A Guide to Electrifying Your Home

What does it mean to electrify your home?

"Electrifying" your home means switching from natural gas to electricity to power your home. There may be a number of appliances in your home that currently rely on natural gas, including your water heater, furnace, and cooktop. 

Natural gas appliances can contribute to both indoor and outdoor air pollution, and are considered greenhouse gas producers. By switching from gas-powered to electric appliances, you can contribute to both a healthier indoor environment for yourself and your family, and reduce greenhouse gases that harm the environment and contribute to climate change.

As mentioned above, there are a variety of ways you can upgrade the natural gas-powered appliances in your home to electric-powered. Please see below for a list of electric appliances (and more!) you can install in your home, the permitting process for each, and any financial incentives* that may be available to you.

Before you upgrade your home, find a certified assessor to conduct a Home Energy Score. A Home Energy Score will determine your home's current energy usage and the best solutions to increase your efficiency. BayREN offers $200.00 rebates for this assessment.


Heat Pump (Heating and Cooling System):


A heat pump is an outdoor unit that acts as both a furnace and air conditioning system, and therefore is capable of both heating and cooling your home. These systems are electric-powered and highly efficient, and are available as both ducted and ductless systems. Ducted systems are ideal for homes already outfitted with ducts and vent systems, while ductless systems can be installed regardless of whether ducts exist in the home. Ductless systems' indoor components can be installed on the floors, walls, or ceilings of your home.  

  • Permitting Process
    Over the counter**
    Requires planning approval of plans and specs (Replacement of an existing heat pump system to a new heat pump system is exempt).
    If converting from a gas-powered AC/furnace unit to a heat pump system, the following items will be required in your permit submittal:
    • A site plan showing the placement of the unit on the property, as well as its distance from all property lines. Ideally, a heat pump is placed in the side or rear setbacks to avoid placement in public view. Also indicate whether the unit is wall- or ground-mounted.
    •  The specs sheets must detail the dimensions of the unit as well as the sound rating in decibels (dbs).
  • Financial Incentives
    Sonoma Clean Power: $1,000 rebates for installation of an “air-source heat pump.”
    BayREN: $250.00 rebate for induction ranges/cooktops.
    ENERGY STAR: Tax credit of up to $2,000 for heat pump installation.

Electric Water Heaters


Available in a variety of options, including conventional storage, tankless, and heat pump. Electric heat pump water heaters are more efficient than gas versions, as they draw in heat from the surrounding air as opposed to generating the heat itself. While they are generally more expensive up front, they can generate energy cost savings over time. 

  • Permitting Process: 
    Over the counter**
    Only a Building Permit Application is required for submittal. No submittal of plans or specs is required.
  • Financial Incentives:
    Sonoma Clean Power: $700 rebate for applicable heat pump water heater models.
    BayREN: Up to $400 rebate for heat pump water heaters as well as a $100.00 bonus rebate for CAS test-out.
    ENERGY STAR: Tax credit of 30% of project cost or up to $2,000 maximum for ENERGY STAR heat pump water heaters.

Electric Kitchen Cooktops


Electric cooktops are typically bundled with an electric oven to fully replace a gas-powered oven/stovetop combination, however installing an electric cooktop directly onto your counter is another option. Induction cooktops are arguably seen as the most efficient option for electric stovetops/ranges. Note that in order to receive incentives, you may need to cap your existing gas line and purchase a combination electric oven/stovetop. However, replacing a cooktop that has a gas line separate from the gas oven may only require replacement of the cooktop. 

  • Permitting Process:
    Over the counter**
    Only a Building Permit Application is required for submittal. No submittal of plans or specs is required.
  • Financial Incentives:
    BayREN: Up to $250.00 rebate for installing an electric induction range/cooktop.

Solar Panels


Installing solar panels allows all of the electric appliances in your household to be powered by the sun, and cuts your reliance on the energy grid, which receives at least a portion of its electricity from greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels. Pairing your new solar panels with a backup battery system allows any excess electricity generated during the daylight hours to be stored for use at nighttime or on overcast days.

  • Permitting Process: 
    Over the counter**
    Rooftop solar systems: Requires a review by the building division. Please view our Residential Rooftop Photovoltaic Systems Plan Submittal Information and Checklist guide to learn the plans set requirements for your submittal. 
    Ground Mount Solar Systems: Require review by the building and planning divisions:
    • A site plan for a ground mounted solar system should demonstrate that placement complies with all setback requirements of the applicable zoning district, and that the system is screened from public view. Screening materials, colors, and architectural style should be compatible with on site development.
  • Financial Incentives
    Energy.gov: Federal tax credit of up to 30% of installation costs. 

Electric Vehicle Chargers

Having an electric vehicle (EV) charger in your home is essential if you own or lease an EV. Given a lack of charging stations in shopping center parking lots and public spaces, it's important to have the option to charge at home. EV chargers are currently available in three levels, which are generally categorized by charging speed. To learn more about the different types of EV chargers, visit the U.S Department of Transportation website.

  • Permitting Process:
    Over the counter**
    For garage installations: Building review is required.
    For outdoor installations: Building and Planning review is required.
    Please review the EV Charger Streamlined Process document for details on submittal requirements. 
  • Financial Incentives:
    PG&E: Incentives of up to $2,500 for a level 2 charger and electrical panel upgrade (if needed to install the charger).


Additional Ways to Increase Your Home's Efficiency

Weatherization


Protecting your home from the heat, cold, and moisture all fall under the category of weatherization. By protecting your home from the elements, you can keep heated air and cooled air from escaping to the outside, which will reduce your energy usage, as well as prevent leaks from damaging your home. Weatherization tactics can include upgrading your home's insulation, sealing air leaks from doors and windows, and replacing old ducting.

  • Permitting Process:
    Over the Counter** (NOTE that permits are not required for all weatherization techniques. Check with the City of Cotati Building Division if you have questions on when a permit is required). 
    Only a Building Permit Application is required for submittal. No submittal of plans or specs is required.
  • Incentives:
    The Weatherization Assistance Program offers a number of incentives to help lower income residents 

Rainwater Harvesting 


Collecting rainwater can provide a valuable source of non-potable water to serve your outdoor needs, such as landscape irrigation, washing cars, sidewalks, and driveways. Rainwater harvesting systems can range in size from a 55-gallon rainwater barrel that can attach to your gutter system, to 20,000 gallon cisterns that can be installed either above or below ground. To learn more about rainwater harvesting, visit the Sonoma Resource Conservation District website.

"Laundry-to-Landscape" Greywater Systems


"Laundry-to-landscape" greywater systems are another way to conserve water and provide irrigation to landscape plants. Depending on the efficiency of your washing machine, these systems typically produce between 7-19 gallons of wastewater per load. For more information, please see state guidelines here: Greywater System Guidelines

  • Permitting Process:
    Over the Counter**
    Only a Building Permit Application is required for submittal. No submittal of plans or specs is required.
  • Incentives:
    Check back soon for updates!

* Incentives may require specific criteria to be met. Some incentives may be combined with other incentives, while others cannot. Always read the information on each linked website carefully to determine your eligibility for any/all incentives. 
** Typically approved within 1-2 business days upon application. All permit submittals must be accompanied by the Building Permit Application.