New York can take action now to equitably electrify buildings

Published on March 22, 2023

New York legislators must move quickly on bills to help residents with low and middle income transition appliances and to electrify buildings

Times Square

The recent research showing the relationship between gas stoves and children’s health reflected especially stark results for New York State, where gas stoves cause nearly 19% of childhood asthma cases.

The gas industry knew the risks but continued promoting gas stoves, putting people in a horrible position. Kept in the dark about the dangers, generations of people have now built cultural and family traditions around dangerous appliances. Over 60% of New York homes use gas stoves.

There are also the very real equity concerns, since many low-income households and renters have limited ability to transition their appliances.

Fortunately, there are two things that New Yorkers can do right now:

  1. Reduce the risks of gas stoves until it’s possible to swap them out for electric cooktops. While replacing stoves quickly is not feasible for most people, consistent use of fans, open windows (when possible), and hoods that ventilate to the outside can help improve indoor air quality and reduce health risks. It’s good to employ these ventilation measures whether or not the stove is on, because gas stoves emit pollution even when they are off. Getting a portable induction cooktop costs much less than buying a whole new stove, and induction is more efficient than traditional electric and much more efficient than gas. When it is possible to swap out appliances, going to traditional electric or – better! – induction is the right move.
  2. Encourage legislators to move quickly to pass key building electrification legislation. The New York State Legislature is considering a series of bills that would enact statewide building electrification requirements for new construction. The bills will require that all new buildings run on electric rather than fossil fuel appliances, as well as create programs to help low and moderate income households get gas out of their homes at very low cost. It’s critical that New Yorkers take action to demonstrate broad support for three bills: The All-Electric Building Act, the NY HEAT Act (Home Energy Affordable Transition), and the Energy Efficiency, Equity, and Jobs Act (bill authors and numbers below). New Yorkers can use this simple tool to send state representatives and senators a message right now.

Not only will these bills help protect children from dangerous indoor air pollution, they will also protect the climate.  Burning fossil fuels in buildings is the largest source of New York’s climate-warming emissions. And a recent study found all-electric buildings could save New York residents in new homes $904 per year on energy costs.

For all these reasons, local government leaders in Beacon, Bethlehem, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York City, and more have been developing or passing legislation to electrify buildings. Inspired by these local policies, and thanks to ongoing efforts by advocates, state leaders have developed these statewide policy options.

SAFE Cities has been working with local government leaders and advocates from New York Communities for Change, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and other groups to pass local policies to electrify buildings. Now we’re working with them and the groups from the Renewable Heat Now coalition to get building electrification passed statewide.

Our movement is leading similar efforts all across the U.S. and Canada.

Our list of reasons for getting gas out of our buildings is growing all the time. In addition to the risks in our homes, there are the horrible impacts of extraction by fracking that made New York State ban the practice. But the methane gas in our buildings is coming from fracking gas in other places. Then there are the leaks. Methane leaks from fracking wells, along pipelines and pipes, and from our home appliances. These leaks are very dangerous, and methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.

But there are powerful positive reasons for electrifying. Induction stoves are faster, more precise, safer (no burns), easier to clean, and, now, affordable. Volatile gas prices and winter bill spikes are another great reason for switching.

We know how aggressively the fossil fuel industry and other monied interests push back on policies like this, so we have to fight even harder. We hope you will join the community, SAFE Cities, and local advocates in calling for legislators to pass these bills now. It’s time to take action to protect the health of our kids, climate, and pocketbooks.


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