LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The California Building Industry Association, affordable housing advocates, and community and business organizations representing millions of Californians today announced the results of two new studies that reveal the high cost of electrifying California homes and a strong preference among voters for more affordable natural gas appliances. The analysis, conducted by Navigant Consulting found that in homes with natural gas appliances, swapping those appliances for all electric alternatives would cost the average household in Southern California more than $7,200 to upgrade wiring and electrical panels and purchase new appliances. This, along with higher electricity bills, could increase energy costs up to $877 per household each year. Across Southern California’s 7 million single-family homes, the total cost increase is $4.3 to $6.1 billion per year. A separate, recent poll conducted by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) found that when purchasing a home, only one-in-ten would choose solely electrical appliances and fully two-thirds of voters oppose eliminating the use of natural gas in California. Moreover, recent and proposed updates to residential energy efficiency standards, mandated by the California Energy Commission (CEC), could increase the cost of housing by as much as $20,000 – further impacting affordability for already struggling Californians.
“The cost of housing has been skyrocketing throughout California and many families are struggling with housing affordability. For decades, California homebuilders have worked to construct the most efficient and affordable homes,” said Dan Dunmoyer, the President and CEO of the California Building Industry Association. “At a time when California is experiencing the worst affordable housing crisis in the history of our state, we need to make housing less expensive rather than tacking on new costs that make homeownership even further out of reach for most families.”
“Poverty and homelessness are driven by many factors, but one of the most critical is the precipitous increase in the cost of living in L.A. County, which includes housing and home expenses. United Way of Greater Los Angeles has a long-standing relationship with our utility partners to ensure all families are able to pay their utility bills through the Utility Assistance Program. These recent studies underscore the commitment needed to understand all underlying factors that can contribute to financial instability, potentially forcing struggling families deeper into poverty and homelessness,” said Elise Buik, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
“At Habitat for Humanity we aim to help families attain strength, stability, and self-reliance through affordable home ownership. Affordable housing is not entirely about manageable mortgage payments. It is also about ensuring the cost of actually living in the house – keeping the water hot, the lights on, and the home warm and comfortable.” says Matthew Grundy, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Fresno County. “The cost of energy is an important concern for our families and is a key driver of housing insecurity.”
“As the largest Community Development Corporation in the nation, TELACU builds both new affordable housing and provides energy efficiency retrofit measures in existing homes of low-income families,” said Michael Lizárraga, President and CEO for TELACU. “On a daily basis, we understand firsthand, on the 'ground level,' the increasing hardships facing low-income families. Legislators must adopt policies that address climate change. But in so doing, it is absolutely imperative that lawmakers implement responsible public policies that fully consider and mitigate the increased economic burden those policies may place upon California’s growing low-income population.”
“Every Californian deserves to choose from energy options that best meet their needs. For seniors and retirees living on fixed incomes, the choice is even more important,” Gary Passmore, President of the Congress of California Seniors, said. “California’s seniors should not be forced to choose between needless increases in their energy bills and other necessities like food and medications.”
“Any increase in construction, including energy costs, is a barrier to permanent housing solutions, which is an issue we can no longer afford to ignore,” said Richard Xavier Corral, Interim Executive Director for the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness, an organization that advocates for appropriate housing and homeless services.
“We serve our most vulnerable communities, and we see their bills—the difference between electric and gas bills is day and night,” Andy Molina, Executive Director of Southeast Churches Service Center said. “California’s policies should be sensitive to low-income communities that are already struggling to survive.”
“Like the majority of Californians, Mothers of East Los Angeles supports choice, especially when it comes to selecting the energy source that heats our homes,” said Teresa Marquez, President of Mothers of East Los Angeles. “We believe switching to an all-electric home would negatively impact the most vulnerable residents in the communities where we live and serve.”
“In the lives of people living in poverty, there often are few choices. Even among those who are working, expenses for basic daily living can exceed incomes. Adding yet another financial burden to these families in the form of higher energy costs will only compound the problem,” said Janet Marinaccio President & CEO at MEND-Meet Each Need with Dignity.
“Contrary to the model minority myth, many Asian-American communities are also low income,” said Hyepin Im, President and CEO of Faith & Community Empowerment, an organization working to advance the Asian-American community’s participation, contribution and influence through faith-based and community partnerships. “As we seek to create more affordable long-term housing solutions, an effective strategy must consider ways to lower the cost of living for those in need and provide affordable, safe energy options.”
According to California Air Resources Board, natural gas consumption in residential and commercial buildings in California account for only about 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
“In poll after poll our customers tell us that when it comes to energy policy, affordability is their top concern,” said Lisa Alexander, SoCalGas Vice President for Customer Solutions. “Through continued investments in new technologies and by introducing more renewable gas into our pipelines we can achieve meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions, preserve customer choice and keep energy bills affordable for the millions of Californians who overwhelmingly prefer natural gas for cooking and space and water heating.”
Other key findings from the CBIA-led consumer preference poll, include:
- Voters overwhelmingly prefer natural gas stove tops/ovens, water heaters and furnaces over electric versions because they are less expensive to purchase and operate;
- Two-thirds of voters oppose eliminating the use of natural gas and 82% oppose eliminating the use of natural gas if consumers’ monthly energy bills would significantly increase;
- In terms of monthly budgeting, the electric bill is voters’ top concern, beating the cable bill by a more than 2 to 1 margin;
- Nearly 60 percent of voters are very or extremely concerned about higher housing costs;
- The top reasons voters oppose eliminating the use natural gas are cost concerns and the belief that California needs diverse energy choices.