The EnergySage guide to home electrification

The EnergySage guide to home electrification

Home electrification is the process of upgrading your home to run entirely on electricity (instead of fossil fuels). Think electric heat pumps for heating and cooling, induction cooktops instead of gas stoves, and an electric vehicle charger to keep your EV juiced up at home.

You could also take the extra step of producing your own electricity, which protects you from volatile utility policies and will often save you thousands of dollars. So solar panels and backup batteries are often part of an all-electric home.

Tens of millions of American homes have already gone electric. More than a quarter of all households have all-electric major appliances, according to the Department of Energy. Electric heat pumps have outsold gas furnaces for the past couple of years. Nearly 5% of homes already have rooftop solar systems. More than 1 million EVs were sold in the U.S. in 2023, according to Kelley Blue Book. And in an EnergySage survey, most contractors said they expect electrification to speed up over the next few years.

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Energy independence: Solar panels can power anything that runs on electricity. Going all electric with solar and a battery lets you dramatically reduce your dependence on utility companies and their power outages, pipeline failures, and price hikes.

Potential cost savings: Loads of incentives and rebates are available for high-efficiency electric appliances—which can also be less expensive to operate than fuel-powered equipment. The cost of fossil fuels like natural gas may also begin to rise faster than the cost of electricity for residential customers.

Improved safety and air quality: Removing your gas line also removes the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, lung irritation from nitrogen dioxide, and other potential hazards

Better performance: Modern electric appliances and vehicles often work better than gas-powered equipment. New heat pumps can keep your home more comfortable than traditional HVAC. EVs are nimble and cheap to maintain. Induction stoves are unbelievably fast and precise. 

Environmental impact: Electric appliances can run entirely on clean, renewable energy. Even if you buy electricity from the grid and it's produced in part from fossil fuels, modern electric appliances and vehicles are so efficient that they’ll usually shrink your carbon footprint anyway.

Future-proofing: New building codes tend to favor electrification and renewable energy. Making electric updates now means less work down the line, which potential home buyers could find attractive.

Chances are, your home already has at least one major appliance that runs on electricity rather than a fossil-fueled variant. Most of the equipment you’ll need to electrify is already widely available throughout the U.S. and has a track record of owner satisfaction.

It’s up to you whether you want to replace your old fossil-fueled gear all at once, piece by piece as the old equipment fails, or something in the middle. More on that below.

Heating and cooling / HVAC

For most people, this will mean replacing an old furnace or boiler (and air conditioner) with an air-source heat pump. This technology has been common in warm parts of the U.S. for decades, but newer models can work year-round in cold climates, even without a backup heat source. 

Heat pumps can both heat and cool your home, and are much more energy efficient than traditional HVAC (including “regular” electric heat). The most popular models can connect to ductwork, ductless mini-split heads, or both. 

Another all-electric, super-efficient option is a geothermal heat pump, often called a ground-source or water-source heat pump. It’s a fantastic technology, though the upfront costs are steep, and installation isn’t always practical (or even possible).

Water heater

Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) have been around for decades and have matured into a no-brainer option for most Americans. Current HPWHs are at least twice as efficient as traditional electric water heaters, and some new models make it easier than ever to switch away from gas-fired equipment, too. (Typically, they operate independently from HVAC heat pumps.) 

In early 2024, the DOE announced new efficiency rules for water heaters that all but guarantee HPWHs will become the default type of water heater by the end of the decade.

Similar technology also powers many water heaters for pools or hot tubs.

Thermal solar water heating is another option to consider.

Stove / oven / cooktop

Cooking doesn’t use much energy (at least not compared to everything else on this list), so switching from a gas stove to an electric range won’t save money or do much to reduce your carbon footprint. And for some people, it’s hard to beat the vibe of cooking over an open flame.

That said, you might be surprised by how much you like cooking on an electric induction range or cooktop. It’s much faster and more precise than any conventional cooktop—and doesn’t stink up your kitchen nearly as much as a gas stove can.

Clothes dryer

Two-thirds of homes in the U.S. already have an electric dryer, so there’s a good chance you won’t need to make a change here. 

That said, conventional dryers use a ton of electricity, so you could look into a high-efficiency heat pump dryer. These unvented machines are slower than their traditional vented counterparts, but they use about half as much electricity and can be gentler on fabrics. They can help you save some money on heating and cooling, too. 

Car charger

EVs are fun to drive—and can save you big bucks on fuel and maintenance costs compared to a gas-powered car, according to Consumer Reports.

New public EV chargers pop up weekly, but most EV owners with a private driveway or garage find it much more convenient to charge their EVs at home. If you want to completely juice up your car overnight, you’ll usually need to hire an electrician to install a speedy Level 2 EV charger.


Solar panels supercharge all the benefits of electrification: The cleanest energy, the lowest energy costs, and the greatest independence from utility companies.

Depending on your goals and where you live, adding one or more solar batteries to your home can also make sense. You don’t need to go entirely off-grid to see big benefits from having some energy storage at home, either.

Electrical system, insulation, and other home infrastructure

Your breaker box might need an upgrade to handle an all-electric home. If your panel is almost full already, or you have less than 200 amps of electrical service, there’s a better chance that you’ll need some kind of change, whether it’s a service upgrade, smart panel, load shedder, or even a simple circuit switch. 

Though it’s not a must-do before you go all-electric, it's usually wise to invest in insulation and air-sealing first, especially if your home is already drafty or otherwise uncomfortable with your current HVAC system. Heating and cooling account for about half of an average home’s total energy use, so modest weatherization upgrades can still lead to major savings.

It can also help save big on the cost of solar. “Energy efficiency and solar go together like peanut butter and jelly,” says Spencer Fields, Director of Insights at EnergySage. “By taking efficiency steps before going solar, you can increase the value of each solar panel you install."

If you want to attach a heat pump to existing ductwork, that ductwork ought to be in decent shape—the high-performance models are more sensitive to bad ducts than traditional HVAC.

New builds or gut rehabs ought to be built in such a way that makes it easy to go all-electric down the line, though building codes don’t always require it.

You can electrify your home all at once, piece by piece as your old stuff breaks down, or something between the two. The best path depends on your goals, your budget, and where you live. 

Start with an audit

Are there easy and cost-effective ways to improve your home’s insulation? Can your ductwork handle a heat pump as-is, or will it need some tweaks? Do you need to update your electrical panel to power an all-electric home?

You don’t need an energy audit or efficiency upgrades to get started on your electrification journey. But it could head off eleventh-hour surprises, like discovering you’ll need an electrical panel upgrade as you scramble to replace a broken water heater with a new heat pump model. It could also help you save thousands on the upfront costs of a heat pump and solar panels—with lower energy demands, you’ll need smaller equipment and less of it. Some states offer free or subsidized energy audits. Some audits are also eligible for modest tax incentives or rebates under the Inflation Reduction Act

Get all the electrical work done at once

You generally can't plug major electric appliances like stoves, clothes dryers, or heat pump water heaters into the typical 120-volt wall outlets that their gas counterparts used, though there are some exceptions. So you'll usually need to hire an electrician to run new wires and set up new circuits for these upgrades. Ditto for EV chargers, and especially an electrical panel upgrade.

When you hire an electrician, you’re paying for more than the time they spend working inside your house. You’re also paying for their time driving their truck to your home.

So if you’re updating anything electrical, you might as well update everything you'll need, while the contractor is already at your house. It'll save you a little cash and a lot of hassle in the long run, even if you might not replace certain appliances for a while. It’s the smartest use of everybody’s time and money. 

Electrify as they die

The smoothest path on the electrification journey is to simply replace old fossil-powered equipment as it breaks down. Cars and appliances aren’t cheap, so the common-sense way to protect your household budget is to use the stuff you already own for as long as possible—and then go get a high-efficiency electric upgrade. 

While it’s not very common, switching to electric gear can sometimes save so much money on utility bills that you’d win by ditching your fossil-powered gear right away, even if it still works. This is most likely to be true if you currently heat with propane or electric resistance heat.

Want to make the biggest climate impacts?

Electrifying your home will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. But if you want to make the biggest impact as soon as possible, start with an EV and a heat pump, especially if you live in a colder climate. Driving and heating are the biggest fossil-powered energy users in a typical household, so switching those to high-efficiency electric gear makes a huge change even when the electric grid isn’t clean. 

Going solar also has massive environmental benefits, especially when most of your energy usage is electric.  

When to go solar

If your roof is a good fit, there’s not a bad time to go solar. You’ll start earning back your investment right away. 

That said, if you want to power everything in your home with solar energy—and reap all the rewards in terms of utility savings and energy independence—then it’s best to electrify your home first and then get solar panels. That way, you’ll know how much energy you need your panels to produce, and you can install a right-sized system if your roof is big enough. 

Some people do it the other way, by installing a large solar panel array first, based on an estimate of how much electricity they’ll eventually use after going all electric. Not all utility companies allow this, though.

“If you plan to install solar first before purchasing large fully electric appliances, be aware that some utilities and municipalities make it difficult to increase the size of your solar panel system in the future,” Fields says. “Ask your installer what the policies are in your area, and, if it still makes sense to install solar first, tell your installer your future electrification plans so they can future-proof your installation to make it easier to upgrade later."

Certain states and utility companies have started to wind down their most generous solar incentive programs. If your state plans to do the same, it could make sense to go solar sooner rather than later.

At EnergySage, we're your trusted partner on the journey to electrify your home. Imagine a future where your home is powered by clean, renewable energy, where your car charges effortlessly in your driveway, and where your heating and cooling systems are not only efficient but also environmentally friendly. With EnergySage, this future is within reach. Whether you're looking to install an EV charger, invest in solar panels, upgrade to a heat pump, or explore other electrification options, our comprehensive resources and expert guidance are here to support you every step of the way. Join the thousands of homeowners who have already taken the leap toward a smarter, greener, and more sustainable lifestyle.

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