Whole Home Electrification prioritizes equity in decarbonization and energy efficiency
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The electrification of transportation, buildings and industries that use fossil fuels is crucial to building cleaner, healthier and more sustainable communities. To advance the electrification of buildings for all communities, ComEd today announced a first-of-its-kind program to convert low-income single family and multi-unit homes to all-electric, using highly efficient technologies.
The $40 million Whole Home Electrification Program will empower low-income homeowners and tenants to reduce their carbon footprint, energy costs and climate impact. Illinois’ landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) law paves the way for ComEd to offer home electrification technologies, including heat pumps, as part of a broader push to increase the adoption of technologies that can lower air pollution from carbon emissions. This program will build on ComEd’s portfolio of energy efficiency programs which have saved northern Illinois customers more than $7 billion on their electric bills since 2008.
“We are thrilled to launch the Whole Home Electrification program – a first-of-its-kind effort to expand home energy efficiency programs with a focus on delivering cost and energy savings to our low-income customers first,” said Gil C Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “While ComEd has led for over a decade by delivering billions of dollars in savings through our award-winning energy efficiency program, the launch of our Whole Home Electrification program represents the next frontier in our work alongside state, regional and local partners to help our customers achieve a cleaner and more sustainable future where our communities most vulnerable to pollution are not left behind.”
ComEd kicked off work on the Whole Home Electrification program earlier this year in collaboration with local climate justice nonprofit Elevate. Through this collaboration, ComEd, Elevate and local contractors will deliver comprehensive appliance and HVAC upgrades, building weatherization, and health and safety modifications required to safely and efficiently reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy sources, like gas and propane, for homeowners and residents in 100 single and multi-unit homes in Chicago.
As one of several partners, Elevate and ComEd will use the program to better understand cost and energy benefit savings, and to inform a model for home decarbonization that can be replicated to serve more customers outside of Chicago as well, including those in areas with older housing stock, which tends to cost more to heat.
“Electrification is more than just an opportunity for carbon savings – it leads to healthier, safer, and more comfortable homes,” said Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate. “Making these benefits accessible to the communities that need it most is essential. We’re excited to continue working with ComEd to grow the reach of this program.”
Through the Whole Home Electrification program, low-income customers will receive a variety of free upgrades that will help lower their energy usage and overall energy costs. Following a technical assessment of the home by a participating ComEd Energy Efficiency Service Provider (EESP), customers will receive ENERGY STAR-qualified upgrades that may include: heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, induction or electric stoves, and electric or heat pump clothes dryers.
As part of the program, ComEd will fund 100 percent of qualifying electrification upgrades for single family homes and up to 70 percent for qualifying multi-unit buildings, with the remaining costs paid for by the building owners at no cost to the tenants. Customers may also receive free weatherization and health and safety improvements that may be required to efficiently and safely reduce reliance upon in-home fossil fuel use.
“The Chicago Bungalow Association (CBA) is proud to be partnering with ComEd and Elevate to deliver the benefits of home electrification to low-income communities across Chicago,” said Mary Ellen Guest, Executive Director of the Chicago Bungalow Association. “We know that vintage homeowners from the south and west side, often communities of color, face a higher energy burden, and are at a higher risk for poor air quality. Through ComEd’s investments in the Whole Home Electrification program, we’re seeking to reach more people with the benefit of higher efficiency home appliances and systems that can lower energy costs, enhance home comfort and safety for the family, and contribute to lower emissions for their surrounding community.”
To identify candidates for the program, ComEd and its partners, which include Elevate Energy, Resource Innovations, Franklin Energy, and BlocPower, are taking a hyper targeted approach to ensure the upgrades will result in overall energy bill savings for the customer and that the home or building can accommodate the electrification upgrades.
“Resource Innovations is excited to support ComEd’s new Whole Home Electrification program for residential customers who currently rely on fossil fuels for their heating needs,” said Scott Yee, Director of Resource Innovations. “By connecting ComEd customers with trained contractors who can help determine if a whole home electrification upgrade is right for the household, we are helping make a difference in our communities and their total environmental impact.”
A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reveals that low-income customers participating in home electrification could save up to $1,445 per year on energy costs, though actual savings will vary by customer. Switching sooner could help maximize savings, thanks to the availability of incentives and rebates for heat pumps as well as other electrification and energy efficiency measures provided through the Inflation Reduction Act.
“As Illinois upgrades and electrifies our buildings, we must ensure people with limited incomes have access to those electrification improvements at little to no cost. This is essential to ensure equitable access to affordable energy,” said Valeria Rincon, Midwest Building Decarbonization Advocate at NRDC. “The use of efficient, clean, electric appliances offers a huge energy and cost-savings opportunity for Chicagoans, particularly those most energy burdened.”
Beyond the cost savings, customers who electrify their homes can benefit from improved indoor air quality and overall community health. Not only are electric appliances demonstrated to deliver heat and air conditioning to maintain comfortable in-home temperatures year-round, but they can help address indoor air quality issues while significantly lowering GHG output that impacts the surrounding community.
In addition to building electrification, ComEd has helped lead efforts to advance transportation electrification in the region, including collaborating with regional partners to plan infrastructure, conducting research to prepare the grid for the rise in Electric Vehicles (EVs), and offering customers and communities resources to assist with fleet electrification as well as personal EV purchases. For more on ComEd’s efforts to assist with EV planning, please visit the EV Toolkit.
About Building Electrification
Electrification refers to replacing technologies that use fossil fuels (for example, gasoline, natural gas, or propane) with technologies that use electricity powered by decarbonized energy sources, reducing carbon emissions. Building electrification entails converting fossil fuel technologies used in homes and businesses with highly efficient electric alternatives, such as heat pumps. Heat pumps can offer an efficient electric heating and cooling system that works year-round to cool and heat homes.
The Biden Administration recently invoked the Defense Production Act to boost manufacturing of heat pumps and higher efficiency insulation, which will play a role in helping to drive down carbon pollution from homes and commercial buildings, which currently account for 13 percent of U.S. climate pollution, according to the US EPA. Modern heat pump technologies are proven to perform in the coldest of climates, even when temperatures fall below zero degrees. They can significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, all while saving homeowners on their energy bills.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.