What Does California's Plan to Phase Out Gas Heaters Mean for Home Heating?
by Jane Marsh
Local and state governments in some of the most environmentally conscious states are expressing concern about the climate change crisis. People worldwide are starting to notice and experience the adverse effects of global warming. In some regions, severe droughts, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and extreme storms are becoming more frequent.
California is no stranger to the impacts of climate change. Extreme heat and a multiyear drought are two prevalent issues in California. In September 2021, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment found 88% of the state was in the most severe tiers of extreme to exceptional drought.
Recently, California passed legislation in an effort to reduce the harmful impacts of global warming. However, it will undoubtedly impact the state’s residents. Learn more about California’s plan to eliminate gas heaters and what it means for home heating systems.
Understanding California’s Air Pollution Problem
Research from the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), a nonprofit organization, shows home heating appliances are a major contributor to California’s air pollution issue, specifically in the form of high levels of nitrogen oxide. These emissions are more commonly known as smog.
According to a SPUR report, gas-powered appliances generate nearly four times as much nitrogen-oxide pollution than all gas power plants in California. The report also mentions gas appliances release around two-thirds more pollution than the amount generated by the state’s passenger cars.
CARB’s Proposal to Ban Natural Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters
In September, California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulators voted to pass the 2022 State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan. The plan includes a statewide ban on selling new gas furnaces and water heaters to homeowners starting in 2030. California homes will require zero-emissions alternatives to home heating, such as electric heaters.
A significant reason why the vote passed is so the state could meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, which limit the amount of ozone in the atmosphere. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, which emits harmful air pollutants and has other environmental drawbacks. The EPA regulation limits ozone in the atmosphere to 70 parts per billion — a figure California exceeds.
While climate activist groups lauded the recent decision, others are concerned about its implementation. There’s a growing debate about how the ban will impact homeowners and their heating systems. Some residents questioned whether the ban would expand to other home appliances, too.
What Does California’s Plan Mean for Home Heating?
California’s plan to phase out natural gas-powered systems is specifically designed to benefit public health and the environment. But what does that mean for residents who own gas heating systems?
By 2030, gas furnaces will not simply disappear. Residents should know that in eight years, there will be several types of zero-emissions heating systems to replace older systems relying on natural gas. One benefit for Californians is the legislation comes with rebate money so residents can afford to make these costly home improvements.
Residents don’t need to take any immediate action as a result of this plan. However, California residents must know what to expect once they hit 2030.
What Types of Alternatives Will Replace Gas Heaters?
Natural gas systems are not the only option for residents. There are various types of home heating systems Californians can install in their homes. For example, many companies offer these heating services:
- Heat pumps
- Tube heaters
- Unit heaters
- Combination systems
- High-velocity systems
Producing hot water in homes will still be possible in California come 2030. Some alternatives homeowners might want to consider are heat pump water heaters, solar thermal heating systems, space heaters and systems that use alternative fuels.
The Rise of Electrified Heating
Electric heaters will likely become mainstream nationwide and specifically in California by 2030. Many residents own or are considering buying electric vehicles for their environmental benefits, as well as reduced maintenance and fuel costs. This comes at a time when gas prices are high due to economic inflation.
The trend toward electrified heating systems echoes the broader transition to clean energy in various industries, such as manufacturing, shipping and logistics, and utilities. However, a change of this magnitude does not happen overnight.
There’s debate over whether electrification in the changing energy landscape is the right move. For example, some experts claim this transition will cause increases in energy costs, job losses in the fossil fuel industry and rising costs of EVs and trucks. However, other analysts suggest that electrification will create jobs, expand how energy is generated and distributed, and offer much-needed environmental benefits.
California — Making a Clean Energy Transition by 2030
The state of California has ambitious goals to mitigate climate change. CARB’s recent vote to phase out gas heaters is only a small piece of the puzzle. For example, California passed the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Renewable Energy Procurement, two other pieces of legislation to achieve climate goals. It will be interesting to see how the state’s ban on gas heaters impacts the home heating industry and how residents transition to zero-emissions alternatives.
Article by Jane Marsh
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of
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