Undercurrent

Gas appliances cost Nevadans money and clean air, study says

By: - May 23, 2022 8:00 am

(Photo by Carlos Lindner on Unsplash)

A sustainability group is now pushing for Nevada to embrace cleaner, more efficient alternatives as natural gas price in the state hit a 12-year high.

Fully electric heat pumps can deliver more affordable home heating and cooling in Nevada and other Southwest states, according to a new study by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), a policy group focused on energy and transportation. In Las Vegas, it could result in reducing annual heating costs by 30%, compared with gas. It would also reduce climate emissions by 60%.

While heating bills for homes in cooler climate cities like Reno were found to be similar to homes that burn gas, homes with heat pumps also saw greenhouse gas emissions reduced by about half, researchers found. 

Authors of the study concluded that Nevadans would largely benefit from all-electric construction of homes in the state, whether they live in warmer- or colder-climate cities.

“For new homes across the Southwest, building with heat pumps rather than gas appliances is by far the best economic choice,” said Elise Jones, executive director of SWEEP in a statement. “Heat pumps lock in more affordable utility bills while eliminating a major source of climate and air pollution. It’s a win-win.”

In January, natural gas prices in Nevada hit a 12-year high, and prices are expected to remain high well into 2023. The study found that annual heating costs for a new all-electric home in Las Vegas are $230 annually on average, compared with $340 for gas heating. 

Heat pumps have been widely used in the U.S. since the 1970s but waned in popularity after central heating took off. But the appliance’s popularity is once again on the rise as Americans have become more conscious of the environment. 

Recently, the Biden administration began promoting the use of electric heat pumps in an effort to cut carbon emissions from federal buildings and homes. 

Rather than burning fuel to produce heat, heat pumps work by extracting heat from outdoors and pumping it into a home. In the summer, it uses a reverse process to pump heat out of a home. In essence, the process efficiently exchanges heat instead of generating it.

The system can also improve air quality. A recent study from Stanford University found that gas appliances (like stoves) have much higher methane leakage rates than previously thought, and they emit harmful pollutants that can contribute to respiratory issues.

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Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

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