Give people more info about federal energy-efficiency rebates, tax credits

If we’re going to realize the climate benefits of historic federal support for clean energy and jobs approved in the last two years, connections are the key. And I’m not just talking about electrifying homes and buildings.

We need to connect people to the benefits spread throughout the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. We do that by connecting people to others in the communities where they live and with the individuals, local units of government and non-profits who can help them take advantage of a lengthy list of tax credits and rebates for everything from electric cars to more energy-efficient windows and doors.

The need is clear. Seven in 10 Americans say they know little or nothing about the Inflation Reduction Act by name. The same is true for specific parts of the package, like tax credits for home solar panels and heat pumps.

Bobby Foley of Elephant Energy, a climate tech start-up in Colorado, sees the information gaps and hears the questions up close. “We are on the ground, scoping out a heat pump with homeowners and installing it.”

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A Product is Born: Unveiling Your Electrification Roadmap®

How it All Started

In 2021, our co-founder, DR, set out to electrify his home. While home electrification options – heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, induction stoves, etc. – had been around for decades, DR found it surprisingly difficult to go all-electric. Finding knowledgeable experts, understanding what to prioritize (and when), and determining what would have the biggest impact on climate and energy bills seemed impossible to understand, let alone solve. 

So, DR and his friend Josh did what any good startup veteran would do: they built a business that solved the problem they had themselves.

Their initial research clarified that there we a few specific things that get in the way of successful home electrification:

  • Selecting the right equipment – choosing the right equipment that you can trust to perform efficiently for many years to come
  • Sizing the system – ensuring your system is appropriately sized to keep your home cozy – even on the coldest day of the year
  • Installing everything – lining up multiple different trades is no small feat
  • Wrangling rebates – identifying, maximizing, and securing the myriad rebates and incentives (getting this right can make a meaningful difference in the project cost!)

And before tackling any of that, drawing up a plan so you know where to start and where you’re going.

Over the past 2 years, here at Elephant Energy, we’ve been building a company and platform that does all of these things for our customers – starting with designing the overall plan itself. 

The vision? Build the “easy button” for home electrification – so that we can accelerate this important work, giving every homeowner access to a climate-friendly home.

The Product

So, we are thrilled today to announce the launch of Your Electrification Roadmap!

Your Electrification Roadmap® is your personal guide to making your home climate-friendly. With this tool, you can create a free electrification plan tailored to your unique home and goals – no matter where you live. It’s simple:

  • Tell us about your home. We want to hear about your current systems, your electrification goals, and any concerns you have. 
  • We build Your Electrification Roadmap®. We draw from the latest thinking in building science and lays out the steps you need to take to fully electrify, in the best order for you. 
  • Explore and demystify the process. You can dive into the details of each step to learn more about the technology, approximate cost, and the resulting carbon reduction.
  • Get started! We make it easy to begin your electrification journey directly within the tool. Equipment installations are currently available in Colorado and Massachusetts, with additional markets opening in 2024.

This tool – which started out as a trial version last November – has grown and evolved substantially. But trust us, this is just the beginning.

Ready to get Your Electrification Roadmap®? Get started here.

On a mission make your home climate-friendly? Stay tuned for tips and updates by subscribing to our newsletter.

Why this work matters

Why is it so important to start with a plan before diving in? It boils down to a single concept: proactive replacement. What the heck does that even mean? Well, think of it this way–most people (resources permitting) would not drive their car to the point of complete failure–think, the transmission quite literally giving out on the highway. But with home appliances, this is the norm. It’s way too easy to ignore the “stuff” that’s tucked away in the corners and closets of your home – that is, until it’s not working at all.

Avoiding Emergency Situations

Picture it. It’s one of the coldest days in December, your in-laws are visiting, and…your gas furnace gives out. You’ve been thinking for months about how you want to upgrade to a heat pump. But now you’re in an impossible position: an electrician isn’t available to run new wiring for at least a month, your HVAC contractor isn’t quite sure what size heat pump you need, your in-laws are complaining about freezing in the house, and you don’t even know how much all of this is going to cost! So instead, you go with your HVAC technician’s tried and true recommendation – another gas furnace – just to make it all go away, fast. And just like that, another 20 years of fossil fuel emissions are locked in – by someone who originally intended to electrify.

The Holistic Approach to Electrification

The point is, the industry isn’t equipped to deal with emergency replacements yet. There’s too much interest and demand to accommodate last-minute work right now. And, understanding what equipment you need, if your upgrades require new electrical wiring or a service upgrade, and how to pay for all of this work takes time and thought. Especially if your goal is whole-home electrification, you need to think about your home holistically… so that all the pieces of the puzzle fit neatly together in the end.

Contributing to a Sustainable Solution

The built environment is responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions every year. Every year! As homeowners, we have a unique opportunity to be part of the solution. Reducing our personal emissions matters. And, it starts with a plan.

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Under the Hood: How We Crafted Your Electrification Roadmap®

Beginnings are tough—whether it’s writing that first draft or moving to a new city, the hardest part often lies in knowing where to start. This can be especially true when it comes to home electrification. Electrifying your home is a big project with many potential routes to take, so picking a place to begin can be, well, overwhelming. That’s where our new product, Your Electrification Roadmap® (YER), comes in. 

More than just a product, it’s our vision to be the “easy button” for upgrading to a climate-friendly home. With YER, we create a personalized roadmap that is tailored specifically to your home and your goals. Our objective? Make the process of becoming climate-friendly seamless and hassle-free. 

But we recognize you may find yourself wondering – how did they arrive at this recommendation? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the methodology behind the logic that guides our suggested routing steps and the metrics that fill up your electrification progress bar. Our aim is to equip you with a comprehensive understanding of how YER can shape your electrification journey from beginning to end, with Elephant Energy guiding you every step of the way. Let’s dive in!

Routing Logic: Guiding Principles for Sustainable Living

The order of the steps on Your Electrification Roadmap® is guided by four fundamental principles: (1) fixing what’s broken, (2) building science best practices, (3) your preferences, and (4) reaching the end goal: a climate-friendly home.

Let’s break down even further why these principles are considered in the order that they are: 

1. Fix What’s Broken:

Fixing any broken systems in your home is the first priority. Promptly restoring essential functionalities like hot water supply ensures comfort and convenience while still working to reduce your carbon emissions.

2. Building Science Best Practices:

Our next important focus revolves around adhering to the best practices in building science. This involves services such as weatherization and solar integration, but why is this so important? Let’s take a look. 

Weatherization:

We advocate (strongly!) for weatherization as the first step towards electrification. No matter how you heat your home, you’ll want to consider weatherization. Weatherization is the process of modifying a building to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency. How? Typically, it entails adding insulation and air sealing. Both measures enable you to heat and cool your home in the most efficient way possible. 

Solar integration:

To ensure optimal solar integration, we place solar installations towards the end of your roadmap. This approach provides a better understanding of your full electrical load before recommending the most suitable solar system. Wondering why you should electrify before installing solar? Take a look at our previous blog post, Heat Pump Before Solar Panels: Why It’s the Smart Choice, to learn more. If you already have solar panels, our routing logic assumes that your electrical needs are fully covered. In some instances, however, it may be the case that you need to increase your array to meet the needs of a fully electrified home. 

Optional electrical service upgrade:

While we may suggest an optional electrical service upgrade in some cases, in most instances, it’s not necessary – that’s especially true where the electrical capacity is already 125 amps or more. In homes with less than 125 amps, we try to offer creative and budget-friendly solutions designed for your home, aiming to make electrification possible without immediately opting for an upgrade.

3. Homeowner Preference:

We have two main priorities when it comes to you, the homeowner: understanding your preferences and fitting within your budget. If you’re enthusiastic about adopting specific electrified systems, like a heat pump, we try to prioritize those choices to kickstart your electrification journey (unless we believe there is a more important step that you should take first, like weatherization!). If your budget is guiding where you’d like to start, then we take that into consideration too. Our approach is all about aligning with your needs while also doing what we think is best for both you and the planet.

4. Reaching The End Goal: A Climate-Friendly Home:

We aim to provide a comprehensive roadmap for transitioning off of all fossil fuel systems, even if you don’t place to tackle those steps until later on. Additionally, we encourage proactive replacement of older systems with electrified alternatives to increase your home’s sustainability. Our ultimate goal is to guide you toward full electrification, ensuring no stone is left unturned on your path to sustainable living. 

Curious as to why this is so important? Read our case for accelerating home electrification here

The Methodology Behind The Metrics: Electrification Progress and Carbon Footprint

With YER, we introduce two critical metrics: Electrification Progress and Carbon Footprint. These metrics are interconnected and represent two key aspects of sustainable living in your home.

Electrification Progress

There’s a lot wrapped up in the question, “how far along am I in my electrification journey?” (or perhaps more importantly… “how much further do I have to go?”). To help you gain clarity, we designed a progress bar at the top of Your Electrification Roadmap. As you electrify more of the things in your home the progress bar fills up towards 100%. We want to make sure you understand how it’s getting there. 

Electrification Progress is a directional metric that measures how close you are to achieving whole-home electrification. We’ve designed a points-based system to calculate your progress. We categorize systems in your home into small, medium, and large groupings based on cost, size, and installation time. Each electrified system earns you points (L=4, M=2, S=1), while non-electrified systems receive 0 points.

In addition, we exclude any systems that may not be relevant to your home; for example, if your home does not have a fireplace, then we exclude that system from the point calculation entirely – so that your progress bar accurately reflects the electrification opportunities within your unique home. The below table depicts the criteria used to determine the size of the given system:

Size Vs. Factor S M L
Cost Less than $5,000 before rebates $5,000-10,000 before rebates More than $10,000 before rebates
Installation Time  Less than one day One to two days More than 2 days
Impact (Estimated annual carbon footprint reduction) Less than 5% decrease 5-10% decrease Greater than 10% decrease
NOTE: Some systems may fall into various buckets based on the above criteria. In those instances, we’ve selected the “size” it most closely matches.

To determine your Electrification Progress, we divide the sum of points for all your electrified systems by the total potential points if you electrified all your systems. This metric provides a clear and tangible measure of your journey towards a climate-friendly home.

Carbon Footprint:

Your Carbon Footprint represents the annual carbon emissions resulting from operating your home’s systems. This metric considers the metric tons of carbon released during the operation of each system.

To calculate your Carbon Footprint, we sourced data from the EPA on residential energy usage for the year 2020, averaged across all states. For systems still reliant on fossil fuels, such as a gas heater, we apply the average emission data to calculate your carbon footprint. We also consider a baseline electricity usage for things like lighting and refrigeration. If you have a rooftop or community solar, we offset the carbon footprint of electrified systems, assuming your solar array fully covers your electricity needs.

Wrapping Up:

We are so excited to share Your Electrification Roadmap® with you, and hope that you find it to be a helpful tool in starting (or continuing) your journey to a climate-friendly home. We’re here to support you every step of the way!

We’re always learning and appreciate your feedback, so if you have any thoughts about how we could make this better, please let us know! And , if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here

– 
Ready to get started? Click here to get Your Electrification Roadmap®, personalized specifically to you and your home’s needs.

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Biden’s next climate hurdle: Enticing Americans to buy green

President Joe Biden persuaded Democrats in Congress to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change. Now comes another formidable task: enticing Americans to buy millions of electric cars, heat pumps, solar panels and more efficient appliances.

It’s a public relations challenge that could determine whether the country meets Biden’s ambitious goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

Relying on tax credits and rebates made the climate legislation — it was approved in August with only Democratic votes — more politically palatable than regulations that force wholesale changes in polluting industries.

But it also means the administration’s battle against global warming will be waged “one household at a time,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, who works on energy issues at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank closely aligned with the White House.

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Heat pumps are having a moment in Colorado, but do they really work in the bitter cold? Yes.

There was a touch of anxiety in the home of Jon and Rachel Rea as a bomb cyclone, with its plummeting subzero temperatures, approached Colorado in December, for the couple no longer had a gas-fired furnace in their basement.

They had replaced the furnace three months earlier with a heat pump and now that new gizmo was going to face a major test. The heat pump gathers the slivers of heat lingering in the air even on a cold day, but with temperatures plunging toward 20 below zero would there be any heat left to capture?

The Reas “pre-heated” their Boulder townhouse, raising the thermostat in advance of the storm, and had the advantage of having neighboring homes on each side and new insulation in the basement.

Still, they were uncertain how their Mitsubishi heat pump would fare. The unit was rated to still work at 13 below zero. The temperature in Boulder on the night of Dec. 22 fell to 18 below.

“Overall, it was just another day,” Jon Rea said. “It was not much of an event.”

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