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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.

44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.

Off the Rails

Episode 8: The siege

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 8: The siege. An inside account of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 that ultimately failed to block the certification of the Electoral College. And, finally, Trump's concession.

On Jan. 6, White House deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger entered the West Wing in the mid-afternoon, shortly after his colleagues' phones had lit up with an emergency curfew alert from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.