If You're Heating With Propane Or Oil, Study Says, Go Electric

Analysts were studying the carbon benefits of switching homes to electric heating when they discovered financial benefits too, in some homes.
Homes in places like Providence, Rhode Island that burn heating oil or propane could not only drastically reduce their carbon emissions, but also their heating bills by switching to electric heat pumps, according to a new study by the Rocky Mountain Institute.
"There’s a low hanging fruit opportunity to electrify folks there that are using propane and heating oil and don’t have access to natural gas, and the savings there would be significant," said Sherri Billimoria, an associate in RMI's electricity practice.
A new heat pump would cost a homeowner $25,600 to buy and operate over 15 years, compared to $26,900 for a replacement furnace that continues burning heating oil or $39,200 for propane.
If the homeowner has access to natural gas, the gas is slightly cheaper than a heat pump at current prices, but those prices may change as the country eventually grapples with climate mitigation. The carbon savings would be much less.
The annual carbon emissions would be 8,200 pounds for the heat pump based on the current fuel sources for the electric grid in Providence, compared to 17,400 pounds for heating oil, 13,900 for propane, about 12,200 for natural gas.
"Heat pumps are significantly less carbon intensive than all the other options," Billimoria said, "and the New England grid is already clean enough to see major immediate carbon benefit from electrification as compared to natural gas, and also as compared to heating oil and propane."
RMI's study looked at the carbon benefits and financial costs of electrifying home heating in four U.S. cities. In addition to Providence, they looked at Oakland, Houston, and Chicago, and they found immediate carbon benefits to electrification in all but coal-dependent Chicago. Here's their financial comparison for Providence:

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