Home Electrification Series: Part Three

Home Electrification Series: Part Three

Elevate your lifestyle

Welcome back to the third and final part of our Home Electrification Series! So far, we have discussed making the switch from gas to electric appliances and the incentives and rebates available. We presented the benefits of going solar and powering appliances with clean energy, and storing solar energy with a grid-tied battery to control utility costs. This final blog will now introduce battery backup systems and how they can help homeowners gain resilience and independence from the grid.

> The unreliable electric grid

Once a home is equipped with electric appliances and is powered by solar energy, what happens when the grid goes down? As we have seen in our previous blog, a solar system and grid-tied battery will not function during a power outage and will not provide electricity to the home. Thus, all of the new electric appliances will be left with no source of energy and will be impractical. 

This uncomfortable situation is unfortunately happening more and more frequently. Our electric grid is becoming increasingly unreliable, affected by extreme weather events and outdated infrastructures, leaving many households vulnerable and without any control of their energy use. Indeed, in 2022 California accounted for 24% of all U.S. power outages and experienced the most power outages between 2002 and 2022 (Payless Power, 2023). A 2022 report from Climate Central also explains that in the U.S.: “The decade from 2011-2021 experienced 64% more major power outages than that from 2000-2010, and between 2011 and 2021, the average annual number of weather-related power outages increased by roughly 78% compared to 2000-2010”. As our climate continues to change, our electric grid will only become more vulnerable and homeowners will experience increased discomfort from powerless homes.

> Backup batteries

Fortunately, there is a solution to become more resilient and independent from the grid, and to stay comfortable  even when the grid is down. Backup batteries can automatically disconnect a home from the grid when the power goes out. This allows them to create a self-contained energy system where solar panels can keep powering the home’s appliances and recharge the battery, which can then supply energy as needed. Here is how backup batteries work during a power outage:

 

 

A backup battery allows you to use your solar energy to run essential appliances during a power outage.  You can use the solar energy to either power specific appliances connected to the backup subpanel or to charge the battery if there’s excess energy.  Backed-up appliances  like a refrigerator, internet router, and lights will be separated from the main panel. When the grid is down, the emergency backup system functions like an “off-grid” system.

 

 

During a nighttime power outage, when the solar panels aren’t generating electricity, the battery can provide stored energy to operate all the essential appliances connected to the backup subpanel. This capability  is made possible by adding a system controller and a backup subpanel. If you already gave a grid-tied battery, theycan both be added at any time to add the backup function.

> Battery rebates and incentives

Similar to solar systems, batteries with a capacity of at least 3 kWh are eligible for the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) until 2032. The ITC will step down to 26% in 2033, then 22% in 2034, and will expire at the end of 2034 for residential applications.

Batteries are also eligible for the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). This  California incentive has been around since 2001 and made available by the California Public Utilities Commission for “behind the meter” technologies like batteries. PG&E, SCE and SDG&E customers are eligible for a rebate per kilowatt-hour of home battery storage. The available incentive amount depends on the battery size and the status of the incentive in the utility area: as more energy storage is purchased, the incentive value steps down. The current status can be checked at www.selfgenca.com/home/program_metrics/

For new residential constructions, The California Electric Homes Program (CalEHP) offers incentives for electrification and energy storage systems: $250/kWh in jurisdictions without all-electric reach codes and $300/kWh in jurisdictions with all-electric reach codes (reach codes are AHJ standards for new construction that exceed the state minimum requirements). $10 million of the program’s $58 million budget is reserved for storage, and incentives will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. To be eligible for the incentives, the program requires that all participating projects have 100% all-electric residential spaces, and install heat pump space and water heating, induction cooking, thermostatic-mixing valves, segregated circuits, and smart thermostats.

 Photo credit: iStock.com/Petmal

Photo credit: iStock.com/Petmal

> Elevate your lifestyle

Homeowners equipped with electric appliances, a solar system, and a battery backup system are not only able to control their consumption but can now enjoy peace of mind. A battery backup system offers added benefits and creates a new lifestyle: resilience, independence, and comfort. Homeowners are now guaranteed access to uninterrupted power, and no longer have to worry about their electric appliances being unusable during the ever-more-frequent power outages. 

No matter how unreliable the electric grid becomes or how much utilities increase their rates, the home will operate independently thanks to solar energy generated and stored on site. With an electrified home and a battery backup system, homeowners can depend on their own electricity and stay comfortable in a functional home.

> Takeaways

Home electrification is a process that can be achieved step-by-step and adjusted to every homeowner’s pace. It is important to take the time to research and learn about various equipment options and what will work best for one’s needs. Electrifying a home is not only about bill savings and making good financial investments. Electrification is about stepping in the right direction to decrease our carbon footprint and investing in making a home more comfortable and resilient, where homeowners gain control back over the grid. 

Although this series aimed to break down the home electrification process and explain its different stages, we know making changes can be overwhelming and complicated. Feel free to reach out to us if you need more information or support in transitioning out of gas, going solar and/or installing a battery.