WHEW, we made it. The home stretch, the last chapter, the grand finale—whatever you want to call it. It’s our seventh and final post in our climate-friendly home series. In this final edition, we’re sharing a roundup of all our favorite resources to help make your climate-friendly journey as simple as possible. Read on for a whole host of helpful guides, databases, toolkits, and more—and drop us a line if you think there’s something we should add.
Still looking for a resource to help you determine where to start your climate-friendly home journey? Look no further than Elephant’s tool, Your Electrification Roadmap. By answering some simple questions and providing a few key details about your goals and preferences, you can get a personalized plan to simplify your journey to home electrification.
We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that, at some point in your reading, the question of cost has crossed (or perhaps even consumed) your mind. And whether you’re in the camp of “hmm, seems expensive. I’m not sure how I’d swing it,” or “pssh, in my DREAMS. Someone’s gotta pay for this, and I can’t do it,” hang tight. We’ve got you covered. Let’s dig into all the incentives available to help make these solutions more affordable and accessible than ever.
Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
Passed in August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was the most significant investment in greenhouse gas reductions ever in the US. It offers both tax credits and rebates to homeowners looking to make their spaces more energy-efficient and climate-friendly. Here are just a few of the ways you can save now:
Rooftop solar and battery storage tax credits (30% of total project cost, up to $2000 max credit)
Heat pump tax credit (up to $8000, depending on income)
Heat pump water heater tax credit (up to $2000)
Weatherization/energy efficiency tax credit (up to $1,200)
Additionally, states can apply for funding for direct-pay rebates (HEEHRA rebates) that will provide an upfront, point-of-sale reduction to your project. We’re still waiting for more details on the timing of these rebates—stay tuned by signing up for our newsletter (find the form in the footer of our homepage).
Psst—Learn more about making the most of IRA incentives right here.
State and Local Incentives
Sorry to go all 1 AM infomercial on ya, but that’s not all, folks! Read on, if you’re in CO or MA:
Turns out there are plenty of local and state-specific incentives in addition to the aforementioned federal ones. For instance, Coloradoans can take advantage of a state tax credit and sales tax exemption on heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and certain energy storage systems. And Massachusetts residents can save significantly on climate-friendly home upgrades through the Mass Save rebates program. There’s a ton of variation between different states, counties, and even local utility companies—and, in our final edition of this series, we’ll be sharing a whole host of resources to help you find and take advantage of those programs.
Forgotten where to start? Learn more about the electrification upgrades that will make the most impact in your specific home with our free tool, Your Electrification Roadmap. Answer a few quick questions, and we’ll give you a plan designed to meet your distinct needs.
Today, we’re digging deeper into rule 3. Where our last edition focused on the importance of energy audits and weatherization, this post is all about making sure your systems are running the way they are supposed to run, AND that you aren’t replacing things all the time.
Embracing this rule comes with lots of perks: It can help ensure you aren’t stuck with a broken heating system when the in-laws are visiting over the holidays (yikes), prevent an unforeseen trip to the local appliance store on what was supposed to be a spectacular ski weekend (eek), and make your place a climate-friendly haven (yay!). Want to learn more? Let’s get into it.
Why It’s Important to Make Things Last
To understand why “making it last” is so critical for efficiency, we first need to do a teeny science lesson on something called embodied energy.
Let’s say you buy a new fridge. It’s a rad new fridge with a computer that tells you when to buy new milk. As the most efficient fridge of its size, it will use 10% less energy than your old fridge. This is cool. (See what we did there?)
That fridge is made of parts and materials that took energy to make. It took energy to put it on a boat and get it across the ocean to a warehouse. It took energy to get it delivered to the store where you bought it, and more energy to get it to you and get it installed.
All that energy tied up in making that fridge and getting it to you? That’s embodied energy. And while that feels like a lot, the reality is that, over time, your energy-efficient fridge is going to “pay for” that embodied energy by SAVING lots of energy each year. So getting that new one IS better for the planet…in the long run.
But what if you have to buy a new one every 5 years? Does it “pay for” itself then? Nope. That’s why, beyond saving yourself the extra expense of having to replace appliances more often than necessary, making things last is a crucial component of a climate-friendly home.
So, How Do We “Make It Last”?
In short: We’ve gotta take care of our stuff. We’ve got to do our required yearly maintenance, as well as recommended preventative maintenance.
This means we need to vacuum the fridge coils. Change the filters on our heat pumps. Keep our induction stovetops nice and clean. Regularly flush our heat pump water heaters. Doing this maintenance ensures our system doesn’t have to work extra hard (i.e., inefficiently) because the filter is super dirty or other maintenance hasn’t been performed.
If keeping our systems maintained gives us an additional couple of years of life for our systems and appliances, that might mean that we buy one whole fridge fewer over our lifetime (in other words—BIG embodied and pocketbook energy savings).
If you’re in an Elephant Energy coverage area (Colorado and Massachusetts, and more to come), give us a shout to learn about our maintenance packages that’ll keep your climate-friendly upgrades in tip-top shape. And if we aren’t in your area yet, ask your installation specialists when you make these home upgrades to see what they offer by way of keeping your systems singing year after year.
Hi, hello, and welcome back to Elephant’s climate-friendly home series! In each edition, we’re breaking down simple steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint so you can feel good in your home and feel good about your home. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:
Today, we’re digging into rule number 3: Be efficient. This one’s a biggun, so we’ve split it into two parts. Ready to learn about all things efficiency in your home? Read on.
What “Be Efficient” Entails
Imagine this: You’re walking down a sunny street in your local business district on a warm summer day. As you meander past a store, you’re met by a WHOOSH of blissfully cool air being pushed out to you on the sidewalk—their door is open and their AC is on full blast. While a delicious moment for you and your sweaty face, it’s pretty awful for the store’s climate impact (not to mention their energy bills).
When we talk about being efficient, we’re talking about NOT doing this. And believe it or not, if you haven’t weatherized your home, you’ve probably been doing something similar the entire time you’ve owned your place. Every house tends to have leaky areas—where cold air is able to escape during the summer and heated air during the winter. The great news? By doing an energy audit and doing the necessary weatherization upgrades, you can put your home on the path to maximum efficiency.
What It Looks Like in Your Home
The first step to upping your home’s efficiency is getting an energy audit. During an audit, an expert conducts a thorough inspection to pinpoint precisely where there are inefficiencies (i.e., cracks, crevices, and leaks where air is escaping) throughout your home. This includes inspecting heating and cooling systems, insulation, window integrity, sealing, and more.
Once you’ve completed an energy audit, you can make the weatherization upgrades that will have the greatest impact on ensuring your place is comfortable, efficient, and environmentally friendly—talk about a wins-all-around situation!
Remember how we mentioned this rule encompassed a LOT? Though weatherization is a huge component of being efficient in your home, it’s not the only component. Stay tuned for our next post in the series, where we’ll dig into more ways to up your home’s efficiency and make it as comfortable and climate-friendly as possible.
Want to learn more about how to make your home as climate-friendly as possible? Our tool, Your Electrification Roadmap, gives you personalized recommendations based on your distinct preferences, goals, and needs.
And…we’re back! Howdy. Hope you had a great week/weekend/whatever day of the week it was for you. Whether you spent the time since our last post looking at all the ways that you can stop burning stuff in your home, are just now diving back in on your climate-friendly home journey, or are joining us for the first time, we’re glad you’re here. (Psst – if this is your first time here, we recommend starting with our intro to the climate-friendly home, followed by our blog on rule number 1, before digging into rule number 2 here!)
Today, we’re talking about Elephant Energy’s rule number 2 for a climate-friendly home: Don’t use energy made from burning stuff. Ready to learn more about what that means and what it looks like to put this rule into practice? Let’s begin.
What “Don’t Use Energy Made from Burning Stuff” Looks Like
In our last post, we explored the different upgrades you can make to stop burning stuff in your home. TL;DR: There are tons of climate-friendly solutions available to help you quit burning things (ahem, gas) at home.
But what about the energy needed to power these climate-friendly upgrades?
Enter: rule number 2 of Elephant’s climate-friendly home. As its name suggests, this rule is all about the type of energy you’re using in your house. And spoiler alert: just like a climate-friendly home doesn’t burn stuff, it also doesn’t use energy that comes from burning stuff.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to tap into clean and renewable energy sources instead of relying on that coal burning plant:
Option 1: Make Your Own Energy
Obviously, your best bet is to make your own energy. You might start by looking into installing solar or geothermal, both of which are great, renewable sources of energy (with lots of incentives available to make them more affordable). And the great thing about making your own clean energy? You can design your system to meet your home’s distinct needs.
That said, these options aren’t available to everyone (big hugs to those of you with flat roofs or lots-o-shade).
Option 2: Join Community Programs
If you can’t make your own, your next best energy option is to join a community solar program. These programs allow you to either purchase a portion of a community array or pay a subscription fee for a portion of the energy a community system produces. Unlike rooftop systems, the energy generated from a community solar project is not used to power owners’ and/or subscribers’ homes directly: Instead, it replaces (or reduces) what they pay their utility company for electricity.
Option 3: Purchase Clean Energy
And if neither of those is an option? We recommend buying green or checking out local or state programs for renewable energy and efficiency. By making small (or large!) adjustments to where you’re getting your energy, you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint, thus putting you one step closer to a climate-friendly home.
So, there you have it! By embracing renewable sources of energy, you’re well on your way to having a climate-friendly home. Stay tuned for next week, where we’ll dig into rule number 3: Be efficient.
Want to transition to a climate-friendly home, but overwhelmed by how many options are out there? Check out our electrification roadmap tool. In less than five minutes, you’ll have a personalized roadmap that shows you exactly where to begin.
Last week, we introduced the Climate-Friendly Home and outlined how it can help people make a real difference as we face the climate crisis head-on. ICYMI—Elephant has 3 simple rules to achieving a climate-friendly home:
Don’t burn stuff.
Don’t buy energy made from burning stuff.
Today, we’re digging into rule number 1: Don’t burn stuff. Read on to learn more about what that means, and what it looks like to adapt your home to this rule.
What “Don’t Burn Stuff” Means
Humans have been burning stuff to power our lives and homes for half a million years. We burn stuff to stay warm. We burn stuff to cook our food. We burn stuff to power our vehicles.
Burning stuff produces fossil fuels which fuels global warming…you get the picture.
Friends, it’s 2023! We’ve gotta stop burning stuff. Our ability to solve the climate crisis depends upon it.
What does that look like though? Put simply, we can replace every appliance in our home with something that doesn’t burn stuff. And the best part? We’re not asking you to make any trade-offs. In every case, the modern electric version works even better than the crusty old fossil-fueled dinosaur that’s being replaced (harsh but true).
What “Don’t Burn Stuff” Looks Like in Your Home
Ready for some great news? We already have all the solutions we need to make a burn-free home a reality. And the technology is not even all that new.
For instance, take heat pumps. The origins of today’s heat pump technology can be traced back to the 1800s. Millions have been sold all over the world, and they’re used in all climates–even very cold ones (think Norway, Netherlands, and Finland).
You might have heard that heat pumps are magic (and we concur). That’s because they work as both an air conditioning unit AND a heater. Flip a switch, and instead of burning gas to heat your home (à la your furnace), a heat pump moves existing energy where you need it: into your home to heat it during the winter, and out of your home to cool it in the summer. And, they’re 3-5 times more efficient to boot.
But our “don’t burn stuff” rule goes beyond just switching to a heat pump. Let’s think about all the other things in your home that might burn stuff (in other words, anything that runs on gas right now). Here are some of the biggest culprits—and their burn-free swaps:
“But wait!” you might say. “So WHAT if I go all-electric? I know that the electricity I’m putting into these machines just comes from a coal plant half the time anyway. So why bother?”
Well, THAT, folks, is a topic for next time. And don’t fret – there is a solution! In our next piece in this series, we’ll dig into the second rule of having a climate-friendly home: “Don’t use energy made from burning stuff.”
Excited to start transitioning away from burning stuff and towards cleaner, climate-friendly technology? That’s great! If you’re unsure where to begin, we’ve got you covered with our tool, Your Electrification Roadmap. Answer a few quick questions about your home and goals and, in five minutes or less, you’ll have a unique-to-you roadmap that shows you exactly where to start.
We’re going to cut straight to the chase: The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing our society, and the path to solving it is going to require excellence, innovation, and speed across a number of areas. And for most of us, many of the things that need to happen to solve climate change often feel really big and totally out of our control. Policies need to be changed. Industries need to adopt new technologies. There are giant science projects that have to be funded, tested, and scaled (we’re looking at you, DAC).
For the everyday person, it can feel impossible to do anything that really moves the needle. Sure, we can buy paper straws, recycle and compost, and support local farmers. But do these small actionstruly make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Is there anything we can do that will actually help in time?
We have good news: Yes! This sense that we can’t do anything impactful to help mitigate the climate crisis is, quite simply, untrue. The fact is, 34% of climate emissions stem directly from decisions we make around the kitchen table: from the cars we drive to the home appliances and systems we choose and the energy we purchase to power them.
Here at Elephant Energy, we noticed a lot of confusion around that last piece, and decided to use our expertise in climate, building science, and home comfort to deliver an accessible, clear solution.
Introducing the Climate-Friendly Home, brought to you by Elephant Energy
So, what’s a Climate-Friendly Home, you ask?
Climate-friendly homes are defined by three simple rules:
Don’t burn stuff.
Don’t use energy made from burning stuff.
By following these three rules, homeowners can create homes with no fossil fuel emissions—in other words, they can do something that REALLY helps. We’ve all got the chance to be early adopters – taking action now allows us to set the precedent and be on the right side of history (while encouraging others to do the same!)
“But wait!” some homeowners might say. “Even following those three rules feels like a lot to tackle. Where do I even begin?”
We get it. Making the shift to a climate-friendly home can feel overwhelming. Luckily, we created these rules to break the process down into achievable, understandable, simple steps—and we’re here to support you along the way.
Eager to dive into your journey toward a climate-friendly home? Our tool, Your Electrification Roadmap, is the perfect place to start. It’s easy: answer a few quick questions about your home and goals, and get a unique-to-you roadmap that shows you exactly what to do (and when!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Summer is in full swing, and while we’re all enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, it’s never too early to start preparing for the colder months ahead (we know how those CO and MA winters can get). As the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to change, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere in your home becomes a top priority. That’s why now is the perfect time to consider upgrading your fireplace, or to at least become educated on the less-expensive, energy-efficient alternative: electric fireplaces.