The trend of home electrification has been on the rise in recent years, as homeowners aim to adopt more cost-effective and more environmentally friendly energy solutions. Given the fact that gas-powered heating and water heating can be a major utility expense and harmful to the environment, electrification has become an attractive alternative. 

Upgrading to electric HVAC and appliances is a smart move in and of itself, but it becomes even more beneficial when combined with solar power. 

In this case study, we take a closer look at a Brooklyn rowhouse that’s been solar powered and electrified since 2017. Read to learn why the homeowners decided to electrify, how they tackled the process, and what the results have been.

What is home electrification?

Electrifying your home refers to the process of shifting away from traditional heating and cooling systems that rely on fossil fuels and transitioning to electric-powered systems that are powered by the grid or, even better, your own clean energy source like solar power.

This means replacing natural gas-powered appliances, such as water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and stovetops, with efficient electric appliances.

Benefits of Home Electrification

Electrifying your home offers a host of benefits, including:

  • Reducing your reliance on fossil fuels, and in turn, your carbon footprint
  • Improving air quality
  • Reducing your energy costs
  • Decreased maintenance costs and increased home value
  • Reducing your family’s exposure to harmful pollutants and potential gas leaks

The homeowners in our case study initially decided to pursue electrification to help protect the environment. For them, this meant starting with solar. But after about a year of having a solar canopy, they felt confident in switching from their old gas-powered heating system to a new electric heat pump mini-split system, because they had seen from their solar monitoring software that their solar canopy made enough electricity to cover their heating loads.

About The Home

This three-story rowhouse is located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It’s a two-family home attached to neighboring homes on both sides with a semi-finished basement. The home was built in 1895.

The homeowners had a solar canopy installed on their flat roof in December of 2017, and began electrifying in the summer of 2018 with installation of a heat pump mini-split system.

A bar graph comparing a Brooklyn home's power usage with various electric appliances and solar production.
For over 4 years, the home’s solar canopy has covered all of their electric upgrades and then some.

How was the home electrified?

There are a few main upgrades these homeowners made to electrify their home. 

Brooklyn solar canopy in sunset park overlooking nyc skyline
The home’s solar canopy, shot a few months after its installation. What a view!

Solar Panel Installation

Solar is an important part of the electrification process. Switching your home’s power source to solar, rather than just the grid, makes your electric upgrades that much more cost-effective, efficient, and clean.

In 2017, the homeowners decided to install solar on their home. They worked with us to install a Brooklyn Solar Canopy on their roof. Their 8 kW canopy is made up of 24 LG 335 panels. 

They were able to take advantage of the rich government incentives available in New York City for installing solar, covering about 85% of their costs. This included a little known, but very valuable, 20% Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Credit (eligibility depends on where you live – get in touch with us to learn what incentives you qualify for!)

Within the first few months of having a canopy, they realized that they were generating a ton of power — way more than their home required. While they were racking up plenty of net metering credits on their Con Edison bills, they were inspired to think about ways that they could utilize their excess electricity to get off fossil fuels. This meant swapping out their old gas-powered heating and water heating systems to new efficient electric heat pumps. 

Over the past four years, their solar canopy has generated enough power to cover all of their electric upgrades and other appliances. See a breakdown of usage and consumption here:

A table showing a home's power usage compared to its solar production over 4 years.

Mini-Split Heat Pump System

About six months after their solar canopy installation, the homeowners decided to install a mini-split heat pump system. Each floor of the house has its own mini-split system with several air handling units, giving them the flexibility and cost-savings of controlling the temperature of each floor and each room individually.

Mini-split heat pump systems provide heating and cooling. A ductless mini-split system is made up of two parts: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handling unit. These are connected via a refrigerant line, as opposed to ducts.

In general, heat pumps work by transferring the heat in the air to where it’s needed – during the winter, the system releases heat indoors, and during the summer, it’ll send heat from indoors to outdoors. This makes them much more efficient and cost-effective than conventional heating and cooling systems.

Heat Pump Water Heater

This Sunset Park home also benefits from a heat pump water heater. Like an HVAC heat pump, a heat pump water heater works by transferring the heat from the surrounding air to heat up the water inside the storage tank, making it much more efficient than gas-powered water heating systems.. 

Not only has the home’s water heating become more efficient, the homeowners have found that it has the added benefit of dehumidifying their basement as well. This has allowed them to use their basement as a storage and pantry space.

The home’s heat pump water heater located in the basement.

Insulation

Insulating and sealing your home is beneficial when moving towards energy efficiency, but not absolutely necessary when electrifying. In fact, the homeowners did minimal insulation work throughout this process. They sealed their roof around the hatch, and they also took advantage of a NYSERDA weatherization subsidy to insulate their attic with blown-in cellulose.

In spite of the home’s minimal air sealing, it’s still sufficiently energy efficient to be able to power all its heating and cooling loads by its own rooftop solar power system. Electrification doesn’t need to become a big expensive passive house project – even if your home is older, making these simple electric upgrades is more than enough to improve your home’s efficiency and energy costs.

Other Loads

Besides their mini-splits and water heater, their solar canopy is covering all of their other loads too. This includes their lighting, computers, TVs and 3 refrigerators throughout the house. The homeowners have a tenant occupying one of the floors of the home, and their needs are covered too.

How has electrification affected the home’s energy costs?

Since installing their solar canopy, the homeowners’ electric bills from Con Edison have been essentially eliminated, paying nothing other than the basic service charge (about $18-20 per month). In 2022 alone, they saved an estimated $1,510 on their non-heat electricity loads. 

When they installed solar, they opted to consolidate all of the home’s meters into one, meaning their tenant’s electricity needs are covered by the solar canopy too.

Because their home’s heating and water heating no longer runs on gas, their gas bills have been eliminated as well. In 2022, they saved an estimated $2,748 on gas.

estimated annual energy savings for electric home in brooklyn

Start Electrifying with Solar Today!

Electrifying your home is a great way to save money, make your home safer, and reduce your carbon footprint. And it’s not as complicated as you might think – it doesn’t require a major renovation or owning a newer home. 

Plus, with plenty of government incentives and subsidies available for installing solar panels and making various electric upgrades to your home, it becomes an affordable process with impressive financial returns.

Interested in electrifying? Start with the power source. Our experienced team will guide you in the right direction and design the best system for your home and future energy needs. Schedule a free consultation today!

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