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Expand chart
Data: Energy Institute at Haas; Map: Axios Visuals

A new working paper from UC Berkeley business professor Lucas Davis charts the share of U.S. homes that use electricity as their main heating source.

By the numbers: It went from 1% in 1950 to almost 40% by 2018. The paper, using Census data, maps it through the decades (two snapshots are above).

  • It has occurred "mostly without any policy intervention," notes Davis, who works with the school's Energy Institute at Haas.

Why it matters: Going electric for heating and other equipment that now use oil or gas, paired with an increasingly low-carbon power mix, is a tool against global warming.

The intrigue: Davis looked at several forces that have driven the trend.

  • Changes in energy prices — notably a general decline in power prices and rise in gas and heating fuel — has been by far the most important.
  • But there's lots of regional variation in energy costs, heating needs and how much electrification has occurred (as the maps show).

Yes, but: Policies to spur electrification would have differing regional costs and impacts on residents. One of them: "In general, much smaller subsidies would be necessary in warmer states."

The bottom line: "One implication of the research is that, nationally, it may be a lot easier than is generally believed to encourage electrification," Davis writes.

  • There are "large numbers of additional households for whom adopting electric heating would impose relatively modest costs."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 14, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Breaking down the case for massively scaling up carbon removal tech

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New peer-reviewed research lays out a case for quickly launching huge global investments to scale up a nascent and currently quite an expensive weapon against climate change: machines that pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The big picture: The Nature Communications study is a stab at carefully gaming out a "crisis" response to a huge problem: Nations' pace of cutting new emissions falls well short of what's needed to limit temperatures in line with the Paris deal goals.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

U.S. freezes aid to Sudan over military coup

Protesting the coup in Khartoum. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has frozen a $700 million aid package to Sudan after a military coup on Monday threatened to end the country's transition toward democracy.

Driving the news: At least three protesters have been killed and dozens wounded in the chaotic scenes that followed the announcements from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's ruling council, dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.