when used correctly, gas stoves increase your chance of asthma and lung irritation, leak methane gas even when turned off and are hot enough to burn you. Induction stoves are the best way to solve all those problems, but any electric stove is healthier than burning methane gas inside. Both options pair with electric ovens. 

To move from a gas stove to an electric one, you will need to have a 240 volt plug installed where you want your stove to go. A plumber or other qualified person will have to cap the gas line either right by the stove, or, if you have electrified your whole home, before it gets to your house.

Once you pick out your stove, talk to the electrician to make sure the stove plug will match your newly installed 240V plug. Several shapes are available. 

Easy to DIY

To make your kitchen healthier without spending a bundle, use an induction hot plate, countertop oven or air fryer to cook without removing your gas stove. 

For more on which cooktop to select, see the appendix below.

Now your heating, water, and kitchen are electric, efficient, and running on clean energy. Congratulations! 

Thank you so much for reading the Home Electrification Updates from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. To lean more about electrification efforts, sign up for our email list. 

We also have a campaign to MATCH donations for our electrification work in DC. Click HERE to learn more and donate.


What kind of heat pump do you need? 

Does your home have a furnace or air conditioners connected to air ducts to move the heated air around the house? If yes – consider a ducted system. If no – consider “mini-split” units. If you want to electrify and decarbonize your home but you are renting or cannot afford to install a permanent heat pump, consider a window unit which provides heat and cooling, either using heat pump technology or less-efficient resistance heat.

What kind of water heater do you need? 

Electric resistance water heaters come in more sizes than heat pump water heaters and cost less. However, heat pump models use one-third as much energy, often saving money in the long term.  
You’ll need to figure out what size water heater you need before installing a new one. Hot water heaters are rated by how much hot water they can put out in an hour (peak hour demand). To estimate your peak demand, consider what time of day your household uses the most hot water. Then use this worksheet to estimate how much hot water your household uses per hour at that time. Note: This is peak hour demand, not total daily hot water usage. You can reduce hot water needs by using low-flow shower heads and washing clothes and dishes with cold water when possible.  

What kind of cooktop do you need?

You can replace a gas stove with a traditional resistance-heat electric cooktop or range, or a modern induction cooktop. Induction cooktops use powerful magnets under a heavy-duty glass top to make the pan hot enough to cook food. The glass itself doesn’t get very hot. They are cleaner and safer than traditional electric cooktops.

What about Clothes Dryers?

The most efficient dryers use heat pump technology. Like heat pumps for space and water heating, heat pump clothes dryers are more efficient than their traditional counterparts, which translates to utility bill savings. And like heat pumps, heat pump clothes dryers will become even better for the environment as the grid becomes cleaner and manufacturers switch to new refrigerants.

Keep in mind: Most electric dryers are 240V but compact 120V dryers are available.

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