Breathing Easier at Home: Q&A on Going Electric in Chicago

A new analysis reveals that electrifying household appliances could save Chicago residents thousands of dollars and help them breathe cleaner air.

Gina Ramirez and Valeria Rincon

Kyler Sumter

Gas bills are on the rise in Chicago, with no sign of stopping.

Hundreds of Chicagoans are already struggling to heat their homes and make ends meet, yet this past week the natural gas utility that serves Chicago, Peoples Gas, filed for a $402 million rate-hike request, a 60 percent increase over the rates approved by state regulators in 2015.

Luckily, as a new NRDC/Energy Futures Group analysis found, the electrification of household appliances could save residents thousands of dollars and help them breathe cleaner air.

We sat down to talk about the findings of the analysis and how electrification could change the lives of low-income Chicago residents.

Electrifying appliances in residential homes, and switching away from gas, could save the average customer upwards of nearly $11,000 in total energy costs in existing homes, and upwards of $15,000 for customers that move into a newly constructed all-electric home. And when factoring in additional savings opportunities such as the building electrification rebates and tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act, savings increase substantially: low-income homes can save an additional $11,000 in single-family homes and $9,000 in multi-family homes.

From Our Conversation

We went on to discuss ComEd’s new whole home electrification program that will help convert low-income single-family and multi-family units to all-electric appliances.

Our conversation emphasized how home electrification could impact Gina’s Southeast Side community.

“So often, we are living in fear of what we're breathing. There are asthma vans set up outside of our Chicago Public Schools, because so many children have disproportionate rates of asthma here. Their living conditions are not the greatest because we're living off fossil fuels.

Gas bills are the highest they’ve ever been. Children might be living without heat here because they can’t afford it. But if there’s an opportunity to switch out some of these things and give children and the elderly a better quality of life that is impactful to their health and not detrimental, it needs to be implemented. It’s something that a lot of community activists would really stand behind here in my community.

It’s just about socializing this. I can’t wait to talk about this and shout it from the mountaintops, because our communities deserve sanctuary within our homes.”

Watch the full Q&A to learn more about the thousands of dollars residents can save from electrifying their homes and appliances, the health and environmental benefits, as well as the ComEd program that low-income Chicago residents can sign up for to get started on the process of electrification.

About the Authors

Gina Ramirez

Midwest Outreach Manager

Valeria Rincon

Schneider Fellow, Midwest Region, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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