A recent poll from Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communications shows yet again that Americans want to continue cooking with gas. Only 31 percent support going all electric and abandoning their gas stoves, furnaces, and other appliances.
But the environmentalists at the publication Grist tried to spin this into qualified support for electrification. Their headline covering the survey reads: “Most Americans want to electrify their homes — if they can keep their gas stoves.”
In other words, people are willing to ‘electrify everything’ if they don’t actually have to adopt the ‘electrify everything’ agenda.
The poll sheds important light on the debate over consumer choice and a movement that is trying to force homebuyers and builders into giving up the appliances they prefer.
The poll’s finding is subject to interpretation because the survey told respondents to assume “costs and other features are the same,” when the reality is that natural gas is approximately one-third of the price of electricity on an energy equivalent basis.
Of course, price is hardly a factor for those pushing to ban or restrict natural gas. A sample of 40 California municipalities that have electrified reveals a bias towards those able to afford high electricity costs – these municipalities earn a 63 percent higher median household income than the state average. And in Massachusetts, the nine cities selected for the electrification pilot program boast six-figure median household incomes, 61% higher than the state average.
Meanwhile, 25 states have passed consumer choice laws to safeguard homeowners from the decisions of unelected code councils. According to multiple builder organizations, banning natural gas will not only increase energy prices but also the cost of homes – at a time when high-interest rates are already putting homeownership out of reach for millions of Americans.
The Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA) 2023 report, “Public Policy for Net Zero Homes and Affordability,” estimates that the specialized stretch energy code is likely to increase the cost of home construction by roughly 1.8% to 3.8% — adding approximately $10,000 to $23,000 to the median cost of a single-family home and putting homeownership out of reach for between 15,000 and 33,000 households.
And the Building Industry Association of Washington was direct in their response to a recent code update by the Washington State Building Code Council:
“Despite hundreds of messages urging the council to reject these restrictive new laws, the Building Code Council moved forward with a de facto ban on natural gas in new homes. These new rules clearly continue to violate the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances.
“The rules also harm the thousands of families struggling to find homes they can afford along with the back-up heating source natural gas provides. This assault on energy security is unfair and unnecessary.”
Bottom Line: Despite a well-funded “electrify everything” campaign to mislead Americans about natural gas, homeowners continue to show a clear preference for gas stoves. Electrification advocates have ignored consumer preference and convinced a small group of influential policymakers and regulators to ban natural gas, leaving homeowners and prospective home buyers to foot the bill.
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