Monday, November 13, 2023
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Perceptions about Residential Electrification: What's Holding Us Back and What Can Push Us Forward?
Session ID
B3 - Real or Perceived Barriers to Electrification and Decarbonization

Electrification is becoming a key strategy in the effort to decarbonize our economy, receiving increasing attention from program administrators and policymakers. Information about consumer perceptions of and interest in electrification is needed to inform outreach efforts. To this end, we assessed perceptions toward and interest in home electrification among 570 residential utility customers in the Los Angeles area. Results identified a general impression that all-electric homes are more expensive and have higher energy costs but that they improve both indoor and outdoor air quality. Customers who use some fossil fuel energy were less likely than those with all-electric homes to agree that all-electric homes are more efficient and more likely to say that they have higher energy costs. We found only moderate interest in switching to electric equipment. Interest was related to positive perceptions about all-electric homes, underscoring the role of perceptions as a barrier to change and pointing to the importance of changing perceptions as a first step in increasing electrification. But positive attitudes are not enough: even among those reporting positive attitudes toward electrification, most reported low interest in switching. Of note, lower income was related to greater agreement that all-electric homes are more energy efficient than other homes. Possibly for this reason, low-to-moderate income respondents reported greater interest than higher-income ones in switching to some electric equipment. Relatedly, the perception that all-electric homes are more expensive to buy was much greater for BIPOC than white respondents, but the former expressed greater interest in switching to some electric equipment. While cost is a presumed barrier, interest in switching was in general more closely related to the desire to combat climate change than to reduce energy bills. This suggests that messaging that focuses on reducing carbon may be more effective than cost-focused messaging.