La Mesa resident electrifies home, saving money and the planet

With global carbon emissions on the rise, one La Mesa resident has taken a new approach to providing electricity to her home.

Buildings are responsible for nearly one third of energy-related CO2 emissions in the United States, making decarbonization a necessary step to combating climate change. Wendy Mihalic, a longtime La Mesa resident, has done one of the most important factors of decarbonization: electrification.

“Building electrification just means swapping out gas appliances for electric appliances. It’s as simple as that,” Mihalic said.

She first learned about electrification when she joined the San Diego 350 group as a volunteer.

The nonprofit, which aims to prevent the worst impacts of climate change through education and outreach, was looking for solutions to greenhouse gas emissions others had put in place. In doing this research, they found that cities in Northern California were considering electrifying buildings.

“Buildings can emit up to a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in the state,” Mihalic explained. “So, we at San Diego 350 were looking at what our northern brethren were doing and saying, hey, we should be doing that all across the state.”

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Wendy Mihalic and her family continued making changes to lower costs and help the environment, including installing an induction cooktop. (Courtesy photos)

Mihalic began incorporating decarbonizing her home in 2015 when the family stopped using their gas clothes dryer. Then, in 2020, they took the next step toward electrification when their water heater needed to be replaced. They hired a local company that could do plumbing and HVAC services, leading them to replace two major gas systems in their home. They continued to make electrical upgrades, including installing an induction cooktop.

This, combined with their solar panels, resulted in the Mihalics not having to pay anything for their electricity. SDG&E has recently removed their gas meter.

“I hope others will follow, if not for their own health, then for their pocketbook or for the general environment and well-being of the planet,” Mihalic added.

Mihalic recommended a few resources for those who want to incorporate electrification into their own homes.

One website, The Switch is On, provides information, resources, and tools to support homeowners as they move to electrification. The site also helps users search for contractors who can do this work. Another useful website is Rewiring America, a nonprofit which helps users find electrification rebates to fund their home projects.