~by Gary Hedden
Bruce Nilles lives in Oakland and he listens to the teenagers who tell us we don’t have 30 years to solve the climate change crisis. Then he looks around and he realizes that his biggest greenhouse gas contribution comes from his own house!
It’s his appliances, his furnace, and his hot water heater. But the good news is he realizes he can fix all of that, and we don’t need the federal or state government to do it for us. We can do it ourselves locally and the technology does not have to be invented.
Bruce is the Director of Building Electrification with the Rocky Mountain Institute, so he knows something about making the switch from gas to all-electric, but we aren’t making the switch fast enough. At the recent Electrification Expo in Palo Alto, he told us we are adding new gas customers every day, every hour. We are going in the wrong direction.
Natural gas is 90% methane, a potent GHG, and half of the ‘use’ is from leaks. Leaks at the wellhead, leaks in the lines and leaks in the homes where we live. That is bad enough but there are health risks from burning it. The stove in your kitchen produces NOx when gas burns and the levels in homes have been measured at 400 ppb. That sounds small but the EPA recommends that it not exceed 100 ppb. That matters to our children. The asthma levels for children in homes with natural gas vs. children in all-electric homes is 42% higher.