“Electrify Everything”: PSR Engages Its Health Voices in New Approach to Fighting Climate Change October 24, 2019

Family with heat pump outside home

Photo: A. Krasner

By Barbara Gottlieb

PSR’s national office and four chapters are gearing up to inject the health voice into a new approach to slashing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s called “energy optimization,” and it combines energy efficiency with fuel-swapping: replacing technologies that burn fossil fuels with those that use electricity.

While the name may be new to you, you may already be doing it. Have you replaced your gas-guzzling car with an electric one? You get an efficient vehicle while reducing the market for a climate-killing fossil fuel. That’s energy optimization.

And while the electricity that powers your car may be generated by burning coal or fracked gas, or by nuclear power, we are moving quickly toward the time when all our electricity will be generated from clean, safe, renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal. Energy optimization helps accelerate that trend.

Healthy electric alternatives

PSR will focus on promoting healthy electric alternatives to heating, cooling and cooking with “natural” gas, aka methane. Reducing the demand for methane, a terribly potent greenhouse gas, will help to slow climate change.

In addition to its climate effects, burning methane in the home results in potentially dangerous levels of indoor air pollutants, especially nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides decrease oxygen absorption and weaken the lungs and contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter.

PSR takes action

With support from the national office, four chapters will be educating about and advocating to replace gas-powered furnaces and stoves with highly efficient electric heat pumps and electric induction stovetops. Here’s what they plan:

  • PSR Philadelphia will conduct basic education on the health benefits of switching off gas and onto electric home appliances, focusing on policy-makers, HVAC installers and environmental allies.
  • Greater Boston PSR is identifying opportunities to advocate for health-protective legislation, such as bills that would require new home and building construction to be all-electric or all-clean-energy.
  • PSR Colorado hopes to work with the Denver City Council and the Department of Health & Environment to educate broadly about the need for electrification and to support changes in the law that might make fuel-swapping more feasible.
  • PSR Los Angeles will seek to extend the benefits of electrification to low-income communities and communities most affected by fossil fuels and climate change. They will also shine a light on the efforts of SoCalGas to undermine the pro-electrification movement.

Stay tuned for more information as we ramp up our education and advocacy.

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