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Electrifying homes can go a long way to curb global warming

For years, there's been a push to electrify local highways. But what about electrifying neighborhoods? It could go a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

PORTLAND, Ore. — From the outside, Joe Wachunas' home might look like a typical Portland home. But take a closer look at you'll see how his home is helping to keep a lot carbon dioxide out of the air.

"The all-electric home is the comfortable home of the future." he said. "Over a period of 10 years, we electrified our home, we cut our gas pipe and we don't have to pay that guest service charge anymore."

Scientists agree globally we need to cut heat-trapping emissions to zero by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. By replacing everything in your home that burns fossil fuels with an electric alternative, you can keep about 4 to 8 tons of CO2 out of the air every year.

"Our family, per person emits about 3 tons of CO2 a year, and that's just from electrifying our own systems," said Wachunas.

To electrify a home, you need to replace the gas furnace and water heater with electric heat pumps instead. Next, opt for an induction stove instead of a gas one. 

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"You don't get fumes and carbon monoxide going through your house from burning things, and it's just really great technology."

And for those who love the warmth and comfort of a gas or wood burning fireplace but don't want the pollution, opt for an LED fireplace that's able to emit heat if you want it to.

"It uses like a tiny fraction of energy," said Wachunas.

As for the price to do all this? It's about the same as what it would cost to buy gas appliances. And with the help of a rooftop solar array, Wachunas is saving quite a bit.

"We probably save between $1,000 to $2,000 in energy costs a year by being all-electrical," he said.

It's just one of the many ideas that will be explored during Portland's 4th annual Sustainable Building Week which is happening next week.

It's a chance to learn the latest trends in green building and clean energy.