Most U.S. households are projected to spend more on energy this winter than last, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
As the price of natural gas rises, it’s prompting some consumer and environmental advocates to call for homes to go all-electric.
Anne McKibbin, principal director of policy at the organization Elevate, a nonprofit that works for clean, affordable heat, power and water, said benefits to transitioning to electricity include it being better for the environment than fossil fuels and improving the indoor air quality of your home.
“We think it’s important to ensure that folks, especially folks who are vulnerable … or folks who have low incomes, are able to make that transition first so they’re not left behind,” McKibbin said.
Almost 8 in ten Illinois households use natural gas for heating, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“What’s most important is the affordability of energy,” said Seth Whitehead, executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Resources Board. “Natural gas remains the cheapest option for home heating … it’s incredibly important to have reliable home heating especially with the weather we’re getting this weekend.”
Mohammad Shahidehpour, professor and director of the Center for Electricity Innovation at Illinois Tech, said he generally believes in a more holistic solution instead of going all in on either natural gas or electricity.
“We need to come up with an option that considers all those alternatives: natural gas, electricity, even hydrogen for heating homes,” Shahidehpour said.
Peoples Gas, the natural gas provider for Chicago, provided a statement to WTTW News. It reads, in part: “Everyone agrees on the need to cut carbon emissions, and we are proud to lead the effort to create a bright, sustainable future. We are exploring new technologies — including renewable natural gas and hydrogen — and we are removing old, leaky pipes that cause emissions. As we plan for the future, we are also making investments to ensure homes and businesses in every neighborhood in Chicago have the energy they depend on … Electric heat pumps may help keep Chicago warm in the future, but they cannot be relied upon today. Not only do they struggle to work in cold climates, but it costs approximately $60,000 to convert a single home to an electric heat pump.”