Building Electrification in Maine

Buildings including homes and businesses often run on multiple fuels. For example, they use electricity to power lights, refrigerators, and electronic devices; and they consume fossil fuels such as natural gas or propane to power furnaces, boilers, and water heaters.

The use of fossil fuels makes buildings one of the largest sources of planet-warming pollution and contributor to climate change. In addition, research has shown burning fossil fuels including natural gas (or methane) in the home is also creating indoor air  pollution which is harmful to health.

In Maine, more than 80% of homes burn fossil fuels including fossil gas, heating oil, and propane for space and water heating. In fact, furnaces and water heaters are a leading source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and contribute 21% of the state’s NOx pollution each year – more than 14 times as much as Maine’s power plants and more than all of the state’s heavy-duty vehicles.

NOx in the outdoor air contributes to particle pollution and to the chemical reactions that make ozone – both are associated with negative impacts on respiratory, cardiovascular, developmental, and reproductive health, as well as cancer. NOx is also associated with increased asthma attacks, especially in children, and a greater likelihood of emergency department and hospital admissions. It is one of six widespread air pollutants that have national air quality standards to limit their levels in the outdoors.

The terms “building electrification,” “beneficial electrification” and “building decarbonization” all describe shifting to use electricity rather than fossil fuels for heating and cooking. The goal of such a transition: all-electric buildings powered by solar, wind and other sources of zero-carbon electricity.

Electricity is healthier than “natural” gas. Using electricity to cook and heat, over “natural” gas or other fossil fuels, improves indoor and outdoor air quality.

It can also save money. Switching from propane, oil, or electric resistance to an all-electric heat pump could save dollars a year on your heating bill.

Further, a transition to clean efficient appliances like electric heat pumps is important for Maine to meet its climate action goals and to eliminate harmful air pollutants.

Maine is leading the way in electrification of homes especially in terms of the installation of heat pumps.

Get the facts on highly efficient, electric heat pumps

Heat Pumps:

  • Provide both heating and cooling
  • can run on 100% renewable energy
  • move heat instead of relying on fossil fuel combustion, meaning no direct emissions
  • are so efficient that with proper installation and weatherization can stabilize energy costs.

In 2019, Maine set a target to have 100k heat pumps by 2025, by July 23, 2023, Maine had exceeded this target 2 years early and set a new target: to have another 175,000 heat pumps by 2027.

PSR Maine is:

Educating doctors and other health professionals on the co-benefits of building electrification

Collaborating with partners to advance building electrification policies that will help Maine meet its climate goals and benefit public health

Zero-Emissions Standards for HVACs and Water Heaters

Did you know that more than 80% of homes in Maine burn fossil fuels including fossil gas, heating oil, and propane for space and water heating? Furnaces and water heaters are a leading source of the state’s health-harming nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution. PSR Maine worked with our partners at the Sierra Club and the Conservation Law Foundation to create this two-pager on why Maine should adopt zero-emission standards for new HVAC’s and water heaters. Addressing building pollution is essential to cleaning the air, saving lives, reducing illness, and meeting state climate targets. Check it out!