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Zero-Emission Homes Act of 2021

The Zero-Emission Homes Act of 2021 (ZEHA) provides point-of-sale consumer rebates to enable households across America, especially low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, to electrify their homes affordably and seamlessly. ZEHA will support Americans who are looking to save money on their monthly energy bills, create healthier indoor air environments, and reduce their carbon emissions. These rebates will be available for all homes, including rental units, with additional incentives for LMI households and those in underserved or disadvantaged communities.

ZEHA is a voluntary program that enables households to electrify by:

  • Equalizing the costs between electric appliances and their alternatives;
  • Offering households a seamless point-of-sale rebate up to $14,000; and
  • Providing greater incentives for low- and moderate-income households.

This historic legislation continues to garner support in both chambers of Congress. The Senate bill has been introduced by Senator Heinrich (D-NM) and the House bill has been introduced by Representative Tonko (D-NY) and Representative Castor (D-FL). As of August 2021, over 20 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors.

See the Bringing Infrastructure Home report to explore why Congress should make the American home part of historic infrastructure investment, and the benefits of electrification in each state and Congressional district.

Supporters
U.S. Congress26
Sen. Martin Heinrich
Sen. Bernard Sanders
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Sen. Tina Smith
Sen. Brian Schatz
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
Sen. Chris Murphy
Sen. Michael Bennet
Sen. Jon Ossoff
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Debbie Stabenow
Sen. Ben Ray Luján
Sen. Ed Markey
Sen. John Hickenlooper
Rep. Paul Tonko
Rep. Kathy Castor
Rep. Julia Brownley
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici
Rep. Diana Degette
Rep. Mike Levin
Rep. Donald McEachin
Organizations246
Evergreen Action
RMI
Sunrun
Rewiring America
Association for Energy Affordability, Inc.
BlocPower
Building Electrification Institute
Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund
City of Pittsburgh, PA
City of Ann Arbor, Michigan
CLASP
Earthjustice
Elevate
Fresh Energy
Fujitsu General America
Iowa Environmental Council
National Housing Trust
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club
Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
Span
Swift Solar Inc.
Union of Concerned Scientists

Highlights

The Zero-Emission Homes Act enables a 10-year rebate program to support households who choose to electrify. Specifically, ZEHA:

  • Defines “qualified electrification projects” or “QEPs;”
    • QEPs include heat pump hot water heaters, heat pump HVAC systems, electric cooking appliances, electric clothes dryers, and enabling measures such as updated circuit panels and basic weatherization needs.
  • Establishes point-of-sale consumer rebates to equalize the upfront costs of QEPs with fossil-fuel alternatives like gas furnaces;
  • Provides rebates of up to $14,000 per household, with higher amounts for LMI households;
  • Aligns with and goes beyond Justice40, directing 60 percent of funding to households that are LMI, underserved, or in Tribal communities;
  • Incentivizes contractors to serve LMI households and those in underserved or Tribal communities;
  • Includes provisions specific to the needs of multifamily buildings and rental units;
  • To facilitate uptake by consumers, allows rebates to be transferable to third parties, including retailers, contractor companies, utilities, among others;
  • Works with other federal, state, and local incentive programs, to provide ease-of-use for a participating household.

List of ZEHA rebate QEPs, as outlined in the text.
Lower bills
Almost all households get cheaper energy bills

At least 85% of households in the United States — 103 million — could save $37.3 billion a year on energy bills if they were using modern, electrified furnaces and water heaters instead of their current machines.

Map of the US showing that most households in counties across the nation would save on their energy bills with modern, electric appliances. In shades of purple, shows each county savings from 0 to 100%, with 100% represented by the darker purple.
Large savings
Most households would save an average of $496 per year

The savings are biggest for the 64.9 million households in the United States across every county who are currently using electric resistance, fuel oil, or propane and would save $496 per year on average.

Table showing the large savings households currently using electric resistance, fuel oil, and propane would gain from electrification. Replacing 33.38M electric resistance furnaces, 5.69M fuel oil furnaces, and 5.75M propane furnaces would result in average savings of $300 per year, $407 per year, and $447 per year, respectively. Similarly, replacing 54.16M electric resistance water heaters, 3.4M fuel oil water heaters, and 4.31M propane water heaters would result in average savings of $282 per year, $174 per year, and $303 per year, respectively.
Everyone benefits
Meaningful savings for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households

Of the households that save, 44% are low- and moderate income. Each year, they would save an average of $377. Many would save up to $493 per year on average.

Reduce emissions
It’s essential to reaching zero emissions

Furnaces, water heaters, dryers, and stoves account for at least 95% of residential building emissions but are replaced just once every 10-25 years. Unless we choose modern, electrified replacements for these machines, we will continue to need dirty infrastructure to power our homes, never getting to zero emissions.

Graph illustrating how national residential emissions would change over time as a result of building a clean grid without residential electrification versus building a clean grid with residential electrification. The graph shows that just a clean grid would cut residential emissions about in half, but stall out there, while a clean grid with residential electrification would reduce residential emissions to zero by 2050.
Create jobs
Hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created

Electrification would create 462,430 installation jobs in the United States. In addition, it would further generate 80,000 manufacturing jobs and 800,000 indirect and induced jobs.

Chart showing the types of jobs that electrification could create: installation jobs (including electricians, plumbers, and contractors), manufacturing jobs (including factory, assembly line, and supply chain workers), indirect jobs (including truck drivers, welders, mine engineers, and accountants), and induced jobs (including service, retail, food & beverage workers, teachers, and more).
Improve health
Cleaner indoor and outdoor air

Electrifying these appliances would address the 42% increased risk of children experiencing asthma symptoms associated with gas stove use. Such indoor pollution disproportionately affects low-income households with smaller homes. Furthermore, outdoor air pollution from residential buildings currently accounts for 15,500 premature deaths in the United States per year.

Chart listing the indoor pollutants emitted by gas stoves: Nitrogen Dioxide, Particulate Matter (2.5 microns), Carbon Monoxide, and Formaldehyde.

U.S. Senate

  • Sen. Martin Heinrich
    Sen. Martin Heinrich

    D-New Mexicosponsor

  • Sen. Bernard Sanders
    Sen. Bernard Sanders

    I-Vermontco-sponsor

  • Sen. Cory Booker
    Sen. Cory Booker

    D-New Jerseyco-sponsor

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal

    D-Connecticutco-sponsor

  • Sen. Tina Smith
    Sen. Tina Smith

    D-Minnesotaco-sponsor

  • Sen. Brian Schatz
    Sen. Brian Schatz

    D-Hawaiico-sponsor

  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

    D-Rhode Islandco-sponsor

  • Sen. Chris Murphy
    Sen. Chris Murphy

    D-Connecticutco-sponsor

  • Sen. Michael Bennet
    Sen. Michael Bennet

    D-Coloradoco-sponsor

U.S. House

  • Rep. Paul Tonko
    Rep. Paul Tonko

    D-New Yorksponsor

  • Rep. Kathy Castor
    Rep. Kathy Castor

    D-Floridasponsor

  • Rep. Julia Brownley
    Rep. Julia Brownley

    D-Californiaco-sponsor

  • Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán
    Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán

    D-Californiaco-sponsor

  • Rep. Suzanne Bonamici
    Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

    D-Orgeonco-sponsor

  • Rep. Diana Degette
    Rep. Diana Degette

    D-Coloradoco-sponsor

  • Rep. Mike Levin
    Rep. Mike Levin

    D-Californiaco-sponsor

  • Rep. Donald McEachin
    Rep. Donald McEachin

    D-Virginiaco-sponsor

  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester
    Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

    D-Delawareco-sponsor

Quotes

  • Sen. Martin Heinrich
    Sen. Martin Heinrich

    D-New Mexico

    “Electrifying our homes and businesses is one of the surest climate actions that we can take right now. We can use already existing, proven technologies to dramatically reduce carbon pollution, create millions of good-paying jobs, and secure a more equitable future for our communities. The goal of ZEHA is to make the economic, environmental, and health benefits of electrification affordable and accessible to all Americans.”

  • Rep. Paul Tonko
    Rep. Paul Tonko

    D-New York

    "Decarbonizing our homes is one of the key challenges we will face in confronting the climate crisis. But building electrification also offers untapped opportunities to improve energy efficiency, spur innovation and provide homeowners with cleaner alternatives."

  • Rep. Kathy Castor
    Rep. Kathy Castor

    D-Florida

    "All Americans deserve to live in homes that are good for their health, their pocketbooks, and the environment. This bill will help millions of families switch to cleaner electric appliances and save money on their utility bills, while also putting Americans to work in every hometown across the country."

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal

    D-Connecticut

    "By incentivizing the purchase of clean electric appliances and shifting away from ones that pollute, the Zero Emissions Home Act will create jobs and put us on a smarter, sustainable path for the future.”

  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

    D-Rhode Island

    "This is something we can do right now to reduce our carbon footprint and get new, high-functioning appliances into homes.”

Organizations

  • Evergreen Action
    Evergreen Action

    Sam Ricketts, Co-Founder

    "The Zero-Emission Homes Act announced today by Senator Heinrich (NM) makes an essential investment in our nation’s clean building infrastructure. Clean buildings that are carbon-free, affordable, and climate-ready are essential infrastructure and are a matter of survival for millions of Americans."

  • RMI
    RMI

    Mark Kresowik, Federal Policy Manager

    “Senator Heinrich’s proposal recognizes that the buildings where we live and work, and the appliances we use, are critical infrastructure that our nation must invest in to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption and create healthier, safer, and more affordable homes and businesses."

  • Sunrun
    Sunrun

    Lynn Jurich, CEO

    "The Zero-Emission Homes Act will turbocharge our efforts to decarbonize millions of homes across America – and will help create millions of good-paying jobs as we electrify everything to fight climate change. Sunrun commends Senator Heinrich for his pioneering and steadfast leadership on the clean energy transition."

  • Rewiring America
    Rewiring America

    Ari Matusiak, CEO

    "The climate part of the national infrastructure debate just got a lot more relevant to American families...The widespread job creation and the savings on utility bills that 85 percent of American households would immediately see are a potent political argument for this bill."

Media Coverage

  • New York Times
    New York Times

    Sen. Martin Heinrich

    Guest Essay: Your Next Car and Clothes Dryer Could Help Save Our Planet

    "Our future depends on our acting now to confront the climate crisis by enacting policies to convert our economy from fossil fuels to clean energy. By making this switch, we will also create millions of new jobs, save American households money on their energy bills and protect lives by improving the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces."

  • HuffPost
    HuffPost

    Alexander C. Kaufman

    Poll: Most People Don’t Realize Their Homes Spew Carbon, but They Love the Fixes

    "The findings, from a national poll taken between July 7-9, could buoy support for the new legislation Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is set to introduce Thursday that would add rebates for new energy-efficient or zero-carbon appliances and heating systems into the federal spending legislation lawmakers are currently negotiating."

  • Politico
    Politico

    Matthew Choi

    House Democrats' United Front

    "Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) unveiled an outline for a new bill Wednesday that would help consumers buy electric appliances and equipment to cut down on household emissions. The Zero-Emission Homes Act of 2021 would offer rebates to buy and install electric appliances at prices competitive with fossil fuel-based alternatives."

Press Releases