Electric Home Technologies
To advance energy efficiency and transition home energy use to more sustainable sources, many home technologies are being electrified. Home appliances such as furnaces, water heaters and stoves are traditionally powered by fossil fuels. Now there are newer, energy-efficient technologies available that utilize electricity powered by a greener grid, allowing you to reduce your carbon footprint.
Home heating and cooling
Heat pump technology is a leading-edge solution for high-efficiency heating and cooling. If you are looking for an alternative to heat and cool your home other than a traditional HVAC system, heat pumps may be an option.
How it works
Heat pump technology has been around since the 1850s and is used in refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioning units. In simple terms, heat pumps move heat from one area to another. During the cooler months, heat pump systems extract heat from the outside air or ground and move it inside to heat a building. In the warmer months, the system works in reverse, moving heat outside.
There are two primary types of heat pumps available: air-source and ground-source (also referred to as geothermal). Air-source heat pumps extract heat from the air, whereas ground-source heat pumps extract heat from the ground.
Air-source heat pumps are used in nearly all parts of the U.S., but less often in areas that experience extended periods of sub-freezing weather. However, technology has advanced, and some heat pumps may offer an alternative way to heat your home. It is important to make sure your home is well insulated and air-tight prior to installation to maximize the energy savings. It is important to note that the cooler the outside air temperature, the harder a heat pump has to work to heat the inside air. Therefore, as the outside temperature drops, so does the efficiency of the air-source heat pump. And, depending on location and level of insulation, a backup heating source also may be recommended.
Heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling purposes, reducing the need for two different types of equipment (furnace and air-conditioning unit). They typically have a long lifespan, require low maintenance and are powered by electricity, reducing their environmental impact and using less electricity than conventional electric heating sources. And some even contain air filters that remove harmful particles from inside air, providing an added health benefit.
Hot water is something we use every day for showering, washing dishes and clothes, and a multitude of other tasks, making water heating the second largest home energy expense.
Heat pump water heaters are a more energy-efficient solution that could provide energy savings by reducing electricity consumption up to 70%. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a household of four can save about $330 per year on electric bills by switching from a conventional electric water heater to a heat pump water heater.
How it works
Heat pump water heaters function the same as a home heat pump system by moving heat instead of generating it. A fan in the top section of the water heater draws surrounding ambient air into the heat pump. Heat energy is extracted from the air, which is transferred to a fluid called refrigerant. The refrigerant is compressed, becomes hot and passes through the condenser coils that heat the water in the tank. Then, cooled dehumidified air exits the heat pump and a very small amount of distilled water leaves the unit through a condensate drain.
Heat pump water heaters are about three times more efficient, so you may save money over time. However, heat pump water heaters can cost more to purchase and install than conventional electric resistance and natural gas water heaters. Newer models may offer additional features, including flexible modes of operation to manage energy use and hot water output and Wi-Fi controls for remote adjustments and alerts.
Heat pump water heaters also can help dehumidify damp spaces like basements and garages, where they are typically installed. Units should be installed by a qualified contractor following manufacturer recommendations and in areas where the air temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.
Whether you’re an aspiring chef or amateur cook, you might want to consider an induction cooktop for your kitchen. While they generally have higher upfront costs than gas and electric models, they come with some unique benefits. They heat pans faster and use less energy than standard cooktops. The ceramic surfaces are smooth and easier to clean than electric and natural gas models. They also are cooler to the touch, which reduces the risk of accidental burns.
How it works
Induction cooktops have electromagnetic coils beneath the ceramic glass surface that transfer energy directly into the metal pot. Newer pots and pans are marked induction safe to ensure they will work with induction cooktops.
With induction cooktops, heat is distributed evenly among the pot's surface, offering quick and precise temperature control as well as the ability to simmer more steadily. Induction cooktops are safer because the ceramic surface stays cooler and doesn’t have an open flame. Spilled food doesn’t bake onto the surface, which also makes it easier to clean.
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