New Electric Homes

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Why build an all-electric home?

Looking to buy or build a new home in New Mexico? Consider an all-electric home!

All-electric homes save $7,500-$8,200 on construction costs and reduce energy consumption significantly compared to mixed-energy homes. They allow for greater flexibility in planning, design, and changes, let you skip expensive and time-consuming steps like working around or creating gas lines, and do all this while offering utility savings and greater quality of life.

To make the most of all-electric savings, it is crucial that a home be energy efficient.  Make sure your builder is using double- or tripled-glazed, low e-technology ENERGY STAR windows. Have the windows, doors, ducts and vents been sealed? What kind of insulation has been installed and where? What is the insulation’s R-value – its resistance to heat flow? Are all the appliances ENERGY STAR rated? Are the lights all LEDs? Will the house receive a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating, and if so will you receive a complete copy?  Will the builder complete the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum on its green homes? Does the home qualify under any third party independent green certificate programs such as U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certificate or the National Green Building Standard?  However, as Bob Krueger, AIA explains in this talk to 350 Santa Fe, the most credible and climate emergency-responsive standards are Zero Energy Ready Homes (which has an associated 45L tax credit) and homes built to Phius building design principles (see Resources below).

It’s cheaper to electrify US homes during construction–or even make them ready for future electrification–than it is to retrofit them later, according to research from the New Buildings Institute. Incentives are available to builders and prospective homeowners to lower the cost of installing appliances and equipment such as heat pumps, solar panels, and solar storage solutions.

New Mexico builders ranging from Picacho Mountain in Las Cruces to Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity are building net-zero, all-electric homes with benefits that will be seen for years to come. Lower building costs, save money, reduce emissions, improve air quality, and do it all while increasing your home’s value and guaranteeing that it will fit into a more sustainable world tomorrow.

Reduce Building Costs

Thinking about buying or building a new home? The expenses can add up quickly. In an updated analysis of new residential construction, RMI found that an all-electric, single-family home was more affordable to build in 9 cities studied. These cities were from drastically different climates and parts of the country, yet all showed reduced building expenses.

All-electric construction doesn’t require duct work, which can save thousands of dollars during construction. It also saves both money and time by allowing the builder to proceed without having to install or work around gas lines. Heat pumps are two appliances in one, functioning to both heat and cool your home–this combination of functions saves money during the building stage.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s new 45L New Energy Efficient Homes Credit also allows builders and developers to claim up to $5,000 in federal tax credits for each new dwelling that meets the requirements, and can be stacked with existing credits such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Energy Savings

The cost to operate all-electric appliances is consistently lower than mixed-energy appliances. Heat pumps, for example, are generally 3-5x more efficient in their energy use than other options. All-electric appliances can also be moved and placed wherever there is an outlet, instead of being limited to gas hookups–this offers far greater flexibility in new home design and planning.

An entirely electric house can raise questions about operational costs: don’t the savings depend on the climate? And isn’t gas often cheaper than electricity? What about really cold weather?

The results haven’t changed, though: in different cities, with different climates, all-electric homes were cheaper to operate over time. The extreme cold in Minneapolis required a higher-capacity and more expensive heat pump than other areas, yet lower electricity rates offered by the utility during winter months, combined with higher efficiency, still lead to annual savings while offering many other benefits. And over the assumed 15-year lifetime of the equipment, those annual savings continue to add up.



Healthier Homes

Gas-powered appliances like furnaces, water heaters, and stoves vent pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. Gas stoves in particular release NO2 into the household, which the Environmental Protection Agency has stated can set off breathing problems for people with asthma or COPD. This toxic gas can trigger breathing problems even at very low concentrations.

An all-electric home not only prevents the release of these pollutions into the atmosphere, it also keeps them out of the air in your home. Electric appliances are cleaner, more efficient, and quieter, improving air quality as well as quality of life.

Lower Emissions

The RMI study showed that the CO2 emissions of all-electric homes are significantly lower than those of mixed-fuel homes in all cities studied. Without gas-powered appliances, emissions are already lower, and the addition of clean energy such as solar panels can reduce them even further.

While gas currently provides a significant share of electricity generation, more than half of new U.S. electric-generating capacity in 2023 will be solar. Battery storage capacity is increasing, and the Inflation Reduction Act will help to fuel a shift in electricity generation from fossil fuels to renewables. As solar efficiency, battery storage, and renewable energy continue to increase, the emissions of all-electric homes will continue to fall, moving us towards a safer and more sustainable future.

Resources and Further Reading

RMI Report 2022
The Economics of Electrifying Buildings: Residential New Construction

Hot real estate tip: An all-electric home will probably save you money

Department of Energy
Solar Energy Guide for Homebuilders

Do it right the first time: Electrify the residential new construction market

Environmental Science & Technology
Home is Where the Pipeline Ends: Characterization of Volatile Organic Compounds Present in Natural Gas at the Point of the Residential End User

Building an Energy Efficient Home

ENERGY STAR and IndoorAir Plus Certified Builders in New Mexico  According to ENERGY STAR, its certified homes and apartments “offer better energy efficiency and performance compared to other homes and apartments.” Market share in NM is less than 5%.  Indoor airPLUS is a voluntary  program that improves the quality of indoor air by requiring construction practices and product specifications that minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants. It also adds enhanced filtration and inspection of air handling systems and duct work to ensure they are clean, free of debris, and provide adequate airflow. Multifamily builders.  Manufactured Homes.

EPA Water Sense Certified Builders in New Mexico  WaterSense labeled homes must be at least 30% more water-efficient than typical new construction. Under the Homes Certification System, they are verified and certified to meet EPA’s Mandatory Checklist.

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the industry standard for inspecting and measuring a home’s energy efficiency. The lower the score the more energy efficient a home is.