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Gas Appliances Banned? What SF Bay Area Homeowners Should Know

March 22, 2023

Gas Appliances in the SF Bay Area

Regulators in the San Francisco Bay Area voted last week to phase out gas furnace and water heater appliances over the coming years, meaning that existing homes must transition to electric water heaters and heat pumps after their gas appliances reach the end of their life. The new regulations will apply to new construction as well.

NOTE: Stoves are not included in these regulations. However, you might still consider switching from gas to electric cooking, for a few reasons which we’ll explore below.

If you own your home or rental property in the SF Bay Area, you should be aware of these new rules governing your gas appliances. The good news is you have time, and we’re here to help! Here’s what Bay Area homeowners need to know.

Why are there new Bay Area rules for gas appliances?

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has approved regulations that aim to minimize air pollution resulting from the most significant culprits in the realm of household appliances.

The objective of these regulations is to target nitrogen oxides (NOx), the primary pollutants responsible for acid rain and smog, as well as posing a higher risk for respiratory illnesses like asthma. By reducing NOx air pollution, they estimate the new rules will save 37-85 lives a year.

This is also a big step towards the Climate Action Plan set out by San Francisco’s Environment Department, which set a goal of phasing out natural gas in all buildings by 2040.

Who and where in the Bay Area will these regulations affect?

The BAAQMD’s jurisdiction covers the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southwestern Solano and southern Sonoma. About two-thirds of Bay Area households have natural gas appliances, according to BAAQMD analysis, meaning most of the region’s property owners will be required to swap their gas appliances at some point down the line. However, these regulations do not apply to mobile homes.

When do gas appliances regulations take effect in the Bay Area?

Gas water heater sales prohibited: 2027

Gas furnace sales prohibited: 2029

The new regulations prohibit the sale or installation of water heaters and furnaces that emit nitrogen oxides after 2027 and 2029, respectively. This means that homeowners in the Bay Area will have to switch to electric water heaters and heat pumps—the only appliances that comply with the goal of zero nitrogen oxides—when their gas appliances reach the end of their life.

What does swapping gas for electric cost in the Bay Area?

While electric water heaters and heat pumps are generally more expensive than their gas counterparts, homeowners can find rebates and tax credits to offset some of the cost differential.

According to a 2021 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average compliance cost of installing a heat pump is $8,030, and the average cost for an electric water heater is $2,820. However, the cost of installing a heat pump can vary widely, from $7,000 to more than $20,000, according to various studies and data collected from completed projects.

Rebates and tax credits for Bay Area homeowners who electrify

The Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress in 2022 comprises $8.8 billion in rebates for home energy efficiency and electrification projects, with California being allocated over $582 million.

Per the California Energy Commission, these rebates will be available to the public in 2024, and they include an $8,000 rebate for heat pumps, a $1,750 rebate for heat pump water heaters, and $4,000 for electrical system upgrades.

Currently, a tax credit is available for heat pumps and electric water heaters, covering 30% of costs up to $2,000.

Get more information on how to save while electrifying your home on this page from BayREN. For a deeper dive on the costs to transition from gas to electric in your Bay Area home, check out this article from the SF Chronicle.

What about my gas stove?

As we mentioned towards the start, these new regulations do NOT apply to gas stoves. Your gas-powered cooking is safe from regulators for now in the Bay Area! However, it's not necessarily safe for you and your family. There are still a few reasons why you might consider switching to an electric stove instead.

Chief among them is your health. Gas stoves can impact the air quality both inside and outside of your home, as they circulate pollutants that can increase the likelihood of developing asthma and other illnesses. Gas stoves are linked to childhood asthma, and they have been found to leak even when they are off.

While gas is generally seen as superior to old-school electric stoves among chefs and foodies, today you can buy an induction range with greater speed and precision than any gas option—and without the health drawbacks. Induction cooktops are faster to heat up, offer more accurate temperature control, and are safer and simpler to clean when compared to gas stoves.

If you are curious about induction, you can try it out for free through the PG&E Induction Cooktop Loaner Program. At no cost, they’ll provide you with a portable induction cooktop for two weeks. Give it a shot!

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As one of the top San Francisco Bay Area real estate teams for over 20 years, we understand the challenges and choices faced by current and prospective homeowners in the area. If you have a question about your property, or if you are planning renovations or upgrades and you want a trusted recommendation from our vetted vendor network, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. We are always happy to help. Click here to contact us.

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