Electric appliances for cooking our food, heating our homes and water, drying our clothes and transporting us have made remarkable advances. They offer superior efficiency, precision, comfort, and health benefits at the same or lower cost as gas appliances.
And because electricity generation grows cleaner every day, switching to electric is better for the climate too.
Our largest carbon emissions come from our gas cars (50%), home heating (25%) and water heating (10%). With clean electricity + electrification of buildings & vehicles, together we could eliminate 80% of US energy-related emissions!
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What To Know Before You Start
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), New Mexico state and electricity providers offer consumers financial incentives to go electric. Some low-income residents living in select communities will be able to weatherize and install green appliances for free.
Navigating the incentives and understanding the technologies, new to many of us, is not easy. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Get an energy analysis of your home and fix leaks first. It will save you money on heating and cooling equipment and ensure you get the right size.
Heat pump installations can be pricey.
Adding electric appliances may require upgrading your electrical panel to allow more electricity in your house.
It may be hard to find a qualified installer or on-the-shelf equipment.
Make sure the model of the equipment you choose qualifies for incentives.
Start planning now before an emergency like a busted water heater commits you to a choice you regret.
Understanding Incentives. There are two ways to save: rebates discount the price of products and tax credits lower your tax bill. If you plan to make the most of these, they will influence what you electrify and when. You can also finance energy and efficiency home improvements through FHA, VA and other energy efficient mortgages and loans.
Utilities and Rural Electric Coops offer rebates now. There are also free programs for low-income New Mexico residents to increase the energy efficiency of their homes.
***Bigger rebates from an IRA program for low-income residents (up to $14,000 per household for appliances) will not be available until 2024 or later, and they may be limited to certain communities who apply for the grants from NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. This calculator (Español) can tell you if you might qualify and for how much. Contractors will also be eligible for rebates through the IRA and HOMES Rebate programs.
The State of New Mexico has income and business tax credits available now including for very low-income homeowners. You should apply for a certificate as soon as your project is complete and as early in the year as possible.
State tax credits usually require that your equipment is installed by certified electricians and plumbers and that they be inspected by a local building code authority. Equipment must meet specific technical requirements.
Federal IRA tax credits are available now, but optimizing them takes planning.
Read tax credit rules carefully. For example, as explained below, electrification may require an electric panel upgrade. The part of the Title 26 US Code that gives this credit is called (25C). It offers 30% of the cost an electric panel upgrade up to $600 in conjunction with another 25C project (like a heat pump or heat pump water heater). However, there is an uncapped (25D) 30% panel upgrade tax credit if it is done in conjunction with rooftop solar. The latter offers more money.
Converting to electric all at once can be expensive. The IRA runs for 10 years. Research now. Schedule replacements as old appliances wear out orfail.
Understanding your home’s electrical system. Adding more electric appliances may require upgrading your electric panel, or breaker box, to accommodate more current, especially if you live in a house built before 2000 or have a panel that supports less than 200 Amps. Some appliances may also require upgrading wiring for 240 volt outlets. Anticipating these and upgrading your electrical panel and wiring only once will save money in electrician visits (see how these upgrades are planned early in this electrification schedule for example). However, there may be ways to avoid these upgrades, which can run into the thousands of dollars.
Your electric panel or breaker box directs incoming electricity to different circuits in your house. An old house may only be able to accommodate 60-100 Amps (A) of current, and as you add more electric appliances, you may need at least 200A. Upgrading your panel may trigger an utility service upgrade including bringing your home up to code. The National Electrical Code requires that your panel is able to support having all of your appliances running full blast all the time.
Several electric appliances require 240 volt (V) outlets, while you many only have 120V available. Some may require hardwiring 240V which involves a panel upgrade. These include EV chargers, induction stoves, and most heat pumps and water heaters. If you already have a 240 volt line, there may be options for sharing that line.
According to Rewiring America these are the specs you should plan for:
Heat Pump Water Heater: 240V / 15A-30A.
Combo induction cooktop and oven: 240V / 40A-50A.
Heat pump dryer: 240V / 20A-30A.
Electric Vehicle Level 2 charger: 240V / 20A-40A
However, companies are coming out with 120V versions of heat pump water heaters, induction cooktops (1-2 element), clothes dryers and other appliances. Choosing between 120V or 240V is important to your planning process, so research these appliances to see if 120V versions will work for you.
1. To see what is possible, take a look at these five case studies from Rewiring America that illustrate how people at different income levels and house/apartment sizes might map out electrification projects.
2. Take yourself on a tour of your residence.
Most houses leak energy. Fixing high-heat-loss windows, leaky doors, or inadequate insulation can save you lots of money in equipment and heating and cooling bills. An Energy Audit and Weatherization should be your first first steps. Write this at the top of a list.
Panel/Wiring Upgrades. Read about your home’s electric system in the What to Know Before You Start section above. Write “electric panel/wiring upgrade” near the top of your list if you think you will need these. Also write “240V” by the appliances that might need a 240V outlet or write “120V” if you’ve already decided to use a 120V version or want to discuss this with a contractor.
3. What are your top reasons to electrify? Here are some examples. On your timeline, highlight the changes that mean the most to you.
If you are worried about the health impacts of NOx and other pollutants in your kitchen even when your stove is off, an induction cooktop might be your first priority, followed by replacing a gas furnace and gas water heater.
Are you concerned about toxic wildfire smoke coming into your house through a swamp cooler? You might explore replacing your swamp cooler with a heat pump for both cooling and heating.
High heating bills? Are you using electricity, propane, wood pellets or a wood stove for spacing heating? Switching to a heat pump as soon as possible will save you money.
If you heat with methane (natural) gas it may not make economic sense to switch to a heat pump especially if your furnace is new. However, in central and northern New Mexico, an economical option is to install a less expensive heat pump and keep the gas furnace for backup on only the coldest days.
Are thinking about building an addition and don’t want to add a gas line? Consider adding a mini split heat pump.
Do you have a casita or small guest house that needs heating and cooling or another small heating/cool project? Consider adding mini-spit heat pump to the top of your list.
Are you looking to reduce building costs? Leave out the gas line and go all electric.
Do you have methane (natural) gas heating, but have one room that is always too cold or hot? A mini-spit heat pump might do the trick and be a small project to test the electrification waters.If you were thinking of replacing your swamp cooler with refrigerated air because of warming temperatures or allergies, now is a great time to explore a heat pump and get a great heating system as well.Your first priority should be to drive electric (50% of your emissions), install an electric heat pump for heating and cooling (25%), install a heat pump water heater (10%), switch to induction cooking (5%), and install a heat pump clothes dryer (3%). And, especially while utilities are still decarbonizing, installing solar and storage to power your EV and appliances is also very important. Note: to really cut your emissions ride a bike instead of drive, cut back on flying and eat less meat.Explore buying or leasing an electric vehicleand installing an electric charger at your home, rental or condo.Power your electrification with Solar and/or electric storage. Check out our pages on how to make the most of state and federal tax credits.Is your income low to moderate? See if you qualify for these free weatherization and other services first. Then see if you qualify for these IRA rebates. If so, you might start to implement your electrification plan in early 2024 when these rebates become available as point-of-sale discounts at the time of purchase.As a renter consider putting portable appliances on your list like a heat pump clothes dryer, induction hot plate or, in a year or so, a portable window heat pump. Look for community solar opportunities. You can also consider an EV and work with your landlord or electricity provider to get an EV charger.
4. What financial incentives are you eligible for? Do you qualify for low- to moderate- income IRA rebates that come out in late 2023/2024? These can really cut the costs of appliances like heat pumps and electric upgrades, so you might have to wait for those on your timeline if you qualify and your local government applies for a grant. Remember you are limited to $14,000 in electrification rebates. Explore our webpages for other New Mexico incentives.
5. Timeline in hand, you are ready to put your plan together with Rewiring America’s planning guide.
Full Guide including electrical requirements for appliances.
Electrify Now Oregon-based website includes information, webinars, real case studies on heat pumps, induction stoves, all electric homes, renewable electricity, and EVs. Estimates how much CO2 is avoided by taking action.
Carbon Switch Comprehensive Guides on water heaters, lighting, heating and cooling, insulation and stoves.
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