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Californians Want to Stop Burning Gas in Their Homes

March 16, 2020
By
Matt Vespa Staff Attorney, Clean Energy
Rachel GoldenGuest Contributor

In a new poll, 70% of Californians said they prefer efficient electric appliances powered by clean electricity instead of fossil gas.

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A couple shops for appliances in a home goods store.
iStock

After decades of burning gas in our homes, Californians are ready for a change.  

Most Californians use gas for everyday activities like heating our homes, taking a hot shower, and cooking, and probably don’t think twice about it. We’ve been told by the gas industry and its consultants that gas is clean, safe, and affordable. But evidence is mounting that burning gas pollutes the climate and our homes, poses unnecessary safety hazards, and can drive up our energy bills. Gas appliances should soon go the way of the coal stove in California, and 30 years from now we will may wonder why we ever lived with such a dirty fuel. 

A new statewide poll by FM3 indicates that when presented with a choice, most Californians would not only choose to go with all-electric appliances, but would also support policymakers that encourage the state’s transition off gas.  The poll surveyed California voters across the state, demographics, and political aisle, and found that an overwhelming 70% of Californians said they prefer efficient electric appliances powered by clean electricity instead of fossil gas. 

Policymakers take note: Californians want a plan to go electric

It boils down to clean energy jobs, rebates, new electricity rates, and support for low-income Californians.

California voters strongly support the policies needed to accelerate a thoughtful and just transition from gas to renewable energy in our homes. They’re especially supportive of new policies to develop our workforce, create rebates to make it easier to switch from gas to efficient electric appliances, update the electricity rates in our bills to incentivize the use of efficient electric appliances, and support new policies specifically geared to help low-income residents get off gas.

Support is not just from Democrats, who poll at an approval rating above 90% for these electrification measures. Nearly 60% of Republicans support workforce development for building electrification, and a majority of Republicans support creating new rebates to lower the upfront costs of electric appliances like heat pumps. 

While majorities of Californians favor these policies regardless of gender and age, researchers found that across the board, voters of color and younger respondents, especially women under 50, support these policies most broadly.

The focus on workforce development shouldn’t catch anyone by surprise. California has long lit the path for curbing climate pollution and growing the economy at the same time. California, so widely known as the home of Hollywood and tech, also has the largest clean energy sector in the country. We have over half a million clean energy jobs (they outnumber fossil fuel jobs five to one), including over a quarter million jobs in the electric vehicle industry. Close to two in five solar jobs in America are in California. Done right, the transition to all-electric homes will be an economic growth opportunity in California, and can create over 100,000 new jobs.

Why Californians Support Transitioning Off Gas

The overwhelming support for all-electric appliances is rooted in Californians wanting a safe, affordable, and efficient energy systems that does not pollute the air or worsen climate change. It’s well established that gas appliances are harmful not just to the climate, but to our health, safety, and wallets.

Roughly 90% of Californians are connected to the gas system, and most residents are not very familiar with the clean electric alternatives like heat pumps and induction stoves. In fact, over 60% of Californians who responded to the poll said they are not familiar with the cleaner, more efficient electric alternatives. 

Those numbers show a major opportunity window. With more information on the hazards of gas and increased familiarity with advanced electric appliances — through events like induction stove lending programs, city expos, and probably most importantly training for the contractors who recommend appliances — Californians’ demand for this transition will only grow.

The All-Electric Movement Emerges in the Golden State

Even just five years ago, few had heard about the health and climate risks of gas stoves and heaters. The conversation didn’t travel beyond the borders of scientific and energy experts circles. But since the summer of 2019, nearly 30 cities and counties across California have prohibited gas in new construction or have adopted policies to strongly support new developments to be all-electric. Thirty more California cities and counties are preparing to follow suit this year, and the movement is spreading beyond California’s borders too.  

City councilmembers and county board of supervisors have taken these bold actions backed by strong community support — from builders and developers, architects, engineers, and doctors, and especially parents and youth motivated by the narrow window to stop the climate crisis.

California is standing on the threshold of major change, with a quiet revolution just beginning to shift to cleaner, more efficient electric appliances in our homes. But the work is just beginning. State policymakers and city leaders have major opportunities ahead to phase out gas not only in new construction, but in existing homes and buildings too. While some despair about the threats to our climate and the air we breathe, these leaders in California stand to do something about it.

Decades from now, it may seem like a no-brainer that we replaced gas with clean energy inside our homes and across the economy. What we need now are city councils, state policymakers, and legislators to help chart a timely, just and equitable path to safer, healthier, and more affordable homes and businesses in the Golden State.