What SF Bay Area Homeowners Should Know About the Upcoming Gas Appliance Ban

As of last week, sales of gas furnaces and water heater appliances (but notably, not gas stoves) are to be phased-out of all new construction. By 2029, replacements for any residential building are required to be a zero nitrogen-oxide emitting appliance. In short, electric heat pumps and electric water heaters are very soon going to be the only approved appliances in the majority of the Bay Area. Enacted by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, this regulation does not mandate retrofitting of existing appliances, fortunately, and the good news is you have time to prepare. Here’s what else San Francisco Bay Area homeowners should know about the gas appliance ban.

Who is Affected by the Gas Appliance Ban?

The new regulations affect roughly two-thirds of households in nine Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southwestern Solana, and southern Sonoma. These regulations apply to new construction and anyone who owns a primary or rental property in these areas, but excludes mobile homes. Here are the hard dates:

  • In 2027, new gas water heater sales will be prohibited.
  • In 2029, new gas furnace sales will be prohibited.

How Much Will it Cost?

Electric water heaters and heat pumps are the only appliances in compliance with zero nitrogen oxides, which are primary pollutants responsible for acid rain and smog and pose higher risks for respiratory illnesses like asthma. They also tend to be pricier than their gas alternatives, though they may also be more energy efficient. Claims of how much energy you might save vary dramatically depending on where you look and the model you choose. 

Fortunately, rebates and tax credits are being made available to help offset some of the upfront costs. The Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 included $8.8 billion in rebates for residential energy efficiency and electrification throughout the US, and California is allocated $582 million of that. Additionally, subsidies will be provided through the California Energy Commission, although a look through their site yields the following “The CEC expects rebates will become available in 2024. Until the Department of Energy issues guidance to states, the CEC will not have California-specific information to share…” 

Bottom line, the rebates are still being worked out both on state and federal levels and will end up being a mix of tax rebates as well as point of sale rebates between the California state and US government. Right now, the amounts of the rebates are not clear nor easy to verify so hopefully by the time the mandate is in place the rebates will be well worked through and much easier to get. The caveat is that the highest amounts you may be able to get appear to depend on whether you qualify as a low or moderate-income household.

About that Gas Stove

While gas stoves aren’t included in the new regulations, despite a few Bay Area cities famously being at the forefront of gas stove bans (looking at you, Berkeley), you may still want to consider making the switch to electric. Forget scented candles – as it turns out, gas appliances are the biggest cause of poor indoor air quality. Stoves in particular affect the air quality inside and outside, thanks to circulating pollutants that up the chances of respiratory conditions. Specifically, gas stoves are linked to childhood asthma, and they are prone to leaking even when they’re turned off. Foodies worried about inferior cooking will find induction ranges are faster and more precise than gas. Not only are they easier to clean, faster to heat up, with more accurate temperature control, they don’t have health drawbacks. Still not convinced? You may want to check out the PG&E Induction Cooktop Loaner Program. At no cost, they’ll provide you with a portable induction cooktop and induction ready cookware for a two-week trial period so you can test it out yourself. 

The Bottom Line

In the past, San Francisco used to rely on oil tanks for heating, which were buried in front of their old Victorian buildings. Long since banned, the city has moved on to more sustainable and eco-friendly heating options and this new gas appliance ban appears to be just the next evolution.Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t costs involved or decisions to make. If you need a reliable recommendation from my network of vendors, or you’d be interested in my opinion on whether you should bite the bullet now or defer, you know where to find me!

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