An effective response to our climate crisis will require us to transition away from the burning of fossil fuels. With luck, current trends—including the gradual greening of our electricity grid—will accelerate, as our country installs more wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays, and as electric utilities continue to shut down obsolete coal-burning power plants. At the same time, we can only hope that an increasing percentage of our country’s vehicles will be powered by batteries, and that homeowners continue to retire appliances fueled by gas or oil in favor of electric appliances.
This transition to an all-electric future is easier for grid-connected households than off-grid households. Most off-grid homeowners depend on combustion for space heat and lack a dependable supply of year-’round electricity. That’s why off-grid homeowners are unlikely to buy an electric vehicle or install an air-source heat pump. (For more information on this topic, see “Off-Grid Homeowners Contemplate Our All-Electric Future.”)
I’ve lived in an off-grid house in Vermont for 46 years. But two years ago, my wife and began looking into the possibility of hooking up to the grid.
Why did we do it?
We’re now on the grid, and we’re glad we are. Grid-tied houses are far more environmentally friendly than off-grid houses. Once a house is connected to the grid, there’s no need to operate a gasoline-burning generator during the cloudy days of winter. Fortunately, Vermont’s electricity grid is a low emitter of carbon—so our grid electricity is much cleaner than the electricity produced by a Honda generator.
When our current gasoline-fueled vehicle reaches the end of its natural life, we hope to replace it with an electric vehicle—further reducing our carbon footprint.
While it’s excellent news that hooking up to the grid will lower…
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