What Is Electrification?

Massachusetts families face seismic changes to their home comfort

We all agree that climate change is one of the most significant challenges of our time. We need to do everything in our power to lower harmful emissions and reverse the negative effects of rising temperatures and severe weather. There are many pathways to achieving this, and we must use all the tools at our disposal.

Unfortunately, many lawmakers, regulators and activists are pursuing a narrow, expensive and extreme path: forcing homeowners to electrify everything. The most significant target of forced electrification is home heating, also known as the thermal sector.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, half of Massachusetts homes use natural gas for their heating, and another quarter use heating oil. Electrification advocates want those homes — as well as homes heated with propane — to convert to electric heat pumps.

The Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap has called for one million boilers and furnaces to be replaced with heat pumps by 2030. One way to force this transition is with a Clean Heat Standard that will increase the cost of traditional fuels and may force home comfort companies to convert a percentage of their customers to heat pumps each year.

Electrification presents a series of incredible burdens that will have an impact on Massachusetts households’ budgets, comfort and safety.

  • Whole-home heat pump conversions are incredibly expensive — they can cost upwards of $30,000. Plus, you can expect other gas and oil-powered products to need replacement, including water heaters, gas ranges and clothes dryers.
  • Heat pumps struggle in colder climates. Because they warm rooms by transferring heat from outdoors, these systems are less effective in freezing New England winters. From 2014 to 2019, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Residential Heat Pump Rebate Program offered incentives for the installation of heat pump systems. But 92.8% of the 622 retrofitted households held onto their gas and oil heating equipment for dependable heat in the winter.
  • Electrification lowers the reliability of the grid. The corporation responsible for keeping power flowing in New England – ISO New England (ISO NE) has repeatedly warned that the massive increase in electricity demand will lead to increased outages.

Electric heating and home appliances are only as green as the electricity powering them, and the Massachusetts grid is far from being 100% green today. ISO NE’s generation relies primarily on natural gas every day to produce electricity, while only a small percentage of the power is produced by renewable sources like wind or hydropower. During peak winter months ISO NE turns to petroleum for power generation. And currently, Massachusetts consumes almost three times as much energy as we generate in the state. What will happen when a million new homes rely on grid-powered heat pumps in the winter?

We can’t put all our energy eggs in one forced electrification basket, especially when there are more effective and responsible paths to decarbonization. A balanced energy plan incorporating green alternatives like Bioheat® fuel along with electricity and other solutions makes sense for Bay State families.

Please reach out to your Massachusetts legislator and tell them that electrifying everything is not the answer. They need to hear from everyday families who value energy choice and are worried about this ill-conceived path.