In order to meet ambitious carbon reduction goals, direct combustion of fossil fuels in homes will need to largely cease. The largest portion of this reduction will likely come from energy efficiency, but efficiency alone will not be sufficient. In this paper we look specifically at California and build the case for why energy efficiency with electrification of heating is the most likely path to achieve the large carbon emission reduction needed from this sector. We examine alternative decarbonization strategies, such as solar thermal, biogas, synthetic natural gas and electrification and show why electrification is the most promising path. We evaluate these options across the dimensions of scale, cost, and suitability. We find that, while electrification has the potential to serve all heating loads, the other low-carbon options may serve only 2–70% of loads. We also expect that electrification could reduce emissions from this sector at a cost 25–90+% less than other options.
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