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Beneficial Electrification League Demonstrates Combining Efficiency and Electrification Can Make Single-Family Home Retrofits Affordable

Retrofit Pilot Projects in Rural Communities Plus New Research Show Low- and Moderate-Income Homes Can Save Energy and Cut Overall Home Energy Bills

[ARLINGTON, Virginia] – With new federal home energy rebates from the Inflation Reduction Act now available, low- and moderate-income households can overcome cost barriers to home retrofits, according to the non-profit Beneficial Electrification League (BEL). BEL’s whole-home weatherization and electrification demonstration projects, bolstered by groundbreaking economic research on water heater technologies, have demonstrated a positive outlook for retrofits that can benefit home residents, the environment, and the electric grid.

“The upfront costs of electrifying existing homes, unaffordable for many low- and moderate-income households using propane and fuel oil, has long been a barrier to upgrades that could reduce consumer energy bills over the long term,” says Keith Dennis, President of BEL. “Our research shows combining weatherization and high-efficiency appliances can overcome economic barriers to whole home retrofits when combined with federal home energy rebates, such as those expected to be available as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.”

For households participating in the project, combining weatherization and electrification dramatically reduced energy consumption. A cost analysis shows one family’s monthly energy bill was cut in half. Expected federal home energy rebates from the Inflation Reduction Act will enable electrification and upgrades with minimal or no upfront costs resulting in lower bills – an ongoing challenge for many households – and increased safety and comfort.
For more information on the home retrofits, watch the video.
Water heater sitting outside house being replaced thanks to federal home energy rebates

Water Heating Technology Research

Electrification of residential water heating, which accounts for approximately 19 percent of residential energy consumption, has emerged as a key component in lowering costs and is also important for reducing building sector carbon emissions. In a whole home retrofit, deciding whether to keep the existing water heater or install a new system – and if so, which type – is key to cost-effective investments that maximize consumer, environmental, and grid benefits.

New economic research from The Brattle Group and GDS Associates, Water Heating Economics in a Dynamic Energy Landscape, analyzed the total societal cost of major water heating technologies across various housing types to determine cost-effective and applicable options.

“Our study shows that policymakers, practitioners, and consumers will benefit from considering the full suite of available water heating technologies when making policy and investment decisions,” said Ryan Hledik, a Principal at The Brattle Group and co-author of the study. “The optimal water heating technology can differ depending on energy market conditions, rate structures, available incentives, and other considerations.”

“We analyzed more than a hundred scenarios. When choosing an optimal water heating system for a home, consumers and contractors need to consider variables such as energy costs, water usage, local climate, house size, and occupancy,” says Rich Hasselman of GDS Associates.

These findings are consistent with the results of BEL’s home energy retrofit demonstration projects. In all cases, weatherizing homes maximizes the benefits of new appliances.

The research and home retrofit demonstrations are part of Weatherization/Electrification Together. This initiative, supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation, tackles the challenge of deploying high-efficiency electric residential heating and cooling systems in single-family homes to benefit consumers, the environment, and the electric grid.

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About the Beneficial Electrification League: BEL is a not-for-profit organization bringing together a diverse group of organizations that support universal acceptance of beneficial electrification as a necessary strategy to meet economic, consumer, and environmental goals.

About Brattle: The Brattle Group answers complex economic, finance, and regulatory questions for corporations, law firms, and governments around the world. They are distinguished by the clarity of their insights and the credibility of their experts, which include leading international academics and industry specialists.

About GDS Associates: Since 1986, GDS Associates, headquartered in Marietta, Georgia, has been a multi-service engineering and consulting firm providing services to a broad range of clients associated with, or affected by, electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utilities.