Guest article by Courtney Chatterson, Office of Sustainability
Beginning this month, you will hear a lot about all the ways one can all help to protect the planet as Earth Day approaches on April 22. One of the biggest impacts individuals can make is through improvements to their homes which can create long-term reductions in energy use and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Long Beach, 15% of our community GHG emissions come from residential buildings including our homes. With an older housing stock, mostly built before 1970, there are many ways these homes can be made more efficient.
One Long Beach resident, Ken, shared his experience making energy upgrades to his home to help inspire others in Long Beach to do the same. “I thought, hey if I can take a 1938 house and do this, then people with newer homes can certainly do this transition pretty easily,” he said.
Ken installed solar panels on his roof and electrified his appliances, switching from gas-powered to electricity-powered, to reduce his carbon footprint and improve efficiency. He was able to switch his HVAC system to an electric heat pump system, change his water heater to an all-electric heat pump heater, and install an induction stovetop (if you haven’t seen these stoves, you should try them, they are not like your typical electric coil stove). He also installed an EV charger from the City’s EV Charger Giveaway program in his garage for their one electric vehicle. He hopes to replace their second vehicle with an EV in the future.
With all these installations, Ken reports greater comfort and lower energy bills. Though their electricity use is increasing, it is offset by the solar energy they produce. Ken’s main motivation was environmental, “I’m very concerned about climate change and wanted to be self-sufficient. Those were the driving motivations for me to do this.” Even if you are unable to install solar, electrifying appliances will have increasing GHG reduction benefits as more renewable energy is added to our energy grid.
In addition to the improvements Ken made, homeowners can also consider adding insulation and weatherization to improve energy efficiency and pairing solar with battery storage to maximize the benefits of solar. There are many resources available to help other Long Beach residents (and non-Long Beach residents) achieve energy efficiency, electrification, and solar energy production to reduce your carbon footprint. Below is a list of links to get you started:
- Energy Upgrade CA guide on home energy upgrades
- HERS home energy efficiency measurement
- Energy Star efficient products for the home
- Southern California Edison Rebates
- California solar incentives
- GRID Alternatives solar for low income residents
- California energy storage incentives
- Electric vehicle and charging incentives (by zip code)
- Long Beach EV Charger Giveaway Program
- Green home financing
Beyond energy, Long Beach residents can also consider improvements to reduce water use. Efficient appliances, like clothes and dishwashers, paired with efficient water fixtures and irrigation systems can reduce water use long-term. Not only does this help save valuable water resources, but it also reduces GHG emissions from the energy required to pump water to Southern California from the rainier northern part of the state. Water-saving tips, rebates, and incentive programs are available at www.lbwater.org to help Long Beach Residents save more water.
However you decide to celebrate Earth Day this year, we hope you will consider making a few small changes that can have a lasting positive impact on the planet and your wallet.