What to Know About Replacing Gas Appliances in Your Home
From heat pumps to induction stoves, here are the appliances you can install to switch away from gas — and pitfalls to watch out for.
A lot of us aspire to replace our natural gas and propane-burning appliances with electric ones. One pressing reason is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But there are other benefits, too, like lowering indoor air pollutants, cutting energy bills and increasing your home’s comfort and value.
“New appliances and technologies are surprisingly effective,” says Ted Lamm, a senior research fellow at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. “The anecdote is, when people replace systems behind the walls, they really don’t notice a difference. And that’s a good thing, because it just works.”
But before you dive into a green retrofit, you definitely need a plan to keep cost and frustration levels in check. Here are some important considerations:
What Gas Appliances Can Be Swapped For Electric?
Some appliance switch-ups make more sense than others for cost, emissions and health. Here are some of your options.
Your furnace is likely your home’s largest consumer of natural gas, and a heat pump is probably the best replacement for it. Find out why cities are banning natural gas in new construction.
Contrary to the name, heat pumps both heat and cool. They’re also not new; more than 40 percent of homes in the Carolinas and Alabama use older versions of them. But they’re starting to become more popular as technology improves.
“Heat pumps actually provide pretty good savings relatively quickly,” says Lamm. While they can cost between $2,000 and $10,000, they can also lower your overall energy costs by as much as 50 percent.
Stovetops and ovens
Induction stovetops are a trendy green wave of the future. They generate power from an electromagnetic field, which makes temperature control more precise and efficient. Besides boiling water shockingly fast, they’re low-maintenance and easy to clean.
“They are also safer for kids since there is no open flame, they do not emit harmful indoor air pollutants that contribute to asthma, and they generate fewer hot surfaces,” says Sara Baldwin, director of electrification policy at Energy Innovation.
“And they’re relatively accessible. You can buy single or double-burner plug-in induction cooktops that can sit on your stovetop for $50 to $100.”
If you’d rather replace the whole range, you’re looking at between $1,000 and $3,000.
Options include switching to a standard electric tank, heat-pump water tank or a tankless instant water heater.
Again, for this switch you can simply choose a regular electric dryer. Or try a heat-pump model, which is more energy-efficient and doesn’t vent warm, humid exhaust.
While you could replace a gas grill with an electric alternative, it’s probably not worth it. “Replacing gas appliances that you only use sparingly won’t do much to reduce your footprint,”says Mallory Micetich, a home expert at Angi.
Instead, to be more green with your grilling, stick to gas instead of charcoal, buy a quality grill that will last a long time and take good care of it.
Steps For Getting Rid of Natural Gas
Switching from gas to electrical appliances requires some planning. “First, do an assessment of your home to identify the low-hanging fruit,” says Baldwin. “Swapping out gas appliances located in the conditioned airspace of the home will yield immediate health and safety benefits.”
Here are some things to consider before you make the switch.
Assess your electric infrastructure
Electric appliances require more amperage than their gas counterparts, so consult an electrician before replacing them. Your home’s internal wiring or its connection to the utility pole may need upgrading.
Also, consider a smart device that can maximize your electric voltage by managing when big loads like heat pumps or electric vehicles draw power.
Plan the swap before they break
If your appliances are nearing the end of their life, do your research, get contractor bids and upgrade any necessary electrical systems in advance. “Waiting until something breaks means you’re likely to pay more for the replacement, and you won’t have as many options,” says Baldwin. This guide can help get you started.
Some electrical appliances, especially heat pumps and water heaters, are larger than gas systems. Measure your space beforehand to confirm new models will fit.
Seek out financial incentives and financing programs from utilities and federal, state and local governments that reduce up-front costs. More are on the way, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Such incentives may almost cover the cost of new electric equipment and electrical upgrades.
Federal incentives alone include a $2,000 tax credit for heat pumps, plus rebates for low and moderate-income households. The latter provides up to $8,000 for heat pumps, $1,750 for heat-pump water heaters and $840 for induction cooktops and heat-pump clothes dryers.
Other considerations for heat pumps
Heat pump technology has come a long way in the last few years, especially in cold-weather countries like Norway. But its efficiency still decreases in extremely cold temperatures.
“Heat pumps are two to four times more efficient than gas furnaces,” Baldwin says. “But if you live in a very cold climate, it may be worthwhile to consider a dual-fuel heat pump that operates on the most-efficient electric technology most of the year, then is supplemented by natural gas on the few extreme-cold hours and days.”
Also, some systems may require ducting and ventilation system updates to work properly.
Other considerations for induction stove tops
These require magnetic cookware. Check if your pans are compatible by holding up a magnet to the bottom. If it doesn’t stick or sticks weakly, you may need to purchase new cookware. Lots of cookware is compatible, including cast iron.
Also, getting used to induction stove tops can be a process for some.
“There’s culture attached to gas stoves. It’s what we’re used to,” says Lamm. “But there are substantial health costs of cooking over a gas range. Everyone I’ve talked to who has really used an induction stove has come around to the experience and actually prefers it. But it does take time.”
Put safety first
Disconnecting gas appliances can create dangerous leaks and explosions if not done properly, and some older gas pipes lack safety valves. Leave windows open as a precaution, call the gas company if you detect any leaks and have a licensed professional cut and cap all disconnected gas pipes.
Check disconnection steps with your gas utility
If you’re planning on completely disconnecting your home from natural gas, work with the gas utility.
“If it’s one appliance that you’re no longer connecting to the gas system, that’s pretty straightforward,” says Lamm. “But if you are removing everything and ending your service commitment to the gas company, it can be complex in some cases.”
Should I Replace My Appliances Now?
It depends on why you want to switch.
“If you are looking to make a change for the environment, now is a great time to do that,” says Micetich. “Or, if you’re trying to reduce your bills by ditching gas, it may be a good idea to switch to energy-efficient alternatives now to start getting those energy savings. But there’s no wrong answer here.”
If you’re content with your current appliances, it’s OK to wait until they break. But have an upgrade plan in place before that happens